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  • Christine Chumbler
    BONUS FOR MALAWIAN CIVIL SERVANTS MALAWI has awarded a historic 50% bonus to its 130 000 poorly paid civil servants, a top government official said on
    Message 1 of 1046 , Jan 7, 2000
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      BONUS FOR MALAWIAN CIVIL
      SERVANTS MALAWI has
      awarded a historic 50% bonus to
      its 130 000 poorly paid civil
      servants, a top government
      official said on Thursday. Alfred
      Upindi, secretary to the president
      and cabinet, said that President
      Bakili Muluzi has ordered the
      bonuses to be paid, for the first
      since colonial rule ended in 1964.
      He said the funds to pay the
      bonuses were drawn from the
      internal savings of this
      impoverished southern African
      state, which has a budget deficit
      of $42-million and is struggling to
      pay back foreign debts totalling
      $2,3-billion dollars.

      *****

      Property Grabbing Rages on in Malawi

      Lusaka, Zambia (PANA) (Panafrican News Agency, January 6, 2000) - In
      Blantyre, Malawi's commercial capital, a 48-year- old schoolteacher, Juma
      Matemba, dies of a heart attack. Before his body is fetched from Queen
      Elizabeth Hospital for burial in his village, his relatives invade his house, sharing
      all the property that he had without allocating anything to his wife and children.

      In the absence of a will, the widow and children of Matemba are defenceless.
      They just shed tears as they witness the disappearance of their property before
      them.

      One of most difficult areas that Malawi is experiencing in relation to women's
      rights concerns the administration of dead persons' estates.

      Shernard Mazengera, a human rights lawyer, said "one of the most common
      problems relating to infringement of human rights in relation to deceased estates,
      which directly affect widows, can be called 'property grabbing'."

      He defined property grabbing, or call it "disinheritance" as a practice whereby a
      widow is forcibly disposed of all the deceased property whatsoever or a larger
      part thereof, by relatives of the husband during sickness, funeral ceremony or
      immediately thereafter.

      The Malawi-based Centre for Advice, Research and Education on Rights, a
      human rights NGO, says over 50 percent of legal and human rights related cases
      it handles are issues about deceased estates.

      "It is a pity that property grabbing is now common practice in both rural and
      urban areas and rages on with total disregard to the present provisions of the
      constitution of Malawi," Vera Chirwa, executive director for Women's Voice,
      said.

      She said the Malawi constitution recognises the right of women and puts them as
      a special category apart from other rights.

      "Section 24(2)(C) protects women from being deprived of their property,
      including property obtained by inheritance," she pointed out. "The constitutional
      provision extends to invalidating any law and elimination of customary practices
      that discriminate women on marital status."

      Chirwa observed that women become victims of property grabbing because
      most of them are not aware of the present provisions of the "Wills and
      Inheritance Act."

      The second part of the act deals with situations where the deceased has died
      without a will.

      "This is more relevant to widows in Malawi as most people do not yet leave
      wills. The intestate property left by deceased is distributed depending on what
      type of marriage one contracted," she explained.

      The Wills and Inheritance Act stipulates that, where the deceased is a man,
      "firstly, all household property used by the widow before the death will
      automatically go to her. Secondly, the remaining property will be distributed
      between the widow, her children and all his direct dependants on one hand and
      their heirs as recognised by customary law."

      The act further says "thirdly, where the marriage was matrilineal, the widow,
      children and direct dependants will get two fifth of the property while customary
      heirs will get a fifth. If the marriage was patrilineal, the distribution between these
      two is 50-50."

      It provides that, as between the widows, children and direct dependants, they
      are entitled to equal shares unless there are good reasons justifying departure
      from this formula.

      Human rights activists and legal practitioners condemned some customary
      practices as being root causes of property grabbing in Malawi.

      Mazengera pointed out that there were many property grabbers who did so
      under the guise of customary law.

      "One of the practices which some grabbers have hidden under is known as
      'Kusudzula', he said.

      "Under this custom, a widow after her husband's death is expected to be
      cleansed and then freed from all matrimonial responsibilities. When being
      released on such terms, everything is under the control of the husband's family
      and at times the widow is sent back to her home area with only a handful
      property or no property at all," he added.

      Lobola (dowry) payment is another customary practice which, according to
      Mazengera, seriously infringed on women's rights.

      Under this practice once a man has paid lobola he is taken to literally own the
      wife and children.

      When the man dies, all he owned, his wife and children are supposed to belong
      to the man's family.

      "It is pathetic to note that when a wife tries to protest, she is often dispossessed
      of everything, including her children, leaving her helpless and miserable,"
      Mazengera lamented.

      Emmie Chanika, executive Director for Civil Liberties Committee in Malawi,
      attributed the problem to poverty and greed.

      "Poverty is also one of the major causes of property-grabbing. In most cases
      parents and relatives of the deceased argue that the son was a family investment
      and therefore cannot let go of the property he has left behind. As for the wife she
      is just cast aside," Chanika said.

