- Malawi: Community NGO Breaks Silence Around HIV/Aids
UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
December 27, 2004
Posted to the web December 30, 2004
In a small village in Kaswela in Karonga district in the northern
region of Malawi, 35-year-old Lucy Banda has been critically ill for a
year, and her neighbours suspect she is HIV-positive.
Despite numerous visits to the hospital, Banda shows no signs of
improvement and spends most of her time lying on her mat, unable to talk
or eat properly.
With two children to raise alone after her husband's death, Lucy's
neighbours are concerned about what will happen to them should she pass
A community based NGO in the district, Chipulikano Orphan Care (COC),
is trying to address the problem of caring for orphans and vulnerable
children, as well as raising awareness about AIDS within families -
traditionally a taboo subject.
"Many parents are dying leaving children behind without anybody to take
care of them. What we want now is that the youth should know the dangers
of the disease, and we are working with families to achieve this,"
Makani Lombani, a COC member, told PlusNews.
When COC was started in 2000, 300 orphans were targeted to receive
assistance, Lambani said. Four years later, the NGO is caring for 2,075
orphaned children and are struggling to raise the additional funds.
"We need to travel and we need food as well. Our orphans need to go to
school and they need fees and school materials," said Ida Mhone, one of
26 COC volunteers.
To help raise funds, the NGO has trained women to produce soap from
locally available resources for sale, among other initiatives.
"Apart from soap making, we also have small gardens where we grow
vegetables, which we sell. [With] the little we get, we are able to give
young boys and girls some technical and vocational skills for them to be
self-reliant," social worker Sister Beatrice Chipeta explained.
Most of the NGO's volunteers are women, despite traditional beliefs
which restrict women from discussing sex. But as primary caregivers, it
is the wives and mothers who are feeling the impact of HIV/AIDS.
"As a locally based NGO, women are encouraged to have a say on issues
that affect them. These are the people who are taking care of orphans in
our home," said Lombani.
"There is no need now to keep issues of sex away from our children in
the name of culture when our people are dying," Lambani added.
"When you ask young people now about AIDS they will tell you that they
are more aware than they were two or three years ago in the district.
This cannot only be attributed to Chipulikano Orphan Care but other NGOs
and government as well. But Chipulikano has made a very significant
change," said Chipeta.
Eighteen-year-old Hector Makungwa, who lost both parents to
AIDS-related illnesses five years ago, says the youth can no longer be
ignored when talking about sex and the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
"Both boys and girls should know more about sex and sexuality. This
information should not only be limited to older people," he said.
According to the Ministry of Health and Population, 14 percent of
Malawians are estimated to be HIV-positive and about 150,000 children
have been orphaned by the disease.
Malawi: Army Worms Invade Farmers' Fields
UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
December 30, 2004
Posted to the web December 31, 2004
Army worms have invaded farmers' fields in Malawi's northern
agricultural district of Karonga, raising local concerns over the impact
on food security in the coming year.
"I am only hoping that government will do something before our crops
are destroyed," Eric Kalinga told IRIN last week, when the pests first
appeared in his farm.
Army worms, the caterpillar life stage of a moth, are voracious eaters.
However, agricultural officials have assured farmers that there was no
cause for alarm, and the outbreak would be brought under control through
a chemical spray programme.
"We have managed to contain the problem, and we have asked farmers to
re-plant crops in areas that have been hit hard," District Agricultural
Development Officer Bill Mhango told IRIN.
Karonga district, bordering Tanzania to the north and Zambia to the
northwest, produces maize, rice and cassava. Mhango said about 158
hectares of maize and rice were destroyed in one of the hardest hit
areas of the district.
Apart from chemical spraying to control the infestation, "we are also
being assisted by the heavy rains and birds that are feeding on the
pests", Mhango said.
Karonga Agricultural Development Division programme manager, Paul
Ching'amba, said the government would ensure that the outbreak did not
spread to other parts of the district.
Zim ruling party shuns big names
03 January 2005 10:46
Just three months before parliamentary polls set for March, Zimbabwe's
ruling Zanu-PF has slashed several "prominent names" from contesting
important party primary elections.
