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Survivors back in flood zones

The Nation Online - Mer, 25/05/2022 - 9:58pm

The closure of Major Kalupsa Camp in Nsanje has brought more terror than relief in the life of Kelita Ntchanganiko, 20.

The woman fled to an overcrowded camp at night on January 25 when floods induced  by Tropical Storm Ana destroyed homes and displaced villagers in Kalupsa.

Ntchanganiko preparing a meal in a temporary shelter

Like other 2 360 survivors in Traditional Authority Mbenje, she only had the clothes she wore that night.

“What mattered most was to be alive,” she says.

Ntchanganiko and her husband fled around 11 pm before the floods ripped their home and swept away their belongings.

The three-day torrents forced Nyamphende River to break its banks, destroying 476 houses in the area. This has become a familiar tragedy for communities along the shallow, silted river which splits heavily deforested hills and floodplains.

Kalupsa Village Civil Protection Committee chairperson Allan Kusitodyo says this is the second time the area has flooded since 2019.

 “The worst flooding occurred this year when almost 500 families lost their homes and belongings. The tragedy crushed livelihoods of many, deepening hunger and poverty in the area reeling from last year’s drought,” he says.

The rainstorm affected about one million people and displaced ground 25 000 families, according to the Department of Disaster Management Affairs.

Ntchanganiko found solace at the congested camp.

“Life was hard, but we had peace of mind knowing we had moved upland and floods would not get there. I made my mind not to return to the lowland where floods ruthlessly destroyed our homes. I did not want a repeat.”

Now the woman and her family are back in the way of floods that are getting more frequent and devastating amid climate change.

When government decommissioned camps, Ntchanganiko, like many survivors in the Shire Valley districts of Nsanje and Chikwawa, demanded to relocate to higher grounds.

Bertha Simenti, a 43-year-old mother of four at Dolo Camp, says their desire to shift from the areas often flooded by the silted Kanseche and  Chingondo rivers is not an option.

Chikwawa district commissioner Ali Phiri and Dodma commissioner Charles Kalemba told The Nation that the government would identify a safer settlement for the displaced if they really want to leave disaster zones.

But as these camps closed last week the survivor need has not been met.

Ntchanganiko and Simenti rue their return to ‘the valley of death”.

“The area is not safe and we may not be lucky next time,” she laments, washing dishes outside her makeshift home next to the rubble of what was her house.

Her neighbour Joyce Mofolo, 52, wishes she had money to buy land away from the flood-prone valley, but her wait for a safe home continues.

“There is nothing productive I can do in a place where I lost my possessions unless I settle somewhere for a real fresh start,” says the mother of three.

A safer place upland costs between K100 000 and one million kwacha.

Ntchanganiko and others say they are in poverty and should relocate for free.

Major Kalupsa Camp secretary Collins Manyozo says they also need more food assistance and building materials to recover quickly from the tragedy.

He says: “Our houses were destroyed while food and crops were buried in mud. We ask for more food, building materials and resources to revive our income generating activities for sustainable recovery.”

Manyozo hopes the businesses will generate money for buying land if authorities fail to relocate them.

Luckily for these survivors and 6 000 others in Chikwawa and Nsanje, they recieved  support to rebuild their lives and meet immediate needs.

Bankrolled by European Commission Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Office, Oxfam in partnership with Catholic Development Commission (Cadecom) distributed assorted items and K30 000 cash to the displaced households as starter packs.

While commending the intervention, the beneficiaries have also asked for farm equipment and inputs.

“In addition to the package, give us hoes, sickles, potato vines, maize and rice seeds because the waters took everything,” says Sofia Kumisale, a mother of eight.

Oxfam communications manager Daud Kaisi says they are committed to provide life-saving materials to the survivors to recover.

He says: “We have been supporting them since the disaster occurred. The cash and the items are meant to empower them to start rebuilding their lives.”

The post Survivors back in flood zones appeared first on The Nation Online.

Categorie: Malawi

Gone but still in our midst

The Nation Online - Mer, 25/05/2022 - 9:48pm

The chorus of wails was too loud on the sunny Wednesday afternoon at Area 18 Cemetery in Lilongwe.

Too loud for the sermons, too loud for the eulogies. It was an afternoon sunk in a sea of tears as thousands turned up to see off a young, lifeless artist walk his last mile.

A grief-stricken relative embraces the casket carrying Martse’s remains

But the wails, listened to with a heart, were not too loud to hear the silent stories on the faces of the mourners, stories that made it hurt even more.

There is his mother, helpless and drained, being stopped from reaching to the descending casket, yearning if heavens could give her back her 28-year-old son, the child she carried in her womb only to see him off in her old age.

There is the visibly distressed father, standing in agony, tears streaming deep in his heart, watching grave diggers burying his son as if it was during wartime where parents bury their children.

Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Culture Michael Usi addresses the mourners

There are siblings there, brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, uncontrollable in their wail, each telling it out what the deceased meant to them.

And then there are friends, his fans, his admirers; all in disbelief, watching a joyous young man they took pictures with, they talked with just few days ago, mercilessly abandoning them in a world where he made many happy and jovial.

None can best describe what Martin Nkhata Junior, a youthful talented rapper who changed the world as Martse, really meant to the nation than thousands that gathered in Blantyre, those that lined up the Blantyre-Lilongwe stretch of the M1 to see him pass, hundreds that packed his Likuni house,  thousands that filled Civo Stadium and more that saw him descend to eternity at Area 18 Cemetry.

“The ghetto has lost a voice, has lost an artist who was accessible to all, laughed with everyone and represented the struggles of a common youth in Malawi,” says Enifa Likulu, who walked from Area 23 to join those that saw Martse walk his last mile in Area 18.

Artists carry Martse’s remains to his final resting place

It is the memories of what Martse represented to the family, to the friends, to the fans and to the nation that has the entire country in grief, united by the different memories of his friendliness.

In fact, death has a strange way of stirring deep level of public fondness towards the departed.

Government was heavily represented with four Cabinet ministers and the wife to the Vice-President.

Perhaps Marste’s departure will strike certain chords that will influence policy direction to recognise the urban artist, a group of artists that have, for years, been sidelined for championing “childish and irrelevant music”.

When everyone thought only one of the ministers would be present, government officials came in full force, all united in questioning circumstances of Martse’s death.

The family has a version that defies every level of sense and logic.

He slept on the living room and was charging his phone then fire broke out, said Uchizi Nkhata, family spokesperson.

“Him and friends went out. But he returned to the house, locked the doors and got burnt [on] 50 percent of the body,” he said.

The version had everyone in deep and vast doubt, pushing government officials to publicly challenge it, calling on the police to institute investigations.

But to cap it all, we all are in grief for one of us, Martse, has returned to where he wasn’t supposed to go at his age. As days go by, the reality will sink in our hearts and we will be comforted by the music he has left us with.

