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  • Christine Chumbler
    Jun 29, 2004
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      UDF, Malewezi Chase After Independents

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      June 28, 2004
      Posted to the web June 28, 2004

      Levison Mwase
      Lilongwe

      With the next sitting of Parliament imminent and a need for a
      consolidation of support, both the former Vice President Justin Malewezi
      who stood as an independent presidential candidate in the May 20 general
      elections and the former president Bakili Muluzi have found themselves
      pitted against each other in an attempt to garner support from the
      'Independents' in the National Assembly.

      The Chronicle has been informed that Malewezi, a fortnight ago invited
      all the independent MPs to his Kuka Lodge in Area 43 in Lilongwe to
      discuss the possibility of forming an association to create a 'power
      bloc' in parliament.

      UDF National Chairman Bakili Muluzi, irked by attempts by his former VP
      to group the independents, recently also met over 20 independents at his
      BCA Hill house where he promised them money and other plump
      opportunities for them and their relatives in parastatals organisations
      and government departments if they announce that they will support the
      UDF party in Parliament, according to sources.

      The sources said 15 of the 20 independents who attended the BCA HIll
      meeting refused to sign the forms declaring their support to the ruling
      party in Parliament until all the promises that Muluzi had made are met
      in full.

      'Those who attended the meeting said the party should first compensate
      them for the money that they spent during the campaign in full before
      they can announce that they would support the UDF in Parliament. So far,
      only 10 MPs have agreed in principal to support the party. The others
      simply want to get the money that Muluzi is promising before they commit
      themselves,' said the sources.

      Sources close to Malewezi said the meeting at Kuka Lodge in Lilongwe
      last week was a follow up on an earlier call by Malewezi during the
      orientation session of Parliament requesting all independent MPs to
      remain separate from the main political parties and rather form an
      Association of Independent MPs (AIM) with the sole purpose of being a
      countervailing influence in the legislature to check the abuse of
      attempts by parties at amending laws for partisan reasons.

      The sources said only five independent MPs turned up for the Malewezi
      meeting.

      In a letter dated 30th May, Malewezi said the association would help
      independent MPs to benefit fully from Parliament by lobbying as a
      cohesive group.

      The letter, which was distributed to all the 38 independents during the
      three day session of Parliament, says such an association would help the
      independent MPs to access quarterly funding from government that goes
      only to political parties represented in the House.

      'There is the issue of funding from government. The government gives
      money to parties represented in Parliament. Some of this money should go
      to independent MPs. However, this money can only go to the independents
      if they are organised into a group,' says Malewezi in the letter.

      One independent MP said most independents don't want to align with
      Malewezi because of his dismissal performance in the presidential
      elections despite his suggestions having a sound basis worth pursuing.

      Meanwhile the UDF, which only managed to secure 49 seats, down from 94
      in 1999 continues to court independent MPs to attain a majority in the
      National Assembly which would help it pass any bills that government
      might introduce in the House.

      However the ruling party, which so far has the support of 19 MPs from
      new partners Republican Party (RP) and MGODE, 6 from AFORD and 8 from
      NDA, bringing their tally to 82 is still short of 15 seats to garner a
      simple majority to pass laws and is finding it tough to win the support
      of the independents who generally challenged them when the ruling UDF
      imposed candidates on the populace in the party's primaries.

      Additionally, during the campaign the then president Muluzi continually
      castigated and berated the independents saying they were merely rebels
      who did not warrant support from Malawians and from his party.

      *****

      MIJ 90.3 FM Radio Reopened

      Media Institute of Southern Africa (Windhoek)

      PRESS RELEASE
      June 28, 2004
      Posted to the web June 28, 2004


      On May 31, 2004 the High Court in Blantyre ordered the police to reopen
      the Malawi Institute of Journalism (MIJ) 90.3 FM Radio Station which was
      shut down on May 23, 2004.

      The station was closed following an interview it had with the
      spokesperson of the opposition Mgwirizano Coalition, Kholiwe Mkandawire,
      in which she threatened to sabotage the inauguration of Malawi's new
      president Bingu Mutharika.

