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  • Christine Chumbler
    Govt to table Sec 65 by Mabvuto Banda, 13 April 2006 - 07:43:46 Government is working on its numbers in Parliament in a plan to repeal Section 65 of the
    Message 1 of 1046 , Apr 13, 2006
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      Govt to table Sec 65
      by Mabvuto Banda, 13 April 2006 - 07:43:46
      Government is working on its numbers in Parliament in a plan to repeal Section 65 of the Constitution during the current session of the House.
      Uladi Mussa, vice-president of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), on Wednesday said government has support from most MPs in the House. He declined to say the exact day when the bill will be introduced.
      "Section 65 contravenes other provisions. It denies freedom of association. [This is] our general concern and the best way is to remove Section 65 because we believe it will improve efficiency and improve leadership and even most MPs in UDF support this move," said Mussa.
      Government has a total of 74 MPs in the House. MCP has 60 the UDF 30. The others are either independent or undecided in the 193-chamber House.
      Mussa argued that the section defeats the free spirit of sections 32 and 40.
      Section 65 gives powers to the Speaker to declare an MP's seat vacant after joining another party represented in Parliament other than the one that sponsored him or her. But sections 40 and 32 give individuals freedom to associate or join any other party.
      Section 32 says every person has the right to freedom of association, which includes freedom to form associations and Section 40 says every person shall have the right to form, to join, to participate in the activities of , and to recruit members for, a political party.
      Leonard Mangulama, the UDF chief whip in Parliament, laughed off Mussa's claims that they have support from the opposition.
      "We have all heard about this bill to repeal Section 65 but we have not seen it in the Business Committee but what is interesting is the claim that they have support. They cannot even manage a simple majority," he said.
      Mangulama said that the DPP has already lost three MPs from the 74 they had on their side during the opening session.
      "Honourable [Maxwell] Milanzi [is still UDF], Michael Sato has gone back as opposition independent and [MacJay] Salijen [is not with government]. This is a turning point for them," Mangulama said.
      Last month President Mutharika opened the Constitutional Conference and asked delegates to remove Section 65 because it contravened other provisions.
      DPP stands to lose over 17 MPs if the Speaker were to evoke the section.
      The Speaker's personal assistant Henry Kamata said he had not seen any such bill.
      "But this does not mean that it is may not come because there are many ways of introducing it like by a private member's motion and then later a bill," said Kamata.
      The last session was suspended after government got a court injunction against the Speaker and later the President asked the High Court to give its own interpretation of the section using his Presidential Referral powers as the custodian of the Constitution.
      When asked that some people fear that if the government succeed to remove the section the DPP will go on an MP-buying spree, Mussa brushed the issue aside, saying the DPP is not in that habit.
      "DPP has not bought any MP and will not do that because the section has been removed," he said.
      Boniface Dulani, political analyst from Chancellor College, described the DPP's intentions as a mockery of the Constitutional Review Conference.
      "These intentions make the mockery of the whole Constitutional Review process*Laws should be made to bind the country and not in the interest of individuals," he said.
      The conference held last month looked at the possible review of the presidential age limit and Section 65, among other issues.
      Dulani feared that if the DPP succeeds in removing Section 65, it would affect the whole electoral process because it will take away the power that the electorate have on their MPs.
      "This section gives power to the people to stop politicians from abusing them [the people] because if you want to join another party you have to go back to them and seek a fresh mandate," he said.
      Parliament is meeting for four weeks.

      *****

      Govt to trim ministers' allowances
      by Juliet Chimwaga, 13 April 2006 - 08:19:46
      Minister of Finance Goodall Gondwe said on Wednesday government is considering trimming allowances for ministers whose increments have attracted criticism from many quarters.
      Gondwe said in an interview government is responding to the criticisms and the fact that the country's economy is not fine.
      "I am not saying we have already reduced the allowances, but there are possibilities that we are going to do so if it is going to solve our problem since the concerns are genuine," said Gondwe.
      He said the ministers' subsistence allowance will be reduced from K15,000 to K12,000 each per month.
      Chairman for Human Rights Consultative Committee (HRCC) Rogers Newa said in an interview on Tuesday the civil society has welcomed the government's move.
      He described the development as brilliant saying it shows there is credibility in government.
      Newa said people have been questioning accountability of what he called huge allowances for the ministers.
      "When the country's economy ticks people can be luxurious, but when it is down, the packages for the people should be able to respond to the size of the economy," he said.
      Newa, however, said government should extend the move to Members of Parliament, saying that the allowances MPs get should be scrutinised as well and be reduced.
      He said there has to be justification on how much the MPs receive and a detailed account of what they use the money they receive for.
      UDF leader of business in the House George Nga Mtafu who criticised the ministers' said whilst the government considers trimming the allowances it should also think of increasing MPs' allowances because the cost of living has gone up.
      "The big problem here is the cost of living because even transport is expensive for both MPs and Ministers since the fuel prices have gone up and this should be looked into.
      "MPs have no accommodation in town and therefore need more subsistence allowances," said Mtafu.

