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  • Christine Chumbler
    Sep 20, 2004
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      Malawi Gets K2 Billion From Agoa

      Malawi Standard (Blantyre)

      September 17, 2004
      Posted to the web September 17, 2004

      Paul Kang'ombe

      Malawi has realized about $200 million, approximately (K2 billion) in
      foreign exchange earnings from textile and garments exports under the
      African Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA) for the past one and a half years,
      officials have said.

      The Malawi Garments, Textile and Leather Industrial Council
      Chairperson, Kentilal Desai however said in an interview that this is
      not to their anticipation.

      He noted that the foreign exchange earned is not that much because the
      industry imports most of the raw materials including polyester and

      "AGOA was a credit to Malawi just about one and a half years ago and
      there has been tremendous growth from American export market. Some of
      the companies have achieved 200 percent export growth in AGOA market and
      it has given bloodline to some industries that were sick," the
      chairperson said.

      "If the raw material is available next door, we can make ourselves
      competitive on the world market. Malawi has all the ingredients to
      produce good products at competitive price only as long as the required
      assistance and resources are made available for the industry," he

      Desai challenged that the textile and garments industry would become
      the major forex spinner and employer with the availability of the

      Desai asked for government and donor intervention to revamp the
      industry that has potential but lacks resources.

      He further observed that Malawi exports less into AGOA as compared to
      other countries like Lesotho, Swaziland, Kenya and Uganda hence the need
      to attract investors.

      Africa exports less than one percent under AGOA, according to Desai.

      "The markets are available under various trade protocols and
      agreements. We have the ingredients, all that we need is to attract
      investors at local, regional and international level, but the question
      is how?

      "We still have a long way to go to satisfy AGOA. We need huge
      investments because our exports into AGOA are very small," said Desai.

      He urged the government to put in place a conducive environment, like
      lowering interest rates that banks charge on loans and loan drafts.

      The chairperson urged the government to provide tax incentives to
      companies that would create jobs to Malawians, and make the tax system

      Desai pointed out that there is no way an industry can be competitive
      by borrowing from a bank only to suffer interest rates.

      He recalled that interest rates went as high as 55 percent, even the
      current 35 percent is not competitive.

      We need interest rates to fall between 15 and 10 percent so that
      industry can expand.

      He noted that interest rates attract inflation which in turn affects
      the workforce as their earnings are eaten up by inflation.

      "The employee is not happy with his earnings and this has a direct
      impact on production because the worker has no stable mind. If a worker
      is not comfortable, he cannot be competitive.

      How do you expect an employee who has walked two-three kilometers to
      work effectively on the machine?" he asked.

      He said the newly formed Textile Garments and Textile Industrial
      Council would prioritize concerns of employees such as issues of
      housing, health and sanitation for workers among others.

      There are about 10 active textile and garments industries in Malawi
      with a workforce of about 10, 000 people, according to Desai.


      Mozambique And Malawi Strive to Check Crime

      Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique (Maputo)

      September 17, 2004
      Posted to the web September 17, 2004


      The district governments of Mecanhelas in the northern Mozambican
      province of Niassa, and Makinga, in southern Malawi, are to meet soon to
      discuss ways to check crime along the common border, which is said to
      have taken on alarming proportions recently.

      Mecanhelas district administrator Augusto Salamanda told AIM that the
      meeting, which will take place in Mecanhelas, "is very important for us,
      because the situation is causing serious concern". He said that major
      crimes have been reported near the border, including the sale of human

      Salamanda said that a man was murdered in strange circumstances in
      Mecanhelas recently. "After this brutal murder, which occurred at a
      village near the border with Malawi, the criminals severed the victim's
      genitalia", he said.

      He acknowledged that "hacking off human body parts for sale is now a
      common practice in Mecanhelas, and the district government is worried
      about the situation". Investigations into this case showed that the
      organs were sold in Malawi.

      "When we investigate cases of dealing in human genitalia, people say
      that they are being sold in Malawi. Now, who the buyers are and where
      they live in Malawi, we do not know", said Salamanda.

      He said that three people have been arrested on the Mozambican side in
      connection with this murder, and hoped that they would reveal who the
      buyers are.

      Many local residents believe that these grisly mutilations are linked
      with the practice of witchcraft, which is a common and profitable
      business in Malawi.