He is gone, but has not left us alone.

The post Gone but still in our midst appeared first on The Nation Online.

Categorie: Malawi

Climate, Energy and Food high at AfDB indaba

The Nation Online - Mer, 25/05/2022 - 12:33pm

Accra the Ghanaian capital is 2022 host to African Development Bank (AfDB) Group annual meetings an important continental event, attracting around 3,000 delegates and attendees. The platform allows the organization to take stock of progress with its shareholders, provide a unique forum for representatives of governments, business, civil society, think-tanks, academia, and the media, to discuss key issues concerning Africa’s ongoing development.

The 2022 annual meeting’s theme is, “Achieving Climate Resilience and a Just Energy Transition for Africa”.

Adesina confers with some of his senior management team

Speaking during his inaugural opening 30 minutes speech on Tuesday at the Accra International Convention Centre, AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina began by welcoming participants to a gathering of the friends of Africa, the partners of Africa.

For this place, today, is filled with those who have faith in and hope in Africa. Yet, there are millions of Africans, those we serve every day, who are not here, yet we must see them. Yet we must hear their voices. Yet we must feel their needs in all we do.” Adesina open up his optimistic speech of hope in the presence of Nana Akuffo-Addo, Phillipe Nyesi and Madam Samia Suluhu Hassan Presidents of Ghana, Mozambique and Tanzania respectively.

Adesina confers with some of his senior management team

So, the theme of our annual meeting: Achieving Climate Resilience and a Just Energy Transition for Africa”, is all about people, Adesina shared the gospel.

A lot of Africans he said are affected every day by climate change, majority of them women. Many of their lives are affected by lack of electricity, from a kid struggling to read with candles or lanterns, or the occasional streetlight in the neighborhood, to a mother who straps her baby on her back, using fuelwood and charcoal to cook, yet exposing herself and her child to effects of fumes that endanger their lives.

Venue for the meeting in Accra International Convention Centre

According to Adesina, Africa is the least emitter in the world, accounting for only 4% of all global greenhouse gas emissions.

Yet, he explained the continent suffers disproportionately from the negative impacts of climate change, including increased frequency and intensity of droughts, cyclones, floods, compounded by desertification. He cited the examples of the recent cyclones that have affected countries like Madagascar, Mozambique and Malawi and the floods in KwaZulu Natal province in South Africa that caused massive devastation to infrastructure facilities and claimed lots of lives.

Counting the cost of climate change 

Africa suffers $7-15 billion per year in loss and damage as a result of climate change, which are projected to rise to $40 billion per year by 2030.

“Africa has no choice but to adapt to climate change. To support the continent in doing so, AfDB has doubled its financing for climate to $25 billion by 2025. Without any doubt, the AfDB is the leader on climate adaptation in Africa, and globally. The share of our climate finance dedicated to adaptation is 67%, the highest among all multilateral development Banks,” Adesina said amidst applause from the audience.

“Your Excellencies, the Bank and the Global Center on Adaptation are implementing the Africa Adaptation Acceleration Program, with the goal of mobilizing $25 billion in climate adaptation financing for Africa,” said the confidently speaking Adesina with gestures adding that, “The Bank is also supporting countries to insure themselves against extreme weather events, through its Africa Disaster Risk Insurance Facility. Today, the facility is helping nine countries to pay for insurance premiums to protect themselves from effects of climate change.”

Securing food security

On the state of food security, the AfDB President said his institution is leading on securing Africa’s food supplies in the face of climate change.

“Six years ago, I launched the Feed Africa strategy of the Bank. Our goal was to deliver climate resilient agricultural technologies at scale to farmers, and feed Africa. We are achieving incredible success. Our Feed Africa work has already benefitted over 76 million farmers with access to improved agricultural technologies. Our flagship program, Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) has delivered climate smart seeds to 12 million farmers in 27 countries in just two years. We are helping farmers to beat climate change,” Adesina touted the continental efforts toward building resilience to climate change.

Tackling looming food crisis

To tackle the looming food crisis in Africa from the effects of the Russian war in Ukraine, AfDB and the African Union Commission have developed an Africa Emergency Food Production Plan. The $1.5 billion plan will be used to support African countries to produce food rapidly to ensure sustained supply.

Said Adesina, “The plan will produce 38 million metric tons of food, including wheat, maize, rice, and soybeans. The total value of the additional food production is $12 billion. Our $1.5 billion investment will deliver $12 billion, a leverage factor of eight times. The plan will deliver climate-resilient agricultural technologies to 20 million farmers.”

I am delighted that the Board of Directors of the African Development Bank approved the $1.5 billion African Emergency Food Production Facility last Friday, May 20th, 2022, he made the announcement.

This follows a global convening by the Bank, in partnership with the African Union Commission, African Ministers of Finance, Ministers of Economy, Ministers of Agriculture, the African development finance institutions, UN agencies, developed countries around the world, and the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund.

“We agreed it is time to support Africa to produce its food. It is time to have food sovereignty. Food aid cannot feed Africa. Africa does not need bowls in hand; Africa needs seeds in the ground and mechanical harvesters to harvest bountiful food produced locally. Africa must feed itself with pride. There is no dignity in begging for food.” Said Adesina

Energy transition

As part of the switch to clean energy, AfDB is also spearheading Just Energy Transition for Africa. Since 2009 the Bank has not funded any new coal projects. Not funding coal has now been formalized as a policy with our new Energy Policy approved by our Board of Directors, said the AfDB President.

“Africa has perhaps the world’s largest potentials for renewable energy sources, especially solar, hydro, geothermal and wind. AfDB is implementing the $20 billion Desert to Power initiative in the Sahel, to build 10,000 megawatts of solar power generation. This will provide electricity via solar for 250 million people and turn the Sahel into the largest solar zone in the world,” Adesina explained.

The African Just Energy Transition Facility, will be used to support African countries to transition from heavy fuel oil and coal power plants to renewable energy baseload power systems.

“As we look at energy transition, we must ensure three imperatives. First, we must ensure access and affordability of electricity. Second, there must be security of supply. Third, gas must remain a critical part of the energy mix for Africa. Even if Sub-Saharan Africa triples its use of gas for energy, it will only contribute less than 0.67% to global carbon emissions,” the confidently speaking Adesina said.

Progress will depend on developed economies fulfilling their commitment to provide at least $100 billion climate finance annually to developing countries.

We must ensure that promises made at COP 26 in Glasgow must now be delivered at the COP 27 in Sharm El Cheikh, Egypt, at the Africa COP.

In his remarks Ghanaian President Nana Akuffo-Addo said the confluence of rising challenges and expectations require that, together, we act with sustained conviction.

