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  • Christine Chumbler
    Leader s new photo angers Malawi Malawi s opposition MPs have questioned the commissioning of a new official portrait for President Bingu wa Mutharika, costing
    Message 1 of 1046 , Jul 18, 2005
      Leader's new photo angers Malawi

      Malawi's opposition MPs have questioned the commissioning of a new official portrait for President Bingu wa Mutharika, costing up to $800,000.
      "It doesn't make any moral sense to blow that kind of money on a mere portrait when Malawians are failing to feed themselves," said Bertha Masiku.

      She is from the United Democratic Front, which backed Mr Mutharika in 2004 elections. He then left the party.

      The new portrait replaces UDF yellow with the blue colour of his new party.

      After the public row, State House issued a statement saying that Mr Mutharika did not know that a new portrait was being commissioned, saying the idea came from Information Minister Ken Lipenga.

      "To blame the State President for something he never did is both evil and unfortunate," the statement reads.

      "The matter is under investigation and the public will be told who really ordered these portraits and for what purpose."

      The statement also said that the new portrait only cost $3,000 and that the $800,000 figure was for a portrait ordered by the previous administration led by ex-President Bakili Muluzi.

      But the BBC's Raphael Tenthani in the commercial capital, Blantyre says the statement has not softened the public row.

      He says the local media have published documents, which show that the president's office ordered some 500,000 new portraits.

      Mr Muluzi hand-picked Mr Mutharika as his successor but the pair have since fallen out and Mr Muluzi has since apologised for his "bad choice".


      Malawi: Local Manufacture of Anti-Aids Drugs Considered

      UN Integrated Regional Information Networks

      July 13, 2005
      Posted to the web July 13, 2005


      Malawi says it is considering the local production of generic antiretrovirals to ensure an affordable and sustainable supply.

      According to Malawian Health Minister Hetherwick Ntaba, the stricter patent laws recently passed in India were threatening his country's supply of low-cost versions of the life-prolonging drugs.

      Malawi began rolling out free anti-AIDS drugs last year, receiving most of its requirements from Indian generic drug manufacturers Ranbaxy Laboratories and Cipla, with funding from the Global AIDS Fund.

      Ntaba told London's Financial Times that after Ranbaxy and Cipla removed some of their antiretrovirals from the World Health Organisation's list of prequalified medications, his country had to wait up to three months to find a new supply.


      Malawi: Kaunda to Help Resolve Political Impasse

      UN Integrated Regional Information Networks

      July 13, 2005
      Posted to the web July 13, 2005


      Political analysts have welcomed former Zambian president Kenneth Kaunda's willingness to resolve the political crisis in Malawi.

      Kaunda arrived in the capital, Lilongwe on Wednesday to mediate between President Bingu wa Mutharika and his political rivals, former president of the country and now chairman of the United Democratic Front (UDF) party, Bakili Muluzi, and Malawi Congress Party (MCP) leader, John Tembo.

      Last month the UDF proposed a motion to amend the constitution to allow MPs to impeach Mutharika and his deputy because the president had left the UDF, which sponsored him in the national elections.

      The political bickering has delayed the approval of the national budget, causing widespread concern over the impact of the political impasse on the country's economy. The UN has also expressed its disquiet.

      Rafiq Hajat, Executive Director of the Institute for Policy Interaction, a local think-tank, told IRIN, "This is a welcome development - Kaunda is one of the right persons for the job [of mediation]. I expect Kaunda to come out with a working agreement between the two sides."

      "We have a lot of problems that we are facing as a country, such as hunger, diseases and unemployment. It is not good for politicians to be fighting instead of tackling the problems," he commented.

      Information Minister Ken Lipenga said the government was prepared to iron out its differences with the opposition.

      The Public Affairs Committee (PAC), a grouping of religious organisations, has been mediating between the two rival groups. PAC chairman Boniface Tamani said the talks were "going on well, and the two sides are ready to sort out their differences".


      BLM Appeals to Leaders On VCT

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      July 14, 2005
      Posted to the web July 14, 2005

      Pilirani Phiri

      Banja La Mtsogolo (BLM) - a non govern-mental organisation (NGO) reputed for quality, affordable and sustainable sexual and reproductive healthcare (SRH) services in the county, has appealed to both political and traditional leaders to encourage people to go for voluntary counselling and testing (VCT) in all BLM clinics.