      Some people, particularly in rural areas, believe that concoctions
      prepared on the basis of human genitalia will help them prosper in
      business and help heal certain diseases.

      Salamanda said that other crimes, committed by Malawians on Mozambican
      territory, call for the attention of the two governments.

      He said that, for instance, Malawians have seized nets belonging to
      Mozambican fishermen, in Mozambican waters on Lake Chirua. "They take
      the nets to Malawi with no explanation. We have contacted the Makinga
      district authorities for a meeting to help solve this problem, that
      worries our fishermen", he said.

      The Mecanhelas authorities have complained that large quantities of
      agricultural products, particularly maize, are being sold to Malawi
      illegally, which is blamed on the poor marketing system on the
      Mozambican side.

      A government source explained recently that the idea is not to forbid
      Mozambicans from selling their products in Malawi, because in an open
      economy people may sell their products wherever prices are higher, but
      "what we want is that such sales be recorded, for statistical

      Malawi is the main market for Mozambican small scale producers in some
      areas of Niassa, Nampula, Zambezia, and Tete provinces, because of the
      better prices Malawian traders offer.


      Maternal Deaths Still High

      Malawi Standard (Blantyre)

      September 17, 2004
      Posted to the web September 17, 2004

      Lucius Phaiya

      About 1,120 mothers die of maternal complications every year, Safe
      Motherhood Project in the ministry of health confirmed the statistics.

      Deputy Director of Clinical Services Responsible for Reproductive
      Health, Jane Namasasu, said in every 100,000 live births, 1,120 mothers
      die, representing 1.1%, a rate she described as very high as compared to
      the other SADC countries.

      Namasasu said this is due to cases whereby effects of the labour
      process occur in excess, leading to serious conditions which result in

      "Hypertensions and bleeding that occur at the time of labour sometimes
      become excessive and eventually lead death of the mother," said

      She also mentioned delay of the process of delivery as a contributing
      factor to excessive loss of blood and hypertension, which end up in
      killing the mother.

      She explained that the delay could be caused by inability of the woman
      to deliver the baby either because it is big or because of other
      problems like serious infection.

      "Sometimes when labour starts, the woman becomes unable to deliver the
      baby because it is too big. In that case, she gets tired and the uterus
      may break, causing death," said Namasasu.

      Namasasu agreed that most of the problems can be treated by hospital
      personnel, but expressed disappointment that people do not rush pregnant
      women to hospitals until when a big problem comes up as they try to
      assist the mother out of hospital, and it is only too late when they
      decide to go to hospital.

      She appealed to people to be able to mobilise themselves because it is
      important to rush to hospital when labour starts. In fact, she said, the
      decision of people to go to hospital is the biggest problem her
      organisation is facing.

      Namasasu also said that young girls face the highest risk of maternal
      deaths because although they are capable of getting pregnant, they still
      lack the stamina of giving birth, because their bones are not mature
      enough for the exercise, which accounts for severe bleeding and death.

      "It is only proper to plan on when to have children. Early unplanned
      pregnancies usually result in complicated childbearing or abortion which
      is another serious killer," said she, arguing that family planning is
      the key to good and safe motherhood.

      However, she assured that her organisation cares for victims of illegal
      abortion because their goal is to protect life and not to let it phase
      away. She also said that government is doing a lot in ensuring that the
      problem is adequately addressed. "Government is providing pertinent
      drugs to every health centre as well as skills for our personnel in
      curbing this increasing syndrome, and information is being accessed to
      women so that they know dangers associated with abortions," said

      She said hospital facilities throughout the country have been equipped
      with radios for better communication, and Traditional Birth Attendants
      [TBAs] have been trained by government and also given bicycle ambulances
      for ferrying pregnant mothers to nearby hospital facilities.

      Public health is a major problem in Malawi as shown by health
      indicators of the Malawi Demographic and Health Survey [2000], which
      found that total fertility rate of women and children is 6.3, while the
      under 5 mortality rate stands at 189 per 1000 live births. Worst of all,
      the probability of underweight under-5 babies is at 30%.


