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Malawi news update

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  • Christine Chumbler
    I ve been out of the office the last few days (jury duty, yeehaw). Here s the backlog... Opposition Supporters Clash With Ruling Party April 28, 1999 By
    Message 1 of 4 , May 4, 1999
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      I've been out of the office the last few days (jury duty, yeehaw). Here's the backlog...

      Opposition Supporters Clash With Ruling Party

      April 28, 1999
      By Raphael Tenthani

      Blantyre, Malawi (PANA) Scores of supporters of Malawi's second main opposition party, the Alliance for Democracy, have been injured after a fight with
      supporters of President Bakili Muluzi's ruling party in the northern city of Mzuzu.

      Police in Lilongwe said hell broke loose Tuesday after the Alliance for Democracy (AFORD) leader Chakufwa Chihana had just addressed a rally in
      Mzuzu, known to be the party's stronghold.

      A police spokesman said after Chihana departed, his supporters went into the city's main market and began destroying flags and campaign
      paraphernalia of the ruling United Democratic Front (UDF).

      But the AFORD supporters were outnumbered by the UDF cadres who chased them out of the market. A free-for-all fight ensued which saw several
      AFORD supporters injured.

      Tension between the UDF and AFORD has reached its zenith in northern Malawi, considered by AFORD as a no-go area by other parties.

      Last week, when Muluzi attempted to sell his party in the region, he was met by a violent resistance.

      A group of AFORD die-hard reportedly dressed a dog and a pig with UDF colours to revile the Muslim president whose religion see pigs as unclean.

      Police tried to dissuade the people from the act but their resistance was met by a police shoot-out which left one person injured and 12 AFORD
      supporters, including a parliamentary candidate, arrested.

      Meanwhile, reports say any southerner in the north has become a target by northerners.

      Muluzi hails from the south where his party exudes most of its support.


      Malawi Budget Deficit Down To 7 Percent

      April 29, 1999
      by Raphael Tenthani, PANA Correspondent

      BLANTYRE, Malawi (PANA) - Reserve Bank of Malawi governor Mathews Chikaonda has disclosed that Malawi budget deficit now stands at 7 percent of
      the country's Gross Domestic Product, down from 100 percent in 1994. He attributed this feat to what he termed "prudent economic management."

      "Good economic management of the economy led to this," he said.

      Chikaonda, who has had a long stint teaching finances at universities in Canada, said the liberalisation of the economy in 1994 led to free movement in
      exchange rates thereby cutting down on "unnecessary imports since buying American dollars suddenly became expensive."

      Before that, he added, the Malawi currency, the kwacha, was operating at a fixed rate to the dollar which made it unrealistically expensive.

      The central bank chief, nonetheless, admitted that the free movement of the exchange rates is viewed negatively by most importers, but he maintained it
      was necessary evil to turn around the economy.

      Meanwhile, Chikaonda has also disclosed that Malawi's import cover (the amount of foreign exchange available at the central bank to be released to
      importers) stands at five months, up from two months in 1994.

      Describing this as unique, he attributed it to "prudence in budgetary management," citing the liberalisation of the economy and the introduction of payment
      in US dollars at tobacco auction floors.

      "There has been many changes that have taken place in the last five years including the way we manage our foreign exchange," he said.

      Chikaonda noted that the introduction of new crops, like cauliflower and paprika as additional foreign exchange earners, has also boosted foreign

      For instance, the country currently has 15 to 20 hectares of cauliflower that can bring between 750,000 and 800,000 US dollars in foreign exchange.

      "If we increase the present hectares to 225," Chikaonda said, "we will have what tobacco is currently bringing into the country in terms of forex."

      He said it was important for Malawi to diversify from tobacco, a principle foreign exchange spinner, because the worldwide anti-smoking lobby is making
      tobacco an "unrealistic source of revenue."


      58 Women Running For Malawi Parliament

      April 29, 1999

      BLANTYRE, Malawi (PANA) - At least 58 women have lined up to contest for parliament and one woman is to run for the vice presidency in the scheduled
      25 May general elections in Malawi.

      Malawi's parliamentary seats have been extended from 177 to 193. Figures released by the country's Electoral Commission indicate that nine of the
      candidates will stand in the northern region, 21 in the centre and 28 in the south.