      *****

      Govt more corrupt than UDF *Mtafu
      by Juliet Chimwaga, 13 April 2006 - 08:19:12
      Leader of United Democratic Front (UDF) in Parliament George Nga Mtafu on Tuesday accused government of being more corrupt than the previous UDF regime, alleging government is hiding many corrupt people in its Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
      Mtafu said this on point of order when the Minister of Local Government George Chaponda said there is no donor who has withdrawn from supporting the current government unlike in the UDF government which he said was "very corrupt."
      "If there was corruption in the previous regime, I challenge that this government is more corrupt than ever before," said Mtafu.
      He said government is only prosecuting the opposition while it is hiding corrupt people within itself.
      Mtafu said later in an interview that it looks like it is only UDF members that are taken as "hooligans, thieves and corrupt people" and that everyone in DPP is innocent.
      "All of us agree that corruption should not be tolerated and on this one principle we support the President," he said, adding: "But the second principle is also that he who is corrupt, despite which side he or she is, must be dealt with and on this one we seem not to agree."
      He went on: "It appears those who have become the ally of the President's grouping [DPP] from UDF and other parties and had matters to answer in court have undergone a metamorphosis process which has changed them into angels with no patches of corruption," said Mtafu.
      But Chaponda dismissed the allegation, saying the donors have not complained of corruption with the DPP government.

      *****

      'Counseling offenders would reduce crime'
      by Francis Tayanjah-Phiri, 13 April 2006 - 08:21:27
      High court judge, Lovemore Chikopa says proper counseling of offenders could reduce crime levels in the country.
      "We tend to ask why people still commit other offences after their sentence, and we found that there is something lacking about the sentences
      themselves," said Chikopa during the opening of a counseling training for Community Service Officers at St John of God in Mzuzu on Monday.
      He said prison sentences emphasise on punishing offenders without addressing the point of reformation and rehabilitation.
      "If you compare an offender who has just been punished and one that has both been punished and reformed, you will find that the latter stands a better chance of not committing an offence again," he said.
      Chikopa, who is chair of the Malawi National Committee on Community Service, said counseling of offenders was paramount as it would make them become rehabilitated and minimise the likelihood of them offending again.
      He said apart from building in counseling into community service, the judiciary through the Community Service Program, wants to bring in counseling in sentencing in general. This, he said, would compliment services of prison and police authorities to assist in process of reformation.
      "You have to have offenders appreciate that what they did was wrong and that they need to reform. You cannot do that without proper and professional counseling," said Chikopa.
      Officially opening the training, Chair of the Judicial Training Committee, Justice Rezine Mzikamanda said it was critical that officers under the programme take time to counsel the offenders against re-offending.
      "One area that we may have overlooked before is how to ensure that community service is utilized in such a way that it does not encourage re-offending. This is why community service officers require counseling skills to be able to do a good job," said Mzikamanda.
      Community Service is an order of the court whereby an offender in non-serious offences is sentenced to perform unpaid public work for a specific number of hours as a way of paying reparations for his wrongs out of prison.