      Speaking last Thursday in Nkhatabay during the official launch of Nkhatabay BLM's VCT new facility, BLM Programme Director Walker Jiyani appealed to political and traditional leaders in the area to take advantage of the integrated VCT centre by encouraging people to come forward to use the services. "We hope that with the increase of VCT centres in the north, the HIV/AIDS infection rate can be reduced in the region. I would therefore appeal to the people in the north, particularly the youth to come forward and get tested," said Jiyani.

      In March last year, with funds from the Japanese International Co-operation Agency (JICA), BLM integrated the provision of VCT in their Nkhatabay, Rumphi, and Mzimba clinics in the north. "The integration of the JICA funded VCT in our centres will increase the number of services we are providing and this will complement government efforts in the fight against HIV/AIDS in the country," said Jiyani.

      Under the JICA project, said Jiyani, BLM will not only provide testing services but also the pre and post counselling and referrals for those who test positive.

      Speaking later, MP for the area Symon Kaunda and Chief Nkumbila assured BLM that both political and traditional leaders in the district would work hand in hand to encourage their constituents to go for VCT. "Our district is a tourist attraction area and as a result there are more incidences of immorality happening in here. We are therefore glad that this project has come at a right time. We will urge people in the district to get to know their sero status by going for VCT," said Chief Nkumbila.

      MP Kaunda, said people in the area have welcomed the integration of the VCT service at the clinic and he cited the ever growing figures of people who have been undergoing VCT. "In March 63 people went for VCT. In May, 90 people got tested while in June, 138 people came to know their status. You can therefore see that our people have welcomed the VCT services," said Kaunda.

      Apart from VCT services, Nkhatabay clinic offers family planning methods, STI management, under five clinics, youth SRH programmes, and other reproductive health services.


      Hunger Begins to Bite in Namitete

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      July 14, 2005
      Posted to the web July 14, 2005

      Chikondi Chiyembekeza

      Residents of Namitete, on the outskirts of Lilongwe have started feeling the consequential effects of a shortage of the staple crop, maize with most going for days without a proper meal, it has been learnt.

      This situation has forced many of the school-going children to completely abandon their classes at school to find food for survival purposes. "Most of the children in the area are no longer interested in going to school. They cannot learn anything on an empty stomach and all they do now is to look for food all day long," said one resident Joseph Mtimawafa.

      He is a father of five and at the same time he also looks after some of the orphaned children of his sister who died two years ago.

      He said that children couldn't go to school because, as soon as the food to eat on that particular day is found, they have to eat it right away. "Because the food is also always in small quantities and since we would have stayed for some time without food, we do not normally wait for someone to share it with," said Mtimawafa.

      He added: "That could be the reason why children are being forced to abandoned school for fear that they might be left without food because that could be the only meal for the day." Maize is the country's staple food crop and it seems that the populace have not gotten used to eating any other foodstuffs as a substitute for maize.

      Several calls from agriculturalists and other commentators have been made for people to change their eating habits by not only relying on maize as the only food but by adjusting their eating habits to incorporate other nutritious foods that are readily available.

      But another resident of Namitete told The Chronicle last week that some of the food crops that they could have been substituting for maize did not do well because of inadequate rains. "We do not only rely on maize alone but other crops like groundnuts, beans and cassava, but since the rains were not adequate this year, what we realize in our harvest was not much," said Josiah Malumero.

      The country faced a serious dry spell in February, which adversely affected the production of crops. This (the dry spell) caused permanent wilting and stunted growth of most food crops.

      Agricultural experts said the dry spell affected the maize crop, which was in critical stages of developing tassels and cobs.

      Total maize production for the 2004-05 season was estimated at slightly over 1.3 million metric tones. Malawi needs an annual requirement of 2.2 million metric tones.

      Government has set plans to import maize for free distribution and some for sale through the Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (ADMARC).

      When contacted to speak on how or when the free distribution of maize would begin, the Principal Secretary (PS) for the Ministry of Agriculture Andrew Daudi referred The Chronicle to the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) responsible for the Disaster Preparedness.

      However, contacted to speak on the issue, officials from the OPC could not come forth with the information saying they needed to consult first before releasing contingency plans on how they are going to go about distributing relief maize.