      Interestingly of the 58 runners, 10 are standing as independents after being denied nominations by the three main contenders, the ruling United
      Democratic Front which is fielding 18 women, the main opposition Malawi Congress Party and its electoral partners, the Alliance for Democracy.

      The United Party, one of the smallest and newest led by former secretary general of the Common Market for the Eastern and Southern Africa Bingu wa
      Mutharika, has a woman as a presidential running mate, a first for Malawi.


      World Bank Upbeat About Malawi's Economic Performance

      April 29, 1999
      by Raphael Tenthani, PANA Correspondent

      BLANTYRE, Malawi (PANA) - The World Bank has said despite Malawi's current economic hardships, the economic reform measures the government
      has put in place may bring the inflation down to 23 percent from the current 55 percent.

      World Bank Malawi country director Barbara Kafka told reporters at the end of her five-day tour that Malawi's economy was on the right footing, so much
      that if policies stay on track the economy would be turned around.

      "We know you are undergoing difficult times economically starting with the devaluation last August but the good news is that every effort is being made to
      bring the inflation down," she said.

      The mid August 67 percent devaluation caused a run on commodity prices and interests rates. Kafka said the Malawi government agreed with donors,
      especially the Bretton Woods institutions, on reform measures.

      She said the measures have already started bearing fruits with the relative stability of the country's currency, the kwacha, against major currencies.
      Economists in Malawi are also optimistic about the performance of the economy.

      Fred Kanjo, a senior economist with the Commercial Bank of Malawi, said the inflation will go down because of the tobacco season and the bumper yield
      Malawi expects in 1999.

      "All this will bolster the general performance of the economy," he added.

      The World Bank is one of the country's principle donors. It is currently sponsoring 17 development projects to the tune of 780 million US dollars.


      Election date likely to change again

      April 30, 1999

      Johannesburg - Malawi's general elections slated for 25 May could be postponed due to snags in the registration process, a spokesman for the country's
      electoral commission told IRIN on Thursday.

      "No official decision has been taken as yet. A final decision will most likely be made by Monday," the spokesman said. If a deferment is ordered, it would
      mark the second postponement of the polls originally scheduled for 17 May.

      The electoral official said the commission is considering extending the registration period, which would have a bearing on the polling date. The exercise is
      supposed to end on 3 May, but has been hampered by a shortage of film and cameras, which has delayed the issuing of registration cards.

      "In terms of the Malawi constitution the registration process has to be completed within in 21 days of the polling date. Logically then if the registration
      exercise is extended then the polling date has to then be postponed as well," a political analyst told IRIN. Parliament would also have to reconvene to
      approve the new election date.

      The country's main opposition party, the Malawi Congress Party, is reported to have written to the commission asking for a deferment. The PANA news
      agency quoted the party's second vice president, Peter Chiona as saying: "Extension of the registration period has serious repercussions on the period
      of verification and reconciliation of (voter) registers and, in turn, the polling date."

      According to the electoral commission, so far an estimated 3.7 million people have been registered. Malawi has a population of about 9 million people,
      with 5 million eligible to vote. "The figure of 3.7 million is not too disappointing. We are getting there slowly but surely," the spokesman said.


      Congratulations on making it all the way thru!
    • Christine Chumbler
      I ll be on vacation all next week, so y all are on your own for news, but I thought I d send out this last bit. Malawi judge rejects presidential challenge A
      Message 2 of 4 , May 19, 2000
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        I'll be on vacation all next week, so y'all are on your own for news, but I thought I'd send out this last bit.

        Malawi judge rejects
        presidential challenge

        A High Court in Malawi has dismissed a bid by
        the opposition leader, Gwanda Chakuamba, to
        overturn President Bakili Muluzi's election
        victory last June.

        The ruling led to street celebrations by the
        president's supporters in the capital, Lilongwe.

        The judge, Isaac Mtambo, ruled that the
        Electoral Commission did not contravene any
        law when it declared Mr Muluzi the winner.