      *****

      Crop yield to double this year- Mzuzu ADD
      by Edwin Nyirongo, 13 April 2006 - 08:20:31
      Mzuzu Agricultural Development Division (ADD) says this year it expects double the amount of maize it realized last year.
      Acting Deputy Program Manager Agnes Moyo said this on Tuesday at Zombwe EPA at Ekwendeni in Mzimba during the maize intensification field day.
      "Our assessment this year has indicated that we will have double the maize we had last year and this is really encouraging not only to us as ADD but to farmers as well who faced serious shortage of food last year," she said.
      Moyo attributed the bumper yield to reduced prices of fertilizer and low prices of seeds.
      "In addition to that, rains have been generally reliable this year although there were floods and dry spells in some places," she said.
      The Acting Deputy Programme Manager said she was pleased that farmers are now planting new varieties of maize which have quick harvesting period and following new methods of farming.
      On complaints by farmers that they are not visited by agricultural officers, Moyo said this is because of shortage of staff at the ADD.
      "We have about few field assistants who have to travel long distances using bicycles," she said.
      Among the activities that took place at Zombwe were demonstration of maize varieties produced and distributed to some farmers by Monsanto.
      The villagers were also briefed on modern technologies of farming, among them fertilizer application.
      One of the farmers that benefited from free seeds and fertilizers, Kondwani Nyasulu praised DKC 8033 and DK 8031 as good seeds that have made him realize bumper yield this year.
      Moyo said in the past, he could not believe that there are better maize varieties than the local one he has been planting for a long time.

      *****

      Police raid Mzuzu, net 127 people
      by Francis Tayanjah-Phiri, 13 April 2006 - 08:01:39
      Police in Mzuzu on Tuesday night raided rest-houses and bars in the city, arresting a total of 127 people who were later charged with "rogue and vagabond."
      The arrested people included 86 sex workers (according to Police), mostly found in the company of men or in bed, nine illegal immigrants and two people on Police wanted list.
      A visit to Mzuzu Police Station by The Nation found the "sex workers" packed in a corridor of a new office block as officers were busy recording statements.
      Meanwhile, a Lilongwe-based civil servant complained that his wife was picked from a resthouse room the couple occupied in Mzuzu.
      The wife had accompanied the husband on a duty tour to Mzuzu only to find herself in the predicament.
      "It is embarrassing that you travel with your wife and she is picked by Police when you are sleeping," complained a friend of the victim.
      But one of the officers said the screening that follows the arrests determines whether those picked were to be charged or left free if their explanations prove innocence.
      Regional police spokesperson John Namalenga said the operation was meant to have a crime-free Easter holiday.
      "This operation is going on in the Northern Region and the purpose is to make Easter holiday free from crime. Many of those arrested last night in Mzuzu were found loitering at odd hours," said Namalenga.
      He also confirmed that 29 people had also been arrested in Nkhata Bay for rogue and vagabond.
      "Yes, it is true we have netted 16 women and 13 men found loitering at odd hours and in questionable circumstances," said Namalenga.

      *****

      Air Malawi disciplines staff, suspends route
      by Mabvuto Banda, 13 April 2006 - 08:18:31
      Air Malawi, the country's sole flag carrier, has "disciplined" some cabin crew members for carrying unknown parcels for traders. The airline has also suspended its bi-weekly flights to Dubai.
      Acting Chief Executive Officer Captain Wisdom Mchungula on Wednesday confirmed the suspension of the Dubai flight and explained the cabin crew have just been disciplined and not suspended as earlier indicated.
      "We have just suspended the flights for sometime. We are reviewing our operations and we will be back on the route as soon as we consolidate our operations," Mchungula said.
      On the cabin crew, Mchungula said they were handled at departmental level and the decision was meant to protect them.
      "Nobody has been suspended. The action which has been taken was a disciplinary one to protect them because they were being used by some people in town to carry things for them and the company was losing revenue through that," he said.
      Mchungula explained that all over the world cabin crew have been caught with cocaine or hashish which they have been carrying for other people without knowing.
      The captain could not however disclose how many crew members have been disciplined.
      Insiders say that the cabin crew used to collect goods for some business people and brought them to Malawi without paying customs.

