- Chitipa MPs anger Mutharika
by Edwin Nyirongo, 21 April 2006 - 07:17:40
President Bingu wa Mutharika on Tuesday got angry with Chitipa MPs during a Democratic People's Party (DPP) caucus, accusing them of not doing enough to explain government's position on the controversial Karonga-Chitipa Road, inside sources and government have confirmed.
According to an MP from Chitipa, it all started when newly-elected Member of Parliament for Chitipa Wenya Francis Mkwala told the President that they (the MPs) were receiving a lot of calls from the district over the road.
"He told the President that much as the MPs do trust him (the President), they were getting calls from the district over the road and that the people wanted an explanation on it," said the MP who attended the caucus.
He said the President angrily told the MPs that they should be the first to understand the situation regarding the road and explain issues to the people accordingly, according to the source.
Mutharika reportedly also accused the people of Chitipa of not being patient when many places in the country do not have good roads.
Bingu is reported to have said that there are so many roads that have not been started like the Thyolo-Bangula Road, the Tsangano-Neno Road, the Jali-Chitakale Road, the Jenda and Embangweni Road, but government is not receiving pressure like the one coming from Chitipa.
Another MP said Bingu then told the caucus he would not be moved by threats or pressure to construct the road, saying he has already planned that construction of the road would start in July.
Our source also said Bingu commented on Tuesday's story in The Nation where people of Chitipa wanted their MPs to dump the DPP over the issue.
The MP said the President Mutharika said anyone who wants to leave the party is free to do so.
"The policy of the DPP is that anyone who wants to join can join and those who want to leave can do so. But that will not stop me from constructing
roads anywhere in the country," he reportedly said.
In an interview, Mkwala admitted he raised the matter, saying he wanted assurance from the President after getting calls from Chitipa.
"But that does not mean that I don't have trust in the President," said Mkwala.
He also said he wanted the Minister of Transport and Public Works Henry Mussa to ensure that the road gets the attention it deserves, saying he hopes contractual difficulties will be resolved as soon possible to avoid unnecessary tension in the district.
Information Minister Patricia Kaliati confirmed that the caucus took place and that the matter was raised.
"The President said he was going to build the road based on his programme and not political pressure," she said.
But Kaliati accused the opposition of deliberately misrepresenting facts on the road.
She said the President did not say that once the ground-breaking ceremony was done then the road would start the same time.
Asked how the road could be built in July when the ADB has not yet decided on government's decision to change a contractor, Kaliati said the construction would still start during that month regardless of the issue.
Kachimbwinda briefly arrested
by George Ntonya, 21 April 2006 - 08:09:01
UDF National Organising Secretary Maurice Kachimbwinda and two regional party leaders on Thursday spent about two hours at the Central Region Police headquarters for questioning because some people reported that they were inciting vendors not to vacate the streets.
In an interview soon after his release, Kachimbwinda said that he, UDF Central Region Governor John Banda and District Governor William Ching'amba were ordered to surrender themselves to Police following a political meeting they jointly addressed at Tsabango Community Secondary School ground on April 16, 2006.
"Some people reported that we told the rally that vendors should object to government decision for them to leave the streets," said Kachimbwinda, known at the height of the UDF rule as Ninja. "We never said this."
He said that they obliged with a letter from the Commissioner of Police in the region to surrender themselves because "we knew we had done nothing wrong."
The three were released around 11am after the police recorded their statements.
Between Tuesday, when the government enforced its order to have all vendors out of the streets and the time of Kachimbwinda's release, Lilongwe police arrested a total of 18 vendors in the city.
Central Region police spokesperson Moyenda Chitimbe said that of the 18, eight were charged with unlawful assembly while six faced a charge of conduct likely to cause breach of peace.
"Four of them have been charged with inciting violence by blocking roads. Some of them have already appeared in court," said Chitimbe, adding that police officers were on a round-the-clock patrol to ensure that disgruntled vendors do not take the law into their hands.
Reports indicate that over 40 vendors have been arrested countrywide since Tuesday.
Local Government Minister George Chaponda said in an earlier interview that the government will not be lenient with any vendor who disregards the order to move to flea markets and other designated areas.