In addition to the pressing food, fuel and fiscal challenges, Addo said we still have to ensure that: the remaining eighty-five percent (85%) of the continent’s population are vaccinated against COVID-19; the remaining sixty percent (60%) of health facilities on the continent are connected to reliable source of electricity; the teeming youth, who are over sixty percent (60%) of our population, are better educated and equipped for the job market, i.e. to become a digitally enabled entrepreneurial generation; the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) transforms Africa with her combined GDP of $3.3 trillion are permanently addressed. 

“The stakes could not be higher and clearer. To move towards resolving these, we must support the Bank to do what a Bank does – to mobilise and invest funds. We must activate a process that moves this Bank from the corridors of ‘Billions to Trillions’, given the scale of the challenges on this continent.

Ultimately, the AfDB must become the dominant financing institution for African transformation in the medium term. This means we must bridge and overhaul the financing gap that exists with other complementary institutions,” Addo as host President said.

Our support will be critical to building the Africa We Want, as espoused by Agenda 2063, from today he wrapped up.

The post <strong>Climate, Energy and Food high at AfDB indaba</strong> appeared first on The Nation Online.

Categorie: Malawi

NyaKaunda to release new song, video

The Nation Online - Mer, 25/05/2022 - 11:15am

Mangochi-based gospel artist Catherine Kaunda popularly known as NyaKaunda will release her song and video titled M’mandipatsabe Moyo.

In an interview on Monday, she said as she is working on an album, she wants to give something to her fans.

NyaKaunda: We are working on an album

“We are working on an album, but I cannot shoot all videos at once because I am facing financial challenges. I am supposed to do it in bits to keep my music going,” said NyaKaunda.

She said M’mandipatsabe Moyo is a song appreciating what God does to people because He gives them life regardless of the bad things they do.

“God is merciful as He gives life to all people including sinners.

“We pass through different turbulences, but that should not make us forsake God because in everything we pass through God knows them better,” said NyaKaunda.

One of her fans, Albert Mwale, said the songs that NyaKaunda composes move him.

“I am in seventh heaven with your songs. God bless you as you keep on entertaining and blessing us through your gospel music,” he said.

M’mandipatsabe Moyo is a first video song NyaKaunda is to release in 2022 which will be followed by video shooting before the end of 2022.n

The post NyaKaunda to release new song, video appeared first on The Nation Online.

Categorie: Malawi

Blantyre-based artists see off Martse

The Nation Online - Mer, 25/05/2022 - 11:11am

If one didn’t know what was happening, one would be excused for mistaking the huge gathering of artists at Mthunzi Funeral Parlour in Blantyre on Tuesday for a music festival. This was rapper Martse’s send off to Lilongwe where his remains will be buried today.

Sombre faces and black attires were the order of the morning at Mthunzi Funeral Parlour as musicians, talent managers, media personalities, fans, family and friends gathered to see off the remains of the Mwano hitmaker Martse, real name Martin Nkhata.

Casket carrying Martse’s remains being placed in a hearse

Speaking on behalf of Nkolokosa residents councillor Leonard Chimbanga thanked the music industry for the love shown to Martse during his illness and death.

“The country is unified with his death and his fans are still in disbelief over the death. We all appreciate the talent that Martse had which he used to entertain the masses,” he said.

In random interviews, many artists who were present at the send off expressed sadness at the young artist’s death.

Said Eli Njuchi: “He is a legend. We weren’t the best of friends, but he was a star. We have lost an icon, a master in his craft and I am glad that I got to share the stage with him on so many occasions.”

On his part, Piksy described Martse as his young brother.

“We used to video call each other every now and then. I will miss him. The music industry won’t be the same without him,” he said.

Female musician Sangie was at loss for words: “Martse was everybody’s friend, full of life and very talented. The industry as a whole will surely miss him and it will be hard to fill the space he’s left.”

Concurring with Sangie, another female musician Hilco said Martse was a rare gem.

“He had his own style and he was good. He was talented and free-minded person. He also did not tolerate nonsense, he did not like pretending. He would speak his mind without fear. He believed in himself and would stick to it,” she said.

Musician Bucci, who maintained a close friendship with Martse throughout the years, said the fallen artist was simply amazing.

“He showed me love like a brother and I will remember him for his unstoppable spirit and his influence on people,” he said.

Mourning the rapper, dancehall artist King Chambiccoe said what pains most is how Martse died.

“We never saw this coming. He was a hip-hop king and he promoted urban music. Everyone in the industry knew that every song from him was a hit. He loved the ghetto and was never ashamed of his roots,” he said.

Martse died aged 28 at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital on Monday afternoon after suffering burns in a fire accident in Monkey Bay on Friday night.

He is best known for his hit songs such as Mwano, Adidas, Mwapindulanji and Zikomo.

He will be buried today at Area 18 Cemetery in Lilongwe.  n

The post Blantyre-based artists see off Martse appeared first on The Nation Online.

Categorie: Malawi

What keeps Covid jabs cool?

The Nation Online - Mer, 25/05/2022 - 11:08am

Florence Kamwendo became a community health worker in 1994, two years after Malawi wiped out polio by vaccinating every child aged under five.

The feat showed the health surveillance assistant (HSA) how a simple, safe and effective vaccine can save generations from contagious diseases that endanger their health and chances in life.

Gwaluka and Kamwendo loading vaccines in the carriers

“Then I didn’t know that my generation would be hit hard by another vaccine-preventable outbreak as did polio in the preceding decades,” she recalls.

Now Kamwendo and her cadre, clad in sky-blue uniforms, go door to door vaccinating people against Covid-19, which has claimed over 2 600 lives from Malawi’s 85 900 confirmed patients.

She says there is no time to relent until everyone gets vaccinated.

On June 24 2021, Kamwendo gave President Lazarus Chakwera a pep talk when he received his second AstraZeneca jab at Mtunthama State Residence in Lilongwe.

“Amid the deadliest Covid-19 wave, I told the President that it’s important for everyone to get the vaccine because it is a trusted weapon against the pandemic. I also assured him that the vaccine is safe,” she recounts.

The image of Chakwera receiving the jab in the comfort of his home symbolises the country’s push to vaccinate everyone close to where they live, work or meet.

Kamwendo has vaccinated people at Capital Hill where big government decisions are made, in markets where crowds from all walks of life meet and in communities where many live.

“The vaccine carrier has become a trusted partner in the fight against Covid-19. If anyone wants the jab, we shall go to them. We have no dose or time to waste,” she says, clutching her blue box.

But the long-serving HSA’s inroads are nothing without proper cooling props, she states.

Kamwendo thanks Unicef for providing enough boxes for carrying vaccines from the district stores to health centres and surrounding communities.

The assistance from the Government of Japan has modernised the cold chain at Lilongwe District Health Office (DHO) vaccine store and on the move. It includes cold boxes like Kamwendo’s and new vaccine refrigerators that have replaced stuttering gas-powered fridges that hummed nosily and broke down effortlessly.

