- I've been out for a few days (extra day off for the IMF protests, darn). Here's the backlog...
Malawi Gears Up For US$800m Mining Revolution
African Eye News Service (South Africa)
April 17, 2000
by Hobbs Gama
Blantyre (Malawi) - Malawi needs at least US$800 million to exploit its 'virgin'
mineral reserves and kickstart a mineral revolution that could transform the small
central African democracy's economy.
A high-power trade delegation spearheaded by Malawi's Export Promotion Council
(MEPC) is scheduled to visit South Africa and Namibia early next month to scout
for development partners for untapped gold, diamonds, copper and bauxite
MEPC marketing manager Doze Perekezani said on Thursday the country needed
at least US$800 million to create the necessary infrastructure to exploit known
The deposits were not developed before because of Malawi's under-developed
electricity generation sector. The proposed mines would require large power
supplies to operate efficiently and cost effectively.
MEPC believes Eskom's expansion of its Southern African Development
Community (SADC) power grid, as well as upgrades at the nearby Cahora Bassa
Hydroelectric Dam in Mozambique will solve the power supply problem.
"We have already got commitments from a number of major South African mining
companies to explore the possibilities and want to look around to see what our
other choices are," said Perekezani.
He added that the trade delegation would also try to reassure South Africa that
Malawi was cracking down on textile producers who abused a 25% 'local content'
duty free quota in a 10-year-old bi-national preferential trade agreement.
The textile companies apparently imported cheap textiles and clothes from Far
Eastern countries and simply relabelled them "made in Malawi", avoiding import
duties and other surcharges and undermined South Africa's own textile industry.
Perekezani said the crackdown had already resulted in the closure of a number of
major Malawi textile companies and the dismissal of 700 factory staff.
"It has been painful but necessary to save the agreement. There would be a far
greater impact if the agreement was scrapped all together," said Perekezani.
He confirmed that government trade and industry officials from both countries were
already conducting negotiations aimed at shoring up the agreement, and said the
trade delegation to South Africa would attempt to bolster Malawi's presentations.
MEPC statistics indicate a 7:2 trade imbalance in South Africa's favour with
Malawi. The mining initiative, which will be officially showcased at an international
mining exhibition in August, is expected to help redress the imbalance.
The initiatives come in the wake of growing economic woes in Malawi as its major
foreign exchange earner, tobacco, comes under threat by the international
anti-smoking lobby underwritten by the World Health Organisation.
Tobacco currently accounts for 75% of Malawi's foreign exchange and 35% of the
country's gross domestic product.
"Malawi has to find alternatives and also needs to diversify its agro-based
economy," said Perekezani.
Malawi Government To Repossess Idle Estate Land
Panafrican News Agency
April 13, 2000
BLANTYRE, Malawi (PANA) - The Malawi government is planning to discuss with
big land owners to repossess part of their unused 1,482,102 hectares of land
across the country, following recommendations from a presidential commission on
land reform policy.
The commission says in its report that huge tracts of land, most of it on long term
lease, is lying idle while a lot of people lack enough land for even subsistence
The commission recommends that this idle leased land and freehold land should
be restored to customary status so that traditional chiefs should apportion it to the
Land Minister Thengo Maloya said government was devising plans to convince the
landowners to give up the land for the redistribution exercise.
Meanwhile, a policy document is being devised to determine how the land should
Inquest On Murder Of Malawi Army Commander
Panafrican News Agency
April 14, 2000
Blantyre, Malawi (PANA) - An inquest opened in Blantyre Friday to determine
whether the murder of Malawi's army commander, Gen. Manken Chigawa, was
Chigawa was killed 18 April 1995 as he bought vegetables at roadside market in
the central district of Ntcheu, in suspicious circumstances.
Two men had accosted and shot the general who was travelling in a Mercedez
Benz without bodyguards.
The two heaved him off the car and tried to make away with the car. But the car
was too sophisticated for them and they failed to drive it. They abandoned it and
had started running from the scene when one of them was beaten to death by
vendors. His accomplice was caught by police but jumped to his death in a moving
Family members believe the general's death was a political assassination.
But ombudsman Enock Chibwana told the inquest, requested by the family, that
he believed the general died at the hands of common criminals who wanted to
steal his car.
His said, for instance, the gun used was Russian-made but the Malawi army does
not use arms from Russia. But the family lawyer, Maxon Mbendera, told the
inquest there was more to the death than meets the eye. He, however, requested
more time to do his summation.
The presiding magistrate, Frank Kapanda, adjourned the inquest until 8 June.
Malawi First Female Soldiers End Military Training
Panafrican News Agency
April 14, 2000
by Raphael Tenthani
Blantyre, Malawi (PANA) - Fifty-nine soldiers out of the 68 females recruited into
the Malawi armed forces have successfully completed their gruelling eight- month
military training at the Armed Forces College in the central lakeshore district of
Lt. Col. McLlyod Chidzalo, the army spokesman, Friday said the public notice
months ago calling for women interested to pursue a career in the military received
an enthusiastic response.
