- Malawi: NGOs Monitor Budget Spending On Education
UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
December 14, 2004
Posted to the web December 14, 2004
A new report by Oxfam International has highlighted the watchdog role
NGOs can play in monitoring budget spending in resource-poor countries
Titled, 'Paying the price: Why rich countries must now invest in a war
on poverty', the report noted that "there has been substantial progress
in the performance and accountability of many poor-country governments
... [as they] did not transfer resources from those expenditures that
In Malawi, the Civil Society Coalition for Quality Basic Education
(CSCQBE), a grouping of NGOs, began monitoring how the education
ministry was spending its budget allocation three years ago.
The report noted that the group checked on whether schools received the
materials, such as textbooks and chalk, promised to them in the
government's budget, and reported their findings to parliament and the
Julita Nsanjama, an educational expert with Action Aid and a member of
CSCQBE, explained that "one of the reasons why civil society grouped
together to start monitoring the education budgets was due to a scandal
which surfaced about six years ago, in which about 187 million Malawi
Kwacha (US $176,415) was lost through corruption".
She said civil society was devoted to "checking, prompting and alerting
the government to its budgetary commitments, and in this way helping it
to attain its goals of achieving quality basic education for all".
As a result of constant monitoring, the government had become more
accountable and transparent, "though we had some problems with the
previous administration," Nsanjama added.
"Some top government officials were not happy with our work of
monitoring government expenditure, but they forget that government is
there because of the people it wants to serve," she said.
Nsanjama was, however, quick to point out that accountability and
transparency should not only be demanded at a higher level. "What about
headmasters and their teachers in primary and secondary schools?" she
asked. "They should also be accountable for their actions. There are
reports that most of them sell ... school chalk and notebooks."
In its Budget Monitoring Initiative 2003/04 report, yet to be released,
CSCQBE focused on the priority activities identified in the Malawi
Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (MPRSP), which includes the provision
of textbooks, learning and teaching materials, and an annual 10 percent
salary increase for teachers.
The CSCQBE report found that "teacher [training] colleges still suffer
from sporadic funding, and there have not been any ground-breaking
efforts to train more teachers". Nsanjama said government needed to
spend more money on training teachers to improve efficiency.
In 1994, when free primary education was introduced, government
overlooked the need to train more teachers. Instead, it employed over
15,000 unqualified teachers and, according to education experts, lowered
the standard of education in the country.
Because of low pay, morale among teachers was also low, the CSCQBE
"Despite the declaration by government that teachers will be given
incentives [through] an annual salary increase of 10 percent, the basic
salaries at all primary teaching grades have remained static for four
years," the report alleged.
CSCQBE also called for more funding for education. The MK89 billion (US
$841 million) budget for 2004/05 has MK11 billion ($104 million)
allocated to the Ministry of Education, of which MK8 billion ($75
million) is to be used for the ministry's recurrent operational expenses
and the remainder for "development expenditures".
Minister of Education Yusuf Mwawa said civil society was playing a
crucial role in the development of education in the country, and
welcomed their participation in the implementation of education
President Bingu wa Mutharika, meanwhile, has made the fight against
corruption one of his top priorities.
In its recommendations to developing country governments, Oxfam called
on them to demonstrate their commitment to poverty reduction by meeting
the UN recommendation to spend 20 percent of public budgets on basic
social services, and transparently direct it to poor people.
'Mozambicans may rise up in protest'
Evaristo Cumbane | Maputo, Mozambique
15 December 2004 15:25
Mozambique's ruling party and its presidential candidate, Armando
Guebuza, have secured a landslide victory in polls to choose a successor
to veteran leader Joaquim Chissano amid opposition outrage and demands
for new elections.
Results released on Tuesday night by the provincial elections
commission show that Guebuza -- picked by the ruling Mozambique
Liberation Front (Frelimo) to replace Chissano, who is stepping down
after 18 years in power -- won 223 538 votes in the province of Nampula,
the biggest constituency.
Opposition leader Afonso Dhlakama bagged 196 743 votes and was also in
second place, behind Guebuza, in most of the country's 11 provinces,
thereby giving Frelimo's candidate an unassailable lead.
In parliamentary elections, Frelimo bagged 208 804 votes in Nampula and
the Mozambique National Resistance-led (Renamo) coalition gained 172 430
Guebuza and Frelimo have also won the most votes in seven other
provinces: southern Maputo, Gaza and Inhambane, the central provinces of
Manica and Tete and northern Niassa and Cabo Delgado.
