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  • Christine Chumbler
    Dec 16, 2003
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      State Resources Abused As President Gives Funding to NIB for UDF Research

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      December 15, 2003
      Posted to the web December 15, 2003

      Maxwell Zingani II

      The National Intelligence Bureau (NIB) has been given MK3 million by State President Bakili Muluzi so as to conduct in-depth research into whether or not his United Democratic Front (UDF) has a chance of winning sufficient parliamentary seats in the north, The Chronicle has learnt. Concerns about lost popularity has prompted this action.

      According to a source within the NIB, the president is doubtful that his party is going to win seats in the northern region and wants to gather data early so as to counter this development. That is why, the source says he has instructed the NIB to do this research. "We are currently involved in research deep in the villages to find out if the UDF will win many seats, if any in the Northern Region. However, there is also another group that is being used to campaign for the party in the north," said the source.

      She went on say that they have a brainstorming meeting every Thursday in Lilongwe to assess how those who are campaign for the party are doing and what it needs for them to make some impact on the electorate when the time comes. "On Thursday we normally meet in Lilongwe to report on how we are doing and how the situation is on the ground. Most of us are fed up with these Thursday meetings because they achieve little and make us lie about the situation," said the source.

      She said that most of the NIB officials who are involved in the research and are conducting the campaign on behalf of the UDF tell lies that the situation is OK and that the UDF is gaining ground in the north. "The truth is that people just want to get money from the President of the UDF but the fact is that we are finding that many people have already made up their minds and have vowed not to vote for the ruling UDF in the next year's coming elections," said the source indicating that the other parties are being better received. The people feel cheated and betrayed by AFORD and the manner in which the leader, Chakufwa Chihana is behaving.


      UDF/AFORD Strain Showing As Mzimba West Rejects AFORD Deputy Speaker for UDF

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      December 15, 2003
      Posted to the web December 15, 2003

      Pilirani Phiri

      Several chiefs and people of Mzimba West have allegedly barred their incumbent Alliance for Democracy (AFORD) Member of Parliament, Loveness Gondwe who is also first Deputy Speaker from holding rallies in the area on the grounds that she has completely failed to develop the constituency, The Chronicle has learnt.

      According to a Chronicle source in Mzimba, village headmen Chihaula and Chakulantha flanked by other people in the constituency recently told Gondwe when she addressed a rally on Saturday at Vwandamile Primary School ground that she has failed to develop the area.

      The source said during the rally that Gondwe addressed in the area (Vwandamile) people told her point blank that they no longer wanted her to contest in the area next year because she has failed to develop the area.

      Instead, they declared that they would support Catherene Hara - wife to Gotani Mkandawire, UDF Mzuzu Urban district governor - who is posed to make a challenge in 2004 on a UDF ticket. Ironically, AFORD is a party that is in coalition with the UDF. "All is not well between Gondwe and her constituents. She was booed throughout her rally until it ended prematurely. The electorate in the area have told her point blank that she should never, ever hold a rally in the area because she has failed to develop the area," said the source.

      People in the constituency, alleged the source, among other failures are accusing Gondwe of failing to repair three important boreholes at Vwandamile which has resulted in women walking long distances to fetch water in the bush.

      Apart from failing to repair the boreholes, Gondwe is also accused of negligence to people's needs by not supplying roofing plastic papers to the constituency for Jangavwa, Mtundura and Kapoto Junior Primary Schools that were leaking heavily until Gotani's wife came to the rescue.

      The source also informed The Chronicle that so far, Hara has repaired the boreholes using her own money and now people are drinking safe water like before. "It is not surprising that people in Mzimba West want Hara for MP because she has already started helping some areas in the constituency like in repairing the boreholes and supplying roofing papers to Junior Primary schools in the area," said the source.

      When The Chronicle contacted Hara to comment on her development roles in the constituency, the aspiring MP confirmed that she had indeed spent over K15,000 to repair the boreholes because, she said, people in the area were complaining to her that Gondwe was doing nothing for them. "What you have been told is very true. I repaired the boreholes and I was also asked by the constituents to help them with roofing black plastic papers because most of the grass thatched schools in the area leak during this time of the rainy season," said Hara.

      But when The Chronicle visited Gondwe's office at Parliament on Tuesday to seek her comments on the state of affairs in her constituency, the Deputy Speaker was reported to be in South Africa and was expected back this week.