      Justice George Chimasula-Phiri said the police action was justified, at
      the time of closure, because national security was at stake but quashed
      police plea to prolong the closure saying it lacked basis.

      "Police must have completed their investigations by now. The period
      they have taken is unduly long," Chimasula-Phiri said.

      The Judge also observed that closure of the station which is in the
      same building with a journalism school had negative impact on studies as
      students were sitting for examinations and others were scheduled to hold
      their graduation ceremony.

      "We should be proud as a nation to have educated people. The
      authorities should have shown mercy on the students," he said.

      The Judge also ruled that the radio could be compensated for loss of
      revenue in adverts but not for the education of the students.

      This interim court order pends a judicial review in which MIJ is
      contending that the police usurped the role of the Malawi Communications
      Regulatory Authority (MACRA) by closing down the station.

      BACKGROUND

      On May 25 2004, Police stormed Malawi Institute of Journalism (MIJ)
      Radio Station and arrested its station manager and three broadcasters.
      Two of the broadcasters were released that same morning. MISA confirmed
      that the four were taken to the southern regional police headquarters
      from where they were later moved to Blantyre police station.

      MIJ manager Evance Masamba and broadcasters Tony Khoza, Arthur Chokhoto
      and Wonder Msiska, were arrested following an interview with
      spokesperson of opposition Mgwirizano alliance Kholiwe Mkandawire who
      vowed to make Malawi ungovernable following the May 20 general election
      results which the alliance disputed.

      MIJ 90.3 FM Radio has been at loggerheads with the government as it
      airs critical material which is usually covered up by public
      broadcasters. Government has attempted on numerous occasions to censor
      the station through MACRA.

      *****

      WEEDO Commends Govt Policies On Girls

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      June 28, 2004
      Posted to the web June 28, 2004

      Pilirani Phiri
      Lilongwe

      Women Empowerment for Economic Development Organisation (WEEDO) has
      commended government for its continued support rendered to the youth,
      especially girls as evidenced by government's deliberate policies to
      promote the girls' participation in all sectors of life.

      WEEDO executive director Tawina Jane Kopa made the remarks recently in
      Mponela during a youth orientation workshop which attracted about 20
      representatives from various youth organisations in the country aimed at
      drilling young people in the areas of irrigation and entrepreneurship.


      Kopa said government's policy to bring back pregnancy school drop-out
      girls is already making a difference in society as evidenced by the
      increased number of girls going through primary, secondary and tertiary
      education.

      She however commented that government should consider supporting youth
      organisations so that youth employment opportunities are created to
      absorb those that can not find their way into the formal labour market.
      This, she said would help to beat the country's high unemployment rate
      and secure jobs for the young girls.

      Speaking at the same workshop, PS in the Ministry of Youth, Sports and
      Culture Charles Gunsaru said government is really committed to the
      development of young people quoting President Bingu wa Mutharika's
      inaugural speech in which he said his government would ensure that the
      youth are involved and encouraged to participate fully in the economic,
      political, social and cultural development of our nation. "Government is
      committed to providing necessary conditions so that an enabling
      environment is always available for non-governmental organisations and
      other stakeholders in order to contribute to development of the youths
      and the country as a whole," said Gunsaru.

      WEEDO - which is based in Lumbazi - is a female led non-profit making,
      non political, community based organisation that seeks to empower rural
      communities in areas of HIV/AIDS, entrepreneurship, and gender
      mainstreaming.

      *****

      Chronicle Reporters Harassed Over K187m Education Scam Story

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      June 28, 2004
      Posted to the web June 28, 2004

      Pilirani Phiri
      Lilongwe

      Officials of the ruling UDF party and some sympathisers of Vice
      President Cassim Chilumpha have constantly harassed The Chronicle
      reporters, demanding that they either reveal the source of a news story
      in the last edition about the K187m Education scam or risk experiencing
      the wrath of the ruling party and its agents.

