- Mausoleum to Banda stirs mixed feelings
Felix Mponda | Blantyre, Malawi
11 May 2006 10:48
A mausoleum to Malawi's founding president and one of Africa's most repressive leaders, Kamuzu Banda, will be inaugurated on Sunday, stirring mixed emotions over the dictator's legacy in the impoverished Southern African nation.
President Bingu wa Mutharika will open the two-storey $600 000 marble-and-granite mausoleum that will also house a library and research centre on Malawian history during a ceremony on Heroes Acre in the capital Lilongwe.
The United States-trained doctor who led the country to freedom from British colonial rule 42 years ago ruthlessly wielded power in Malawi for three decades until 1994 when he was ousted in the countrys first multiparty polls.
Banda, popularly known as "Ngwazi" or conqueror, died in South Africa in 1997 at the age of 99 and was one of Africa's most controversial leaders.
He was laid to rest in a gold-plated coffin along with his trademark Homburg hat and lion's tail fly-whisk near Parliament in Lilongwe, where construction of the mausoleum began in 2004.
Prominent author and historian Desmond Phiri said Banda "was a total failure on human rights" but that he nevertheless "deserves the mausoleum because he came at an opportune time to unite Malawians and lead the fight against colonialism".
"Despite this dark side to his leadership, Malawi would do injustice to history if it ignored Banda's achievements in fighting for freedom and independence," said Wapulumuka Mulwafu, a senior lecturer at the University of Malawi.
But critics say the shrine to Banda is a pointless luxury in one of Africa's poorest countries, where life expectancy has been cut down to 36 due to HIV/Aids and close to half the population of 12-million are in need of food aid.
"He does not deserve the mausoleum. That's money that should have been used to compensate victims of human rights abuses committed during his regime," rights activist Julian Mhone said.
Mhone, whose politician father Douglas "mysteriously disappeared" in the 1960s when he spoke out against Banda, is one of hundreds of Malawians waiting to be compensated.
Former president Bakili Muluzi, who unseated Banda in the landmark 1994 polls, set up a national tribunal which operated for 10 years until 2004 to compensate hundreds of victims of rights abuses under the Banda regime, although few have received funds.
Muluzi's successor Mutharika started building the mausoleum soon after he came to power in 2004, saying it was government's duty to honour the former head of state, who "led the fight to freedom".
While Muluzi condemned Banda for his "legacy of brutality, torture and gross abuse of human rights", Mutharika has taken a different tack, saying that he deserves recognition for bringing freedom and development to Malawi by building roads, hospitals and other facilities.
Banda, who proclaimed himself president-for-life in 1971, jailing his opponents and silencing critics, also barred women from wearing trousers and short skirts and jailed men for having long hair.
His rule was marked by human rights abuses. According to some estimates, up to 100 000 Malawians were forced into exile during his tenure.
After widespread anti-government rioting and the suspension of Western aid in 1992, Banda was forced to abandon one-party rule in 1993 and agree to elections.
He was thrown out of power in the country's first multi-party elections the following year.
The views of Banda's descendants, who are due to attend the inauguration, were taken into account in the design of the mausoleum.
The family objected to early plans to put the founding president's remains on display in a manner similar to the tomb of Russian revolutionary Vladimir Lenin in Moscow's Red Square.
"The idea of viewing the remains of Doctor Banda is not in conformity with Malawian culture of exposing dead bodies. Instead we want a tomb with a big portrait of Banda," said grand-nephew Ken Kandodo. - Sapa-AFP
Five years for running illegal pharmacy
by Olivia Kumwenda, 11 May 2006 - 08:25:05
The Dalton Magistrate's Court in Limbe on Wednesday ordered Blantyre-based businessman Henry Bashir Hassan Goba to pay K5 million or serve a default sentence of five years following his own plea of guilty to the charge of operating a wholesale pharmacy without permit and illegal possession of medical drugs.
The crime is contrary to Section 35 (4) of the Pharmacy, Medicines and Poisons Board Act.
