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  • Christine Chumbler
    Malawi s vice-president under house arrest Blantyre, Malawi 15 May 2006 01:36 A Malawian court on Monday put Vice-President Cassim Chilumpha under house arrest
    Message 1 of 1046 , May 15, 2006
      Malawi's vice-president under house arrest

      Blantyre, Malawi

      15 May 2006 01:36

      A Malawian court on Monday put Vice-President Cassim Chilumpha under house arrest for allegedly plotting to kill President Bingu wa Mutharika by hiring South African hitmen.

      "I have no option but to tilt the scales of justice in favour of granting bail to the three accused persons subject to stiff conditions," high court judge Charles Mkandawire said, referring to Chilumpha and two others arrested with him.

      Chilumpha will be "confined to his official residence and will not leave his house without authority from the president" until the treason trial finishes, the judge said.

      He also has to surrender his passport, pay a $2 000 bond and has been barred from making overseas calls on his official cellphone "to avoid the suspicion that he would be communicating with the would-be assassins", the judge said.

      Chilumpha and tycoons Yusuf Matumula and Rashid Tembo, both allies of former president Bakili Muluzi, were detained and accused by a minister of plotting to kill President Bingu wa Mutharika.

      Chilumpha had been sacked by Mutharika in February but the president was forced to reinstate him following a court ruling.

      The vice-president was arrested on April 29 and charged with treason and conspiracy to commit murder.

      Prosecutors had objected to bail, saying it should not be accorded to treason suspects, who if found guilty can face death.

      Chilumpha appeared unfazed and told reporters later:" I am being persecuted because I refused to join the DPP," or President Mutharika's Democratic Progressive Party.

      Mutharika founded the DPP after quitting former head of state Muluzi's UDF party which had put him as its presidential candidate in 2004, the third multi-party presidential polls for the poor Southern African country.

      Chilumpha is also challenging the government for dismissing him as vice-president. A constitutional court is still to hear the case. - Sapa-AFP


      UDF wanted to erase Kamuzu name*Bingu
      by Zainah Liwanda, 15 May 2006 - 06:41:38
      President Bingu wa Mutharika on Sunday accused the United Democratic Front (UDF) of trying to erase former head of state Hastings Kamuzu Banda from the minds of people.
      Mutharika, who made the remarks in Lilongwe during the official opening of the Kamuzu Mausoleum, said he is against the policy.
      The President also described Kamuzu Banda as a true national hero who laid the foundation stone for the country's development and inspired other African leaders in their struggle for independence.
      The President said it was befitting to honour Kamuzu with a decent resting place which will preserve the country's history.
      "Empirical research shows that civilised people preserve their history, while those that are primitive destroy their history. We the people of Malawi are civilised and will therefore preserve and cherish our history. My government will continue to honour this true hero, our national hero, Ngwazi Dr. Kamuzu Banda," said Mutharika, attracting applause from thousands of people who graced the occasion.
      Mutharika justified the honouring of Kamuzu, saying he, among other things, built the University of Malawi, Kamuzu Central Hospital, the College of Medicine, the Kamuzu International Airport, the Lakeshore Road, the M1 Road from Blantyre to Lilongwe, the Kacheche/Chiweta Road and Bunda College of Agriculture.
      Mutharika also said because of the contribution made by Banda, he directed that all structures that had Kamuzu's name return to their original status.
      The UDF, when it came to power in 1994, changed some structures that had Kamuzu's name. They included Kamuzu Stadium, Kamuzu Central Hospital and Kamuzu International Airport.
      But the UDF, in a Sunday press release signed by publicity secretary Sam Mpasu, also paid tribute to Kamuzu .
      "The late Ngwazi is remembered for his achievement in sectors of social and development including physical infrastructural projects. He laid the foundation that United Democratic Front Government built and improved upon when it succeeded the MCP Government in 1994," said the release.
      Kamuzu, Malawi's first president, according to Mutharika, stressed the need for hard work, especially in the agricultural sector, saying in times of severe droughts, the country never begged for food during his reign.
      The four pillars on the mausoleum, according to Mutharika, symbolise unity, loyalty, obedience and discipline, which helped Banda govern the country, saying without them, Malawi cannot prosper.
      The President asked the Kamuzu family to rejoice that such a person of noble character and quality was born among them.
      It was Kamuzu's rare leadership quality, according to Mutharika, that led to Egyptian president Abdel Nasser to name him "Lion of Africa."
      Mutharika then called for mutual understanding between government and the opposition, saying Banda encouraged contact and dialogue.
      He said opposition parties and government should set their differences aside for the betterment of the nation because their goals and objectives are the same: poverty eradication, better education, among others.
      Earlier, former official government hostess, Cecilia Kadzamira, commended government for honouring Kamuzu with a decent final resting place, saying it shows government's recognition of the contribution the country's first president made to his nation.
      Kadzamira said the mausoleum would preserve Malawi's history and provide inspiration for the future, saying: "You cannot know where to go if you do not know where you came from."
      Speaking on behalf of the Kamuzu family, great grandnephew Ken Kandodo also commended government for completing the mausoleum.
      Kandodo said during the impeachment talk, the family was concerned, fearing that it would distract government from completing the project.
      Youths, Sports and Culture Minister Jaffalie Mussa said the mausoleum is a different form of documentation, beside books and tapes that will preserve Malawi's history.
      Mussa, whose ministry oversees the mausoleum, said the top floor would be open to the public while the ground floor, where the tomb is, would be accessed by limited people.
      In an interview later, MCP President and leader of opposition John Tembo said his party was happy that the mausoleum was completed.