      Bingu, Muluzi Caution Detractors

      Malawi Standard (Blantyre)

      September 17, 2004
      Posted to the web September 17, 2004

      Akimu Kaingana

      President Bingu wa Mutharika and his predecessor Bakili Muluzi,
      vehemently condemned the prophets of doom, both within and outside the
      ruling United Democratic Front (UDF), who are hell bent on destroying
      their long time comradeship saying "they will not succeed destroy the
      relationship and the party."

      The two expressed these sentiments at a long awaited joint rally held
      in the lakeshore district of Mangochi last Sunday.

      The incumbent and his campaign master arrived at Mponda Primary School
      grounds in a presidential chopper for the indaba dubbed, "development
      mass rally." Their tone as they later addressed the crowd, was that of
      concern for some people who were trying to sow seeds of disunity and
      discord in the UDF.

      They concurred that the emerging disunity could destabilize the country
      and place in jeopardy the very same development projects Malawians are
      so passionate about.

      "I knew Bakili Muluzi long time ago and we are personal friends. Those
      who are saying Bingu and Muluzi are divided don't know us. Even when we
      meet, he doesn't call me president, he calls me Bingu and I call him
      Bakili, and we will not allow anyone to destroy our cordial
      relationship," the president told thousands of people who braved the
      scorching sun to attend the rally.

      He threatened to reveal the names of those people within the UDF who
      were in the fore-front of destabilizing the party.

      The President told the gathering that unity is among the four pillars
      that will characterize his administration.

      The other three pillars are development and economic transformation,
      justice and equity and above all, peace and security for the 11 million
      plus Malawians.

      "We all know of countries where people have killed each other,
      buildings reduced to rubble and the national economy wrecked. I will
      therefore not allow anyone to destabilize this country," Bingu warned.

      This was the first rally for Mutharika since his victory at the
      controversial May 20 general elections preceded by an intensive country
      wide campaign trail by the former President.

      However, media reported a growing rift between the incumbent and his
      predecessor since the elections, mainly fuelled by some people from the
      clearly two camps of the UDF National Chair and the State President.

      Considered Muluzi's puppet before the poll, Mutharika has shown to be
      his own man and has surrounded himself with a completely new set of
      advisers, distinct from the party which ushered him to power. The
      president's choices triggered discontentment within the rank and file of
      the UDF. Those who do not like Mutharika's style of leadership, have
      accused him of not being thankful to Muluzi and UDF citing present and
      impending arrests of some top UDF officials on various charges ranging
      from corruption to abuse of public offices, as examples.

      Commenting on the relationship between government and the party, Bingu
      said anywhere else, the party puts the government in office but
      government is always superior to the ruling party.

      This statement is in sharp contrast to Muluzi as who had earlier told
      supporters that the ruling party was superior to government, as such, it
      could hardly survive without a strong political party back up.

      Mutharika then told the Mangochi gathering that UDF as a party should
      be strengthened to win the forth-coming by-elections and local
      government elections next year.

      He would also strengthen the party to ensure that it would win the
      Councillors' Elections.

      He thanked the people of Mangochi for voting immensely which saw him
      winning the presidential race.

      The climax of the rally came when Bingu told the people that his
      predecessor initiated many development projects that every Malawian of
      goodwill should appreciate applaud the former for.

      He immediately ordered that the magnificent Mangochi Bridge built under
      the leadership of Muluzi be renamed Bakili Muluzi Bridge.

      The road from Liwonde to Mangochi through Namwera has been renamed
      Bakili Muluzi Highway.

      After the announcement, excited women donning UDF party colours and
      Young democrats broke into jubilation singing songs of praise and
      dancing to the occasion.

      Meanwhile Bingu and Muluzi hugged each other as cameramen pushed and
      shoved to probably get the best shot of the day.

      Picking up the microphone, Muluzi said he was very thankful to Bingu
      for the honour as it showed his true character-that he is a man who is
      able to say thank you to people who supported him.

      The former president said he was very concerned with scathing remarks
      making headlines in newspapers that he must be arrested and arrests in

      "I am happy that you have relieved people from your assurance they were
      not happy at all. You mean someone must be arrested for initiating
      development programmes or for unexplained reasons? We will be setting a
      bad precedence and bad country," said Muluzi amidst songs and chants
      Atcheya! Atcheya!

      He echoed Bingu's sentiments that there are some people who are trying
      to put a wedge between him and his successor but disclosed to the
      gathering that those people woul fail since he had known Bingu for a
      long time.