      UDF Targets 18 MP's for Removal

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      July 14, 2005
      Posted to the web July 14, 2005

      Hopkins Mundango Nyirenda

      The United Democratic Front [UDF] has plans to invoke Section 65 of the Constitution to remove 18 Members of Parliament next week for having joined the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), The Chronicle has established.

      The 18 MPs, who were elected on UDF and Republican Party [RP] tickets but have since joined the DPP of President Bingu wa Mutharika, are deemed to have crossed the floor, according to the UDF.

      The UDF plans to take advantage of the extension of the Budget Session of Parliament to present a petition to the Speaker to have the 18 MPs removed as a strategy to reduce MPs who are supporting government and set a course for the impeachment of Mutharika.

      UDF Acting Publicity Secretary Sam Mpasu said it could be that only the MPs who were elected on an UDF ticket could have their seats declared vacant. "We would like those seats declared vacant because they went to Parliament on a UDF ticket but we wonder why they declared themselves DPP. We demand that they go back to the electorate and seek a fresh mandate," said Mpasu, who also doubles as spokesperson of UDF National Chairman Bakili Muluzi.

      He then referred this reporter to the UDF Leader in Parliament, George Mtafu, as the one who could shed more light on the issue.

      Ntafu, who is also MP for Likoma Island, said the Speaker of the National Assembly was best suited to comment on the issue because protocol demands that the petitions are announced in the House from the Speakers chair.

      "I wouldn't be able to comment on the petitions, because they are addressed to the Speaker and it is him who announces the development in the House, acknowledging that he has received a petition to declare certain seats vacant," said Mtafu demanding to know the source of information.

      But when it was put to him that, as a leader of the UDF party in Parliament he should be in position to know about such a petition, he insisted: " Can you please talk to the Speaker's office." When contacted, the newly elected Speaker of Parliament Louis Chimango said he is not aware of the said petition and asked this reporter to speak to the UDF party. "You have said that the petition is coming from UDF, why are speaking to an outsider? I am not aware of it," said the Speaker.

      The Speaker announced on Tuesday that Parliament would rise next week on July 22 instead of tomorrow on the advice of the Business Committee of Parliament.

      Section 65[1] stipulates that; The speaker shall declare vacant the seat of any member of the National Assembly who was, at the time of his or her election, a member of one political party represented in the National Assembly, other than by that member alone but who has voluntarily ceased to be a member of that party or has joined another political party represented in the National Assembly, or has joined any political party, or association or organization whose objectives or activities are political in nature.

      Brown Mpinganjira, Peter Chupa and others managed to challenge their expulsion from the House using the same Section when they were in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA).

      Constitutional lawyers say the amended Section of the Constitution is invalid because it infringes on MPs rights to association and freedom to belong to a political party of their choice.

      Sources close to UDF said that the party is also going to use the extended time to continue the impeachment proceedings in Parliament, which led to the collapse of the previous Speaker, the late Rodwell Munyenyembe.

      The debate on the motion moved by Balaka North MP Lucius Banda and the Budget Session were postponed as a result of the late Munyenyembe who collapsed and subsequent died.

      However, the DPP does not have any representative in Parliament since it was formed after the 2004 Presidential and Parliamentary Elections were already conducted.


      Achieve the MDGs By Combating HIV/Aids

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      July 14, 2005
      Posted to the web July 14, 2005

      Gregory Gondwe

      Malawi, in an effort to fulfill Millennium Development Goal Number Six which aims at Combating HIV and AIDS intends to reduce the impact of the scourge with the assistance of the United Nations through close collaboration with UN agencies in the country.

      "The UN has participated in the development of the National HIV and AIDS policy, National Action Plan, National Plan of Action on OVCs, 6-year emergency Human Resource Plan for the Ministry of Health, Anti-Retroviral Therapy Equity Policy, Voluntary Counseling and Testing, Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMCT) and Community Home Based Care scale-up plans,"

      This statement comes from; 'Update of UN joint activities towards achieving the MDGs in Malawi' which indicates that AIDS has more than tripled the number of deaths of adults aged between 15 and 49 to nearly 80,000. It also discloses that each year AIDS is responsible for almost three out of every four deaths in this age group.

      Update notes that to support the scaling up of the national response to HIV and AIDS, the UN has helped to create the required environment for improved access to treatment, care and support in Malawi.