      However, speaking in a face to face interview with The Chronicle and asked if he was aware of Gondwe's wrangle and her constituents, AFORD's deputy Publicity Secretary, Khwauli Msiska said he had not yet received any reports, saying he would investigate the matter.

      Despite the fact that the UDF and AFORD forming an electoral alliance prior to the 2004 elections animosities are expected and wrangles will emerge that show that the two parties still have strategies to work out as to which one fields a candidate in each constituency, especially in the north where AFORD believes is it's stronghold.

      The Nation newspaper recently quoted a senior AFORD member in the constituency, Maxwell Chakaka Nyirenda who accused the UDF saying that it was not good for the party to have another candidate contesting against Loveness Gondwe when the parties are in alliance. He indicated that the best option was for the UDF to support Gondwe and not introduce their own candidate.


      Kaleso Dismisses Resignation Rumours: 'NDA Approached Me, I Refused'

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      December 15, 2003
      Posted to the web December 15, 2003

      Pilirani Phiri

      At a time when his dissmissed colleague Joe Manduwa has openly joined the NDA, fired United Democratic Front (UDF) Minister of Commerce and Industry and also Member of Parliament (MP) for Mulanje South East, Peter Kaleso has dismissed rumours making the rounds that he has finally quit the UDF party saying the rumours have been doctored by his political enemies in the opposition.

      Sources close to the former minister, who was fired from Cabinet in December 2002 allegedly for his staunch opposition to the Third Term bill, informed The Chronicle last week said that Kaleso had submitted his resignation letter to the UDF party and that he was contemplating which opposition party to join. "A lot of resignations are expected in the UDF party when this Parliamentary session winds up, and so far it is alleged that former Commerce Minister Peter Kaleso has finally thrown in the towel and quit the party. He is yet to join another party," said the source.

      However, speaking Thursday in an interview with The Chronicle, Kaleso said the false rumours of his resignation might have originated from his political foes in the country, especially those from the opposition who want to destroy and terminate his political career. "The truth of the matter is that I have not resigned from the UDF and I have no intention of leaving the party. For your information, I am currently campaigning in my constituency in Mulanje which I will again contest on a UDF ticket. I am sure such rumours are originating from my political enemies. I am still very yellow," said Kaleso.

      The former Minister, who is also a reverend, suggested to The Chronicle that rumours of his resignation might be originating from Brown Mpinganjira's opposition party the National Democratic Alliance (NDA).

      Kaleso revealed that he has, on more than three occasions been approached by the party to join them but he said he had refused on the grounds that the UDF is the only party that can help him retain his seat in Mulanje.

      When The Chronicle contacted NDA's Director of Political Affairs Viva Nyimba to comment on Kaleso's assertions that he had turned down NDA's offer, Nyimba declined to comment much on the issue saying he was not aware of Kaleso's claims.

      Kaleso, one of the UDF ministers who opposed the Third Term Bill which sought to amend section 83(3), was unceremo-niously fired from Cabinet in December 2002 and had his ministerial car seized immediately after he refused to meet with State President Bakili Muluzi at the Lilongwe State House when the President summoned him.

      Commenting on Kaleso's unceremonious removal, Muluzi told a rally at Chinsampo in Lilongwe that Kaleso had been dropped from cabinet not because of the Third Term issue as the President's critics alleged, but because Kaleso was rude to the State President. He, it is alleged, had refused to meet Muluzi who had summoned him to the State House to discuss his stance against the UDF and his rejection of Muluzi's ambition to amend the constitution to allow the President to continue ruling Malawi indefinitely.


      Fish Farming Master Plan Developed for Malawi

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      December 15, 2003
      Posted to the web December 15, 2003

      Rex Chalenga

      The government has acknowledged that Malawi has had to do without a well defined plan for the development of fish farming, such that potential investors have not been ably guided. This was the reaction from the Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs, Martha Nasho when she was guest of honour at a seminar recently that was sponsored by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), which was aimed at developing a Master Plan for Aquaculture development in Malawi.

      Nasho said: "Government has not been able to determine the nature of support needed by private investors in fish farming," adding, "This plan will serve as the most reliable diagnosis of the difficulties that fish farming has had since it's establishment in the country four decades ago.' Speaking at the seminar, the Director of Fisheries, Sloans Chimatiro praised Japan for helping Malawi in various ways. Chimatiro singled out JICA saying that its contribution to the aquaculture Master Plan would increase food security in Malawi.

      'This seminar is one way Japan is helping Malawi. The Master Plan which shall be formulated will be put in place so as to enhance fish farming in Malawi. This will allow the increase of food security', said Chimatiro who also showed optimism in the Aquaculture Development Master Plan Project.

