Malawi

Court clarifies on abortion

The Nation Online - 15 min 39 sec fa

The High Court Zomba Registry has said women and girls seeking to access abortion in Malawi must first present themselves to a doctor and request for abortion services based on existing conditions.

Delivering his ruling on June 15 in a case and between, the State as claimant and Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital director and Minister of Health as defendants, Judge Mzonde Mvula stated that despite legal restrictions on access to safe abortion under sections 149, 150, and 151 of the Penal Code, Section 243 makes an exception when the life and the health of a pregnant woman or girl is in danger.

Human fetus inside the womb

The case involved CM, a Form One student, 15, who was defiled and fell pregnant during the five-month Covid-19 induced school break last year and through her guardian, sought safe abortion services at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital’s One Stop Centre Clinic (OSCC) after the pregnancy affected her physical and mental health.

The judge ruled that women and girls seeking abortion should demonstrate to the doctor how a pregnancy would undermine their health and life in general.

Reads the ruling in part: “The applicant was informed by the medical officers at OSCC that QECH could not perform the procedure because termination of pregnancy is illegal in Malawi. Sections 149, 150, and 151 of the Penal Code restricts it.

“However, Section 243 of the Penal Code makes exception in the circumstances where the life of the woman, is in danger because of the pregnancy, and the preservation of a woman’s life includes preservation of her mental and physical health.”

Reacting to the ruling, Dr. Godfrey Kangaude, a lawyer and reproductive health scholar, described it as a welcome step towards an authoritative interpretation of the abortion law.

He said: “This is a good development since current legal provisions on termination of pregnancy are couched in language that makes it difficult for health providers to implement. This ruling opens the door for women and girls to seek lawful access to safe abortion in Malawi.”

Kangaude expressed optimism that the Ministry of Health will take the initiative to advance necessary legal and policy reforms to address the inconsistencies between the current law and Malawi’s obligations under national and international law on reproductive rights of women and girls. 

Recent estimates show that six to 18 percent of maternal deaths in Malawi result from unsafe abortion complications.

The ruling was preceded by the case of a 15-year-old adolescent named CM, who was defiled, became pregnant and sought legal redress from the High Court following a decision by Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital to deny her access to safe and legal abortion.

In the case, CM was represented by Mlauzi Legal Solutions through the support of the Women and Law in Southern Africa Research and Educational Trust-Malawi, which works collaboratively with the Centre for Reproductive Rights to advance reproductive rights autonomy in Malawi.                                     

Centre for Reproductive Rights senior regional director for Africa Evelyne Opondo said Malawi ratified the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (Maputo Protocol) and, therefore, government is obligated to take all appropriate measures to protect the reproductive rights of women and girls. 

The measures include authorising medical abortion in cases of sexual assault, rape, incest, and where the continued pregnancy endangers the mental and physical health or the life of the woman.

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Categorie: Malawi

‘Malawi to win HIV, Aids fight’

The Nation Online - 35 min 6 sec fa

National Aids Commission (NAC) acting chief executive officer Andrew Gonani says Malawi is on course to achieving United Nations (UN) targets on ending HIV and Aids by 2030 despite the prevailing impact of Covid-19 pandemic on the population.

In an interview in Salima yesterday on the sidelines of a media orientation on HIV and Aids trends in Malawi as well as the 2020-2025 National Strategic Plan for HIV and Aids, the acting executive director said the national strategic plan has overarching targets to combat the virus and ensure those who get HIV are immediately put on antiretroviral therapy (ART).

Voluntary testing reduces the spread of Aids

He said: “We are sure to meet the targets despite the Covid-19 pandemic as per our national strategic plan of 2020-2025 and the UN goal of ending Aids by 2030.”

Malawi has been registering significant progress in meeting the UN 90-90-90 targets to end Aids by 2030 despite facing challenges in addressing new infections.

The 90-90-90 targets stipulated that by 2020, 90 percent of all people living with HIV will know their status, 90 percent of all people diagnosed with HIV infection will receive sustained ART and 90 percent of all people receiving ART will have viral suppression.

Gonani said by 2030, Malawi will have defeated HIV, meaning fewer people will have the virus, there will be fewer deaths from Aids and the virus will be undetectable in people due to viral load suppression.

In terms of the progress in line with the national strategic plan and the UN targets, he said as of 2020, Malawi had beaten the UN targets by getting 92 percent of the population to know their HIV status, 95 percent of people who immediately start ART after getting the virus and 94 percent of people whose viral load is suppressed above UN targets.

“We would like to see that by 2025 we should reach 95 percent of all the three targets. As we reach 2030, we should reach 100 percent,” Gonani said.