      Muluzi advised Bingu not to be misled by his advisers who are bent on
      confusing him saying "some of us, spent not only time but resources as
      well to support you."

      Muluzi also advised the young democrats who were hoisting Muluzi's
      placards never to do so when the president was there. "This is a
      government function, you should carry Bingu's placards to show respect
      to the president," Muluzi told the young democrats.

      The former president thanked Bingu for coming to Mangochi to see the
      people after the elections saying there were153,076 votes from Mangochi
      alone which was not a mean achievement.

      He said this proves that UDF as a party is very strong in Mangochi and
      other parts of the southern region like Machinga, Zomba, Chiradzulu and

      Muluzi said he made a lot of enemies even within the UDF when he
      paraded Bingu's nomination as presidential candidate and was surprised
      that the very same people who opposed Bingu pretend to be good and
      supportive to the president now that he is in power.

      He also retaliated that he, together with leaders like Chakufwa
      Chihana, fought against the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) one party regime
      to liberate Malawians from fear and intimidation, which is no longer the
      case now, considering that ten years have elapsed since the attainment
      of genuine freedom and democracy.

      The mass rally was also graced by foreign dignitaries from countries
      like United States of America, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Tanzania
      and Republic of China.


      Bingu Vows to Fulfill Campaign Promises

      Malawi Standard (Blantyre)

      September 17, 2004
      Posted to the web September 17, 2004

      Akimu Kaingana

      Mponda Primary School ground in Mangochi Central was a beehive of
      activity last Sunday afternoon. Hundreds of people started flocking to
      the venue of what was later to be dubbed, "the mother of all rallies" as
      early 9.00 am.

      The beating of drums and singing by traditional dancers could be heard
      from a distance, captivating more and more people.

      The weather was cruel. The sun was scorching and it was just too hot
      for comfort especially for people coming from Shire Highlands like
      Blantyre where it is generally cold.

      But people defied the cruel weather and thronged to the venue of the
      mass rally in Traditional Authority Mponda.

      Time was 1:15.Thousands of people who gathered at the ground waited for
      the arrival of president Bingu wa Mutharika and United Democratic Front
      (UDF) National Chairman Dr. Bakili Muluzi.

      The atmosphere turned electric when a presidential helicopter hovered
      in the air. As the chopper landed, a huge cloud of sandy dust engulfed
      Mponda primary school ground to an extent that no-one could see the

      Everybody covered his/her face. Some choked while others ran in
      different directions. The ordeal was short-lived and the crowd was back
      to life again. Women donning UDF party colours sang captivating songs as
      they welcomed Bingu and Atcheya to the podium.

      The waiting, the dust, and the sweltering heat was worth it as
      president Mutharika had brought good news to the people of Mangochi.

      "In Mangochi, you voted for me in the previous elections and this is
      why I have chosen to visit Mangochi to say, 'thank you'.

      "I will continue to pursue programmes of poverty reduction," said Bingu
      in a preamble of his speech.

      The president said politicians sometimes get drunk with politicking and
      promise the people the impossible.

      He recalled that when he promised to give a K500m loan to the people,
      he did not know from where he could get the money.

      But today he is a happy man because he has managed to source K800m for
      the loan scheme to distribute to the people, he said amidst a cheering

      "Let vulnerable women, chiefs, the youth access this loan. It is meant
      for the poor of the poorest," said Bingu.

      Touching on women empowerment, Bingu said he will live up to his word
      as evidenced by the appointment of Mary Nangwale as Inspector General of

      The President called the IG to the podium so that all could see her.
      She was a marvel and envy of the Mangochi gathering as she moved to the
      podium with stamina.

      Nangwale replaced Joseph Iiron who has since been given a diplomatic
      post to Kenya. Nangwale becomes the first woman to be appointed
      Inspector General in the entire African continent.

      The president also said he had sourced a K25m loan from the World Bank
      and another K25 m would be coming this December and all would be for the
      development of this country. "And the development will start from
      Mangochi to show how thankful I am to you," said the President.

      One sticky issue during the campaign was salary increment for civil
      servants. Bingu was a proud man when he told the people that he has
      raised salaries of civil servants across board by 25 percent.

      The new salaries would be effected as soon as parliament winds up

      Malawians, whose survival is heavily dependent on agriculture, have all
      the reasons to smile as fertilizer prices have been heavily subsidized.