      Seodi White, a Malawian human rights advocate, said property grabbers take
      hold of property to which they have no entitlement and get away with it because
      that law is not strong enough to deter their actions.

      "The problem is that there are no punitive sanctions to punish those who
      dispossess widows and children of deceased estates before the same is
      distributed," she pointed out.

      White further explained that in such a situation it was a civil action suit which
      could be taken against a property grabber.

      PANA also learnt that official "corruption and bribery" has added to the affliction
      of widows in Malawi who approach the Administrator-General's office for their
      benefits.

      Meanwhile, the wife of the late Matemba, like the majority of widows in Malawi,
      continues to suffer from "deprivation of property."

      by Joel Chipungu

      *****

      Malawi Dry Spells Excite Outrageous Theories

      Blantyre, Malawi (PANA) (Panafrican News Agency, January 6, 2000) - The
      erratic rainfall in Malawi this season is causing people to come up with some
      outrageous theories. Rains in Malawi are normally expected by October at the
      earliest or December at the latest. But one week into January many parts of the
      country are yet to see rain drops.

      Some parts of the country received some rains in December, but after farmers
      had planted, the rain stopped. And the crops, especially the country's staple
      food - maize - are withering.

      Most managers of Agriculture Development Divisions Thursday told PANA in
      random interviews that some parts of their areas are dry while others who
      planted after receiving some rains are watching in despair at their crops as they
      wilt under the scorching sun.

      "For (the northern border district of) Chitipa, most farmers are worried because
      crops are withering.

      Normally we should get adequate rains by this time," Timothy Chunga, a senior
      agriculture official in the area, said.

      In the central region, the picture is the same.

      Christopher Khonje, programme officer for Kasungu agriculture development,
      said most districts are experiencing dry spells except for the central border
      district of Mchinji which has had some rains.

      In the southern region, things are not different. In outlying areas of the
      commercial capital, Blantyre, crops are drying.

      Rain is very important in Malawi as over 90 percent of the economy is agro-
      based. The chief foreign exchange earner, for instance, is tobacco which brings
      in at least 70 percent of all Malawi's foreign exchange earnings.

      No wonder the absence of rain is exciting some rather bizarre theories. In the
      southern district of Mulanje, Group Village headman Roben called a public
      meeting 2 January and called on her subjects to witchhunt for people who are
      withholding the rain.

      According to a report filed from the district by the official Malawi News Agency
      (MANA), Roben expressed concern that maize seedling were withering due to
      lack of rain.

      The chief told the gathering, which drew subjects from nine villages under her
      charge, that she had received reports of people using magic to withhold rain until
      they themselves finish preparing their gardens.

      "I warn whoever is responsible to immediately release the rain or face the
      consequences," she is quoted as saying.

      Roben warned that should the rains not fall within the week she would intensify
      her witch-hunting to bring the culprits to book.

      At the meeting some names were mentioned but they all denied the charge.

      Chief Roben's views on the absence of rain are not out of mere paranoia.
      Malawi, though largely a religious state, still believes in witchcraft and stories of
      people withholding rains are not rare.

      But authorities say the erratic rainfall this season is due to changes in weather
      patterns. Donald Kamdonyo, director of the meteorological department, said his
      department predicted this season's rainfall will be erratic.

      "The only marked difference from our predictions is the magnitude of erratic
      rains because it is more severe than our forecasts," he observed.

      The department predicted that this season's rainfall will be characterised with
      normal to above normal rainfall.

      But while traditionalists are witch-hunting for culprits, others are resorting to
      prayer.

      Muslims in the southern lake district of Mangochi at the weekend held special
      prayers for rains while in Christian churches priests and pastors are spicing their
      masses and sermons with prayers for rain.

      On the other hand Mulanje, home to the highest mountain peak in southern
      Africa, traditionalists are counting down to get tough on rain holders.

      by Raphael Tenthani
    • Christine Chumbler
      ADB firm on Karonga-Chitipa road contract by Zainah Liwanda, 22 May 2006 - 06:09:17 The African Development Bank (ADB) has again rejected a proposal by
      Message 1046 of 1046 , May 22, 2006
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        ADB firm on Karonga-Chitipa road contract

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

        *****

        Chihana operated on

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

        Mughogho is now in charge of the party.

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

        *****

        Pillane proposes presidential age limit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

        *****

        Mussa hails new driving licence

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

        *****

        UDF demands investigation on Kasambara

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

        *****

        Zambia: Malawians Grab Zambian Land

        The Times of Zambia (Ndola)

        May 18, 2006

        Posted to the web May 19, 2006

        Andrew Lungu

         

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

        The Zimbabwean traders were warned and cautioned and later released.

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

         

        *****

        Zim unions, MDC still plan anti-govt protests

        Harare, Zimbabwe

        22 May 2006 11:51

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

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

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

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

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

        Opposition protests

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

        Crackdown

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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