Recently, President Lazarus Chakwera said the strides Malawi has made in fighting HIV and Aids should spur the nation towards achieving the goal of eliminating HIV as a public health threat by 2030.

He said: “I believe it is important for us to reinvigorate HIV prevention efforts and fast-track implementation of interventions to stop the spread.”

In 2020, the International Aids Society in collaboration with Amfar Institute for HIV Cure Research and Friends of the Global Fight Against Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria named Malawi among six locations in the world that had registered a dramatic reduction in HIV incidence and mortality through policy changes to end Aids by 2030.

In 2015, the global community met in New York and made a declaration which was endorsed by UN member States to fast-track ending Aids as a public health problem by 2030.

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Categorie: Malawi

Judiciary moves on special fiscal court, case delays

The Nation Online - 44 min 43 sec fa

Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda has set up a special committee comprising judges, a magistrate and Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Steve Kayuni to look into the feasibility of establishing a Financial Crimes Court.

Speaking in Chitipa yesterday when he presided over the opening of a new court house, the Chief Justice said the court would help fast-track cases of financial crimes and corruption which he said is deep-rooted in the country.

Nyirenda: We are in the formative stage

The development is in response to President Lazarus Chakwera’s appeal, made in May when he opened the third session of the 49th Session of Parliament, for the Judiciary to expedite the creation of special courts to efficiently dispose of cases of corruption and theft of public funds.

Making the announcement yesterday, Nyirenda said the special courts will help the country deal with the backlog of stagnating cases that people want to be dealt with.

Said the Chief Justice: “We are in the formative stage. There will be consultations that will have to be undertaken among stakeholder institutions like Malawi Law Society [MLS], Ministry of Justice and Legal Aid to see the feasibility of setting up those courts.

“We are consulting, and we have put committees in place that are working on it. We hope that sooner than later, the whole initiative will have taken off. It is something that we must, in my view, undertake to accomplish.”

Nyirenda said another committee has also been constituted to probe delays in concluding cases in courts after MLS asked the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) to allow the law society to directly engage with or impeach judges whose pace in handling cases is deemed questionable.

He said: “We have been talking with the MLS and there will be A statement where we have set up a task force that is going to work with the Judiciary and MLS so that they find ways to minimize delays. These delays at High court levels is what MLS is most concerned with.

“Delays at every stage or level of the Judiciary is something that is not acceptable and, therefore, we hope that with strides that we have put in place, we will find lasting or more permanent solutions.”

In an interview, Minister of Justice Titus Mvalo, who also attended the Chitipa event, said he was aware of the task force, adding it has four judges, a magistrate and Kayuni.

Said the minister: “Work has started towards creation of a Financial Crimes Court. The timeline for the exercise will be determined by how quickly funding comes, because that work needs funding.

“We don’t have a specific allocation for the exercise in the budget, but you know the budget does not contain everything. Sometimes there is funding from what we call off-budget. The Ministry of Finance already approached the Judiciary on how just this would cost. It is also a priority for the Ministry of Finance.”

In a written response yesterday, MLS president Patrick Mpaka said they were yet to see the concept note on how the special courts will resolve problems that people are complaining of  in the administration justice.

He said: “I know for a fact that at the moment some specialised courts in the country are already subject of complaints by members of the public and court users—take for example the Industrial Relations Court.

“So, until we see and understand the concept of this particular specialised Financial Crimes  Court, we may not be able to comment thoroughly.”

However, he said given the Special Task Force announced today, it may be useful to wait for their  findings and incorporate any ideas that may work to enhance credibility in justice holistically.

According to a joint statement signed by Mpaka and Nyirenda, co-chaipersons of the task force are Justice of Appeal Lovemore Chikopa and Felisah Kilembe-Mitambo from the MLS.

Other members are Justice Dorothy NyaKaunda Kamanga, solicitor general Reyneck Matemba, Principal Legal Aid advocate Sigere Chirwa, lawyer Khumbo Bonzoe Soko, MHRC commissioner Chikondi Chijozi and Yusuf Nthenda, who is Legal Affairs Committee of Parliament chairperson.

Meanwhile, European Union (EU) in Malawi Chargé d’affaires Aurelie Valtat, whose institution has reconstructed the Chitipa Magistrate’s Court under the Chilungamo Project, said the EU will continue supporting the Judiciary.

She pledged to continue to work on access to justice and ensure that all marginalised groups such as people with disabilities and victims of gender-based violence access courts in the best possible way.

Said Valvat: “We will continue to work on justice and accountability, generally with the new corruption drive of the government. This is another area we would like to support maybe on financial crimes. The Judiciary has demonstrated that it can deliver ground-breaking decisions.