      A 50 kilogram bag of fertilizers like Urea and CAN have been reduced to
      K1400 from K2100.

      The aim is to make sure that almost everyone can afford fertilizers
      especially in the villages. However, the poor of the poorest will
      receive starter packs. The needy will receive a 25 kilogram bag of
      fertilizer and 5 kilogram of seed.

      The president then assured the people that whatever was promised during
      campaigns, it would be fulfilled, fondly referring to his predecessor as
      a political engineer and himself an economic development engineer.

      He then assured the people of Mangochi that the Mangochi - Monkey -Bay
      road will be government's priority since the district is also a haven
      for tourists.

      The president also told the gathering that he was aware some people are
      starving and government would do everything possible to distribute food
      handouts before it is too late.

      Regardless who voted or did not vote for him, president Bingu wa
      Mutharika assured the gathering that, development projects will be
      spread evenly without discrimination.

      Speaking at the same rally, former President Bakili Muluzi said there
      can never be economic transformation without peace and support of the

      He said intimidation and fear of any kind should be removed among
      people and advised the state president to be careful with some of his
      advisers, who he said, could confuse him.


      City Guardians Seek Police Hand

      Malawi Standard (Blantyre)

      September 17, 2004
      Posted to the web September 17, 2004

      Lucius Phaiya

      The Blantyre City Neighbourhood Watch [BCNW] has asked police to
      strengthen security in the city.

      At a meeting held at Blantyre Police Station, BCNW members complained
      that security is not up to standard in the commercial city, and urged
      police to intervene quickly before things get out of hand.

      BCNW Chairman, Yunus Lambat, asked police to speed up cases when
      incidents of crime are reported, saying their current response is very

      "Even though some of us may have guns, we still need your protection.
      If robbers attack my neighbour, all I can do is shoot in the air.

      "That puts even my life in danger, so, you who are mandated to shoot
      criminals must always be available," said Lambat. He complained that
      when they report robberies to police, the police give excuses that they
      don't have vehicles or fuel.

      "You better allow us to come over and pick you up other than let us
      suffer defencelessly," said Lambat.

      Another BCNW member, Munira Achutan, asked police to change the way
      they handle criminals, saying most officers lack professional respect.

      "As we recognise the role played by police in enforcing the law, they
      should also treat us in a humane manner.

      "Many police officers are harsh and don't listen to people's complaints
      and this is not fair," said Achutan.

      She also asked police to talk to Blantyre City Assembly to fix street
      lights and replace road signs.

      "Road signs are not clear and some of them are not even indicated. Some
      of us have paid fines for going a wrong direction in a one-way-traffic
      street when there is no visible road sign. Paying for such things is
      quite painful," Achutan said.

      Blantyre Community Policing Coordinator, Assistant Superintendent Frank
      Ndau agreed that sometimes the police fail to respond rapidly due to
      lack of transport and fuel because of limited funds.

      He however advised complainants to pick police officers to assist them
      tackle thieves, since the goal of the police is to serve the community.

      Community Policing is a police initiative to work closely with the
      public in curbing crime and all police stations follow the programme.

      In the Southern Region, Phalombe Police Station has successively ranked
      high as the best implementer of the programme.


      'Save Us From Hunger'

      Malawi Standard (Blantyre)

      September 17, 2004
      Posted to the web September 17, 2004


      Traditional Authority Mponda pleaded with the president to give food
      aid to the starving masses in his area, saying the situation has reached
      critical levels.

      The Chief, who was given five minutes to speak at the rally said there
      is widespread poverty among his subjects requiring government's
      immediate attention.

      "I also want to ask government to distribute seeds and fertilizer to
      the people before October, otherwise there are signs that it would rain
      soon," advised the chief.

      Speaking also at the same rally was Member of Parliament for Mangochi
      Central, Clement Chiwaya, who thanked the two leaders for visiting his
      constituency saying people voted for UDF and Bingu hence the visit of
      the two leaders was a good gesture.

      He said Mangochi is a tourist destination hence it was important for
      government to maintain all roads in the district, especially the one
      from Mangochi to Monkey-Bay.

      He also echoed the chief's sentiments saying hunger is critical and
      people need food aid before it is too late.
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