The HSA says the “timely assistance” has improved the storage and delivery of the vaccines that easily perish unless stored in a cool place.

“When replenishing the vaccines, I no longer plug my ears because the new refrigerators are so noiseless you would think they are off. This means the people are getting unexpired doses stored at the recommended temperature in the fridges and our carriers for community outreach,” she narrates.

For the HSA, taking vaccines closer to communities helps demystify the preventive measure widely associated with myths and misconceptions.

“During the special Covid-19 vaccination week in April, I vaccinated over 50 touts at Lilongwe Bus Depot next to our offices. The young men were once fierce critics of Covid-19 vaccines, but they were happy to protect themselves from future Covid-19 waves because they had seen other people, including the President, being vaccinated,” says Kamwendo.

The week set aside to celebrate Covid-19 vaccination helped the national Extended Programme on Immunisation (EPI) to utilise 277 000 AstraZeneca doses expected to expire in May 2022. A similar campaign delivered about 750 000 doses that would have expired in November and December last year.

This excites Boston Gwaluka, the cold chain technician at Lilongwe DHO, which has vaccinated about 480 000 of the target population of 1.8 million.

“I feel bad when a single vaccine dose expires because vaccines are expensive. Ensuring that each reaches someone before it loses its effectiveness is the best way to thank our partners. This is our job; we cannot afford to fail,” he says.

When he arrived in Lilongwe six years ago, Gwaluka had to quickly learn to improvise to reduce the chilling effect of gaps in the district cold chain system.

He explains: “The situation was bad as the old refrigerators weren’t reliable. Some of them were over 10 years old. They often broke down and could not keep the vaccine temperature stable.

“During breakdowns and blackouts, we had to quickly evacuate the vaccines to the national vaccine store on the other side of the city. But the situation was tricky when vehicles or fuel were not available.”

Gwaluka thanks the Ministry of Health’s partners for closing the cold chain gaps in time for the Covid-19 and polio vaccination running alongside the routine immunisation for children below five.

“The improved cooling facilities help us safely store different vaccines and deliver them to the health centres and communities where many people are being reached by our door-to-door vaccination teams so that no one is left behind,” he explains.

Gwaluka said the additional vaccine carriers have not just reduced shortages and scrambles in health facilities that had too few to deliver different vaccines together.

“They safely carry more doses to remote communities where many endure long walks to health facilities,” he says. “As more people remain unvaccinated, we cannot afford to lose a dose in our cold chain. Improved cooling facilities keep vaccines going where they are needed.”

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Categorie: Malawi

‘LMC trying hard to help’

The Nation Online - Mer, 25/05/2022 - 11:02am

Malawi is struggling with numerous economic challenges, including the rising cost of living and shrinking incomes. Our Staff Writer JOHN CHIRWA engaged governance and human rights advocate Undule Mwakasungula, who was a fierce critic of Bingu wa Mutharika’s draconian tendencies. Mwakasungula has resurfaced with a gospel of peace, dialogue and tolerance. Excerpts.

Mwakasungula: This is not time for politics

Recently, you told journalists in Mzuzu that Malawi needs peace, dialogue and engagement, not ultimatums, to resolve the prevailing challenges. What do you mean?

With all the challenges the country is going through, some concerned citizens have been holding demonstrations and presenting numerous ultimatums to the government. These have not helped at all to address issues. The question we must ask ourselves is: Are these demonstrations and ultimatums solving our problems? For example, Kondwani Nankhumwa, the leader of opposition in Parliament, gave the government a 14-day ultimatum. It has now expired. What has happened? Nothing. Ultimatums cannot work for a democratically elected government. They have no constitutional basis and are a waste of time.

The prevailing challenges will not be solved through demonstrations, ultimatums or threats. Malawi needs a genuine national engagement and dialogue to resolve all our challenges. We must also remember always that the current government was democratically elected. We must respect our democratic benchmarks in the consolidation of our democracy for peace, unity and development.

Has the government done enough to revive the economy?

The country should note a number of efforts being made by the government to save the economy. I see the government’s primary focus in the short-term is tackling the socio-economic fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic and now the war in Ukraine.

We have seen the President [Lazarus Chakwera] and Vice-President [Saulos Chilima] meeting to chart a way forward how the economy could be revived. That must be applauded. Though some Malawians might not appreciate such actions, this shows the commitment of our leadership to alleviate the suffering of Malawians.

The government is also re-engaging the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as a priority to help bring the economy back on track. This is showing confidence by the international community and institutions in our leadership and government. But also, last December, the President launched the Socioeconomic Recovery Plan for 2022-23. The plan was designed to pull the economy out of the effects induced by Covid-19. All these are some of the indicators on efforts being made to deal with the economy.

But we have seen the leadership activating the campaign mood instead of focusing on developing the nation and economic recovery.

Indeed, this is not time for politics. It’s time to rid our country from these problems. Let’s focus on development. Let’s start the campaigns in 2024 or so. We will get people more confused if we start campaigning now. Let’s leave politics for 2025 and not now. 

What’s the role of civil society in all this?

The role of civil society cannot be overemphasised. Civil society in Malawi continues to have space and play a critical role in providing checks and balances for leadership and government accountability. However, they must refrain from being partisan in their approach. By taking sides, they will make themselves compromised and irrelevant.

Currently, their space has been polluted by many of what I can call mercenary activists. They are being hired to conduct demonstrations in the name of concerned citizens. The emergence of the partisan concerned citizens’ groups is a result of civil society compromise. 

What’s your take on the governing Tonse Alliance’s fight against corruption? 

Much has been said and continues to be said about the Anti-Corruption Bureau and its director-general  Martha Chizuma. But what is appealing is the President’s and government’s commitment to fighting corruption in this country. For the first time, we have seen serving ministers being arrested and charged. This never happened with the past regimes.

The attack on the ACB director could be a strategy to delay and derail the fight against corruption. Therefore, we need to give her all the necessary support and solidarity. The removal of Chizuma will be giving victory to the corrupt cartels; hence, a disaster for the country in the fight against corruption. This is worrying and will delay the fight against corruption. We need to fight for the independence of the ACB. The ACB is not fully independent and those running away from being prosecuted are taking advantage of that. If we indeed let Chizuma go, we should forget about fighting corruption in this country.

The CSOs have branded the Tonse regime dictatorial for assenting to the controversial NGO Bill amid calls against it. Do you share this feeling?