      He further said that this project should be off the ground by 2005.

      'Fish farming is not a new development in Malawi, it is just that, in the past it had no guidance. The Master Plan will be the guide that points out what needs to be done and the best way of doing it'.

      Speaking at the same seminar was the representative from JICA headquarters Mr. T Maekawa. He emphasized the need for communication between farmers and the study team of the project so as to establish a common ground.

      'I would like to request your understanding and cooperation in this study so that this study could play a useful role for the aquaculture development in Malawi'.

      Responding to JICA was the Deputy Secretary of MONREA, B. Kumwembe. In his speech Kumwembe thanked JICA for their support, stating that the Department of Fisheries can now see light at the end of the tunnel.

      'The Department of Fisheries has had to operate without a Master Plan since it was set up and now with JICA's support, the Master Plan will serve as a stepping stone. We have been groping in the dark for a very long time now, finally we are able to see light at the end of the tunnel', stated Kumwembe.

      Deputy Minister Nasho pointed out the need of fish to the nation.

      'For your information, fish, according to scientists, is considered the best brain food. It enhances mental capacity and development of the thought process', said Nasho.

      Nasho also noted the need for Malawi to integrate its resources in striving to increase food security: 'Time has now come when we should integrate various scientific and technological developments and, most importantly, the local or indigenous knowledge of the rural communities for sound policies and frameworks or plans in order to achieve enhanced and sustained fish production in the country.' She also pointed out that lack of guidance was the reason why government has not been able to determine the nature of support needed by private investors in fish farming.


      AGA Urges Girls to Fight Aids

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      December 15, 2003
      Posted to the web December 15, 2003

      Pilirani Phiri

      The Area 18 Girls Alliance (AGA), an all girls youth organisation that is specifically engaged in the fight against HIV/AIDS, has urged girls in the country to join forces and tackle the AIDS pandemic head on by spreading life skills, and HIV/AIDS awareness messages to fellow girls.

      Speaking Friday from Area 18 Kapita CCAP Church Hall during an HIV/AIDS sensitization meeting that the club held under the theme - Encouraging Girls To Partake In Youth Activities And Fight Against HIV/AIDS, AGA's President Laurine Kalirangwe said girls must be sensitized on the dangers of AIDS.

      Girls must be encouraged to join youth clubs where, she said, they can be equipped with life skills to help them prevent contracting AIDS because of engaging in risky behaviour. "We believe that if girls are given life skills they will make right and informed decisions on their own without being led astray by peer pressure, or listening and believing what men say without them contributing to the decisions they should make," said Kalirangwe.

      Kalirangwe also appealed to the girls to stop indulging in immoral behaviour and advised them to practice abstinence, saying it is the only sure way of prevention and becoming infected with the virus.

      Speaking at the same function, Area 18 A Group Headman Zimba commended AGA for its untiring efforts in sensitizing fellow girls on the fight against HIV/AIDS which he said is the young girl's enemy number one. "We, as elders are also leaving no stone unturned to help our young people to be free from this devastating scourge of HIV/AIDS and we feel that AGA is taking the right direction in giving AIDS messages to young people, especially to their fellow girls", said Zimba.

      He called on all parents in the country to discuss issues of HIV/AIDS with young people, saying it was high time parents interacted with them to map a way forward to fight the pandemic.

      Doreen Mbendera, Lilongwe District Youth Director also commended AGA, and other 'all girls' youth organisations in Lilongwe for their efforts in equipping fellow girls with life skills.

      AGA was formed in 2002 in order to help equip girls for proper and informed choices.

      The youth organisation, according to its vice President, Maureen Kumwenda, has a vision to see a changed Malawi with responsible young girls empowered economically, socially, and spiritually to help in national development.

      Statistics from UNICEF Malawi indicate that half of the new HIV/AIDS infections occur in young girls of ages between 14 - 25.


      Teenage Reproductive Health And HIV/Aids

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      December 15, 2003
      Posted to the web December 15, 2003

      Pushpa Jamieson

      The number of teenage pregnancies that occur in Malawi is still very high. 55% of women in the age group 20 - 24 are reported to have experienced a birth before the age of 20.

      It is also estimated that over 25% of abortions that are carried out occur in women below the age of 20. As abortions are illegal in Malawi and accurate figures are difficult to obtain, the percentage of abortions could be much higher than reported.