Over 2,000 women responded out of whom only 200 were shortlisted for interviews.
"We identified the 68 recruits but five dropped out for various reasons," he told
Chidzalo said that of the 63 who continued with the training, four were weaned out
because they could not cope with the rigorous training. He added that the army
was proud of the 59, saying that despite the gruelling regime of military training,
they showed unequalled dedication.
Contrary to concerns expressed by women activists, he added, the female recruits
went through the complete paces of military training, including combat,
All the 59 soldiers, he stated, now know how to shoot, are articulate in
self-defence tactics, and are drilled in military intelligence.
"They are complete soldiers," he added.
Chidzalo, however, said although the first batch of recruits have completed the
course successfully, it is not guaranteed that in the next batch of 500 new recruits,
the army intended to recruit, there will be women among them.
He pointed out that logistically, the Malawi army is still not ready for women. For
instance, special dormitories at the main Kamuzu Barracks in Lilongwe, are yet to
He, however, added that this was a policy issue for politicians to decide.
A defence ministry official, Martin Chimowa, said if the dormitories are not ready
by the end of the year, the soldiers will temporarily be housed at the lakeside
- But good info for my childhoods class which will be doing projects on child labor. Maybe having the info will spur people to change things. I still hold out hope...How's the home solar project??KCOn Mon, Aug 24, 2009 at 9:26 AM, Christine Chumbler <wartpiggy@...> wrote:
Nothing to be proud of here, I'm afraid.
Malawi's child tobacco pickers 'poisoned by nicotine'Aug 24 2009 07:05Children in Malawi who are forced to work as tobacco pickers are exposed to nicotine poisoning equivalent to smoking 50 cigarettes a day, an investigation has found.
Child labourers as young as five are suffering severe health problems from a daily skin absorption of up to 54mg of dissolved nicotine, according to the international children's organisation Plan.
Malawian tobacco is found in the blend of almost every cigarette smoked in the West. The low-grade, high-nicotine tobacco is often used as a filler by manufacturers, reflecting a long-term global shift in production.
Tobacco farms in America declined by 89% between 1954 and 2002. Three-quarters of production has migrated to developing countries, with Malawi the world's fifth biggest producer.
Seventy percent of its export income comes from tobacco and the country is economically dependent on it.
Plan cites research showing that Malawi has the highest incidence of child labour in Southern Africa, with 88,9% of five to 14-year-olds working in the agricultural sector. It is estimated that more than 78 000 children work on tobacco estates -- some up to 12 hours a day, many for less than 1p an hour and without protective clothing.
Plan's researchers invited 44 children from tobacco farms in three districts to take part in a series of workshops. They revealed a catalogue of physical, sexual and emotional abuse and spoke about the need to work to support themselves and their families and pay school fees.
The children reported common symptoms of green tobacco sickness (GTS), or nicotine poisoning, including severe headaches, abdominal pain, muscle weakness, coughing and breathlessness.
"Sometimes it feels like you don't have enough breath, you don't have enough oxygen," one child said. "You reach a point where you cannot breathe because of the pain in your chest. Then the blood comes when you vomit. At the end, most of this dies and then you remain with a headache."
GTS is a common hazard of workers coming into contact with tobacco leaves and absorbing nicotine through their skin, particularly when harvesting. It is made worse by humid and wet conditions, which are prevalent in Malawi, as residual moisture on the leaves helps nicotine to be absorbed quicker.
Everyday symptoms of GTS are more severe in children than adults as they have not built up a tolerance to nicotine through smoking and because of their physical size. There is a lack of research into the long-term effects of GTS in children, but experts believe that it could seriously impair their development.
Neal Benowitz, professor of medicine, psychiatry and biopharmaceutical sciences at California University in San Francisco, said: "Numerous animal studies have shown that administration of nicotine during infancy and adolescence produces long-lasting changes in brain structure and function, as well as behavioural changes that are not seen when nicotine is administered to adults.
"The brain of a child or adolescent is particularly vulnerable to adverse neurobehavioural effects of nicotine exposure."
Plan called on Malawi's government to enforce existing child labour and protection laws and on plantations to provide safer, fairer working conditions for those children forced to work. It demanded that multinational tobacco companies scrutinise their suppliers far more closely and follow their own corporate responsibility guidelines.
Macdonald Mumba, Plan Malawi's child rights adviser, said: "This research shows that tobacco estates are exploiting and abusing children who have a right to a safe working environment.
"Plan is calling for better enforcement of child labour laws and harsher punishment for employers who break them. These children are risking their health for 11p a day." - guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media 2009
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"...for f*ck’s sake, the only thing that privilege is good for is to try to help other people." –Junot Diaz