Goba's colleague, Anthony Weche, who also pleaded guilty to the charge, was ordered to pay K2.5 million or serve a default sentence of two and half years from the day of arrest.
Senior Resident Magistrate Kingsley Mlungu said he varied the sentences for the two as Weche is a first offender while Goba was convicted by the same court last year on a similar count. He was then ordered to pay a fine of K8,000.
Mlungu also ordered that the drugs which were seized from Goba's three warehouses in Blantyre be forfeited to government.
In an interview after the ruling, lawyer for the two Kingsley Matemba said he does not know whether his clients will pay the fine or not.
"I have to consult them first but I can't comment on my clients' financial stand as I am only their legal advisor not financial advisor, but what I can say is this is a lot of money," said Matemba.
He also said it is too early to say if they are going to appeal against the ruling.
The two, however, still face another count of being found in possession of goods "reasonably suspected" to have been stolen or unlawfully obtained and failing to give satisfactory account of the same contrary to Section 329 of the Penal Code.
Primrose Chimwaza, representing the State, said the remaining count does not have an option of a fine and if convicted the two will serve their sentences even if they pay the fines for the other count.
She also said the two will remain in police custody unless they make a fresh application for bail on the remaining count.
Hearing of the case has since been set for May 30.
Goba and Weche are being accused together with four pharmacy assistants from Mulanje and Chiradzulu district hospitals, each of whom face two counts of theft by public servant contrary to Section 278 as read with Section 283 (1) of the Penal Code or an alternative count of negligence by public servant contrary to Section 284 of the Penal Code.
The four pharmacy assistants; Prince Winga, Kenneth Kazando, Stanford Miyango and Christina Mwinjiwa are said to have failed to account for assorted medical equipment under their control.
Meanwhile, the Malawi News Agency (Mana) reports that the Zomba Magistrate's Court on Monday fined two men a total of K40,000 or in default serve a 12-month jail sentence each after finding them guilty of illegally possessing medical drugs.
Mana says Sebastian Mwalabu was found guilty of illegally running a clinic and was slapped with a K25,000 fine while Henderson Bester was fined K15,000 after he was found with assorted medical drugs at Mayaka Trading Centre in the district.
Admarc short of money for buying produce
by Rabecca Theu, 11 May 2006 - 07:51:53
Admarc has only raised K5 million from the required K3.5 billion to buy maize and other crops from farmers this year, Agriculture Minister Uladi Mussa said on Wednesday.
Mussa said Admarc has borrowed the K5 million from a financial institution to start the buying process as it waits for money to be provided for in the next budget..
"We cannot afford to wait for the next budget's approval in June or July, that is why we decided to have alternative financial resources*And we asked Admarc to borrow money from other institutions, which they have done and we expect them to start buying soon," he said.
Three weeks ago government said Admarc would by now be buying maize from farmers but new prices for the transactions have not yet been set.
"Prices will be announced next week. Until then Admarc cannot buy any crop. What we have at the moment are minimum prices," said Mussa.
Reports indicate that some farmers in the country have already started selling their maize to commercial traders at prices ranging from K25 to K30 per kilogramme, despite governments' orders to desist from the practice.
Principal Secretary for Agriculture Patrick Kabambe expressed surprise over Admarc's delays, saying they should have started buying by now.
"Maybe they are waiting for government to announce crop prices, which I believe will be done any time from now. Ask them why they haven't started," he said.
Attempts to talk to Admarc General Manager Charles Matabwa proved futile as his secretary said he was away.
Chairperson of the Parliament Committee on Agriculture Vitus Dzoole Mwale expressed concern over the delay.
"This is a very worrisome situation. Our committee delivered a report in Parliament which urged government to start buying maize immediately to avoid a situation where farmers just sell their maize anyhow and Admarc ends up without any maize *We will observe for a while and find out what is happening, after which we may summon the Honourable Minister to explain to the committee what is happening," he said.