      NBM pumps K3.4 million into QECH
      by Taonga Sabola, 15 May 2006 - 07:44:19
      National Bank of Malawi (NBM) Friday handed over the new look Emergency Unit at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (QECH), whose renovations cost the bank K3.4 million.
      In the project that began last year, the bank painted the walls, replaced broken window panes and installed new equipment in the unit, among other things.
      NBM Chief Executive Isaac Nsamala said his bank decided to renovate the unit following a request by the hospital management.
      "When we were approached, we did not hesitate because as a bank we strongly believe that everything that saves lives needs to be supported.
      "We believe that a healthy nation is a prerequisite for economic development and that it can only be achieved if the country has a health work-force," said Nsamala.
      Over the years, the bank has invested a lot in the health sector, the latest being donations to Gogo Chatinkha Maternity Wing at QECH and Mangochi District Hospital
      Nsamala said his bank feels it has done enough for QECH and that it was time to move to the Northern Region.
      Minister of Health Hetherwick Ntaba thanked the bank for renovating the unit which, he said, would go a long way in boosting the performance of medical staff.
      Ntaba urged other companies and organisations to come forward and assist the health sector, saying it faces a critical shortage of medical supplies like equipment and drugs.


      Two nicked for selling government drugs
      by Edwin Nyirongo, 15 May 2006 - 06:51:18
      Police in Rumphi on Saturday arrested Justin Msiska, 35, a surveillance assistant at Bolero Health Centre in Rumphi for allegedly selling government drugs.
      Rumphi police publicist Victor Khamisi confirmed the arrest Sunday.
      Khamisi said the police got reports that someone was selling drugs at Chakuda Village, T/A Chikulamayembe in Rumphi and they rushed to the area.
      "We found John Chilenga, 32, selling drugs and after interrogation he revealed that he was selling the drugs for Msiska," he said.
      Khamisi said police discovered that Chilenga had already sold some of the drugs like doxycycline, penicillin, Panado and syringes, among others.
      He said Msiska has been charged with theft of drugs by public servant while Chilenga has been charged with possession of drugs and operating a pharmaceutical store without licence.
      In another development, the Rumphi Magistrate's Court has fined Preston Shaba, 37, and Jacob Munthali, 62, for operating a clinic without licence.
      Khamisi explained that the two were arrested in Rumphi after an official from the Medical Council of Malawi visited the district.
      "When the official visited the clinic he discovered that the owners did not have a licence...and the issue was reported to police who took the case to court," said the police publicist.
      Both were found guilty and Shaba was fined K80,000 while Munthali was fined K60,000. The latter has since paid the penalty.