        Opposition lawyers had argued that he had
        failed to gain the support of more than
        fifty-per-cent of the registered voters, as
        required by the constitution. But the judge
        said the constitution should be interpreted in
        line with the democratic culture in Malawi,
        where voting was not compulsory.
      • Christine Chumbler
        Dead Malawian woman speaks By Raphael Tenthani in Blantyre A woman in the southern Malawian district of Mulanje, who was presumed dead by her relations,
        Message 3 of 4 , Jun 2, 2000
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          'Dead' Malawian woman

          By Raphael Tenthani in Blantyre

          A woman in the southern Malawian district of
          Mulanje, who was presumed dead by her
          relations, pleasantly surprised them when she
          suddenly sat up as people mourned and
          started talking, some 16 hours after her

          Josephine Mose, a
          sister of the
          "resurrected" woman,
          Margaret, said her
          sister who had been
          sick for over a year,
          died around 0700 on
          Tuesday in Mulanje,
          some 68 km from the
          commercial capital,

          "We prepared the body for burial and all was
          set for funeral service when we noticed her
          shaking," she said.

          Josephine said everybody in the funeral house
          was singing funeral hymns and praying for the
          dead woman's safe transition to the hereafter
          when Margaret sat up.

          The mounrers jumped up very frightened.

          For a few minutes she looked surprised, and
          then she started talking.


          Margaret later told the
          state-run Malawi News
          Agency (Mana) that
          she did not know what
          was happening during
          the 16 hours she had
          been "dead".

          She, however, said that
          during her
          unconsciousness she
          saw visions of her parent who are long dead.

          People in the district, which is renowned
          countrywide for its potent magic, believe
          Margaret was bewitched by some people who
          confused certain magic instructions leading to
          her resurrection.

          But Amon Nkhata, a clinical officer at Mulanje
          District Hospital, said Margaret may have just
          become unconscious.

          "There are cases when a person becomes
          unconscious for over 20 hours and later
          regains consciousness," he said.
        • Christine Chumbler
          Malawi declares famine emergency By Raphael Tenthani in Blantyre Malawi s President, Bakili Muluzi, has declared a state of national disaster because of
          Message 4 of 4 , Feb 27, 2002
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            Malawi declares famine

            By Raphael Tenthani in Blantyre

            Malawi's President, Bakili Muluzi, has declared a
            state of national disaster because of
            widespread famine and reports of increasing

            With 70% of the southern African country's
            population reported to be on the verge of
            starvation, the president said traditional
            leaders had told him that food shortages were
            becoming critical, particularly in rural areas.

            Parents are reported to
            be selling their children
            to avoid the
            responsibility of having
            to feed them.

            In a national address
            broadcast on television
            and radio, the president
            also warned that the
            food crisis was likely to
            continue into next year.

            He said the crop harvest would be significantly
            reduced because people had begun eating
            "green maize" - or unripe corn - instead of
            keeping it for planting.

            'One death a day'

            In one desperate case, a mother in central
            Malawi is reported to have offered to sell her
            five children to raise money for food. Her sixth
            child died of malnutrition.

            "The children shall starve to death if I keep
            them," Margaret Phiri, 30, told the state-run
            Malawi news agency. "They stand a better
            chance of surviving with other people."

            In the southern town
            of Balaka, police say
            at least one person is
            starving to death each

            Reports from rural
            areas say people are
            dying almost daily
            after eating tubers or

            Old people are simply
            starving to death.

            Vice-President Justin Malewezi told visiting
            officials from the International Monetary Fund
            on Wednesday that the government needed an
            estimated $21.6m to avoid disaster, but has
            secured only $1.6m.

            Government blamed

            The United Nations World Food Programme
            says it is targeting 2.4 m hungry people in
            southern Africa - in Zambia and Zimbabwe as
            well as in Malawi.

            Malawi's Government appealed to donor
            countries, private companies and
            non-governmental organisations for urgent
            assistance earlier this month, warning that
            thousands could die if food did not reach them
            in time.

            Food distribution has
            been hindered by
            heavy floods in two
            successive years,
            damaging Beit Bridge
            on the South
            border and a section
            of railway-line on the
            Nacala Corridor in

            The government has
            also been accused of
            mismanaging the
            country's food stocks, having sold a large
            quantity of corn to Kenya last year when there
            was a surplus.

            Several Western governments have cut aid to
            Malawi, accusing the government of corruption
            and overspending.
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