- Malawi: Efforts to Conserve Fish Species
UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
November 23, 2004
Posted to the web November 23, 2004
Efforts to conserve major fish species in Malawi's lakes and water
systems remain a challenge, according to a senior official.
The authorities have been implementing a combination of conservation
efforts, including the protection of fish breeding areas, prohibiting
the introduction of exotic species in water bodies, a closed season
programme, restrictions on the size of fish caught, the gauge of fishing
mesh and gear type, and the prohibition of poisoning and blasting.
"Our efforts have been most effective in the southern Lake Chiuta,
largely because the community has been involved in conservation efforts
for generations," said Sloans Chimatiro, director of the department of
The authorities have concentrated on lakes Malawi, Malombe, Chilwa,
Chiuta and the southern Shire river system.
Lake Malawi covers 20 percent of the country's surface, according to
the Malawi-German Fisheries and Aquaculture Development Project, and has
the potential for the development of "a remarkable fishing industry".
According to a recent state of the environment report, the fishing
industry contributes about four percent to the country's gross national
product and employs nearly 300,000 people.
But, since 1990 the total catch landings of small-scale and artisanal
fisheries declined from 70,858 mt a year to just 43,019 mt per year a
decade later, the fisheries department noted.
Conservation efforts have centred around the world famous Lake Malawi
cichlids, popular in the aquarium fish trade, and 'chambo', a species of
the tilapia family.
Malawi's report to the World Summit of Sustainable Development in
Johannesburg in 2002 highlighted the decline in the chambo trade and
committed the government to restoring fish stocks to the maximum
sustainable yield by 2015, Chimatiro said.
Antonio Phiri owns a fishing net in Salima district in the Central
Region of Malawi, where he has spent a large part of his 55 years
fishing. "Catches from Lake Malawi these days are not the same as they
were 10 to 15 years ago," he told IRIN.
"These days one could go into the waters and come back with nothing -
this does not mean that the fisherman does not know how to fish, but
because there is no fish," he said. "Lack of fish stocks is making us
poorer by the day - we can no longer find money to feed our families,
nor buy our clothes."
In the early 1980s, "fish was cheap because it was plentiful, but today
the cost of a single chambo is US $2. In those days each chambo was
selling at US 45 cents," he remarked.
"The decline of the fisheries, and in particular the chambo fishery, is
attributed to a number of factors. These include illegal fishing, mainly
due to weak enforcement of regulations; habitat destruction; violation
of closed seasons; catchments damage; and absence of clear property
rights," Chimatiro said.
"Closing the lake to fishermen is one such alternative," said
The closed season programme, which formally came into effect following
enactment of the Fisheries Conservation and Management Act of 1997,
prohibits the use of small-mesh fishing nets and certain fishing gear.
"Since the closed season is implemented during the peak breeding season
of the major species of commercial value, it helps to protect the parent
fish as well as the juveniles from fishing nets," said Chimatiro. "In
the long term, closed season as a management strategy will ensure
conservation of species which would otherwise have been endangered by
uncontrolled fishing practices."
However, conservationists allude to corrupt practices allegedly
followed by village headmen, who allow fishermen to break the
restrictions, such as fishing during the night.
In addition, most of the fishing gear in use in Malawi's water bodies
is illegal. A 1999 survey found all the beach seine nets - which hang
vertically in the water by means of floats at the top and weights at the
bottom - used in Lake Malawi had illegal mesh sizes, and 96 percent of
the gill nets - which are suspended vertically in the water to trap fish
by their gills - also had undersized mesh.
"The use of illegal gear is attributed to poor enforcement. It is also
a result of poor regulations by the Beach Village Committees (BVCs),"
Malawi's Fisheries Conservation Act legislated the establishment of
BVCs, headed in most cases by village chiefs, who have to ensure that
the closed season is observed.
The BVCs make their own by-laws and enforce them: the perpetrator can
be brought before a court presided over by the chief. If convicted,
fishermen can be fined and have their nets confiscated.