The Bill has been signed with a lot of problems in it. If I were the President’s adviser, I would urge him not to sign the Bill and take it back to Parliament to review those grey areas. But I believe the problem is not the President, but I blame his advisers. He might have signed based on advice from technocrats. We have our colleagues there such as Minister of National Unity Timothy Mtambo and presidential adviser Martha Kwataine who we have been fighting together against this. We started fighting against this law during the Bakili Muluzi era and continued in the regimes of Bingu, Joyce Banda and Peter Mutharika. The two former activists in power should have been key advisers to the President not to sign this Bill. By signing this bill into law, Chakwera has dented our international reputation that the government wants to squeeze the civil society space. The law has some provisions which are more punitive that a dictator might use them to squeeze the civic space. We needed more time to digest the Bill before being signed. It’s unfortunate that Parliament passed such a Bill and the President went on to sign it.

Looking into the future, is there any hope for the country?

The nation must have hope that things will be well regardless of what we are going through now. Good things, a good economy, will require patience, sacrifice and time. Let us admit that the economy cannot recover and grow overnight. This is a fact, the message we have to share with Malawians.

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Categorie: Malawi

Queens training delayed

The Nation Online - Mer, 25/05/2022 - 10:51am

Malawi Queens training in preparation for the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games has been delayed after head coach Peace Chawinga-Kaluwa demanded the availability of all local-based players.

The training was expected to start on Monday at the Blantyre Youth Centre (BYC), but Queens team manager Diana Nkhulambe, who is also Netball Association of Malawi (NAM) vice-general secretary, on Tuesday said it has been shifted to today.

The Queens

“The coach insisted that the first session will be a physical assessment and it could only be done once all the local-based players are in camp. Therefore, we had to shift the date as some players have not yet arrived in camp,” she said.

On Tuesday, four of the 25 local-based players, were yet to report for camp. They include two from Malawi Defence Force (MDF) teams.

The local squad is expected to be joined by three overseas-based players, namely Mwawi Kumwenda, Joyce Mvula and Towera Vinkhumbo-Nyirenda.

Nkhulambe said Civonets player Jane Chimaliro was expected to join the squad on Tuesday while  MDF players Thandie Galeta (Lioness) and Brenda Luwanda (Mafco) were waiting to be released by their employers.

She said Tigresses wing defender Grace Mwafulirwa excused herself due to other commitments.

“However, we expect all the local-based players, except Mwafulirwa, to be in camp by the end of onTuesday,” she said.

On her part, Chawinga-Kaluwa on Tuesday could not shed more on her stand to have a physical assessment of all the local-based players, saying she was not comfortable to comment.

Local-based players have hardly been active since their last camping in February and the coach has been assessing them through online sessions courtesy of TNM plc, who have been providing the players and the technical panel with data bundles for the last six months.

However, the coach recently told The Nation that while online sessions were good, physical assessment of players through training camps were the most effective.

She said Kumwenda, Mvula and Vinkhumbo-Nyirenda were better off as they are active in foreign leagues.

Yesterday, Chawinga-Kaluwa said the three internationals are expected to join the squad later due to club commitments.

“We are hopeful that Mvula and Vinkhumbo-Nyirenda might join us and will be considered for the friendlies in South Africa once their league season in the UK concludes in the next few days,” she said.

“Our only doubt for the camping and the friendlies is Mwawi because the league in Australia takes a bit of time to conclude.”

NAM announced the Queens camping on Friday after their official sponsors FDH Bank provided them with financial support of K15 million. The Queens total budget for the two-week camping is K21 million.

They preparing for the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games scheduled for July 28 to August 8.

So far, they are the only team in the games’s Group B yet to intensify their preparations as Uganda, New Zealand, England, Trinidad & Tobago and Northern Ireland have selected their final 18-player squads.

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Categorie: Malawi

Weak tobacco exports worsen trade balance

The Nation Online - Mer, 25/05/2022 - 10:40am

The merchandise trade balance—the difference between exports and imports—has widened to minus $204.6 million (K168.9 billion) in March 2022, Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) figures show.

During the previous month, the merchandise trade balance was recorded at $140.4 million (minus K115.9 billion).

In its recently published March 2022 Monthly Economic Report, RBM said the outturn was on account of a decrease in exports by 45.2 percent ($18.0 million) to $39.9 million (K32.8 billion), attributed to the decrease in tobacco exports.

Reads the report in part: “Specifically, tobacco exports declined to $8.4 million [K7 billion] in March 2022 from $27.5 million [K22 billion] in February 2022, due to seasonal factors in the lean period.”

Meanwhile, imports increased by 14.7 percent ($35.9 million) to $244.5 million (K201.7 billion) in the month following increases in fuels, vehicles and fertiliser.

National Working Group on Trade and Policy chairperson Frederick Changaya earlier observed that the economy imports more value-added goods and services while it exporting commodities and cheap labour, which widens the trade gap.

He said: “We need economic policies and policy instruments which would diversify the Malawi economy away from rain-fed agriculture to economic activities that have increasing returns, rising wage rates and growing output.”

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Categorie: Malawi

Tobacco loans under threat

The Nation Online - Mer, 25/05/2022 - 10:39am

There are fears that some tobacco farmers may default on their loans owing to the poor performance of the cash crop.

In a written response, JTI corporate affairs and communications director LimbaniKakhome said it has been a challenging year for both growers and buyers due to the weather impacts.

He said: “We have a total loan exposure of about $10 million [K8.25 billion] given out in inputs to growers and this is coupled with an expected lower crop volume.

“On top of that, we released in February over K500 million to growers of the cash collaterals they had deposited with us to access the loans. Those growers that were hugely impacted at the beginning of the season were encouraged to return the loaned inputs that were not going to be used to reduce their loan debt”.

The most affected growers are those contracted by buying companies under the Integrated Production System (IPS) and those producing on their own, but got loans elsewhere.

In a written response, Limbe Leaf Tobacco Company legal and corporate affairs director FebbieChikungwa said most of their contracted farmers will manage to supply the volumes and meet their financial obligations as well as make margins on their volumes.

She said where non-repayment of loans is as a result of forces beyond farmer’s control, the company implements a win-win strategy where the farmer continues to grow tobacco and the loan is recovered over an agreed period.

Speaking separately, Tama Farmers Trust chief executive officer Nixon Lita said the growers are concerned with loan repayment because the December dry spell affected production levels.

Tobacco is Malawi’s main forex earner, but its performance hasslumped owing to a number of factors, including strict global regulations and the anti-smoking lobby championed by the World Health Organisation.

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Categorie: Malawi

Nyasa Mobile Limited partners Vodafone

The Nation Online - Mer, 25/05/2022 - 10:32am

Nyasa Mobile Limited (NML) has partnered Vodafone Group plc in a deal expected to create over 1 400 jobs in the next five years.

Business News has established thata team from Vodafone is in Malawi to meet government officials and assesses the business operating environment.

A team of Nyasa Mobile Limited and Vodafone Group plc conducts a market survey in Ndirande Township, Blantyre on Monday

Confirming the development to Business News, NML chairperson Konrad Buckle said they hope to roll out in phases the end of the year.

He said their strategic partnership with Vodafone, one of the world’s largest mobile network operators, will help the company leverage mobile telephony services at competitive prices.