“The lack of resources in the Judiciary is still a concern and we are happy that the EU can contribute, but it’s important that the Ministry of Justice is equipped and the Judiciary is able to deliver justice on its own.”

Experts told The Nation earlier that while specialised courts will help fast-track the prosecution of financial crimes, but resource constraints as well as legal and procedural hurdles could derail the desired set-up.

While the exact amount required to implement the courts is still being worked out, the High Court and Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal annually costs the taxpayer K3.6 billion and K10.7 billion, respectively, while the Commercial Division costs K596 million.

Special courts come in a variety of forms such as special branches or divisions of existing courts, others are established as separate, standalone units within the judicial hierarchy.

A new court would require new office space, judges, support staff, furniture, vehicles and other administrative and logistical requirements. The proposal will also require amendments to the law requiring both time and funding, according to experts.

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Categorie: Malawi

ACB stops rural electrification contracts

The Nation Online - 48 min 41 sec fa

The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has stopped the Ministry of Energy from proceeding with the award of a multibillion kwacha contract for supply of materials for Malawi Rural Electrification (Marep) project amid corruption allegations.

In a statement signed by ACB principal public relations officer Egrita Ndala yesterday, the graft-busting body said the stop order followed complaints alleging irregularities and suspected corruption in the procurement process of the materials.

ACB director: Chizuma

She said: “The ACB has instituted investigations into the matter. Following the restriction notice, the Ministry of Energy is, therefore, restricted from proceeding with award of contract until the ACB has concluded the investigation or lifted the restriction notice.”

When contacted for further details on the order, Ndala said the restriction notice meant that everything relating to the procurement has been stopped until the ACB lifts the order or gives fresh directions.

She said: “I can’t really state what will happen next, but a direction will be provided once investigations are done.”

Marep Phase 9 is expected to cost the taxpayer at least K20 billion. Last year, the Ministry of Energy floated tenders for the supply of various materials and the evaluation team spent about two months in Zomba scrutinising bids. However, the contracts have not yet been awarded.

Ministry of Energy sources allege that the delay in awarding of the contracts, which is the centre of ACB investigation, has delayed due to “some political interests on who should be awarded a contract”.

“In fact, when we were in Zomba for evaluations, the pressure started coming. I am not surprised that someone reported the matter to ACB,” claimed one source.

In an interview on Tuesday on developments in the energy sector, Minister of Energy Newton Kambala expressed concern over the delayed procurement process for Marep Phase 9.

He said: “As we speak, we have issues with Marep for procurement of materials which has taken over eight months without completion.

“I am now hearing that the Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Authority [PPDA] has advised that we start all over again because that tender expired.

“I just heard about this. But when you try to intervene at an early stage, people say you are interfering in the procurement process.”

In recent months, the energy sector has been embroiled in procurement controversy. Three weeks ago, the ACB also stopped the award of fuel import contracts for the National Oil Company of Malawi (Nocma) amid Nocma’s fight with Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (Mera) over perceptions of corruption.

Marep started in 1980 under Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi as the implementing agency through donor financing. In 1995, the Government of Malawi took over implementation of the programme with the Department of Energy as the implementing agency.

By the end of phase eight, Marep had connected 1 127 sites to the national electricity grid. In the past 10 years, K80 billion has been invested in Marep.

The 2008 Energy Policy anticipated an increase in electricity coverage in Malawi to 30 percent by 2020. However, statistics show that about 12 percent of the population has access to electricity.

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Categorie: Malawi

‘Malawi helpless’

The Nation Online - 57 min 39 sec fa
  • Chakwera says govt at mercy of donors on vaccine  
  • Task force to enforce measures, says schools won’t close

President Lazarus Chakwera says Malawi is at the mercy of the international community on the availability of Covid-19 vaccines amid a stock out in the country at a time cases are rising.

Briefing journalists yesterday at Kamuzu International Airport in Lilongwe on his return from a Southern African Development Community (Sadc) Extraordinary Heads of State and Government Summit in Maputo, Mozambique, the President said his administration may resort to using emergency funds to procure the doses.

Chakwera: You may not see any funds for Covid-19

Chakwera said: “You may not see any funds for Covid-19 vaccination [in the budget], but we have the unforeseen expenditure vote. We will use it plus the World Bank gave us $30 million [about K24.1 billion], we will get some vaccines.

“The challenge is that as we discussed in Maputo, it’s not easy to produce own vaccines, but as a region coming together we can have our own vaccines.

“Even outside Covid-19, we have always relied on international community for help with immunisation of various diseases, so it’s not something strange for us to admit that we are at the mercy of the international community.”

