- Note: Since the elections have ended peacefully, I'll stop posting Zim bulletins. If things explode again, or if enough people ask, I'm willing to do them again. I just didn't want to clog people's in boxes.
Taxes, Job Cuts in MALAWI'S Millenium Budget
Lilongwe, Malawi (PANA) (Panafrican News Agency, June 30, 2000) -
Malawi government Friday announced its budget for 2000-2001 introducing
new taxes and promising a review of the civil service and state-run corporations
to ensure economic growth.
Presenting the budget proposals before parliament, finance and economic
planning minister Mathews Chikaonda said it was high time Malawians
contributed to the national budget.
"We have introduced cost-sharing measures to reduce heavy government
borrowing and overdependency on donors," he said.
The former professor and central bank governor lashed out at policies that made
government subsidise everything from education, health to passports.
Government spent a lot of money in educating a secondary school and university
student whose only contribution was less than a dollar in a year, he said.
Effective from the new fiscal year, Chikaonda said, the Ministry of Education
and the University Council should work out a realistic fee regime that would see
students contributing significantly to their education.
"We know education is a human right, but if students don't contribute, we will
end up in poor dieting, poor learning environment and, therefore, poor academic
perfomance in our schools and universities," he said.
The minister, however, pointed out that with Malawi's endemic poverty several
students would not afford to pay the new fees. He said government would set up
bursaries for secondary school students and a loan scheme for tertiary
On taxes, Chikaonda said surtax and duty on selected vehicles has been
increased to between 25 and 50 percent. Surtax on cigarettes and alcohol too
has been raised.
"We are basically taxing luxury," he said jokingly.
Meanwhile, the government has done away with the drought levy on fuel which
consumer rights groups said led to increases in fuel prices. It has also increased
the scale to which low-salaried employees will not be required to pay tax.
Chikaonda lashed out at parastatals for poor performance. He singled out Air
Malawi, Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi and Malawi
Telecommunication Limited as state-run corporations which had bloated staff
and lacked prudent management.
"For instance, penetration of telephone services to customers is 0.4 percent, the
lowest in the SADC region. In Malawi one can wait for 10 years before getting
a telephone line," he said.
As a cost-cutting measure, the minister said the public sector would be reviewed
to streamline its services and lay off excess employees.
The government fleet of vehicles will be cut by 25 percent and no ministry will be
allowed to borrow money from the central bank without proper reason, he
Voluntary 'Prisoners' Take Over A Deserted Jail
Panafrican News Agency
July 2, 2000
by Raphael Tenthani
BLANTYRE, Malawi (PANA) - At least 150 families have invaded a prison in the
southernmost boarder district of Nsanje and turned it into a small village.
Samuel Rogers, one of the new 'inmates', told journalists who visited the prison
recently that the families encroached on the prison land due to an acute shortage
of housing that has hit the district.
"I have been staying here for two years now," he said.
As one of his human rights reform strategies, soon after his United Democratic
Front (UDF) took over power in 1994, President Bakili Muluzi ordered all prisons
deemed unfit for human habitation by human rights organisations closed down.
Nsanje Prison was one of the notorious torture chambers during the three decades
of dictatorship under the late Hastings Kamuzu Banda and the former ruling Malawi
Congress Party (MCP).
Documented human rights violation reports say opponents of Banda and his
cronies were sent to the gulag in hand and leg chains and tortured there.
Some of them, according to the reports, were off- loaded into the nearby Shire
River as "meat for crocodiles".
Rogers said the 150 families that have occupied the now-desolate Nsanje Prison
come from villages surrounding the prison. Among the voluntary 'inmates', he said,
are civil servants.
"Unfortunately, I came here late and found all the good houses for warders
occupied. Since I was so desperate for a house, I just occupied a prison cell," he
But there is a technical side of the occupation that may haunt the voluntary
prisoners. Despite the executive decree closing down the prison, it is still
technically under the Department of Prisons. It therefore falls under the protected
areas section of the laws of Malawi.
According to the laws, if one encroaches on protected land, he or she is liable to a
fine of 1,000 pounds sterling (about 85,000 Malawi kwacha), a figure that over 85
percent of Malawians can only dream about.
Just as nobody is eager to evoke such a law, no official seems to know what to do
with the former prison.
According to Nsanje district assembly chief executive Charles Makanga, who
admitted knowledge of the voluntary inmates, no instructions were issued about
what to do with the institution after its closure.
"The place was just closed and no other instructions were communicated to the
assembly," he said.
Even the prisons department is not sure whether the former jail is still under its
Commissioner of Prisons Winston Manyela, said although records show the prison
land is still under his department, he recalls verbal instructions to hand over the
prison land to Nsanje district assembly.
"It's up to government to decide what to do with the premises since it is
government which closed the prison," he added.
- 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