Information Minister and President Robert Mugabe's chief spin doctor
Jonathan Moyo is one of three ministers prohibited from contesting the
Moyo, who fell from grace last month after calling an unauthorised
meeting, is reported to have tried to resign last week.
Also dropped was Justice Minister and fierce Mugabe loyalist Patrick
Chinamasa. He attended the meeting organised by Moyo, but is reported to
have apologised to Mugabe.
Finance Minister Chris Kureneri, currently in remand prison where he is
facing charges of illegally "externalising foreign currency", was also
dropped from the primaries.
Zanu-PF has also said a flamboyant businessman and MP for the northern
town of Chinhoyi, Phillip Chiyangwa, will be barred. Instead, he must
leave room for a new "quota for women" to be introduced by the party.
Chiyangwa dropped from public sight four weeks ago after he was
reportedly snatched by Zimbabwe's notorious Central Intelligence
Organisation and held at the infamous Goromonzi torture farm.
He reappeared last week in a Harare Magistrate's Court to face charges
of spying and leaking secrets to an unnamed foreign power.
The flashily dressed MP, who boasts of owning more than 500 suits,
seemed to have his fate sealed on Monday when the state-controlled
Herald carried a cartoon of Chiyangwa sitting on a prison bed saying:
"Which khaki shall I wear today?"
Also dropped from Zanu-PF's list of primary election candidates are war
veterans' leader and self-appointed head of farm invasions Joseph
Chinotimba, who denied attending the "unauthorised meeting" in
Zimbabwe's western Tsholotsho district, has made repeated unsuccessful
attempts to garner support in opposition-held Harare townships.
Zanu-PF has also banned former lawmaker Tony Gara from contesting the
primaries. Gara once compared Mugabe to "the son of God", causing an
outcry in the country.
The calling of Zanu-PF primaries follows in the wake of the
announcement of new constituency boundaries last month.
Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has cried
foul over the new boundaries, pointing out that two constituencies in
MDC-held Harare and Bulawayo have been taken from them, while three
constituencies have been added to traditionally held Zanu-PF provinces.
Primaries are held before parliamentary polls and allow party members
to select their prospective MPs. -- Sapa
Zim ministers suspects in alleged spy ring
03 January 2005 10:44
At least two Cabinet ministers in Zimbabwe are suspected of passing
official secrets to Western intelligence agencies seeking to spy on
President Robert Mugabe's government, the state Sunday Mail reported.
The newspaper, a main government mouthpiece, said security authorities
are closing in on several top ruling-party and government officials
believed to have divulged confidential information to "hostile
intelligence agencies", including the United States's CIA and Britain's
It said Zimbabwe security authorities are investigating at least two
Cabinet ministers and another lawmaker who had access to high-level
government and ruling-party meetings and who may have given information
to foreign-based Zimbabwean officials, who then sold it.
"The officials would receive handsome payments from enemy agencies,"
the Sunday Mail said.
The paper said Erasmus Moyo, a diplomat at the Zimbabwe embassy in
Geneva, disappeared after the arrest last month of a prominent
ruling-party politician and four others on allegations of spying.
It said Moyo, who was being recalled to Harare, checked in for a
homeward bound flight but then slipped away from colleagues escorting
him to Geneva International airport.
Philip Chiyangwa, a prominent lawmaker; Godfrey Dzvairo, the country's
ambassador-designate to neighbouring Mozambique; and three other
ruling-party officials were charged last week in a Harare court under
the Official Secrets Act.
The men face a fine or up to 20 years in prison.
Chiyangwa is a legislator for the parliamentary district of Chinhoyi,
120km north-west of Harare, and one of 10 ruling-party provincial
Chiyangwa, a wealthy businessman known for his flamboyant lifestyle
amid an economic crisis that has left 80% of the population in poverty,
was detained in March on corruption and perjury allegations.
He was acquitted on those charges.
Zimbabwe has repeatedly accused Britain and the US of backing Mugabe's
opponents and working toward his ouster through "regime change".
The ruling party suffered deep divisions last year over Mugabe's
autocratic style of rule. -- 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