3 UDF officials arrested for insulting Mutharika
by Olivia Kumwenda, 21 April 2006 - 07:22:08
Police in Balaka on Saturday arrested three United Democratic Front (UDF) officials for allegedly insulting President Bingu wa Mutharika.
The three include the District Governor for Balaka Anafi Juma, District Deputy Organising Secretary Joseph Chinong'one and District Campaign Director Roy Mbewe.
Balaka police spokesperson Chirungamo Ligomeka on Thursday said the suspects allegedly insulted Mutharika during a rally they addressed at Mdala Village in the area of Sub Chief Amidu and after the meeting as they were going home.
"During the meeting and on their way to the village, the three [insulted] the State President...They were...in a UDF vehicle registration number BM 6060 carrying a megaphone," alleged Ligomeka.
He said the three were taken to Eastern Region Police Headquarters in Zomba for security purposes as a group of UDF supporters gathered at the police station after the arrest, arguing that it was politically motivated.
Eastern Region Police spokesperson Nicholas Gondwa on Thursday said the three appeared before court on Wednesday where bail was denied and they were sent on remand to Zomba Maximum Security Prison.
Juma, 47, hails from Nunga Village, T/A Nsamala in Balaka; Chinong'one, 56, is from Sosola Village, T/A Nsamala, Balaka and Mbewe, 58, hails from Mponda Village, T/A Nsamala in Balaka.
The three, according to Ligomeka, are likely to be charged with the offence of using insulting language which is contrary to Section 182 of the Penal Code.
Insulting the President is also an offence in the country as it contradicts Section 4 of the Protected Flags, Names and Emblems Act.
UDF spokesperson Sam Mpasu described the arrests as ridiculous, saying: "They are using the law to victimise UDF. Every time we speak it's treason, sedition, the UDF is in trouble, the press is in trouble, they are making a mockery of the new Constitution which guarantees freedom of expression."
Last year former Republican Party (RP) President Gwanda Chakuamba was also arrested for allegedly insulting Mutharika during a rally in Ndirande, Blantyre, and was charged with an offence of insulting the State President contrary to Section 4 of the Protected Flags, Names and Emblems.
The case was, however, referred to the Constitutional Court to determine the constitutionality of the charge following an application by Chakuamba's lawyer Viva Nyimba who argued the charge his client is facing is inconsistent with the Constitution of Malawi.
Nyimba said Thursday the Constitutional Court is yet to set a date for the case.
Opposition disrespecting Bingu*Govt
by Juliet Chimwaga, 21 April 2006 - 07:19:54
Government on Thursday accused some opposition Members of Parliament (MPs) of disrespecting President Bingu wa Mutharika when MP for Mangochi North Ibrahim Matola (UDF) sarcastically identified the President as 'Chitsulo cha Njanji'.
The MP was accusing the President of failing to construct the Malindi-Makanjira Road in Mangochi and the Karonga-Chitipa Road.
Matola asked the Minister of Transport and Public Works Henry Mussa to "explain what happened with the money that was said to have been diverted from the Karonga-Chitipa Road to the Malindi-Makanjira Road because the road was not constructed up to now".
He added: "And yet the 'Chitsulo cha Njanji' himself said the road was completed. I would ask for a commission of inquiry to probe into the issue because the road was not constructed or if it is another road that is not in Malawi."
But Minister of Agriculture Uladi Mussa, who stood on a point of order, cautioned Matola, saying: "I think the Head of State must be given his due respect." Mussa said it was out of order for any MP to mention the President without adding the title "His Excellency."
Matola immediately interrupted and said: "Okay, I will say it, His Excellency Dr Bingu wa Mutharika Chitsulo cha Njanji." But this did not please the front bench either.
Meanwhile, Mulanje Central MP Brown Mpinganjira said Matola's calling of the President Chitsulo cha Njanji was respectful.
"And elsewhere in the world it is enough to call the president, Mr. President, and that is enough respect. Therefore, the government should not try to re-write rules," said Mpinganjira.