      The UN is also supporting Malawi to reach the '3 by 5' treatment goal of 50,000 people accessing treatment by the end of 2005.

      The Update prepared by the UNDP says by December 2004, up to 13,183 people were on treatment in 24 of the 59 sites.

      The UN says it is also helping the country to leverage resources and develop systems necessary for communities to access and utilise and account for available resources.

      In February 2005, a Joint UN Regional Support Team mission assisted the UNCT with the development of a UN-ISP, as a management tool for the UN Theme Group's accountability on HIV and AIDS.

      The outcome included the finalization of a five-year framework on a Joint UN Support to the National Response on HIV/AIDS.

      It is observed that the Malawi UN-ISP reflects a clear statement of the UN's contributions towards each of the priority areas laid out in the new National AIDS Action Framework for 2005-2009 with a careful balance between strategic contributions and service delivery interventions and is expected to increase harmonization among UN agencies and with other stakeholders.

      "Lessons learnt include the fact that the process of developing the UN-ISP is as important as the product, and the involvement of Regional Directors Team helped clear obstacles towards greater harmonization.

      The use of a participatory but focused approach was adopted, including permission assignments that were undertaken by the UNTWG (United Nation Technical Working Group) on HIV and AIDS," it says.

      A joint project of WFP, UNDP, UNAIDS, FAO and NAC provides short-term food assistance, agricultural inputs to ensure long-term food security, training in community home-based care and income generating activities.

      Update notes that the role of NAC is to ensure alignment of the project implementation to the National HIV/AIDS Guidelines.

      The other intervention that would help the country achieve this particular MDG is coming from the World Food Programme (WFP) which has mainstreamed HIV and AIDS by conducting campaigns at food distribution sites, developing posters with different vernacular messages on protection of women and children from sexual abuse. The WFP has also trained employees and implementing partners and transport companies on the protection of women and children from sexual abuse during humanitarian crisis.

      The WFP is also providing households, caretakers and schools with food support with encouragement results.

      Malawi's main mode of transmission is through unprotected heterosexual contact accounting for 88% of all new infections. The prevalence rate currently stands at 14.4%, a figure that has stabilized at around this level for the last 5 years.

      Malawi first diagnosed the first 17 victims of HIV and AIDS in 1985 and by 1998; Malawi's cumulative reported AIDS cases had increased to 52,643.

      But by the year 2003, women accounted for 58% of infected adults in Malawi.


      Forex Misinformation, Speculators Blamed

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      July 14, 2005
      Posted to the web July 14, 2005

      Chikondi Chiyembekeza

      There seems to be misinformation on the foreign currency position in the country with some saying the situation is not that bad while others blame forex speculators for the shortages.

      Speculators have been accused of hoarding forex in the hope that they would sell it at a higher price, like what is currently at play.

      Forex bureaus have also been accused of hoarding the currency and some even selling the currency at a higher than normal price.

      An economist from the Ministry of Finance said some of the bureaux are also involved in forex currency externalization.

      Even the Minister of Finance Goodall Gondwe lamented the practice recently saying that it "seems there is no way of controlling capital outflows." He intimated that something untoward was happening somewhere and that the government's view is that there are too much capital outflows that do not tallying with the capital inflows.

      Gondwe said there is need to strengthen the capacity of system and put machinery in place to curb whatever is happening in the forex market that is draining the country.

      Most of the foreign money that the country relies on comes from the proceeds of the sale of tobacco, currently being sold at the country's auction floors. Tobacco contributes about 70 percent of the country's forex reserves.

      Some foreign reserves are supplemented by donor inflows, though the country has been without donor support for close to three years now.

      But during the first quarter of this year, some Balance of Payment (BOP) support from multi-lateral donors started trickling in.

      With the shortage of the much-needed foreign currency, the local currency (the kwacha) has lost its long-term stability of K109 to a greenback and is now in free-fall.

      At the end of May, the currency was devalued by 6.8 percent and is now trading at a staggering high of K124 to one US unit on the official market.

      On the streets or the black market, the situation is even more depressing, with the currency selling at more that K150 per US$.

      One black market trader in Lilongwe told The Chronicle last week that the forex market in the streets is thriving and is even more profiting than it was a couple of months ago. "We are making a killing here. The foreign currency business is very profitable these days," said one trader at the Hyper Store in the Capital's Old Town in Lilongwe.