      *****

      Midima road to be named after Mugabe
      by Olivia Kumwenda, 13 April 2006 - 07:59:40
      Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe, to be on a visit to Malawi next month, will officially open the new Midima Road which connects Blantyre and Mulanje. The road will be named after him, it has been learnt.
      Foreign Affairs Minister Davis Katsonga confirmed the development yesterday but could not give full details.
      "Yes, he will open the road but for security reasons, it will be too early to release a full programme of President Mugabe's visit but it will be made public at the appropriate time," said Katsonga.
      Asked to confirm reports that the road will be named after Mugabe, Katsonga said: "Yes, that is also true but details on that are with the Ministry of Transport and Public Works, but for sure you will get all the details later."
      But Transport Minister Henry Mussa who The Nation contacted before talking to Katsonga, could not give more details on the matter, saying nothing formal has been done.
      "Of course, it would be good to have something to remember him [Mugabe] but as of now these are just speculations, nothing formal. We are still waiting for a programme from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The right person to talk to is Mr. Katsonga," said Mussa.
      Katsonga disclosed last month that Mugabe will be visiting Malawi from 3rd to 5th May, adding that there was nothing strange with the visit since Malawi and Zimbabwe have close ties.
      Sources in the Ministry of Transport told The Nation on Wednesday that the Midima Road will officially be opened on 4th May 2006.
      Construction of the road started in June 2003 and was completed last year.

      *****

      Zim opposition faction hit by defections

      Harare, Zimbabwe

      13 April 2006 11:21

      Several members of a faction of Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) have broken ranks to rejoin Morgan Tsvangirai's side, reports said on Thursday.

      Blessing Chebundo, the MP for the mining town of Kwekwe left the MDC faction led by Arthur Mutambara earlier this week.

      He said he was leaving for "very personal reasons."

      Another senior official, the former chief executive officer of the now-defunct Daily News, Samuel Sipepa Nkomo, has also left Mutambara's faction although he has not yet joined Tsvangirai's side, he confirmed on Thursday.

      "They've not spoken to me. I think I want to consider it when they approach," he said in a telephone interview.

      The MDC was split in two late last year, when Tsvangirai overruled an internal vote in favour of participation in elections for a controversial new senate.

      Tsvangirai, one of the founders of the MDC in 1999, was opposed to taking part in the senate but other party officials felt he should have respected the will of the party. Those officials left to form a rival side, now headed by Mutambara, a professor of robotics.

      In a further blow to Mutambara's faction, five lower-level party representatives based overseas also sent in their resignations.

      "We have come to the conclusion that our aspirations and contributions to the Zimbabwean political process will not be realised by our affiliation to that grouping," said the five, led by Silence Chihuri, the faction's secretary in Scotland.

      A spokesperson for the Mutambara-led faction said he wished those who had defected "good luck" and denied that his faction was losing strength.

      "We wish them good luck. Like we have always said, the struggle is not a stroll in the park," Paul Themba Nyathi was quoted as saying in Thursday's edition of the state-controlled Herald newspaper.

      He said the defections "were not a reflection that the faction was losing grip of its membership but a development that is to be expected in any struggle", according to the paper.

      Mutambara was elected head of the MDC faction in a burst of optimism at a congress in February. But his rival Tsvangirai appears to command larger crowds. - Sapa-DPA

      *****

      Zim land invaders target SA farmers

      Augustine Mukaro | Zimbabwe



      13 April 2006 12:28

      A fresh wave of farm takeovers hit the southeastern Lowveld in Zimbabwe this week with Zanu-PF supporters and land officers seizing five plots with a ready-to-harvest sugarcane crop.

      The farm owners, most of them South Africans, have since appealed to the South African embassy in Harare to intervene, reports the Zimbabwe Independent.

      In a letter to Willem Geerlings, first secretary at the SA embassy, the farmers alleged that a Chiredzi lands officer, identified only as Mukonyora, another official identified as Guruvheti and a farmer, identified as Jambaya, invaded Hippo Valley Settlement, Holding 16, and gave the owner 30 days to vacate the property.

      "Today, April 11, 2006, the Chiredzi lands officer Mukonyora and Guruvheti arrived on the farm to inform Wayne Petzer that the remainder of the farm has been taken over and that he has 30 days to get off," reads the letter.

      The letter said that the new farmer had walked around the homestead and told Petzer that he could harvest five hectares of the sugar cane and would be compensated for the remainder of the crop.

      The team demanded that Petzer leave behind air conditioners, a borehole pump, a swimming pool pump, a hammer mill and two tractors..

      "On the property there is a main homestead, a self-contained cottage and a large separate snooker room with kitchenette and toilet. The lands officer Guruvheti wants to immediately move into the snooker room. They insist that the current people in the cottage must move out immediately and that Petzer should have moved out by May 11, 2006," the letter says.

      The sugar-milling season starts on April 20, showing that the farm takeovers are targeted at reaping the sugarcane crop, said the newspaper.