Nampula is one of the six provinces where Frelimo had lost to the
former rebel Renamo in the 1994 and 1999 elections.
Dhlakama and his coalition have so far won most of the votes in the
central province of Zambezia. Results from his home province of Sofala
are expected on Wednesday or Thursday.
Fraud and 'plot against democracy'
Mozambicans voted on December 1 and 2 to choose a successor to
Chissano, whose 18-year rule was marked by the end of a lengthy and
brutal civil war that claimed up to a million lives.
Renamo and 20 smaller parties on Tuesday demanded fresh elections,
saying the polls -- marred by an abysmal turnout and long delays in vote
counting -- were riddled with fraud and a "plot against democracy".
Dhlakama, who claimed that Chissano had snatched victory from him in
the 1994 and 1999 elections through fraud, on Tuesday ruled out a return
to war but warned of "serious disturbances".
"The Mozambican people want a tranquil transition but looking at the
way things are, I do not know where the country is going," he said at a
news conference attended by members from the 20 other political
"We do not want war but the Mozambicans whose votes were stolen may
rise up in protest against those wanting to govern by force."
Manuel Tome, who heads Frelimo's election office, on Wednesday said
"the results reflected the people's will to see the continuation of the
work Frelimo has done to rebuild the country devastated by the war of
"Some people say that Frelimo has done little in 30 years and ignore
the fact that we suffered a war ... but anyway we have done what some
countries in Europe, for instance, did in centuries."
Renamo election office spokesperson Eduardo Namburete said, however,
"our position remains the same ... these elections were rigged and we
are preparing all the proof to be submitted to the Constitutional
In a joint declaration, the opposition said "for the sake of peace,
security, political, economic and social stability, the opposition
parties declare that the elections ... were neither fair nor
It claimed that the high rate of absenteeism "pre-empt the
constitutional provision that power rests with the people".
Frelimo's Tome dismissed the claim, saying "the law does not determine
how many people must vote so that elections can be valid ... these
claims can only reflect their ignorance". -- Sapa-AFP
MDC dissatisfied with limited Zim poll reforms
15 December 2004 13:19
Zimbabwe's ruling Zanu-PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) have agreed to reform some of that country's electoral
laws, but the opposition said it is "dissatisfied" by the state's
attempts to portray absolute agreement.
"The state press is trying to imply that the changes to the electoral
laws have our blessing," MDC chief whip Innocent Gonese said on
Wednesday. "Actually, we're anything but satisfied."
A parliamentary committee made up of MPs from both parties said polls
will be open for 12 hours in next year's election.
Observers of Zimbabwe's 2000 and 2002 elections slated the Zanu-PF
government for closing polling booths and denying thousands the right to
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe's Justice Minister, Patrick Chinamasa, said he has
already agreed that "translucent ballot boxes" will be used in the poll,
expected in March next year.
But the MDC said it is "bitterly disappointed" that civil and church
leaders will not be appointed as election supervisors.
Chinamasa told state radio: "You can't just pick up people in the
streets, as no one would be prepared to take responsibility if anything
Gonese said: "We're not suggesting people should be picked from the
street. We suggested eminent citizens should be trained as electoral
"The opposition is far from satisfied and far from happy with the way
the Electoral Act is being drafted, but negations are over, they're
finished and what is in the new law will mainly be what Zanu-PF wants in
the law," he said in a telephone interview. -- Sapa
Commuter jailed for calling Mugabe 'thick-headed'
15 December 2004 08:53
A Zimbabwean commuter will spend Christmas in jail for calling
President Robert Mugabe "thick-headed", the Herald newspaper reported on
Arnold Bunya (29) was arrested on December 1 after an argument with his
brother on a bus during which he admonished his sibling by saying: "Do
not be thick-headed like Mugabe."
Bunya was warned by a member of the Central Intelligence Organisation
travelling on the bus to stop insulting the veteran leader but persisted
and was then taken to a police station where he was arrested.
A Harare court on Tuesday remanded Bunya in custody until December 28.
Zimbabwe's strict Public Order and Security Act (Posa) makes it an
offence to insult the head of state.
There are regular reports of people on buses being arrested for
slandering Zimbabwe's long-time president. Usually those found guilty
receive light jail sentences, fines or are ordered to do community
service. - AFP
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