      No seats reserved for diplomats
      by George Ntonya, 15 May 2006 - 06:45:43
      Members of the diplomatic corps on Sunday witnessed the unveiling of late Hastings Kamuzu Banda's mausoleum in scorching sun because there were no seats reserved for them at the covered pavilion.
      The representatives of the donor community arrived at the mausoleum almost at the same time and spent over a quarter of an hour looking in vain for places to sit.
      Probably overwhelmed by the large turnout of people, some members of the protocol team panicked as they tried to arrange for extra chairs, which they placed in the open, away from the President's podium.
      "This is a sign that the function is a success. It shows that a lot of people have come. I am sure the President will find us seated because we cannot attend the function while standing," said a member of the diplomatic corps, minutes before President Bingu wa Mutharika arrived.
      There was also heavy presence of security personnel, some of them wearing conspicuous bullet-proof vests, black arm and leg protectors with matching sun goggles.
      As the President and First Lady Madam Ethel Mutharika, dressed in black, toured the state-of-the-art multi million Kwacha mausoleum, some of the security officers kept checking the people that accompanied the first couple through big, black binoculars.
      All the people that spoke or prayed at the function, which ran from around 0800 to 1245GMT, praised Kamuzu Banda as a visionary leader, who had the development of Malawi at his heart.
      Former official government hostess Mama Cecilia Kadzamira, leader of opposition John Tembo, Speaker of the National Assembly Louis Chimango and Tanzanian ambassador who is dean of the diplomatic corps, were among the people that laid wreaths to honour the former president.
      Kamuzu's great grand nephews in black and nieces*sporting white and pink dresses with gloves*also laid wreaths led by Ken Kandodo.
      Students from Kamuzu Academy, alias Africa's Eton, replete in their green and yellow uniform with matching hats, also sang at the function .
      UDF secretary-general Kennedy Makwangwala and party spokesperson Sam Mpasu also attended the function.
      Hundreds of people, some of them old women from distant villages in Lilongwe and neighbouring districts, failed to watch the proceedings because of the large numbers of people that turned out to witness the unveiling of the mausoleum, whose construction started in 2000 but stalled until February 2005 when President Mutharika assured late Kamuzu's relatives that his administration would ensure that the picturesque structure got completed as soon as possible.
      At the front of the mausoleum are several steps leading up to an arch where Kamuzu's portrait is hung.
      The casket of the Ngwazi remains hidden on the ground floor while the upper floor holds a mimic-tomb, which will be open to members of the public. The upper floor rests on four strong pillars, each painted grey with a white bulb holder at the top.
      The pillars have the Ngwazi's four corner stones of unity, loyalty, obedience and discipline inscribed on them.


      Police grab newspapers
      by Nation Reporter, 14 May 2006 - 08:35:47
      Newspaper vendors in Blantyre and Lilongwe on Saturday were harassed by police who swooped on them, confiscated newspapers and bundled them in a Land Cruiser.
      In a surprise move that attracted thugs and hooligans in the hope of profiting from the melee, police were in no compromising mood.
      "I was selling newspapers along Haile Selassie Road in Blantyre when an angry police officer pounced on me and snatched away my papers," a Blantyre vendor said .
      The vendor said he and colleagues followed the officers to their operational base near the market where, later, their copies were returned without explanation. 'We've lost business; newspapers sell in the morning and this won't help us."
      Joster Kwalira who has been in the business for four years in Blantyre narrated a similar experience. His copies that were left in the care of a vendor selling mobile phone airtime were confiscated by police. He did not recover them.
      Similar incidents were reported from Lilongwe.
      In Blantyre the police operation coincided with that of the City Assembly where security personnel were engaged in chasing food vendors all morning. Blantyre City Assembly security officer Ali Namakhwa said their operation had nothing to do with police and was targeted at vendors selling food and other items. "We only targeted vendors selling food and other items. Not newspaper sellers," he said, concerned about reports reaching the Civic centre that City authorities were grabbing newspapers as well.
      Police Public Relations Officer Mwaluka said he was not aware of these incidents. "I am in Chiradzulu and have no such information. Let me find out," he said.
      Southern Region Police publicist Nora Ndala also said she was not aware. I'm just returning from the office and there haven't been any such reports,' she said, promising to find out.
      Both Mwaluka and Ndala could not be reached as we went to press.
      A concerned citizen felt exasperated over these continuing incidents of preventing newspaper vendors from purveying information. "Anywhere in the world newspapers are sold on the streets. Our police should understand and appreciate this fact of life," he said, shaking his head in disgust.


      Lucius needs SA treatment
      by Bright Sonani, 14 May 2006 - 08:31:50
      Music icon-cum-politician Lucius Banda could fly out to South Africa for an operation of his left hand to correct a problem caused by a fallen nut used on a metal rod that holds a broken bone he sustained during an accident in 2000.
      This treatment is on recommendation from medical personnel. However, Banda will have to wait for the Zomba Magistrate Court to process his application for the passport to be released before he can travel.
      Banda who is MP for Balaka North is currently facing charges of forging an Malawi School Certificate of Education which he presented to enable him contest in the 2004 elections. He said doctors at Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH) have recommended that he goes to South Africa for an operation on his left arm.
      "I had an accident in 2000 when I broke my arm and bone. I went to Zimbabwe where they fitted me with a metal rod. According to the doctors it seems that one of the screws holding the metal rod has fallen off and the doctors have said I have to go back to the same doctor who treated me earlier," he said.
      Banda explained that the metal rod was supposed to be removed after a year but some people wrongly advised him that it could remain there for along time.
      Sounding desperate Banda said he has been told if it stays there he might lose his arm.
      His lawyers have applied to the court for the release of his passport and departure would depend on how soon this is expedited.
      In 2000 he was treated at Avenues Clinic in Harare, Zimbabwe under the supervision of an Orthopaedic surgeon called Dr. Boaz. The surgeon is now based in South Africa.
      Asked if the arm has affected his music career Banda said he would take a break for a number of weeks but would be back on stage as soon as the treatment is over.
      "Last time I tried to perform it was really bad. I am supposed to spend a total of three weeks to go through the operation and if all goes well this month end I will be back on stage. The problem is music is my bread and butter and what pays my bills and I would have to force myself to perform to pay my hospital bill in South Africa," he said.
      Popularly known as Soldier, Banda hit headlines last year when he moved the impeachment procedures to pave way for an impeachment motion to remove President Bingu wa Mutharika from office.
      However, soon after his bold move in the House he was arrested and accused of forging an MSCE certificate.