      He added they are also profiting from a lack of correct information on the foreign currency situation in the country. "We do not have any idea as to whether there is any forex in commercial banks. There is no information on it," he said.

      The trader further said that most of the people are relying on the local parallel market as a means of sourcing foreign currency.

      A money market analyst said the country seems to have the required forex but that it is the speculators who are making the situation look "gloomy." Amidst the shortage of forex, the latest sales Tobacco Report from the Tobacco Control Commission (TCC) said that as at 9 June 2005 about US$68 million (K8.08 billion) was realized from sales of the crop at the country's auction floors. This contrasts with last year's proceeds of US$48 million (K5.7 billion) realized last year (2004).

      The Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) in the 46th Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting minutes indicated that the country's import cover as of end May, has slightly improved.

      RB Governor Victor Mbewe's statement from the MPC says: "The overall banking system held reserves equivalent to 2.86 months of import cover in May compared to the 2.74 months in April."


      MPs Do Not Consult Their Constituents -- Survey

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      July 14, 2005
      Posted to the web July 14, 2005

      Pilirani Phiri

      Seventy eight per cent of voters in the country say Members of Parliament (MPs) do not consult them on what issues they want to bring to the National Assembly, a survey conducted by the Civic and Political Space Platform (CPSP) has revealed.

      The survey was conducted largely to assess the level of consultation that takes place between MPs and their constituents, among other objectives.

      Briefing the press Friday in Lilongwe, CPSP leaders Moses Mkandawire of Church and Society Livingstonia Synod and George Dambula from the Public Affairs Committee (PAC) said the survey revealed that the 78 per cent of the total interviewed suggested that they are never consulted because of the selfishness and arrogance of the MPs. "It terms of reasons for lack of consultations, reasons respondents gave included selfishness of MPs, lack of motivation because the MP had lost a ministerial post and also because constituents do not demand the availability of their MPs," said Mkandawire.

      Mkandawire said the most extreme case was Balaka North of UDF Lucius Banda where, he said, only 4 per cent of the constituents indicated that they were ever consulted. "We appeal to MPs to engage their constituents in consultations before going to Parliament. MPs need to respect the 'bottom up' approach in their meetings instead of just delivering political propaganda to the people without giving them a chance to air their views," said Mkandawire.

      The most improved case, said Mkandawire, was in Nkhatabay South Constituency of Aleke Banda where, he said, 68 per cent of voters indicated that they are consulted by their MP on issues of national concern that take place.

      Mkandawire then said when asked as to what people would want Parliament to be deliberating during this current session, the respondents said they would prefer Parliament to be discussing the issues of hunger. "The most frequently mentioned issues were hunger, reduce fertilizer prices, poverty, education, health, budget, and HIV and AIDS as well as peace building," said Mkandawire.

      On knowledge and opinion of the national budget, Mkandawire said only 40 per cent of the respondents indicated that they have some knowledge on what a national budget is. "The most frequently mentioned interpretation was that the budget is money that government uses for development. 60 per cent of respondents said they do not know what a national budget is all about," he said.

      Mkandawire said on the impeachment, 82.3 per cent of respondents indicated that the issue was not a priority to the nation.

      However, he said, 14 per cent thought the issue was important and that it must be tabled in Parliament while 3.7 per cent said they were undecided on the issue.

      CPSP said the survey constituencies were selected on the basis of political influence and political party representation across the board.

      The constituents analysed were: Rumphi Central whose MP is Chakufwa Chihana of AFORD, Mzuzu City MP is Good Kaira, of the Republican Party, Nkhatabay South has Aleke Banda, president of PPM, Nkhotakota Central has Clement Stambuli of the UDF, Dedza South is held by John Tembo, president of the MCP, MP for Blantyre City South is Gerald Mponda, an Independent, Balaka North is Lucius Banda of the UDF with Chikwawa North's MP being David Faiti of the RP.


      City Dwellers Fight Hunger Crisis

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      July 14, 2005
      Posted to the web July 14, 2005

      Hopkins Mundango Nyirenda

      City dwellers around Areas 49 and 56 along Lingadzi River are making use of the river through irrigation to fight the looming hunger. This is contrary to the belief that urban dwellers cannot engage in serious and effective farming.