      Last week The Chronicle carried a lead story based on a leaked document
      alleging that Vice President Cassim Chilumpha, when he was Minister of
      Finance allegedly instructed officials in his ministry and that of
      Education to prepare Completion Certificates, Payment Vouchers and
      actual payments to Geoffrey wa Jeffrey, a contractor, for work that was
      still in progress as well as for contracts whose work had not yet
      started at the time of payment. Greselda Geoffrey wa Jeffrey and some
      public officers are facing fraud charges amounting to K56m Soon after
      the newspaper hit the street, Chairman of the defunct UDF Crusade, a
      grouping that lobbied unsuccessfully for the amendment of section 83 (3)
      of the Republic Constitution to allow former President Bakili Muluzi a
      third and other terms of office, Gerald Johnston flanked by Charles
      Daudi a failed parliamentary candidate for the UDF in the last elections
      told one of The Chronicle reporters to inform Levison Mwase, Wezie
      Nyirongo, and this reporter to disclose the person who leaked the
      document to The Chronicle or the consequences as well as face a law
      suit. "They demanded that I reveal the person who leaked the document to
      us or to just tell them if the person is from within the party or the
      ministry", said the reporter.

      The reporter said Johnston and 'Charley D' as Daudi is commonly known
      suspected that UDF officials, including Uladi Mussa to have been the
      ones who leaked the document to The Chronicle. The two suspected that
      Mussa could have easily leaked the document because he is not in good
      terms with Chilumpha for some undisclosed reasons.

      Johnston said it was unfortunate for this journalist to have
      co-authored the Chilumpha story because, they said, if the worse comes
      to the worst, he would be the first to face the music. "Pilirani is
      making a big mistake in these stories. He moves a lot around in town and
      is easy to be found. Most of the UDF supporters will have no
      difficulties in tracking him down. So it is safer if you people tell us
      who leaked the document to you," Johnston demanded menacingly.

      Earlier Johnston also called another Chronicle reporter demanding
      information on the news story but the reporter told Johnstone that he
      did not know anything, and anyway he offered the suggestion that
      journalists have to protect their news sources and would not reveal
      them.

      Another Chilumpha loyalist, Horace Nyaka called Wezie Nyirongo, telling
      her that the story 'came too fast' but failed to explain further what
      that meant or justify his interest in the story.

      The Chronicle Editor-in-Chief Robert Jamieson also received numerous
      threatening calls from sympathisers of the ruling party as well as from
      VP Chilumpha himself.

      On Tuesday, Daudi called The Chronicle saying 'they' were sending a car
      to pick reporters to go to the court where they would connect up with a
      waiting car with other journalists for Nkhotakota where the case
      involving Geoffrey wa Jeffrey was expected to resume.

      The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) and the defence counsel were to visit
      sites in Ntchisi and Nkhotakota where the construction of school blocks
      allegedly failed to take place.

      But when The Chronicle reporters reached the court premises it was
      found that there were no reporters or the waiting car in question.

      Minutes later Johnstone phoned one of the reporters to wait for a call
      from 'someone'. Unexpectedly, the accused contractor Greselder Geoffrey
      wa Jeffrey called. She was inside the court fence and told The Chronicle
      journalists to wait for other reporters from other media organisations.

      Two reporters found themselves transported, fed and accommodated by the
      defendant, a situation that runs counter with the ethics of professional
      journalism which demand that journalists refuse favours from those they
      intend to report on. Suspension and/or sanction could result for such a
      breach of contract.

      *****

      Muluzi Dogs Mutharika As He Too Eventually Moves to Lilongwe

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      June 28, 2004
      Posted to the web June 28, 2004

      Levison Mwase
      Lilongwe

      Ahead of the next sitting of Parliament, the former Head of State
      Bakili Muluzi, who is chairperson of the United Democratic Front (UDF)
      party has, after 10 years of adamantly refusing to do so while
      President, moved from his BCA Hill mansion in Blantyre to take up semi
      permanent residence in Lilongwe, The Chronicle has learnt.

      Sources in government said Muluzi was to move to Lilongwe on Saturday
      last, ahead of the Parliamentary session which starts today (Monday)
      where MPs are expected to elect a Speaker of the House, among other
      important state business.

      The sources said Muluzi occupies a government rented house in Area 43
      which was previously the official residence of former Vice President
      Justin Malewezi while he was in office.

      The house, which belongs to Reserve Bank of Malawi (RMB) and is leased
      to government, has been undergoing extensive renovations to the tune of
      K150 million in readiness for Muluzi's occupancy.