But the World Bank support to Malawi towards the acquisition and deployment of Covid-19 vaccines Chakwera is banking on is not immediate as in a June 18 statement, the bank said the financing will mostly go towards the procurement and deployment of eligible vaccines to cover eight percent of the population by December 2023.

And responding to suggestions for the Malawi Government to procure own vaccines instead of banking on donors and allegations that poor planning contributed to the stock-out, Ministry of Health Principal Secretary Dr. Charles Mwansambo said in an interview that the challenges facing Malawi were beyond finances.

He attributed the shortage to the scramble for the vaccine owing to its high demand on the global scene; hence, affecting the supply.

“It looks as if people didn’t plan well, but everything was planned well, and deliveries were all on paper until the second wave hit India which is the major producer of vaccines,” Mwansambo said.

Meanwhile, Minister of Health Khumbize Chiponda has said government is concerned with the resurgence of Covid-19 cases which has led to the positivity rate to rise again to eight percent from only two percent a few weeks ago.

Addressing the press in Lilongwe last evening after a Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 meeting, the minister, who also co-chairs the task force, said despite rising cases of Covid-19 which she blamed on laxity in observing preventive measures, government has decided not to close schools.

Said Chiponda: “government will keep on monitoring the situation day by day. The status of all Covid-19 measures and restrictions remain the same, but says police and Malawi Defence Force will start re-einforcing the measure as most Malawians have relaxed.”

The minister warned international  bus operators against ferrying only passengers without  Covid-19 negative certificates, saying doing so will attract a K100 000 fine or three months imprisonment ,as stipulated by the  gazetted Covid-19 measures.

On his part, the task force co-chairperson Wilfred Chalamira-Nkhoma said government is set to receive about 20 0000 doses of the Covid-19 vaccine in the first few weeks of July, 2021 under  what a “dose-sharing” arrangement, with another consignment of doses under the Covax Facility also expected to arrive by mid-August 2021.

But he says currently, sourcing of the vaccines globally has proved to be a challenge as supply or production of such vaccines has fallen short of the demand.

During yesterday’s briefing, the President also said it was regrettable that a majority of the citizenry turned up for the first doses of Covid-19 vaccination at a time the country was supposed to be administering the second jabs. He said the latecomers exerted pressure and affected the campaign’s planning.

The first consignment of 360 000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine arrived in March from Serum Institute of India courtesy of the Covax Facility, a partnership between the Gavi Institute, World Health Organisation (WHO) and Unicef. The African Union also donated 102 000 doses whose expiry was mid-March while a further 50 000 AstraZenecca doses arrived on March 14.

The President yesterday also voiced his concerns about the rising cases of Covid-19 which hit three-digits on Wednesday this week. He urged health authorities to start working on a plan to ensure that the forthcoming Sadc Summit Malawi is scheduled to host in August does not lead to more cases.

He said government will continue monitoring the local cases in relation to the summit.

The President also urged the business community to organise a business conference on the sidelines of the Sadc Summit. He also challenged the tourism sector to brace for long and short-term opportunities that may come with the summit.

Chakwera also said that Mozambique, which experienced drought in some parts, was keen on importing maize from Malawi which has recorded a surplus.

Malawi reported its first three Covid-19 cases on April 2 2020, barely a fortnight after the WHO had declared Covid-19 a global pandemic. It has so far recorded 35 219 cases, including 1 178 deaths.

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Categorie: Malawi

K32.9bn loans placed under Covid-19 relief

The Nation Online - 1 ora 2 min fa

The Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) says businesses and individuals have benefitted from commercial banks’ relief on payment of interest and principal on loans amounting to K32.9 billion as of March this year.

The moratorium on interest rates was effected by banks in April 2020 in response to RBM’s call to cushion customers who were in financial distress induced by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Nkuna: A number of borrowers are still in business

Under the arrangement, borrowers whose businesses and cash flows were affected negatively by Covid-19 pandemic, were granted relief not to be repaying their loans.

RBM spokesperson Onelie Nkuna said in a written response last week that moratoriums have provided relief to borrowers, adding that the arrangement has yielded expected results given the amounts.

She said: “Through the arrangement, borrowers have been able to use the spared funds to finance their business operations during this crisis period.

“A number of borrowers who were granted such relief are, therefore, still in business. Such borrowers have even maintained their level of employees who would otherwise have been laid off.”

Nkuna said going forward, the central bank will continue to engage banks to continue granting moratoriums to deserving borrowers as long as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to negatively affect businesses and their cash flows.  