Malawi has this year produced a bumper harvest. It has a surplus of 250,000 metric tonnes over the national requirement of 2.1 million tonnes.
Aids blamed on tight trousers
by Edwin Nyirongo, 11 May 2006 - 09:12:58
Some women in Chilumba in Karonga have said tight trousers should be banned in the country because they contribute to the spread of HIV and Aids.
The sentiments were expressed on Monday during the closing ceremony of a training workshop organised by the Livingstonia Synod Aids Programme (Lisap) aimed at finding ways of fighting HIV and Aids in the area. The workshop involved religious and community leaders,
One of the participants, Witness Munthali, a respected woman at Chilumba, said tight trousers have contributed greatly to the spread of HIV and Aids because women deliberately wear them to seduce men.
"Women deliberately wear tight trousers to tempt men. And men, weak as they are, sleep with the women thereby spreading the Aids virus," she said.
Munthali observed that incidents of rape are on the increase because of the way women dress.
She suggested that the dressing code be revisited to restore the dignity that women were known for in the past.
Another lady, Lestina Kondowe, said while she did not see any problem with women putting on trousers, sizes should be put into consideration when one buys them.
"Trousers are very good because a woman is able to run or bend comfortably. But trousers should be worn to cover the body, not to expose it further," she said.
Reverend Heston Mfune of CCAP in Chilumba blamed multiparty democracy which he said has brought unnecessary behaviour.
"When multiparty democracy was introduced, people thought that they could do anything and dress anyhow, which put cultural values into disrepute," he said.
Mfune said the only solution to improper dressing on the part of women was to put dignity back in the younger generation because he felt that the old ones may have problems reversing their cultural values.
Lisap Zone Coordinator McNills Jere said his organisation has intensified the training of church and community leaders on the dangers of HIV and Aids in order to save the lives of people and thereby develop the country.
Jere said during the discussions, participants were given freedom to suggest ways of helping reduce or prevent the spread of the disease.
He said Chilumba was targeted because it has one of the highest HIV infection rates in the Northern Region because of the lake and its proximity to Tanzania.
Muluzi decides to remain in England
by Zainah Liwanda, 11 May 2006 - 08:00:22
Former president Bakili Muluzi has decided to obey his doctor's advice to continue with physiotherapy despite his wish to return home immediately following the arrests of Vice-President Cassim Chilumpha and other UDF officials over treason charges.
Muluzi's son Atupele was quoted in the media last week as saying his father, who is currently in the United Kingdom recovering from an operation, was shocked with the arrests and was making travel arrangements to fly home immediately.
Atupele was further said his father's arrival would depend on flight connections, and that it would be within days.
But Muluzi's spokesperson Sam Mpasu has said much as the former president is anxious to come back home, he has decided to comply with doctor's advice to complete treatment.
"He has decided not to disobey his doctor's orders. He is going to come when the doctor says so," said Mpasu Wednesday.
Mpasu, who is also UDF spokesperson, explained that the physiotherapy the doctor's advised Muluzi to complete is aimed at ensuring that his spinal cord which was operated on develops properly to avoid being deformed.
Asked to comment on assertions that Muluzi extended his visa to complete the physiotherapy, Mpasu said the former president, who is also UDF national chairman, did not need a visa because the new regulations were introduced while he was already in the UK.
This is, however, in contradiction with what the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) said last month that it would wait for Muluzi's six month visa to expire before acting on him in connection with the K1.4 billion donor money he is said to have banked in his personal account.
ACB director Gustave Kaliwo was quoted as saying his organisation would only get worried if Muluzi's visa was either extended or he was not coming after the expiry of the visa.
Muluzi left the country in January for the UK where he underwent an operation and has since then been undergoing physiotherapy.
The local media also recently reported that a hero's welcome awaited Muluzi.
Atupele could not be reached Wednesday for comment on his father's change of heart.
Chilumpha was appointed to act as UDF chairman in Muluzi's absence.
With Chilumpha arrested, Mpasu was quoted last week as saying the chairmanship is rotating between himself, secretary general Kennedy Makwangwala and director of economic affairs Friday Jumbe.