However, traditional leaders blame the authorities. Chief Makanjiri, a
traditional leader admitted, "Yes, there have been reports of some
village headmen receiving bribes - some people were caught and paid for
their actions. But I should also point out here that the Department of
Fisheries is to blame for this - government officers are not enforcing
the laws, and this gives us a problem."
Mugabe admits to Zanu-PF 'infighting'
23 November 2004 07:23
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe on Monday acknowledged that there is
infighting in the upper ranks of his ruling party ahead of a key party
congress due next month, state television reported.
The 80-year-old leader's remarks came amid speculation of intense
jockeying for positions of power within Mugabe's Zimbabwe African
National Union -- Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF) ahead of parliamentary
elections to be held in March next year.
"There is beginning to be conflict between and amongst us in Zanu-PF
... it is at the leadership at the top," Mugabe said at a rural school
in western Zimbabwe where he had gone to hand out computers.
"Who are you to want to have that place and to want to want to push
someone from that place which was given him by congress?" he asked.
It was not clear who the veteran southern leader was referring to, but
on Saturday he told party supporters that he supported the idea of
having a woman vice-president voted for at a forthcoming Zanu-PF
congress, although he predicted some senior male party officials would
At a separate handing-out ceremony Mugabe told the gathering that
"divisive elements" within his party had to be dealt with.
"There are elements that are developing within our party, divisive
elements that we must take care of," he said.
"Others are now trying through clandestine ways, divisive ways, to get
to posts in the party without your authority, but using cunning method
to sway you. [They are] using lots of money to sway you," he said.
"Don't be divided, and don't be tempted. We are not there for
purchase," Mugabe urged the gathering. He said the errant politicians
were using money given to them by "white capitalists with links to
Mugabe's party has consistently claimed that former colonial power
Britain is trying to institute a regime change in Zimbabwe, but this is
the first time Mugabe has accused members within his own party of siding
with his perceived enemies. - Sapa-AFP
Zimbabwe moves to pass contentious law
24 November 2004 14:38
Zimbabwe moved closer to passing a contentious law that would restrict
foreign funding of human rights groups, as President Robert Mugabe's
ruling party defeated filibusters by the opposition.
In a legislative session that stretched overnight on Tuesday, the
majority Zanu-PF party voted down a series of last-minute amendments
sought by the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change.
The defeat of the filibusters meant the Voluntary Organisations Bill
will likely be passed when Parliament convenes again on Thursday.
Once approved, the Bill will be sent to Mugabe to be signed into law.
The widely criticised measure imposes strict controls on all forms of
private associations and charities, including churches, and bans the
receipt of foreign funding without state approval. No organisation with
foreign links is permitted to deal with "issues of governance or
Zimbabwe's 80-year-old president has repeatedly accused Western-funded
charities and rights groups of siding with his opponents. Opponents of
the Bill have likened it to sweeping media laws passed in 2002 that gave
the government the power to close independent news outlets and stifle
Sitting in an informal committee session on Tuesday, Zanu-PF lawmakers
also defeated opposition attempts to hold up a Bill governing procedures
for a parliamentary election scheduled for March.
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change, headed by veteran union
leader Morgan Tsvangirai, has threatened to boycott the vote if election
procedures are not reformed.
A party spokesperson said on Tuesday that the proposed Electoral
Commission Bill in no way addresses opposition concerns about fairness,
even though Zimbabwe agreed to adopt new democracy guidelines at a
summit this year of the 13-nation Southern African Development
"At the end of the day this commission just creates further confusion
in the electoral process," said MDC spokesperson David Coltart. "Its
chairman is directly appointed by Mugabe. It doesn't even come close to
applying the Southern African Development Community standards of
impartiality for running elections."
Mugabe, who has led the country since it achieved independence in 1980,
has said polling procedure will not be radically overhauled.
Alleging intimidation and vote rigging, the opposition and
international observers challenged the results of parliamentary
elections in July 2000 and presidential polls in March 2002, in which
Mugabe claimed victory.