      An official at Knight Frank which company administers the property on
      behalf of the RBM said so far, there was no indication that a new lease
      agreement had been signed to indicate a new change of ownership of the
      house.

      It is alleged that Muluzi has moved to Lilongwe to be physically close
      to his successor, President Bingu wa Mutharika who, as part of his
      pledge to create a leaner, more efficient government machinery decided
      he would operate from Lilongwe rather than from Sanjika Palace in
      Blantyre. Both Muluzi and Dr. Kamuzu Banda preferred to manage their
      national agendas and live in the southern city of Blantyre when they
      were Heads of State.

      'As the President has ordered, all government business will be taking
      place in Lilongwe. Muluzi wants to take party business to Lilongwe as
      well and be in close touch with Mutharika. This only shows that
      Mutharika will continue to take directives by Muluzi," said one source
      ruefully.

      There was no immediate comment from government. Information Minister
      Ken Lipenga could not be reached as his phone was constantly on his
      answering machine while Acting Secretary to President and cabinet Bright
      Msaka was reported to be locked up in meetings all day Friday.

      The actions of the UDF chairperson has raised fears that he would
      continue to rule, through the back door causing civil society
      organisations to threaten that they would push for legislation to bar
      former presidents from engaging in politics after they retire from
      office and their mandate has expired.

      During the swearing in of cabinet ministers in Blantyre recently,
      Mutharika ordered them to pack their bags and operate from Lilongwe
      arguing that it made no economic sense for the President and his
      ministers to operate from Blantyre while government headquarters,
      parliament and Malawi's development partners were all housed in the
      capital, Lilongwe.

      Meanwhile, most of the ministers who have their homes in Blantyre are
      putting up in hotels due to the lack of adequate housing. The
      arrangement to have all the ministers live and operate from Lilongwe is
      currently costing government K8 million per day in hotel bills.

      Information Minister Ken Lipenga, who confirmed the development said
      the ministers are waiting for houses which are undergoing maintenance
      after many of the former cabinet ministers, who lost in the elections
      were not included in Mutharika's starting line-up.

      Lipenga, who is also Tourism Minister described the arrangement to have
      ministers booked into hotels in the capital as a boost to tourism and
      only a temporary measure.

      Muluzi's move to Lilongwe has caught Malawians by surprise with many
      voicing concern, especially in the private sector that Mutharika's
      efforts to turn the economy around, which the former president allowed
      to shrink and decline will not be given an opportunity to succeed.

      A ray of hope, enthusiasm and optimism followed the swearing in of the
      new president which was fueled by his largely positive inaugural speech.
      The move to Lilongwe by Muluzi is interpreted as being unnecessary and a
      distinct damper to economic recovery.

      *****

      Discordant Couples Still Cause for Concern As Proper Care is Lacking

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      June 28, 2004
      Posted to the web June 28, 2004

      Wezzie Chawa Banda
      Lilongwe

      According to Director of Malawi Counselling and Resource Organisation
      (MACRO) the cases of discordant couples is growing in Malawi. Many
      couples who are going for HIV testing are having results that indicate
      that one partner is negative and the other positive. However, despite
      the counselling given to such couples, about leading a normal family
      life and having an intimate relationship without the other contracting
      the virus, many 'discordant couples' find it difficult to continue with
      their relationships.

      An example is that of the Phiri family from Nchesi in Lilongwe who, by
      using the condoms through out their married life could have had a good
      life together. Now, their lives are in a shambles.


      The whole issue started two years ago when the family went together for
      testing and the man, Peter, was found to be negative while Joyce, the
      wife, was found HIV positive.

      'It was in the year 2000 when my husband and I decided to go for HIV
      testing. This was because I was getting sick now and then and also
      because of the death of our son who died after living just for a few
      weeks,' Joyce started explaining.

      She said that she had been sick since the late 90's, and at first she
      had a rash which Mtengowanthenga hospital confirmed were shingles.
      Barely a year after she that had an ulcer in the upper inside part of
      the mouth. It would not heal for more than three months. 'My mouth
      started looking red and people were talking about me all the time,' she
      said.