Malawi: Arrest of Journalists Bad News for Govt Critics
UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
May 10, 2006
Posted to the web May 10, 2006
The arrest of three journalists this week on criminal libel charges has been viewed by some commentators as yet another sign of the Malawi government's willingness to crack down on dissent.
Robert Jamieson, owner of The Chronicle newspaper, its editor, Dickson Kashoti, and reporter Arnold Mlelemba were arrested on 8 May for allegedly defaming Malawi's Attorney General, Ralph Kasambara. The three were released on bail on Tuesday.
The weekly paper had published an article that implicated Kasambara and the director of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) in Malawi, Charles Simango, in a stolen computer deal.
"It's kind of an abuse of power," said political science lecturer Boniface Dulani. In what should have been a simple libel case, Kasambara "used his position to order law-and-order agents to fight his battle".
"The whole media fraternity is very shocked by this development," said Denis Mzembe, managing editor of the Weekly Courier and former head of MISA in Malawi. "They fear a crackdown on perceived dissent by the government."
The arrest of Jamieson, who heads the Southern African Editors Forum, follows the detention of Vice-President Cassim Chilumpha on treason charges for an alleged plot to assassinate President Bingu wa Mutharika.
Several political analysts have dismissed the government's allegations as part of a simmering power struggle between Mutharika, and former president Bakili Muluzi and his opposition United Democratic Front, to which Chilumpha belongs.
Ten opposition leaders and businessmen arrested last week in connection with the case have been released due to lack of evidence. The bail hearing of Chilumpha and his two alleged accomplices, Yusuf Matumula, a prominent businessman, and Rashid Nembo, has been set for Thursday.
"You have to look at what is going on in its totality, and not in isolation," said Dulani. "There is a general sense of fear now in the country, that, if I make a statement, I might also be accused of treason."
Crumbling Zim hospitals leave cancer patients at risk
11 May 2006 02:54
As Zimbabwe's public health services crumble, the only two state-owned radiotherapy machines are out of action and await repairs, leaving cancer patients without vital treatment, state media reported on Thursday.
Impoverished patients were unable to afford alternative treatment or travel to neighbouring countries, said The Herald newspaper, a government mouthpiece.
Patients treated at the two main state hospitals in Harare and the second city of Bulawayo faced cancer relapses, the paper said.
It said health the authorities, bankrupt in the worst economic crisis since independence in 1980, sought sponsorship from the International Atomic Energy Agency to repair the equipment and train local maintenance staff.
Thursday's report was the latest in a list of woes facing public services already reeling from acute shortages of drugs, equipment and materials, as well as a shortage of medical professionals and struggling to cope with the high HIV/AIDS rate.
Earlier this month, the government announced increases in state hospital charges of up to 30-fold in an effort to shore up crumbling services.
Official inflation is running at 913%, the highest in the world.
In January, consultant physicians wrote a damning report to health authorities on conditions at the state Harare Central Hospital serving poor townships in the capital.
That hospital had run without an intensive-care unit and high-dependence unit for three years, the blood bank often had no blood "and several people have died as a result", the report said.
Most X-ray equipment was either broken down or obsolete.
Antiquated elevators constantly broke down and one in the maternity wing had not worked for several years.
"Very ill babies have to be carried in the arms up the stairs," the report said.
Elsewhere in the hospital, "there is often no soap or any other antiseptic liquid to clean hands in wards. There is usually nothing to dry hands with," the physicians said.
Police in Zimbabwe, meanwhile, were reported earlier this month to have run out of breath test analyzers for drink-related offences and resorted to asking motorists and other suspects to stand on one leg or walk in a straight line.
Zimbabwe's economy has been in freefall since the often violent seizures of more than 5 000 white-owned commercial farms began in 2000, disrupting agricultural production. The United Nations estimates at least 3-million of the 12,5-million population are in need of emergency food aid ahead of next month's harvests. -- Sapa-AP
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