On the road, the Public Works Minister said: "I also want to clarify the issue of diversion of money for the road in question; that it was done in the previous government and is not the current government. But if you want the matter to be probed you can go ahead with the issue through the ACB.
ADB rejects govt contractor on Karonga-Chitipa Road
by Mabvuto Banda, 21 April 2006 - 07:19:02
The African Development Bank (ADB), the main financier of the Karonga-Chitipa Road, has rejected Malawi Government's request to swap contractors for the project..
The bank has since asked government to award the tender to a mainland China company*China Hunan Construction*which won the contract last December.
But Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe on Thursday said that he has appealed against the ADB's decision.
"It is true that they have advised us to go ahead with the cheapest bidder, but I have appealed against the unrealism of the cost estimates of that company [China Hunan] and they said they were going to come back to me," Gondwe said.
China Hunan Construction won the tender to construct the Karonga-Chitipa Road and was endorsed by the ADB last year.
But government decided to change to another Portuguese firm--Mota--Engil,--the second lowest bidder--and wrote a letter to the bank's President Donald Kaberuka, asking for permission.
Government sources said on Thursday that the bank was disappointed with Malawi.
"They [the ADB] complained that they were surprised that Malawi was behaving like western African countries that usually like changing contractors," said an impeccable source.
But Gondwe on Thursday insisted that there are people within the bank and even a UK consultant who support the decision taken by the Malawi Government.
"There are some people within the ADB who agree with me*You can't have an under-estimation of close to 75 percent to do the job, that's substantial," Gondwe said.
"Why should I hide the fact that it is true that the mainland China company won the tender? What we are saying [is that] the cost is too low even the UK consultant who [is] supposed to be looking at both our interests and the ADB's agrees*There must be somebody within the ADB who is interested in Mainland China," Gondwe claimed.
The Nation failed to talk to Mr. Lawrence Kigundu, the ADB Taskforce Manager for the Malawi project in Tunisia as his phone went unanswered
The ADB has shareholders of 53 African nations and 24 western donor countries from around the world.
The bank lends commercially to Africa's richest nations like South Africa and allocates loans at concessionary rates to poor ones from its African Development Fund, financed largely by Western donors.
This decision by the Bank may increase fears that government may fail to construct the road this year as promised.
People of Chitipa and Karonga have already been angered by the delay and have asked President Bingu wa Muthatika to probe why and how government decided to change the contractor.
With the heavy rains, the 108 km stretch has already been rendered impassable.
ADB initially gave government US$17 million in the year 2,000 and the Republic of China pumped in US$15 million.
But the former government failed after it diverted the funds to another road project.
Katsonga not happy with disaster preparedness
by Edwin Nyirongo, 21 April 2006 - 07:24:45
People's Progressive Party (PPM) vice president Mark Katsonga Phiri has called on the Department of Relief and Disaster Preparedness provide emergency requirements on time.
Katsonga said this at Tukombo in Nkhata Bay South after visiting places affected by disaster in Nkhata Bay South and South West constituencies, where he donated K10,000 to the victims.
"When disaster strikes, relief officials do not come in time. Instead, they ask for reports while people are dying of hunger. They should
change their approach," he said.
Katsonga said when Karonga was affected by floods that resulted from heavy rains, it took the department weeks to bring assistance. He said the same happened to his Neno Constituency where the officials took over a month before going to assess the situation.
"Why should they wait for information from other people? They are supposed to be on the move when they hear news of a disaster and not wait for written reports which take time to reach the authorities," he said.
The PPM veep expressed dismay over the destruction of houses and property he saw in the area and assured the people that he would report to the
authorities for prompt action.
But Relief and Disater Preparedness chief Dr Meria Nowa Phiri blamed delays in communication and impassable roads for late action. She however said relief is sometimes sent even before the assessment report is not complied.
Chief Fukamapiri of Nkhata Bay said the four-day rains that fell in the area caused a lot of damage to crops such as maize, rice, cassava and cotton as well as household property.
Fukamapiri called on government to provide the victims with food and tents for shelter. He also requested seeds for winter cropping.
According to an interim assessment report released recently, 402.2 hectares of land, and 5,205 families have been affected in traditional authorities
Zilakoma, Malengamzoma and Fukamapiri.