Buckle said: “The investment is quite significant to the point that we have some major direct foreign investors that are assisting us in syndicating this investment and making this new network possible.

“Before the end of the year, Malawians will be in for a pleasant surprise and affordable coverage, which has not been possible in the past 20 years. This is a massive project, it is going to be phased, but we will make sure that our ride out is as smooth as possible.”

He said they hope in the next five years to create 400 direct jobs and over a thousand jobs indirectly.

In a brief interview, an official from Vodafone Group plc while confirming the development, declined to give further details saying as a listed company, they have procedures before taking their issues to the press.

A recent Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority ICT Market Access Gap Study found that the information and communications technology (ICT) sector can generate about $13 million (K11 billion) revenue annually by providing mobile broadband signal to the uncovered two million Malawians.

The study found that operators have targeted most commercially-viable areas.

As a result, cities such as Lilongwe, Blantyre and Zomba  have nearly 100 percent coverage while in Chitipa, Rumphi and Mzimba, broadband coverage was 27 percent, 67 percent and 74 percent in that order.

Broadband—the transmission of wide bandwidth data over a high speed Internet connection— is a signal that combines 3G and 4G at fair signal levels.

Vodafone Group plc employs over 105 000 people and has more than 300 million mobile customers and 27 million fixed broadband customers across 21 operating countries and 52 partner markets.

In sub-Saharan Africa, the group has more than 185 million subscribers across eight countries and more than 88 million data customers.

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Categorie: Malawi

Chakwera calls for equitable healthcare

The Nation Online - Mer, 25/05/2022 - 10:16am

President Lazarus Chakwera has asked world leaders to ensure equitable healthcare across the globe to safeguard the global economy from health-related disruptions.

He said this on Tuesday in his address at the World Economic Forum Session on Investing in Health Equity in Davos, Switzerland.

Chakwera: We need equitable healthcare

In his speech made available to The Nation by State House press office, Chakwera said public health is the bedrock of economics as such any health-related disruptions have potential to interrupt economies as the Covid-19 pandemic.

Said Chakwera: “In practice, this means that investing in filling health systems gaps and inequities that the pandemic has exposed in developing nations like Malawi is an investment in the stability of the global economy.”

The President said initiatives aimed at investing in health systems should not miss out on their list of priorities towards developing nations.

Chakwera cited the Global Fund, which he described as critical in addressing health system gaps in Malawi.

While mentioning the Russia-Ukraine conflict as an example of geopolitical emergencies, he stressed the importance of dealing with emergency situations that have potential to compromise public health and in turn affect economies.

“We must deal with security emergencies without compromising investments in public health. The future of our economies depends on it,” said Chakwera.

The President is in Switzerland where he is attending the 2022 World Economic Forum, which has brought together decision-makers from across the globe.

During the opening session on Monday, Swiss President Ignazio Cassis outlined the impact that the Russia-Ukraine conflict has had on global economy.

He said there is need for concerted efforts from world leaders to devise an equitable economic recovery plan that is non-discriminatory.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy delivered a keynote address, urging delegates to develop practical solutions for the current economic hardships that have emanated from the ongoing war between his country and Russia.

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Categorie: Malawi

Axe AIP, Church and Society tells govt

The Nation Online - Mer, 25/05/2022 - 10:07am

Livingstonia Church and Society Programme executive director Moses Mkandawire has asked government to cancel the Affordable Inputs Programme (AIP), saying it is hurting the economy.

Speaking during a press briefing on Tuesday at Livingstonia Synod Secretariat in Mzuzu, he said with the AIP, Malawi just imports for consumption.

Hinted at AIP exit strategy: Chakwera

Mkandawire said: “The plane is crashing and there is need to remind the pilot to take it back into the sky by redirecting some of the resources that go into AIP to other productive sectors that will promote exports and not imports.

“For example, let us inject K30 billion from the AIP into commercial farms, which will feed the nation.”

His sentiments come against a backdrop of rising budget deficits on the back of dwindling fiscal space triggered by low domestic revenue mobilisation, the drying up of budgetary support as well as persistent shortages of foreign exchange.

In 2020, government introduced AIP replacing the Farm Inputs Subsidy Programme, which was targeting about 900 000 farming households at a cost of roughly K30 billion.

Mkandawire: The plane is crashing

The new AIP targeted about 4.2 million farming households in 2020 with a budget of K160 billion.

In the 2022/23 agriculture sector budget, AIP has K109.5 billion while in the 2021/22 National Budget, it was allocated K142 billion. 

Mkandawire also asked the country’s leadership to reflect on its obsession with foreign trips.

“There are some trips that the leadership can always delegate. This is why we have ambassadors and High Commissioners in some countries who can represent the state,” he said.

On the International Monetary Fund (IMF) delegation expected to visit the country [today], Mkandawire said Malawians should speak with one voice for IMF to bring back the Extended Credit Facility for the economy to bounce back.

In a telephone interview on Tuesday, governance expert Victor Chipofya said AIP has proven to be a failed programme used as a campaign tool for politicians.

“It looked good when it was introduced by former president Bingu wa Mutharika, but it eventually became too politicised to the point that it no longer satisfies its originally intended purpose,” he said.

Chipofya said AIP is not a sustainable way of caring for Malawians.

“We borrow money just for consumption instead of investing to make more money. What will happen when time comes to pay back or lenders stop borrowing us. AIP has just made us a nation of beggars,” he said.

But government spokesperson Gospel Kazako said there are a number of things government needs to consider before reviewing the policy.

He said: “Remember, food is a human right and on all matters concerning food, there should not be a single Malawian whose food human rights are trampled upon.

“That does not mean suggestions to review AIP will be ignored.”

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Categorie: Malawi

PAC wants charcoal selling banned

The Nation Online - Mer, 25/05/2022 - 10:03am

Public Accounts Committee of Parliament has urged Ministry of Natural Resources and Climate Change to abolish charcoal business along the M1 and other parts of the country to preserve the environment for socioeconomic development.

PAC chairperson Shadric Namalomba made the remarks when officials from the ministry appeared before the committee to answer audit queries on how proceeds from pine trees totalling K36 million were abused by some ministry officials in the 2019/20 financial year.

PAC wants charcoal business to end

He expressed concern with the depletion of trees largely due to charcoal business which is creating overlapping problems in the economy.

Said Namalomba: “They have told the committee that they have a vacancy rate of 50 percent and they don’t have funding to enforce the law. But the deforestation is huge and [when] you wander along the M1 Road you have bags and bags of charcoal, even close to roadblocks.

“Is this a ministry that can give hope to Malawians?”

According to the 2018 Housing and Population Census, only three percent of Malawi population uses liquified petroleum gas (LPG) for heating.

The majority—over 90 percent—use charcoal and firewood, which are wiping out forests.