      Peter got furious with the rumours and started accusing her of being
      promiscuous. Later in 2002 his wife went through a difficult pregnancy.
      Most of the days she was down with malaria and had severe nausea. She
      gave birth to a baby boy who lived for eight weeks only and died of
      pneumonia at City Centre Clinic.

      'My husband demanded that we go for testing and that if he was infected
      then I was to blame. We went for the test and I was found to be positive
      and he was negative' said Joyce.

      After this revelation at MACRO, they were advised to come again after
      six weeks for another test. The results were the same. 'None of us could
      believe what was happening, how could only one of us be affected when we
      have been together for over ten years and have five children between
      us,' she queried.

      Since then, the couple goes for testing every six months and the
      results have remained the same. They have gone to different testing
      organisations like MACRO and Lighthouse just to make sure the results
      are true.

      However, life has changed dramatically for the couple. Joyce talked of
      the loving care the husband was giving her before knowing that the
      sickness is a result of being HIV positive. 'He was taking good care of
      me throughout my pregnancy, partly because we agreed it will be our last
      child. But when the baby died and I was found to be HIV positive things
      changed. He started accusing me of killing his baby and said I was
      promiscuous,' she said Joyce is now on the ARV drug bought with her own
      money since her husband refuses to have anything to do with her. If
      anything, he is not part and parcel of the family;y unit any more.

      She still she gets sick a lot. Her eyes have developed some sores which
      grow and hinder her sight and are very painful. This makes her a regular
      patient at the Eye Hospital where they operated on her eyes. She has
      also very emancipated . She said in 1999 she was weighing 65 kgs now she
      weighs only 40 kgs.

      Peter is not comfortable with his wife, despite counselling from
      doctors. He could not bring himself to sleep with his wife even if he
      has to use protectors.

      He later neglected his wife and started drinking, a thing he had never
      done before. When he comes home late in the night he has taken to
      shouting at his wife saying that she is useless and a burden to him. He
      also says he wants a last baby therefore he is going to find somebody to
      give him that.

      Joyce says that the husband keeps on telling her that he doesn't trust
      the doctors theory, that he believes this is just a miracle and when it
      passes he might contract the disease, therefore he does not want to risk
      his life by sleeping with her.

      Asking some officials about the cases of discordant couples, Wellington
      Limbe, the Director of MACRO confirmed that the cases are there and are
      growing in number. 'We really have such cases and from our three
      centres, Central, South and North, we have so far registered about 60
      couples with one partner negative and the other positive. We advise them
      how they can still lead a positive normal family life, especially by
      using condoms,' he said.

      However, Limbe pointed out there are difficulties in distinguishing a
      married couple and just a couple. He said couples are divided in two,
      the fiancees and married people. The cases of discordant couples is high
      with the unmarried people because it is like they have just met and want
      to start life together.

      Another official at NAPHAM said that there is a problem because 'people
      don't believe how they can survive when their partner is affected and
      they start questioning our professionalism, thinking we made some
      mistakes'.

      The official who opted for anonymity continued to say that this issue
      is very sensitive and needs to be reported with great care because he
      said other people when they are found to be resistant to the virus
      change their attitude towards sex and feel they are absolutely safe and
      can continue having multiple partners without thought of their
      protection.

      *****

      Zambia releases 14 coup plotters

      Lusaka

      29 June 2004 14:29


      Zambia has released 14 coup plotters from prison after President Levy
      Mwanawasa commuted their death sentences to prison terms earlier this
      year, a statement said on Tuesday.

      The 14 junior soldiers, who were convicted for their role in a foiled
      1997 military coup against then president Frederick Chiluba, were
      released after serving one-third of their 10-year prison sentences and
      were among a group of 22 saved from the death penalty by Mwanawasa.

      "These 14 have completed their terms after the presidential pardon,
      hence their release," said senior prisons officer Mukosha Silwamba.

      Last week, the mastermind of the failed coup, Captain Jack Chiti, was
      released on humanitarian grounds. Chiti suffers from cancer.