      Farmers in the area said harassment of sugarcane growers have been prevalent in Chiredzi, particularly towards the harvest period.

      "The land officers have a long history of plot-hopping antics, especially Guruvheti," one farmer said.

      "We suspect that Guruvheti is still running his other plot on Fairrange [Mapanza] where he has placed a relative."

      Other farmers facing problems in the area include those on farms 14, 12, 17, 51 and 13.

      At farm 13, the owner, Pierre Guimbeau, was surprised to be visited by a Masvingo province lands officer, identified as Nyokwe, on April 9, armed with an offer letter dated March 28, 2006 and signed by Lands Minister Didymus Mutasa.

      "Nyokwe is transferring from Farm 53, where he averaged 10tonne/ha last season and has since abandoned this plot," one farmer said.

      "Nyokwe says he wants to negotiate the crop with Guimbeau who has put in all the inputs into this crop." - Zimbabwe Independent
    • Christine Chumbler
      ADB firm on Karonga-Chitipa road contract by Zainah Liwanda, 22 May 2006 - 06:09:17 The African Development Bank (ADB) has again rejected a proposal by
      Message 1046 of 1046 , May 22, 2006
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        ADB firm on Karonga-Chitipa road contract

        by Zainah Liwanda, 22 May 2006 - 06:09:17

        The African Development Bank (ADB) has again rejected a proposal by government to look for another contractor instead of China Hunan Construction to construct of the long awaited Karonga/Chitipa road.

        China Hunan from Mainland China won the bid which was approved by the ADB but government later wanted to award the contract to a Portuguese firm, Mota Engil, the second lowest bidder, claiming China Hunan's bid was unrealistically low and that the company had very little experience in Africa.

        Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe confirmed on Sunday the ADB rejected the proposal at a meeting held between the bank and Malawi government in Tunisia last week.

        The Malawi government wanted the Tunisia meeting to authorise it to get another contractor for the road, said Gondwe.

        "They did not allow us to look for another contractor because of their regulations. But we are about to get another alternative for Karonga/Chitipa and I would be surprised if it does not start before end June," said Gondwe.

        The minister explained that the bank insisted that regardless of the unrealistic cost estimates, China Hunan should be allowed to go ahead with the construction.

        But Gondwe could not give further details about the alternatives, arguing there are still a few loose ends to tighten up before disclosing it.

        The problem with China Hunan, according to Gondwe, is that it would require more money to meet the total cost of the project.

        This paper reported last week that government met Taiwanese representatives where they offered to fund the road if the ADB continued to reject its favoured contractor, Mota Engil.

        Gondwe could neither confirm nor deny the reports on the Taiwanese offer, saying government was looking at a number of ways to handle the issue.

        According to Gondwe, the China Hunan's bid was 24 percent lower than the consulting engineers' estimates of K7.9 billion and 34 percent below the second lowest bidder.

        President Bingu wa Mutharika laid a foundation stone for the construction of the road this year ahead of a crucial byelection in Chitipa in December last year.

        The President's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) won the Chitipa Wenya constituency by-election that fell vacant following the collapse and subsequent death of Speaker of Parliament Rodwell Munyenyembe who belonged to the UDF.

        Last week, police and the District Commissioner (DC) for Chitipa stopped a rally that was aimed at soliciting people's views about development projects in the district.

        The meeting, which was reportedly organised by Concerned Citizens of Chitipa, was among other things also supposed to tackle the controversial Karonga/Chitipa road.

        The project failed to start off in 2000 when a contract for an initial loan of US$17 million and US$15 million from the Taiwanese government was signed, with some quarters claiming the Bakili Muluzi administration diverted the money to another road.

        *****

        Chihana operated on

        by Edwin Nyirongo, 22 May 2006 - 06:32:31

        Alliance for Democracy (Aford) president Chakufwa Chihana, who is in South Africa receiving treatment, had a brain operation on Friday at Garden City Clinic, family and party officials confirmed on Sunday.

        Aford national chairman Chipimpha Mughogho said he was told by the family members that Chihana had a successful operation on Friday and was put in an intensive care unit.

        Mughogho said Chihana, who initially complained of headache, was found with a brain tumour which South African doctors removed.

        Mzimba West MP Loveness Gondwe said Aford boss condition was stable.