Reacting to Namalomba’s sentiments in an interview, Ministry of Natural Resources and Climate Change Principal Secretary Yanira Ntupanyama said they have in the past cleared charcoal along the roads, but their officers are usually faced with challenges.

She said officers have in some cases been injured or killed by those in the charcoal business, adding that angry people in Dzalanyama even threw stones at a minister’s vehicle.

“The main issue is that we need to find alternative energy sources,” said Ntupanyama. 

The Forestry Act of 1997 says individuals and organisations seeking to apply for a charcoal licence must provide documented evidence that the charcoal will be produced at a sustainably managed forest.

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Categorie: Malawi

MRA loses K50bn to fraud yearly

The Nation Online - Mer, 25/05/2022 - 9:58am

Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) director general John Bizwick says the tax collecting body loses about K50 billion to corruption and tax fraud every year.

He said this on Tuesday at Msonkho House in Blantyre after signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB). 

Bizwick (L) and Chizuma read the MoU

Under the partnership, the two agencies will exchange knowledge in emerging areas related to intelligence gathering, forensic investigation and tax evasion.

They will also develop and implement joint education programmes and activities to curb corruption.

The MoU comes after a recent Afrobarometer study showed that two thirds of Malawians perceive corruption levels to have increased in the past year and find government’s commitment to fight the vice wanting.

The study also showed that people view Malawi Police Service as the most corrupt institution followed by MRA.

Bizwick said: “We are losing a lot to corruption and tax evasion. Sometimes when we uncover some fraudulent activities such as tax evasion, we find very alarming figures. As Malawi, we could be losing over K50 billion or K60 billion to corruption and fraud.

“We know we are also perceived to be the most corrupt in the country.”

He said the authority is sensitising its staff to the dangers of corruption

Said Bizwick: “We will also go into automation because what we have discovered is [that] some of the corruption [happens] because there is a lot of man intervention so this gives our staff a chance to engage in these practices.”

On her part, ACB director general Martha Chizuma said the partnership is expected to bring together the two bodies to protect tax revenue.

She said: “Corruption is indeed rampant and when you look at issues of corruption, most corruption happens at public procurement and this is the money that comes from taxes. 

“The MRA collects revenue that is supposed to be used for public services among others and the ACB is there to protect that revenue and ensure that that revenue is used for the intended purpose. We are, therefore, geared up in this fight such that anyone who tries to abuse this revenue is taken to task.”

Malawi climbed 19 places on the 2021 Transparency International Corruption Perception Index (CPI), according to rankings released in January this year.

Meanwhile, defaulting taxpayers have previously been recorded to owe the public purse through the MRA at least K1 trillion in cumulative unremitted taxes over a 10-year period, according to sources within the authority.

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Categorie: Malawi

TC excited with tobacco prices

The Nation Online - Lun, 23/05/2022 - 9:29am

Tobacco Commission (TC) chief executive officer Joseph Chidanti Malunga says this year’s tobacco prices are better despite the drop in the leaf’s output due to dry spell in the last growing season.

Speaking during a media interaction in Blantyre on Friday, he said prices of the leaf have improved this year.

Fetching goods prices on the market

“We are excited with the price of high grade tobacco, which has picked up from an average of $1.06 (K874) per kilogramme [kg] to $2 (K1 650) per kilogramme and the price of low grade tobacco has also picked up from an average of 96 cents (K792) to $1.76 (K1 452) per kilogramme,” said Malunga.

He said since the opening of Lilongwe Floors on March 31, about 13 million kg of tobacco has been sold, raising $26 million (about K21 billion).

Said Chidanti Malunga: “We believe that we will sell up to 100 million kilogrammes of tobacco even though the buyers wanted I61 million kilogrammes of tobacco. So far, there is also no rejection of tobacco on the market.”

He encouraged growers to grade their tobacco properly to fetch good prices on the market.

Chidanti-Malunga said if farmers do not adhere to this, chances are high that buyers could neglect Malawi and buy tobacco from neighbouring countries such as Zambia and Tanzania.

He said TC will start registering growers for the next season from June this year, adding they expect to register about 50 000 growers.

Meanwhile, available data shows flue cured tobacco is fetching a high of $2.85 (about K2 337) per kilogramme (kg) while burley is fetching $2.30 (about K1 886) per kg on the contract market.

On the auction market, the highest price offered for burley is at $1.75 (about K1 435) per kg while the minimum price was $0.95 (about K779) per kg on both markets.

Last year, the highest price on the auction floors was $1.56 while the lowest was $0.90. On the contract side, the highest price was $2.40 per kg.

Currently, the Malawi tobacco market has nine buyers which include Limbe Leaf, Alliance One, Premium Tobacco, Japan Tobacco International, Malawi Leaf, Associated Central African Limited, African Tobacco Services, Watergen and Voedsel. Tobacco still remains Malawi’s main export crop, contributing about 60 percent to the country’s foreign exchange earnings and 13 percent to the gross domestic product.

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Categorie: Malawi

Poor budget transition caused debt—treasury

The Nation Online - Lun, 23/05/2022 - 9:24am

The Ministry of Finance has attributed the country’s rising public debt to lack of scaling down on expenditures when development partners dumped Malawi after Cashgate in 2013

Secretary to the Treasury MacDonald Mafuta Mwale said this in an interview on Thursday on the sidelines of a public lecture by development economist Frank Ngalande titled: Public Debt Sustainability.

As a consequence of the plunder of taxpayers’ money in 2013, development partners stopped direct budget support.

Mwale said Cashgate could have been a realisation point that the country had lost direct budget support and needed to moderate its spending.

He said: “The main cause of our debt could be the borrowing that was happening at some point which was replacing donor support after donors had left us. At that time, we had 40 percent of the budget financed by donors.

“When we had the unfortunate incident of Cashgate, donors lost confidence in our systems and we lost the 40 percent support. However, instead of us as a country adjusting our expenditure downwards, we maintained it at the same level and substituted the donor support with borrowing.”

Mwale said Treasury previously could include donor commitments in the budget, a development that forced ministries, departments and agencies to borrow to fill the gaps left by donors.

As a remedy, he said Treasury is now factoring in donor commitments which have been concluded to avoid budget gaps when donors do not commit.

Treasury figures show that as at December 31 2021, total public debt stock stood at K5.8 trillion or 56.8 percent of rebased gross domestic product (GDP) compared to a stock of K5.45 trillion.

Ngalande, who hosted the public lecture, said there is hope that the country’s debt could be sustainable with proper macroeconomic policies.

He said the lecture was aimed at assessing Malawi’s debt and fiscal sustainability risk and proposed that the country should improve its productive industrialisation and manufacturing capabilities as one of the main strategies to improve revenue base and sustain its debt.

Ngalande said: “This may be possible through increasing our economic growth, which comes by improving our productive capacity.