      Squatters rounded up in Harare

      Harare, Zimbabwe

      15 May 2006 12:03

      Police in the Zimbabwean capital Harare have rounded up more than 10 000 squatters and street children and plan to send them to rural areas, reports said on Monday.

      Under a fresh clean-up operation codenamed Round-Up, the police netted 10 224 people, many of them vagrants, touts and what the authorities call "disorderly elements", said the state-controlled Herald newspaper.

      "We are going to relocate some of the vagrants and street children to their homes," said police spokesperson Munyaradzi Musariri.

      News of the new clean-up comes almost exactly one year after President Robert Mugabe's government launched its controversial Operation Murambatsvina, which saw the demolition of thousands of shacks and cottages in towns and cities across the country.

      The United Nations said at least 700 000 people had been left homeless and jobless by that campaign -- a figure disputed by the Zimbabwe authorities.

      Despite a much-vaunted follow-up operation called "Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle", or "Live Well", meant to provide a better life to those whose homes or shops were destroyed, tens of thousands were still living in makeshift homes at various locations across the country.

      Mugabe said at the country's 26th independence celebrations last month that 3 325 houses were completed and allocated to beneficiaries last year under the first phase of Operation Garikai.

      He said the rebuilding project would continue with local authorities providing plots for people to build their own houses.

      But the majority of the victims of the demolitions lack the means and materials to build their own houses.

      Civic groups say the reconstruction effort, launched the day a United Nations envoy arrived in Zimbabwe to assess the humanitarian impact of the crackdown, was "piecemeal" and hastily embarked upon.

      According to the Herald, police say street children and vagrants are responsible for many of the crimes committed in the Zimbabwean capital, once nicknamed the Sunshine City.

      "As police, we will not rest until there is sanity in the streets and the operation is continuing," Musariri said.

      Operation Round-Up was launched on April 12 -- just ahead of the onset of winter. - Sapa-DPA


      Zimbabwe's inflation tops 1,000%

      Zimbabwe's inflation rate has surged past the 1,000% mark signalling that the African country is struggling to keep its economy functioning normally.
      The annual rate of price growth was 1,042.9% in April, the Central Statistics Office (CSO) said, having risen 129 percentage points from March.

      It means average goods are about 11 times as expensive in April 2006 as they were 12 months earlier.

      Zimbabwe is suffering from shortages of food, fuel and foreign currency.

      President Robert Mugabe blames domestic and foreign enemies for the problems.

      According to the International Monetary Fund, Zimbabwe suffers the highest rate of inflation in the world.

      Many analysts put the responsibility firmly at the ruling party's door, claiming the government made the situation worse when it seized control of land owned by white farmers, which triggered a sharp drop in production and exports of agricultural goods.


      Zimbabwe is a country that is blighted by crumbling urban infrastructure.

      There are regular water and power cuts, while the cost of everyday foods has surged.

      December 2004: Z$3,500
      August 2005: Z$7,500
      December 2005: Z$44,000
      March 2006: Z$65,000
      May 2006: Z$80,000

      Surviving on a low income

      A loaf of bread now costs between Z$80,000 - Z$110,000 (79 US cents - $1.08) up from about Z$7,500 last year, when the price was controlled by the government.

      A carton of orange juice costs about Z$500,000 and a kilo of beef up to Z$1m.

      "Business quotations are not valid for more than two days," an office manager in Harare told the BBC News website.

      "Actually I have one in front of me which says it is valid for 24 hours. Prices can literally double overnight," she said.

      In January, the government introduced a Z$50,000 "bearer cheque" worth 49 US cents, to become the highest value currency note.

      It is not enough to buy a copy of the daily Herald newspaper at Z$80,000.

      Housing, education and transport costs also have jumped, while the unemployment rate means that almost two out of every three Zimbabweans are out of work.

      The country is struggling to pay civil servants and is thought to owe money to neighbours such as South Africa and Mozambique from whom it is been importing electricity and fuel.

      The latest inflation data was to have been released on Wednesday, but the announcement was postponed, which only led to further panic about the economic crisis.

      The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other international bodies are calling for reforms, but Mr Mugabe is unwilling to accept outside help or interference.
    • 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

        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.


        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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