      These urban dwellers from the shanty townships of Ntandire and Baghdad in Area 49 are into serious irrigation farming using treadle pumps where they are producing the staple maize and vegetables. This has made the chronic hunger that used to dog them a thing of the past.

      The National Initiative for Civic Education [NICE] Lilongwe Urban office in its endeavor to tackle one of its key thematic areas of Food Security last year organized a field day where communities around these areas learnt good methods of fighting hunger and how store their food. "From the field day an idea was born that we should use irrigation because, at certain times of the year we would sleep on an empty stomach. But since we started irrigation, we are growing maize twice a year for food and even some left over for sale," said Lucius Kapatamoyo Team leader of Tasaukira Farming Team.

      He said through this farming they are able to feed their families, orphans and widows who have been left helpless because of the HIV scourge.

      Kapatamoyo said they began this undertaking in a small way but now it is growing through the efforts of NICE who linked them to the European Union Public Works programme who provided them loans for buying treadle pumps. The EU also helped them with seed, pesticides and taught them modern methods of irrigation farming.

      Moses Malenga, 25 and a member of Tasaukira Club said he has benefited a lot from this undertaking in that he is able to see benefit of differences in the way he now farms with the practice before.

      Said Malenga: "I want to urge my fellow youth who are spending their time looking for jobs on an already saturated job market to come and try farming and see the benefits we are reaping here. Most of them spend months at the labour office looking for jobs that are not there. I harvest crops that are helping me in my day to day life." The District Civic Education Officer for Lilongwe Urban Hajra Ali said that her organization is a link between the farmers and donors like EU/Public Works Programme who have given loans to purchase treadle pumps and distribute free seed and pesticides.


      HIV/Aids Project Says No to Condoms

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      July 14, 2005
      Posted to the web July 14, 2005

      Gregory Gondwe

      A Canadian funded Rumphi Education AIDS Awareness Project (REAP) has taken a different approach in its fight against the spread of HIV and AIDS by discouraging the use of condoms.

      REAP, a Catholic affiliated community based organisation operating from Rumphi Boma says condoms have failed the people since they have been around for over twenty years and yet statistics keep soaring to high levels.

      The project, whose flagship is the prevention of HIV and AIDS through abstinence and AIDS mitigation through capacity building, care and support for both the infected and the affected says it has hundred percent proof that the surest and safest prevention of HIV and AIDS is abstinence.

      The organisation, which claims it has come under attack from nine other Malawian organisations working with the Southern Africa Training Programme (SAT), because of its anti-condom stance says there is nothing the other organisation can do because its arguments are based on fact.

      Explains REAP Youth Coordinator Lowani Kalua: "Sometimes we have to disagree by giving out facts on condoms, especially when it is a known fact that they are not hundred percent reliable. We tell people, especially the youth, that condoms are unsafe and that it puts their lives at risk. Nobody can say to us that these are not true facts.

      There has to be a moral aspect which acknowledges that behaviour change only will bring the statistics down." However, he was quick to point out that there is no animosity with people advocating the use of condoms. He said they are all working to reduce infections and therefore they work hand in hand with other supporting groups.

      Kalua says REAP stresses the fact that the youth have choices, observing that making people abstain is not a problem but a challenge.

      He said what worries the organisation most is not about the kind of protection that one gets from the use of condoms, but the atmosphere of free sexual encounters that one puts him/herself into which is conducive to the spread of HIV and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs).

      Kalua says while the community's response has been overwhelming, as people have fallen in love with REAP's abstinence standpoint, the main problem is making them change their behaviour. "It's really an extremely difficult process to change people's behaviour" he said REAP has put in place a team called 'Youth Alive' which has been equipped with enough information," he said.

      Kalua says people have to first of all admit that their behaviour is wrong and if they have been promiscuous then they should ask themselves how they could change. "If they realise that they have been sexually active but they have the urge to change, then that is what is known as secondary virginity. We do not just speak the language of people changing their behaviour, we go through a process," he says.

      REAP, funded by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) has, besides its civic education on prevention and behaviour change, other projects in orphan and home based care, skills training aimed at equipping those in need of self-sustenance, counselling and gender equality education.
    • Christine Chumbler
      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
      Message 1046 of 1046 , May 22, 2006

        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

        Andrew Lungu


        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

        Harare, Zimbabwe

        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.

        Opposition protests

        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

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