His Zanu-PF party holds 98 of 150 seats in Parliament. Zimbabwe's
economy has gone into free fall since he ordered the seizure of 5 000
white-owned farms in February 2000. Up to 5,5-million people are
dependent on food aid, inflation has topped 600%, and more than three
million Zimbabweans have left for South Africa, Britain and North
America in search of a better life. - Sapa-AP
ADB firm on Karonga-Chitipa road contract
by Zainah Liwanda, 22 May 2006 - 06:09:17
The African Development Bank (ADB) has again rejected a proposal by government to look for another contractor instead of China Hunan Construction to construct of the long awaited Karonga/Chitipa road.
China Hunan from Mainland China won the bid which was approved by the ADB but government later wanted to award the contract to a Portuguese firm, Mota Engil, the second lowest bidder, claiming China Hunan's bid was unrealistically low and that the company had very little experience in Africa.
Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe confirmed on Sunday the ADB rejected the proposal at a meeting held between the bank and Malawi government in Tunisia last week.
The Malawi government wanted the Tunisia meeting to authorise it to get another contractor for the road, said Gondwe.
"They did not allow us to look for another contractor because of their regulations. But we are about to get another alternative for Karonga/Chitipa and I would be surprised if it does not start before end June," said Gondwe.
The minister explained that the bank insisted that regardless of the unrealistic cost estimates, China Hunan should be allowed to go ahead with the construction.
But Gondwe could not give further details about the alternatives, arguing there are still a few loose ends to tighten up before disclosing it.
The problem with China Hunan, according to Gondwe, is that it would require more money to meet the total cost of the project.
This paper reported last week that government met Taiwanese representatives where they offered to fund the road if the ADB continued to reject its favoured contractor, Mota Engil.
Gondwe could neither confirm nor deny the reports on the Taiwanese offer, saying government was looking at a number of ways to handle the issue.
According to Gondwe, the China Hunan's bid was 24 percent lower than the consulting engineers' estimates of K7.9 billion and 34 percent below the second lowest bidder.
President Bingu wa Mutharika laid a foundation stone for the construction of the road this year ahead of a crucial byelection in Chitipa in December last year.
The President's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) won the Chitipa Wenya constituency by-election that fell vacant following the collapse and subsequent death of Speaker of Parliament Rodwell Munyenyembe who belonged to the UDF.
Last week, police and the District Commissioner (DC) for Chitipa stopped a rally that was aimed at soliciting people's views about development projects in the district.
The meeting, which was reportedly organised by Concerned Citizens of Chitipa, was among other things also supposed to tackle the controversial Karonga/Chitipa road.
The project failed to start off in 2000 when a contract for an initial loan of US$17 million and US$15 million from the Taiwanese government was signed, with some quarters claiming the Bakili Muluzi administration diverted the money to another road.
Chihana operated on
by Edwin Nyirongo, 22 May 2006 - 06:32:31
Alliance for Democracy (Aford) president Chakufwa Chihana, who is in South Africa receiving treatment, had a brain operation on Friday at Garden City Clinic, family and party officials confirmed on Sunday.
Aford national chairman Chipimpha Mughogho said he was told by the family members that Chihana had a successful operation on Friday and was put in an intensive care unit.
Mughogho said Chihana, who initially complained of headache, was found with a brain tumour which South African doctors removed.
Mzimba West MP Loveness Gondwe said Aford boss condition was stable.
"Hon. Chihana had a major operation and after that he was put in the intensive care unit but his condition is stable. I do not know where he was operated on but it had something to do with the skull," she said.
Deputy Information Minister John Bande referred the matter to the Health Minister Hetherwick Ntaba who was reported to be in Geneva, Switzerland.
Aford publicity secretary Norman Nyirenda said when Chihana's situation got worse, the family alerted the Office of the President and Cabinet who took him to Mwaiwathu Private Hospital.
"The doctors at Mwaiwathu advised that he should be sent to South Africa and they even identified the doctor for him," he said.
