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  • Christine Chumbler
    Malawi Minister Urges President Muluzi To Ban Swiss Firm Panafrican News Agency July 12, 2000 by Raphael Tenthani BLANTYRE, Malawi (PANA) - Malawi s
    Message 1 of 102 , Jul 13, 2000
      Malawi Minister Urges President Muluzi To Ban Swiss

      Panafrican News Agency
      July 12, 2000
      by Raphael Tenthani

      BLANTYRE, Malawi (PANA) - Malawi's tough-talking finance and economic
      development minister, Mathews Chikaonda, is urging the government to ban a
      Swiss firm, suspected of corruption, from conducting business in Malawi.

      Secucom Holdings International and its Ugandan consultant, Silas Majyambere,
      are suspected to be involved in corrupt deals in connection with a tender for
      production of Malawi citizenship identity cards.

      Malawi's anti-corruption bureau is currently probing how the Swiss firm won the 1.4
      billion Kwacha tender to process identity cards for Malawians after a tender
      committee had apparently preferred a British firm, De La Rue.

      In a memorandum sent to President Bakili Muluzi on 20 March, Chikaonda
      expresses surprise that Majyambere would get a whooping six million dollars, 18
      percent of the whole deal, for merely acting as a link-man between Malawian
      officials and the Swiss firm.

      "As your Excellency will note, this amount would be paid to Mr. Majyambere for
      merely acting as a go-between and it represents quite a big loss to the government
      since it did not relate to the actual production cost of the service," the minister
      says in the memorandum.

      Malawi does not have national identity cards for its citizens, a thing said to
      contribute to free entry of illegal immigrants.

      On 9 December 1999 the finance ministry awarded the contract to Secucom to
      produce the identity cards, bypassing an assessment committee recommendation
      of De La Rue of the United Kingdom, which had, reportedly, offered a better deal.

      The matter was then referred to the anti-corruption bureau, whose deputy director
      Alexius Nampota says there were a number of irregularities in the awarding of the

      Two unnamed ministers are reportedly connected to the deal. The case is currently
      in the high court. When the then finance minister, Cassim Chilumpha, sealed the
      deal with the Swiss firm, Chikaonda - then governor of the Reserve Bank of Malawi
      - objected to the exorbitant fees the firm was demanding for the job.

      He refused to allow the bank's guarantee on the loan the Ministry of Finance was
      seeking to carry out the deal.

      Malawian laws require the finance ministry to consult the central bank when
      contracting out government services.

      This is not the first time the awarding of government contract has been tainted by
      corruption in Malawi.

      The awarding of a hotel management contract to a French hotel chain, Le
      Meridien, instead of the South African Protea Group of Hotels, is also shrouded in

      The corruption-busting bureau is also probing Chilumpha and some senior treasury
      officials following a pre-shipment inspection services contract which was awarded
      to a British firm - Intertek Testing Services (ITS) instead of Societe Generale du
      Surveillance (SGS) of Switzerland as recommended by an assessment committee.

      A media uproar generated by the issue prompted President Muluzi to cancel the
      ITS contract.


      HIV/AIDS Pushes Down Malawi's Population Growth

      Panafrican News Agency
      July 12, 2000
      by Raphael Tenthani

      BLANTYRE, Malawi (PANA) - The scourge of HIV/AIDS has significantly reduced
      Malawi's population growth rate, but health experts say the country still faces
      population boom.

      Robert Ngaiyaye, deputy director of population in the health and population
      ministry, said Malawi had a population of only about 700,000 in 1901 but the
      annual growth rate of 3.2 percent pushed the figure to over 10 million in 1998.

      But the scourge of HIV/AIDS and observance of family planning measures pushed
      the annual growth rate from 2.9 percent in the early 1990s to 1.9 percent now, he

      He said HIV/AIDS has led to high infant mortality rates in Malawi. Despite this, 35
      percent of the country's teenage girls get married and start bearing children before
      the age 20.

      "Despite high awareness of family planning resulting in high demand of
      contraceptives - like condoms - current usage of family planning services,
      especially condoms, is still low," he added.

      The health ministry says that despite the promotion of family planning values
      because of high illiteracy rates, Malawi's population still continues to boom.

      It notes that illiteracy problem is mainly acute among women who constituted at
      least 52 percent of the population. Women have a literacy rate of below 37 percent
      as compared to 68 percent among men.

      This makes women vulnerable to bearing children whose fathers deny
      responsibility, thus leading to a boom of female-headed households.

      The ministry says at the rate the population is growing, despite the toll of the
      HIV/AIDS scourge, there will be serious pressures on land and the job market.

      The environment will suffer greatly as too many people will be scrambling for the
      already overstrained natural resources.

      The ministry says with the population expected to double in the next 25 years. The
      national health budget is expected to grow by up to 80 percent by 2022, thereby
      exerting pressure on the already insufficient health care system.

      The World Bank estimates that the basic per capita package for health services in
      average low-income countries should be at least 13 US dollars per person.

      Malawi currently has per capita spending on health of about five dollars per person.

      The education sector will also take a knock from this boom in population.

      The ministry says government is intensifying access of family planning methods to
      a large section of the population to keep Malawi's population at manageable levels.


      SADC Protocol May Save Malawi's Textile Industry

      Panafrican News Agency
      July 12, 2000

      BLANTYRE, Malawi (PANA) - Malawi's troubled textile industry could be free from
      hindrances before the end of the year following implementation of the Southern
      Africa Development Community or SADC trade protocol.

      The protocol has preferential trade offers similar to the now-disputed Malawi/South
      Africa bilateral trade pact.

      Kantilal Desai, chairman of the Textile and Garments Industry Association of
      Malawi, told journalists in Blantyre that South Africa has accepted to give Malawi,
      Tanzania, Zambia and Mozambique a duty-free export quota of textile products
      under the trade protocol.

      Malawi has compiled figures and other formalities that will be submitted to trade
      authorities in South Africa before September when export quotas will be allocated.

      It, however, will have to wait for the other three countries to present their reports
      since they made the new trade proposal together.

      "We have completed everything on our part. Malawi has proposed to be allocated a
      quota similar to those of the bilateral trade agreement, with an annual growth
      margin of 10 to 15 percent," Desai said.

      Malawi used to export textiles worth 70 million US dollars annually to South Africa
      before the South Africans complained that the country was violating the bilateral
      trade pact by acting as transhipment zone for Far- and Middle-Eastern fabrics.

      Although Lilongwe denied the charge, South Africa banned Malawi's textile and
      garment products from entering its market.

      The ban caused turmoil in the Malawi textile industry leading to the closure of at
      least six textile companies the loss of over 3,000 jobs.
    • kristen cheney
      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
      Message 102 of 102 , Aug 24, 2009
        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??

        On 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 07:05

        Children 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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