        "Hon. Chihana had a major operation and after that he was put in the intensive care unit but his condition is stable. I do not know where he was operated on but it had something to do with the skull," she said.

        Deputy Information Minister John Bande referred the matter to the Health Minister Hetherwick Ntaba who was reported to be in Geneva, Switzerland.

        Aford publicity secretary Norman Nyirenda said when Chihana's situation got worse, the family alerted the Office of the President and Cabinet who took him to Mwaiwathu Private Hospital.

        "The doctors at Mwaiwathu advised that he should be sent to South Africa and they even identified the doctor for him," he said.

        He said the costs are being met by the Malawi government, contradicting his earlier statement that his boss covered the cost.

        Mughogho is now in charge of the party.

        Gondwe will be a busy person when Parliament starts meeting on June 6 as she is the only Aford MP remaining.

        *****

        Pillane proposes presidential age limit

        by Emmanuel Muwamba , 22 May 2006 - 06:34:13

        A member of the DPP National Governing Council Abdul Pillane on Saturday urged members of political parties and the civil society to put an upper age limit in the Constitution for presidential candidates.

        Pillane was addressing members of political parties and civil society in Liwonde during a two-day follow up workshop to the National Conference on the Review of Constitution held in March in Lilongwe.

        "My view is that (an upper) age limit should be at 75. We have to give a chance to younger people to lead because in circumstance, when you age you become forgetful especially when sickly," said Pillane. "Overall, chances should be given to young people."

        But UDF secretary general Kennedy Makwangwala, whose party members agitated for the age limit during presentations, played the issue down.

        "I feel there is no logic to have an upper age limit for presidential candidates. If someone is 90 or 80 I don't know how that can influence the electorate not to vote for someone who is younger, I don't see any logic behind that," said Makwangwala.

        MCP participants at the workshop also vehemently objected to the proposal.

        MCP vice president Nicholas Dausi in an interview said: "There is no constitution in Africa which stipulates an upper age limit. So it would be strange in Malawi to have an upper age limit for presidential candidates."

        MDP President Kamlepo Kalua also opposed the need to have an upper age limit.

        "If we have personalities in mind that we want to discriminate against then it is unfortunate. The constitution we want to build is a guiding document for future generations and it should not bar certain individuals on the basis of grudges," he said.

        The Malawi Law Constitution Issues Paper of March 2006 says several submissions that were received put an upper presidential age limit in the Constitution.

        "It is argued that it is common sense that mental knowledge faculties tend to fail with age. As regards what the actual age limit should be the submissions are far from being agreed. The range is from 60 years to 80 years," read submissions in the Issues Paper.

        On whether MPs should double as ministers, Kalua said this should be the case.

        Makwangwala also said it is not right for MPs to serve as ministers because the Legislature, another arm of government, is reduced while the Executive branch is beefed up from another arm of government.

        "There is no separation of powers when MPs double as ministers," said Makwangwala.

        But Pillane said there is no problem for MPs to work as ministers as well, saying MPs are elected by the President.

        "One can serve both posts. There have been no problems before for people to double," said Pillane.

        The Centre for Multiparty Democracy funded the workshop through the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy.

        The objective was to come up with a collective position on the Issues Paper which will be presented to the Special Law Commission that will be constituted soon.

        *****

        Mussa hails new driving licence

        by Zainah Liwanda, 22 May 2006 - 06:58:52

        Transport and Public Works Minister Henry Mussa last week said the design of the Malawi-Sadc driving licence would guard against forgery and ensure that only skilled and legitimate drivers of particular vehicles are licensed.

        Mussa was speaking at the official launch of the licences in Lilongwe where he announced that traffic police would from July enforce speed limits and sober driving using Breathalysers which his ministry is in the process of procuring.

        The minister said financial constraints are the reason for the delay in procuring the equipment but assured that by July they would be available.

        "With the new equipment, the days of those who believe in the thrill of drink and driving are numbered," warned Mussa.

        Mussa added that with the new licence, government is optimistic that the country's roads would be safe.

        Acting Director of Road Traffic James Chirwa said the features that distinguish the new from the old licences are the Malawi national flag and a ghost image of the driver's photograph, among others.

        Those with old licences, according to Chirwa, are expected to get the new ones after the expiry of the former.