He said the costs are being met by the Malawi government, contradicting his earlier statement that his boss covered the cost.
Mughogho is now in charge of the party.
Gondwe will be a busy person when Parliament starts meeting on June 6 as she is the only Aford MP remaining.
Pillane proposes presidential age limit
by Emmanuel Muwamba , 22 May 2006 - 06:34:13
A member of the DPP National Governing Council Abdul Pillane on Saturday urged members of political parties and the civil society to put an upper age limit in the Constitution for presidential candidates.
Pillane was addressing members of political parties and civil society in Liwonde during a two-day follow up workshop to the National Conference on the Review of Constitution held in March in Lilongwe.
"My view is that (an upper) age limit should be at 75. We have to give a chance to younger people to lead because in circumstance, when you age you become forgetful especially when sickly," said Pillane. "Overall, chances should be given to young people."
But UDF secretary general Kennedy Makwangwala, whose party members agitated for the age limit during presentations, played the issue down.
"I feel there is no logic to have an upper age limit for presidential candidates. If someone is 90 or 80 I don't know how that can influence the electorate not to vote for someone who is younger, I don't see any logic behind that," said Makwangwala.
MCP participants at the workshop also vehemently objected to the proposal.
MCP vice president Nicholas Dausi in an interview said: "There is no constitution in Africa which stipulates an upper age limit. So it would be strange in Malawi to have an upper age limit for presidential candidates."
MDP President Kamlepo Kalua also opposed the need to have an upper age limit.
"If we have personalities in mind that we want to discriminate against then it is unfortunate. The constitution we want to build is a guiding document for future generations and it should not bar certain individuals on the basis of grudges," he said.
The Malawi Law Constitution Issues Paper of March 2006 says several submissions that were received put an upper presidential age limit in the Constitution.
"It is argued that it is common sense that mental knowledge faculties tend to fail with age. As regards what the actual age limit should be the submissions are far from being agreed. The range is from 60 years to 80 years," read submissions in the Issues Paper.
On whether MPs should double as ministers, Kalua said this should be the case.
Makwangwala also said it is not right for MPs to serve as ministers because the Legislature, another arm of government, is reduced while the Executive branch is beefed up from another arm of government.
"There is no separation of powers when MPs double as ministers," said Makwangwala.
But Pillane said there is no problem for MPs to work as ministers as well, saying MPs are elected by the President.
"One can serve both posts. There have been no problems before for people to double," said Pillane.
The Centre for Multiparty Democracy funded the workshop through the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy.
The objective was to come up with a collective position on the Issues Paper which will be presented to the Special Law Commission that will be constituted soon.
Mussa hails new driving licence
by Zainah Liwanda, 22 May 2006 - 06:58:52
Transport and Public Works Minister Henry Mussa last week said the design of the Malawi-Sadc driving licence would guard against forgery and ensure that only skilled and legitimate drivers of particular vehicles are licensed.
Mussa was speaking at the official launch of the licences in Lilongwe where he announced that traffic police would from July enforce speed limits and sober driving using Breathalysers which his ministry is in the process of procuring.
The minister said financial constraints are the reason for the delay in procuring the equipment but assured that by July they would be available.
"With the new equipment, the days of those who believe in the thrill of drink and driving are numbered," warned Mussa.
Mussa added that with the new licence, government is optimistic that the country's roads would be safe.
Acting Director of Road Traffic James Chirwa said the features that distinguish the new from the old licences are the Malawi national flag and a ghost image of the driver's photograph, among others.
Those with old licences, according to Chirwa, are expected to get the new ones after the expiry of the former.
UDF demands investigation on Kasambara
by Rabecca Theu, 22 May 2006 - 06:30:46
The United Democratic Front (UDF) has asked government to investigate Ralph Kasambara on allegations of abuse of office while he was attorney general.
UDF publicity secretary Sam Mpasu told the press Sunday that the party is neither amused or saddened by the removal of the former AG but asked government to institute investigations on Kasambara.