      He and another military officer, Captain Steven Lungu, admitted in
      court that they organised the failed coup and that other army officers
      were merely following orders. - Sapa-AFP

      *****

      Ugandans fight Aids depression

      By Orla Ryan
      BBC, South-western Uganda


      Juliet Nakayembe takes great pleasure in the many plants which now
      adorn her house in south-western Uganda.


      When Nanyange's husband died, his relatives forced her out of the house

      Months earlier, her garden had been overgrown. She struggled not only
      to grow food, but also to find a reason to live.

      Then, she did not know what was wrong, she did not know the word for
      depression. She just knew she could not sleep and could not find the
      energy to work.

      Inside her house now, voices are rising. A woman is crying as she talks
      about how she wants to abandon her children and leave Gayaza village.

      The land is too old to till, she says. The women sitting on straw mats
      are vociferous and practical in their advice.

      Describing depression

      Women meet weekly in Juliet's house in Gayaza in Rakai district. In
      psychological jargon, this is an interpersonal psychotherapy group.

      In practice, it resembles community support and friendship, the kind of
      network which has been destroyed by the HIV/Aids pandemic.

      The success of these groups in combating depression and boosting
      productivity means that they will be rolled out to the other Ugandan
      districts of Luwero and Mpigi later this year.

      Relief organisation World Vision had long found a poor take-up of
      development programmes in the Masaka/Rakai area, one of the areas of
      Uganda hardest hit by HIV/Aids.

      Research carried out with John Hopkins University in America found that
      20% of the people World Vision worked with in these areas showed the
      symptoms of depression.

      Until the survey, no word for depression had existed in the local
      language, Luganda.

      The process threw up a word, Okwekyawa. The word is only needed now,
      because the traditional networks of support have been broken by the
      HIV/Aids pandemic.

      Rising productivity

      World Vision group facilitator Christine Nanyondo said: "Before, there
      were relatives, they could give you suggestions. Relatives have died,
      even the neighbour you run into, he is depressed... It has broken all
      the social norms."

      Two years ago, Columbia University experts began training group
      facilitators in Uganda.


      Fred Wasajja used to think that only cowards talked about their
      feelings
      The first groups met once a week for a few hours in the presence of a
      facilitator.

      At the end of 16 weeks, only 6.5% of people in the psychotherapy groups
      still showed symptoms of major depression, compared with 86% previously.


      Productivity in the area has also improved, Grace Onyango, World
      Vision's psychosocial specialist said.

      She sees a clear link between depression and development.

      "Without behaviour change and attitudes, as much as NGOs will give out
      help, they are creating dependency systems. We want them to start
      working for themselves," she said. "It [depression] is a great hindrance
      to development."

      Those who took part in the groups say it gave them hope on what had
      previously looked like a grim future.

      Test fears

      Nanyange Paskazia lost both her husband and her parents to the disease.
      When her husband died, his relatives forced her out of the house.

      She spent her days crying, failing to find the energy to grow food for
      her three daughters to eat.

      She thought she might be ill but was afraid to be tested. "What if they
      tell me I am HIV positive? Won't I kill myself?" she told me through a
      translator.

      Through the 11 members of her group, she found "hope and courage."

      Now she sleeps regularly and has started working again. She is happy,
      she says, and wants a future where she is healthy and can look after her
      children.

      In Ngono village, Namujuzi Gaida Kabogaza struggles to find money to
      keep her nine children in school.

      She lost seven of her brothers and sisters to HIV/Aids. After their
      deaths, she found herself fighting with her husband, who drank and
      complained of her lethargy.

      Before she joined the group, she feared people would gossip if she
      talked about her problems. Slowly, she regained her energy to work.

      Support network

      Cowards talk about their feelings, or so Fred Wasajja thought before he
      joined the group in his village.

      He has lost his eight brothers to HIV/Aids and is looking after eight
      of his nieces and nephews.

      The burden is great, he says, and he and his wife struggle to meet it.
      At times, he has thought of suicide and he also fears he has the
      disease.

      He has not been tested yet, and is thinking of taking the test in
      Kampala, a three-hour trip away.

      "Would it not be better to know?" I ask.

      "Yes and no," he says.

      When he does find out the truth, he now knows there will be people in
      his village he can turn to for support.
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