      Because Reproductive Health Providers (RHP) do not have specially formulated facilities that are youth friendly, teenagers do not access family planning methods. Coupled with the refusal of males to use condoms, many of these girls have unplanned and unwanted pregnancies.

      Because young girls do not access reproductive health facilities, the information that they have on contraceptives,sexually transmitted infections (STIs) including HIV/AIDS is limited.

      Young teenage girls are making decisions concerning their sexual and reproductive health with very little information available to them. 18 year old Linda says she suffered pain in her lower abdomen for several weeks before she gathered enough courage to tell her parents that she was not feeling well. 'I was in such pain that I could not stand straight and had no choice but to tell my mother. ' Linda says when the pain first started, she thought nothing of it and took a mild painkiller to ease the pain. After some time, the pain got worse and eventually she needed to see a doctor.

      'I was very surprised when the doctor told me that I had a sexual infection. I do not have many boyfriends,' she says, adding, 'because although my boyfriend is married, I do not think that he has anyone else apart from me. I can not believe that he did this to me.' Asked if she had been to any family planning clinic to get information on her sexual health, Linda says she found it difficult because she felt uncomfortable using the facility.

      'I did go to a clinic in our area once, but while siting in the waiting room I became so uncomfortable because all the women that were there looked much older than me. Some of them were mothers and had their babies, I felt very out of place," she narrates Linda says if she had information on STIs she would have recognised the symptoms much earlier and used the RHP to address the situation.

      'Since I had to be taken to a doctor by my mother, she became aware of the problem and now there is some strain between her and me as a result' . She is also concerned about becoming infected with HIV and is working on going for Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT) as soon as she can.

      Linda is just one of the may teenagers that have become sexually active with very little, or no information at all about their sexual and reproductive health. A large number of young people start having sex at a very young age in Malawi. The majority have no information on family planning and safer sex. Because they are so young, they will change sexual partners several times by the time they settle into marriage. This puts them at high risk of infection to HIV/AIDS.

      A recent study indicates that there has been a significant increase in STIs and unwanted pregnancies among young girls between the ages of 10 - 25 in some districts.

      The majority of new HIV/AIDS infections are occurring in youth between the ages of 15 - 24 which accounts for 42% of all new infections. HIV infections among this age group are five times higher than those in their male counterparts.

      Young people who represent the future wealth of human resources and the window of hope in the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Malawi have to realise their potential and be prepared to take up their roles and responsibilities.

      But this largely depends on the amount of support and investment they receive from government, NGOs, the general public and their families.

      They must, as a matter of urgency be provided with facilities that they can access comfortably for information and counseling on their Reproductive and Sexual Health.


      Use of Traditional Drums in Church Stirs Controversy

      African Church Information Service

      December 15, 2003
      Posted to the web December 15, 2003

      Hobbs Gama

      The introduction of drums and other traditional musical instruments in some mainstream conventional churches here, has raised controversy.

      While many have embraced the practice, some clergymen have condemned it as "pagan and unscriptural".

      Rev Elias Soya of the Africa Evangelical Church, recalls that he once had to plead for pardon on behalf of a member of his church, who had been excommunicated for suggesting that there was nothing wrong with using drums during church service.

      "I had to do everything to convince the church's leadership to reinstate the member," says Soya.

      The Church of the Central Africa Presbeyerian (CCAP) does not object to the use of drums or any other instrument, provided that they are intended to praise and glorify God. It uses the flute, cymbals and stringed instruments.

      CCAP Blantyre Synod General Secretary, Rev Daniel Gunya, appreciates the reluctance of most churches to change practices in order to preserve the sanctity and originality of their service.

      But he acknowledges that Apostle Paul, through the Epistles, teaches the Church to comply with the culture of the day.

      Gunya notes that there is need to consider the limits of change, and that theologians ought to be engaged whenever effecting changes in the liturgy. "Some churches are conservative , others are moderate, and yet others are liberal," explains Gunya, adding that each had their own advantages and the negative sides.

      "The Presbyterian church is moderate. It marries the past with the present," he says, adding: "Experience has shown that liberal churches end up dying because everybody want things done their own way, and if their wishes are not accommodated, members leave the church."

      Professor Edward Barnes of the African Bible College in Blantyre admits that there is a problem in using drums in churches, as they were linked to erotic traditional dances at initiation ceremonies.

      "I appreciate the importance of change, but it should be in keeping with the scriptures. Whatever we adopt should be aimed at glorifying God," he argues.
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