"Beyond the removal of the Attorney General, we now urge President Mutharika to institute investigation against Mr Kasambara into allegations that have made rounds in the public domain during the recent past. These include: Mrs Helen Singh and SS Rent-a-Car; SGS and ITS saga; ...........the use of Malawi Police Service in the arrest of three Chronicle journalists and the handling of Mrs Rubina Kawonga," said Mpasu.
Mpasu also accused Kasambara of awarding government contracts to Lawson and Company where he was a senior partner.
"We urge government to thoroughly investigate the former AG. We also ask government to cautiously select the new AG ," said Mpasu, who was accompanied by the party's Secretary General Kennedy Makwangwala, leader of the party in Parliament George Mtafu, chief whip Leonard Mangulama and a member of the executive Hophmally Makande.
But Minister of Information Patricia Kaliati said UDF should give offer its advice to the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB).
"They should advise bodies like the Anti-Corruption Bureau to conduct the investigations and why are they saying this now? Is it because Kasambara has been fired? This is not a personal issue. If they have other pressing issues they should just say so. These arguments should have come up earlier on when the said cases were happening," she said.
Kasambara asked UDF to proceed with the mission of urging government to investigate him.
"They can do their job. Everyone has a right to lobby for anything they want in the country. UDF has a right to do that, let them go ahead," he said.
Kasambara was relieved of his duties as AG by the President last week. Government has not given reasons behind the removal.
Zambia: Malawians Grab Zambian Land
The Times of Zambia (Ndola)
May 18, 2006
Posted to the web May 19, 2006
MALAWIANS who have encroached on both the 'no-man's' and part of the Zambian land at the Mwami border in Eastern Province have plucked out some beacons that were used in the demarcation of the border.
The Malawians are now using the beacons as stools in their newly-established villages on Zambian land.
Eastern Province Minister, Boniface Nkhata, said in Chipata yesterday that if the situation was not controlled urgently, Zambia would lose huge tracts of land to Malawians migrating into Zambian in large numbers.
A check at the Zambia-Malawi border showed a number of beacons had been vandalised and new structures constructed on the 'no man's' land and a large portion of Zambian land.
Mr Nkhata said the trend extended to many parts of the province bordering the two countries.
"A large portion of Zambian land has been taken up by the Malawians starting from the Chama boundary up to the Mwami border.
"The weighbridge at the Mwami border was initially in Zambia from the time both countries gained independence from Britain, but now the bridge is on Malawian soil," Mr Nkhata said.
The minister, who is former Chama District Commissioner, said there was similar encroachment in Lundazi and Chama districts where Zambia shares a boundary with Malawi.
He said a Malawian farmer identified as Mr Mfune had cultivated 71.5 hectares on Zambian land and employed about 265 Malawian workers.
"Khombe Farm in Chama district in Kanyerere's area, along the Muyombe road which leads to Northern Province where this Malawian farmer has cultivated a vast land is on the Zambian territory," he said.
Workers on the farm admitted that they were farming on Zambian soil but could not go back to Malawi because the land in that country was inadequate for cultivation.
Mr Nkhata appealed to the ministry of Lands to urgently release money for the demarcation of the Zambia-Malawi border to avoid further land disputes between the two countries.
Meanwhile, the Immigration Department in Livingstone has arrested a couple and another man, all Zimbabweans, for working in Zambia without permits.
They were arrested at Gwembe village yesterday where they worked for Into Africa, a tour operating company that provides bush dinners and breakfast.
According to the Immigration Department in Livingstone, the trio entered Zambia through the Victoria Falls border as visitors but decided to work for the company illegally.
Last week, immigration officers arrested 10 Zimbabwean traders and six Ethiopians for entering and staying in Zambia illegally.
The Zimbabwean traders were warned and cautioned and later released.
The Ethiopians were arrested at Konje Guest House when they ran out of money to proceed to Botswana.
Zim unions, MDC still plan anti-govt protests
22 May 2006 11:51
Zimbabwe's biggest labour federation on Saturday threatened to call massive demonstrations against the government over poor salaries and worsening living conditions for workers in the country.