“We need to initiate innovative ways of producing locally and export to be able to stabilise our fiscal balance going forward.”

Already, the 2022/23 National Budget has a deficit of K884 billion in nominal terms translating to 7.7 percent of GDP, which will be financed through borrowing.

Malawi like many other sub-Saharan Africa countries has a high prevalence of public debt despite qualifying for debt relief in 2006 under the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (Hipc) initiative by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

Prior to the Hipc debt relief in 2006, Malawi’s debt to GDP rose to 130 percent, and from 2006 the debt has risen again from 30 percent (2006) to 59 percent (2021) against a Southern African Development Community convergence target of 60 percent.

After debt relief, Malawi has been implementing the Debt Management Strategy post debt relief attained in 2006, only for public debt to head back towards unsustainable levels standing at about 59 percent of GDP currently.

Fourteen years post-Hipc debt relief, Malawi, at the 2020 United Nations General Assembly, requested for additional debt relief considering the macroeconomic shocks experienced due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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Categorie: Malawi

Effective management of donor funds key—Kuwali

The Nation Online - Lun, 23/05/2022 - 9:21am

ActionAid Malawi executive director Pamela Kuwali has urged organisations to ensure effective management of donor funds to sustain their operations and earn confidence.

She said this on Thursday in Salima during a training workshop on financial and project management for donor-funded projects organised by Acca Malawi.

Kuwali: Be innovate and creative

Kuwali said organisations should ensure that they recruit right and also develop skills of the available staff through training.

She said: “Non-governmental organisations are key players in the socio- economic development of the country and they receive funding from development partners, therefore, they must thrive to retain that funding trust.

“As institutions, you need to support efforts to attain knowledge and put project management and finance management as the backbone of institutional sustainability.”

Kuwali called on organisations to be innovative and creative to attract high level funding, adding that they also need to retain institutional reputation through proper finance management skills.

Acca Malawi head Alinane Khonje thanked the participants for attending the training workshop and employers for funding their employees.

“I want to encourage participants to use the knowledge acquired because knowledge is power. But knowledge is not power until it is utilised for the rightful purpose,” she said.

Some of the presenters during the two-day training workshop included Christopher Chirambo, who is senior consultant at David Hastings Associates, Chisomo Kapulula, who made a presentation on NGO Amendment Act and Impact on Financial and Operations of NGOs and Kenneth Msiska spoke on the Introduction to Agile Project Management.

At the end of the training workshop, participants were, among others, expected to design and implement financial management systems for effective control of donor projects.

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Categorie: Malawi

Witness U-turns in Batatawala, 3 others case

The Nation Online - Lun, 23/05/2022 - 9:17am

The State’s third witness in the Immigration Department procurement contracts case involving businessperson Abdul Karim Batatawala and three others made a U-turn in faulting former Office of the Director of Public Procurement (ODPP) director Bright Mangulama.

During examination-in-chief by Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) director general Martha Chizuma on Thursday, the State witness Gerald Mabveka faulted Mangulama for granting a no-objection in extending Batatawala’s procurement contract.

His case continues: Batatawala

But during cross-examination on Friday by one of the defence lawyers, Nuru Alide, Mabveka, who was the principal regulatory officer at the ODPP before it was changed to Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Authority, told the court that the director could not be faulted for making certain decisions.

He told the court that the director, Mangulama (now deceased), could grant a no-objection at his discretion upon reviewing documents provided and that if further information was needed, he would be at liberty to ask for it.

The State witness also told the court that the director could approve a no-objection request where an officer he appointed has reviewed and provided recommendations.

“In situations where the director would review the documents by himself and grants the no-objection, he could not be faulted since he acted in his powers,” Mabveka told the court.

Responding to Alide’ s questions on who granted the no-objection, Mabveka said he did following instructions from his former boss and further gave directions on extending the contract.

He, however, told the court that in signing the approval for the no-objection, he believed the director of public procurement must have seen and went through the list of items in the extended contract.

In addition, Mabveka told the court that although he did not see the list of new items in the extended contract when issuing a letter of no-objection, he could not challenge the director since the approval was already granted.

After the cross-examination was concluded, senior resident magistrate Martin Chipofya adjourned the matter to the week starting June 20 2022 when the State will parade more witnesses. Batatawala is facing trial alongside former Department of Immigration and Citizenship Services chief immigration of f i cer Elvis Thodi, the department’s commissioner responsible for operations Fletcher Nyirenda and deputy director Limbani Chawinga.

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Categorie: Malawi

‘Heroes’ families demand mausoleums

The Nation Online - Lun, 23/05/2022 - 9:15am

Government’s move to construct a K1.4 billion mausoleum for independence fighter Orton Chirwa has roused families of some fallen heroes to demand similar honour for their relations.

Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Culture Michael Usi confirmed receiving requests from families of three former Cabinet ministers Dick Matenje, Aaron Gadama and John Sangala as well as legislator David Chiwanga murdered in Mwanza in 1983 during the regime of Hastings Kamuzu Banda.

Chihana’s grave in Mzuzu

“I have received requests from some families who think their departed relatives also deserve mausoleums. They include the Mwanza four and Chakufwa Chihana,” he said.

The former Alliance for Democracy (Aford) leader, who later became the State second vice-president, was key to the country’s attainment of multiparty democracy in 1993.

Usi said the requests have caught the ministry by surprise as such they will consult.

Usi said: “As a ministry though we are a policy holder, we do not have all the answers. We need to consult as to who is a hero? Is it every freedom fighter? We need to have selection criteria and we need experts in that particular field,” he said.

Usi, however, said not everyone who is classed as a hero deserves a mausoleum.

He said: “Kamuzu Banda, Orton Chirwa and Bingu wa Mutharika are heroes. There is no question about it. But now that there are many more requests coming, then who should we take now?

“As a nation, we should not think we will be constructing mausoleums one after another. “

Meanwhile, a University of Malawi communications and cultural associate professor Anthony Gunde blamed government’s lack of direction in honouring heroes, particularly on lack of a committee and guidelines.

He said: “We need a committee which can catogorise all heroes and archive their names so that we just don’t pick anyone. There are some people who fled to South Africa, refusing to buy MCP party cards who also think they are heroes.

“In academics, we have people who sacrificed their lives, those who were fired in 2011 as they fought for academic freedom. Are we going to classify them as heroes in future?”

Gunde also advised government to set up a heroes’ acre where all heroes should be buried.

In an interview, Enock Chihana said his family has taken up the initiative to construct a mausoleum for his father following government’s failure to honour its commitment to construct one.

During this year’s Martyr’s Day commemoration in Nkhata Bay, President Lazarus Chakwera said his administration will construct the Orton Chirwa Mausoleum in the district as well as name a proposed international airport in Mzuzu after the freedom fighter.

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Categorie: Malawi