        *****

        UDF demands investigation on Kasambara

        by Rabecca Theu, 22 May 2006 - 06:30:46

        The United Democratic Front (UDF) has asked government to investigate Ralph Kasambara on allegations of abuse of office while he was attorney general.

        UDF publicity secretary Sam Mpasu told the press Sunday that the party is neither amused or saddened by the removal of the former AG but asked government to institute investigations on Kasambara.

        "Beyond the removal of the Attorney General, we now urge President Mutharika to institute investigation against Mr Kasambara into allegations that have made rounds in the public domain during the recent past. These include: Mrs Helen Singh and SS Rent-a-Car; SGS and ITS saga; ...........the use of Malawi Police Service in the arrest of three Chronicle journalists and the handling of Mrs Rubina Kawonga," said Mpasu.

        Mpasu also accused Kasambara of awarding government contracts to Lawson and Company where he was a senior partner.

        "We urge government to thoroughly investigate the former AG. We also ask government to cautiously select the new AG ," said Mpasu, who was accompanied by the party's Secretary General Kennedy Makwangwala, leader of the party in Parliament George Mtafu, chief whip Leonard Mangulama and a member of the executive Hophmally Makande.

        But Minister of Information Patricia Kaliati said UDF should give offer its advice to the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB).

        "They should advise bodies like the Anti-Corruption Bureau to conduct the investigations and why are they saying this now? Is it because Kasambara has been fired? This is not a personal issue. If they have other pressing issues they should just say so. These arguments should have come up earlier on when the said cases were happening," she said.

        Kasambara asked UDF to proceed with the mission of urging government to investigate him.

        "They can do their job. Everyone has a right to lobby for anything they want in the country. UDF has a right to do that, let them go ahead," he said.

        Kasambara was relieved of his duties as AG by the President last week. Government has not given reasons behind the removal.

        *****

        Zambia: Malawians Grab Zambian Land

        The Times of Zambia (Ndola)

        May 18, 2006

        Posted to the web May 19, 2006

        Andrew Lungu

         

        MALAWIANS who have encroached on both the 'no-man's' and part of the Zambian land at the Mwami border in Eastern Province have plucked out some beacons that were used in the demarcation of the border.

        The Malawians are now using the beacons as stools in their newly-established villages on Zambian land.

        Eastern Province Minister, Boniface Nkhata, said in Chipata yesterday that if the situation was not controlled urgently, Zambia would lose huge tracts of land to Malawians migrating into Zambian in large numbers.

        A check at the Zambia-Malawi border showed a number of beacons had been vandalised and new structures constructed on the 'no man's' land and a large portion of Zambian land.

        Mr Nkhata said the trend extended to many parts of the province bordering the two countries.

        "A large portion of Zambian land has been taken up by the Malawians starting from the Chama boundary up to the Mwami border.

        "The weighbridge at the Mwami border was initially in Zambia from the time both countries gained independence from Britain, but now the bridge is on Malawian soil," Mr Nkhata said.

        The minister, who is former Chama District Commissioner, said there was similar encroachment in Lundazi and Chama districts where Zambia shares a boundary with Malawi.

        He said a Malawian farmer identified as Mr Mfune had cultivated 71.5 hectares on Zambian land and employed about 265 Malawian workers.

        "Khombe Farm in Chama district in Kanyerere's area, along the Muyombe road which leads to Northern Province where this Malawian farmer has cultivated a vast land is on the Zambian territory," he said.

        Workers on the farm admitted that they were farming on Zambian soil but could not go back to Malawi because the land in that country was inadequate for cultivation.

        Mr Nkhata appealed to the ministry of Lands to urgently release money for the demarcation of the Zambia-Malawi border to avoid further land disputes between the two countries.

        Meanwhile, the Immigration Department in Livingstone has arrested a couple and another man, all Zimbabweans, for working in Zambia without permits.

        They were arrested at Gwembe village yesterday where they worked for Into Africa, a tour operating company that provides bush dinners and breakfast.

        According to the Immigration Department in Livingstone, the trio entered Zambia through the Victoria Falls border as visitors but decided to work for the company illegally.

        Last week, immigration officers arrested 10 Zimbabwean traders and six Ethiopians for entering and staying in Zambia illegally.

        The Zimbabwean traders were warned and cautioned and later released.

        The Ethiopians were arrested at Konje Guest House when they ran out of money to proceed to Botswana.