The threats are ratcheting up pressure against President Robert Mugabe's government after similar threats by the biggest opposition party in the country, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), about two months ago.
Speaking at the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) conference on Saturday, the labour body's president, Lovemore Matombo, said the powerful union wants the government to award workers salaries that match the country's ever-rising inflation.
"I can assure you we will stage massive demonstrations to force them [employers] to award workers minimum salaries that tally with the poverty datum line," said Matombo.
Matombo did not say when exactly the ZCTU would order workers to strike.
Meanwhile, the MDC on Sunday said it will push ahead with plans for anti-government protests, saying victory in a key by-election at the weekend was a "sign the electorate supported its policies", including democratic mass resistance.
A spokesperson of the main faction of the splintered MDC, Nelson Chamisa, said victory over Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF and a rival MDC faction in a Saturday by-election in Harare's Budiriro constituency is a sign Zimbabweans still have confidence in party leader Morgan Tsvangirai and his policies.
Tsvangirai, the founding leader of the MDC, heads the main rump of the opposition party whose candidate, Emmanuel Chisvuure, polled 7 949 votes to win the Budiriro House of Assembly seat.
Gabriel Chaibva of the other faction of the MDC, led by prominent academic Arthur Mutambara, garnered 504 votes while Zanu-PF's Jeremiah Bvirindi polled 3 961 votes.
"This election showed that the electorate still has confidence in the MDC [Tsvangirai-led] leadership and its policies," Chamisa told independent news service ZimOnline.
He added: "We will now move to consolidate our position * we still believe in mass protests. Until we have attained our goals we see no reason why we should abandon [plans for protests]."
Tsvangirai has threatened to call mass protests this winter against Mugabe and his government. He says the mass protests, whose date he is still to name, are meant to force Mugabe to relinquish power to a government of national unity to be tasked to write a new and democratic Constitution that would ensure free and fair elections held under international supervision.
Mugabe and his government, who had hoped for victory in Budiriro to show they were recapturing urban support from a splintered MDC, have not taken idly the opposition's threats to call mass protests, with the veteran president warning Tsvangirai he would be "dicing with death" if he ever attempted to instigate a Ukraine-style popular revolt in Zimbabwe.
In a fresh crackdown against dissension, the police last week arrested several church and civic leaders for organising public prayers and marches to mark last year's controversial home-demolition exercise by the government.
The police also banned the marches and prayers, fearing they could easily turn into mass protests against Mugabe and his government.
However, the marches went ahead in the second-largest city of Bulawayo after organisers had obtained a court order barring the police from stopping the march.
Political analysts say although Zimbabweans have largely been cowed by Mugabe's tactics of routinely deploying riot police and the military to crush street protests, worsening hunger and poverty are fanning public anger that Tsvangirai -- with proper planning and organisation -- could easily manipulate.
Zimbabwe is in the grip of a severe six-year old economic crisis that has seen inflation breaching the 1 000% barrier. Last year, the World Bank said Zimbabwe's economic crisis was unprecedented for a country not at war.
The MDC and major Western governments blame Mugabe for wrecking the country's economy, which was one of the strongest in Africa at independence from Britain 26 years ago.
Mugabe denies the charge blaming the crisis on sabotage by Britain and her allies after he seized white-owned farms for redistribution to landless blacks six years ago.
The Harare authorities recently hiked salaries for civil servants, with the lowest-paid soldier now earning about Z$27-million while the lowest-paid school teacher now takes home about Z$33-million.
But the salaries are still way below the poverty datum line, which the government's Consumer Council of Zimbabwe says now stands at a staggering Z$42-million a month for an average family of six.
The Zimbabwe government often accuses the ZCTU, a strong ally of the MDC, of pushing a political agenda to remove Mugabe from power.
Meanwhile, Matombo and Lucia Matibenga retained their posts as president and first vice-president respectively during the ZCTU congress that ended on Saturday. -- ZimOnline