Crops such as cassava, maize, rice, sweet potatoes and fishing nets have also been destroyed.
Presidential succession plan in Zim collapses
21 April 2006 11:38
Zimbabwe ruling party Zanu-PF's plan to amend the Constitution to delay the 2008 presidential election until 2010 to facilitate Vice-President Joice Mujuru's succession to President Mugabe appears to have collapsed in acrimony after its designated architect, justice minister Patrick Chinamasa, confirmed it is no longer on the cards.
This came amid reports yesterday that Chinamasa, who is still viewed with suspicion by those linked to the Zanu-PF faction led by retired army commander general Solomon Mujuru because of the 2004 Tsholotsho power struggle, was facing a backlash over the issue by those who think he might have torpedoed their plan.
Sources said the strategy was to introduce a constitutional amendment delaying the 2008 presidential election to 2010 to assist Mujuru in her bid to become president. The plan would ensure President Robert Mugabe goes in 2008 and Mujuru takes over as an interim president, elected by a two-thirds majority of both houses of Parliament, between 2008 and 2010.
Mujuru was expected to become the Zanu-PF leader when Mugabe steps down during the 2009 party congress. In 2010 she would then become the party candidate in the presidential poll.
Sources said Chinamasa's adversaries were planning to arraign him over an unclear case of alleged interference in due process, regarding a sensitive political-violence case that was recently in the courts, as retribution for his perceived failure to manage the succession plan. Chinamasa, who was linked with a camp led by Emmerson Mnangagwa, yesterday said he was not aware of any manoeuvres to arrest or summon him to court.
"Certainly, I don't know what is going on about that. I wish I knew," he said. Efforts to get comment from the attorney general's office failed as everyone ducked the issue.
While the ruling party was known by insiders to be working on the plan to smooth the way for Mugabe's problematic succession plan and facilitate Mujuru's entry, Chinamasa said the item was not on the agenda.
"The 18th amendment is about the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission and that is what is coming because it has been approved by the party and Cabinet," Chinamasa said. "I'm not aware of the other issues to do with harmonisation of elections. There was never any consideration to make that part of this amendment.
"As you will recall, I only raised the issue for brainstorming and debate. It was never considered by the party at any time and I hope the party will come to it sometime and clarify issues."
Although Chinamasa said Zanu-PF did not table the issue, well-placed ruling party sources insisted the plan was initially the main reason for the expected amendment, not the proposed Human Rights Commission, which is an afterthought to save the already announced amendment.
"The election postponement, with a succession-handling mechanism, was initially part of the 18th amendment agenda but was dropped for specific reasons," a source said. "Apart from the fact that the issue had already been made public by the press before the politburo and Cabinet discussed it, it had no sufficient support inside and outside Zanu-PF."
It is understood Zanu-PF MPs linked to the Mnangagwa camp wanted to block the plan in Parliament. Opposition parties and civil society groups, as well as the international community, also wanted to build resistance to it.
Sources said after last year's general election, Mugabe tasked Chinamasa to look into the issue when he was working on the 17th amendment, which dealt with the Senate and land acquisition matters. However, the election issue was not supposed to be publicised. When Chinamasa, said the sources, reported on progress in his assignment to the politburo in May last year, he was told to leave the succession issue which was earmarked to be tackled in the 18th amendment.
On May 27 last year, Chinamasa presented a memorandum to the Zanu-PF central committee that dealt with the proposed 17th amendment. In the process he said another amendment was coming.
"Further and above the constitutional proposal referred to above, I wish to alert the central committee to the fact that during the course of the sixth Parliament of Zimbabwe I intend to bring further comprehensive constitutional proposals to address, in a holistic manner, the constitutional changes that we need to put in place to take effect from 2010," Chinamasa said.
He also said the senate -- which was part of transitional and succession management mechanisms -- would last from 2005 to 2010. Sources said the idea was to manage Mugabe's volatile succession and Mujuru's takeover. But mounting opposition appears to have scuttled it, at least for the time being. -- Zimbabwe Independent
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
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
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.
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.
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