         

        *****

        Zim unions, MDC still plan anti-govt protests

        Harare, Zimbabwe

        22 May 2006 11:51

        Zimbabwe's biggest labour federation on Saturday threatened to call massive demonstrations against the government over poor salaries and worsening living conditions for workers in the country.

        The threats are ratcheting up pressure against President Robert Mugabe's government after similar threats by the biggest opposition party in the country, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), about two months ago.

        Speaking at the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) conference on Saturday, the labour body's president, Lovemore Matombo, said the powerful union wants the government to award workers salaries that match the country's ever-rising inflation.

        "I can assure you we will stage massive demonstrations to force them [employers] to award workers minimum salaries that tally with the poverty datum line," said Matombo.

        Matombo did not say when exactly the ZCTU would order workers to strike.

        Opposition protests

        Meanwhile, the MDC on Sunday said it will push ahead with plans for anti-government protests, saying victory in a key by-election at the weekend was a "sign the electorate supported its policies", including democratic mass resistance.

        A spokesperson of the main faction of the splintered MDC, Nelson Chamisa, said victory over Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF and a rival MDC faction in a Saturday by-election in Harare's Budiriro constituency is a sign Zimbabweans still have confidence in party leader Morgan Tsvangirai and his policies.

        Tsvangirai, the founding leader of the MDC, heads the main rump of the opposition party whose candidate, Emmanuel Chisvuure, polled 7 949 votes to win the Budiriro House of Assembly seat.

        Gabriel Chaibva of the other faction of the MDC, led by prominent academic Arthur Mutambara, garnered 504 votes while Zanu-PF's Jeremiah Bvirindi polled 3 961 votes.

        "This election showed that the electorate still has confidence in the MDC [Tsvangirai-led] leadership and its policies," Chamisa told independent news service ZimOnline.

        He added: "We will now move to consolidate our position * we still believe in mass protests. Until we have attained our goals we see no reason why we should abandon [plans for protests]."

        Tsvangirai has threatened to call mass protests this winter against Mugabe and his government. He says the mass protests, whose date he is still to name, are meant to force Mugabe to relinquish power to a government of national unity to be tasked to write a new and democratic Constitution that would ensure free and fair elections held under international supervision.

        Mugabe and his government, who had hoped for victory in Budiriro to show they were recapturing urban support from a splintered MDC, have not taken idly the opposition's threats to call mass protests, with the veteran president warning Tsvangirai he would be "dicing with death" if he ever attempted to instigate a Ukraine-style popular revolt in Zimbabwe.

        Crackdown

        In a fresh crackdown against dissension, the police last week arrested several church and civic leaders for organising public prayers and marches to mark last year's controversial home-demolition exercise by the government.

        The police also banned the marches and prayers, fearing they could easily turn into mass protests against Mugabe and his government.

        However, the marches went ahead in the second-largest city of Bulawayo after organisers had obtained a court order barring the police from stopping the march.

        Political analysts say although Zimbabweans have largely been cowed by Mugabe's tactics of routinely deploying riot police and the military to crush street protests, worsening hunger and poverty are fanning public anger that Tsvangirai -- with proper planning and organisation -- could easily manipulate.

        Zimbabwe is in the grip of a severe six-year old economic crisis that has seen inflation breaching the 1 000% barrier. Last year, the World Bank said Zimbabwe's economic crisis was unprecedented for a country not at war.

        The MDC and major Western governments blame Mugabe for wrecking the country's economy, which was one of the strongest in Africa at independence from Britain 26 years ago.

        Mugabe denies the charge blaming the crisis on sabotage by Britain and her allies after he seized white-owned farms for redistribution to landless blacks six years ago.

        The Harare authorities recently hiked salaries for civil servants, with the lowest-paid soldier now earning about Z$27-million while the lowest-paid school teacher now takes home about Z$33-million.

        But the salaries are still way below the poverty datum line, which the government's Consumer Council of Zimbabwe says now stands at a staggering Z$42-million a month for an average family of six.

        The Zimbabwe government often accuses the ZCTU, a strong ally of the MDC, of pushing a political agenda to remove Mugabe from power.

        Meanwhile, Matombo and Lucia Matibenga retained their posts as president and first vice-president respectively during the ZCTU congress that ended on Saturday. -- ZimOnline

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