On her part, Bankers Association of Malawi (BAM) chief executive officer Lyness Nkungula said banks will continue to cushion those in financial distress, saying the moratorium has helped businesses and individuals to remain afloat.

She said: “Banks have the welfare of their customers at heart. The moratorium has given a relief to customers as evidenced by bank customers who have overwhelmingly applied for the facility and been granted access.

“Going forward, banks will still be offering the relief window based on case by case basis,” she said.

Meanwhile, Chamber for Small Scale Business Association executive secretary James Chiutsi said the move by the central bank and commercial banks, had a noticeable impact on small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

“The extension of the same from the banks is thus welcome as this measure has had a positive impact on SMEs,” he said in a written response.

On his part, Indigenous Businesses Association of Malawi (Ibam) president Mike Mlombwa said businesses have had breathing space courtesy of the moratorium on interest rates.

He said with the rising cases of Covid-19,  which is a major concern for local businesses, the moratorium has and continues to ease the burden on businesses.

In mid-April, RBM responded to the Covid-19 pandemic by, among others, announcing measures to mitigate its impact, including moratorium on bank loan interest and transaction fees levied by mobile money operators.

RBM also slashed the Liquidity Reserve Requirement which instantly made available K12 billion into the banking system.

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Categorie: Malawi

Billy Kaunda says it all

The Nation Online - 1 ora 43 min fa

When arts critic Wonderful Mkhutche announced a biography writing project for one of the country’s renowned musicians Billy Kaunda, Malawians were  not sure what the musician was willing to share with the world.

Since making his name in the music industry around 1997, Billy Kaunda, despite his hard-hitting lyrics, always came across as shy and an introvert.

Kaunda has been married to Sherry for 21 years

That is the reason when the book was finally released, I could not wait to lay my hands on it. And the content exceeded my expectations. Billy Kaunda has been generous with his story in the book Hills and Valleys.

The 127-page book has detailed Kaunda’s early life in Che Mboma opposite Newlands in Blantyre, his entry into music, his struggles as he attained a basic education and his decision to join politics. The musician has said it all and more.

The first three chapters of the book give the reader a background of Kaunda’s early life. Clearly, Kaunda had a childhood full of struggles as his parents had 11 children, but less money to properly take care of them all. He, however, demonstrates a normal mischievous childhood despite the challenges. Those who grew up in the 90s will find his story  relatable.

He writes in part: “Feeling the pressure and the need to help save the hapless situation, together with my brothers, we prioritised bird-hunting as source of food for our home.”

In the second part of the book in chapters Four, Five and Six, Kaunda talks about his music. This is the gist of the book in which he goes into detail to talk about the genesis of his musical journey which started in earnest as a small boy growing up in Che Mboma.

Reads the book: “For all its poverty, violence and ugliness, Che Mboma was like Arizona’s Tombstone City; a lawlessness place. However, just near our house was Jerusalemu Baptist Church.

“We did not belong to any church by then, because our parents did not seem to show any interest. But on Sundays, we could hear good music from the Lord’s house, and with passage of time we were getting attracted to it.”

From singing in a church choir, Kaunda chronicles in his book the ups and downs of his journey as a musician when at times he had to sleep in school halls after patrons refused to pay for performances.

The interest of many will, however,  be in Chapter Four where he records his album Mwapindulanji? and eventually meets and starts working with Lucius Banda who becomes his mentor.

Kaunda details their working relationship and its ups and downs and eventual fallout which he does not shy away from detailing what actually happened.

The Mwapindulanji? hitmaker claims in the book that he was paid K76 000 in total for his top-charting album though he clearly says he feels he sold more and that Lucius Banda short-changed him.

Next, Hills and Valleys then chronicles the journey of breaking away from Banda’s Zembani Band and eventually forming his own Armageddon Band.

The politics

In the final chapter of the book, Kaunda explains how some of his songs landed him in trouble with the United Democratic Front (UDF) administration which forced him to seek help and protection from National Democratic Alliance (NDA) leader Brown Mpinganjira.

He eventually joined politics, winning the 2004 elections on NDA ticket in Blantyre City South East Constituency, before standing in his home village of Mzimba West Constituency in 2009 on an independent ticket.

The book, though generally flawless, has some small grammatical errors as well as a peculiar design of the paragraphs. It is also interesting to see the musician admitting his promiscuous lifestyle before he settled down in marriage.

He admits life in the limelight is not easy for a man and that he fell for the tricks of the fast life.

Kaunda can be credited for his brutal honest admission that he is not the brightest star academically, saying he repeated Standard Eight four times but still did not get selected to conventional secondary school.

The musician also shows his other passions which are football and drama.

Hills and Valleys offers a window of knowledge for a common man to appreciate how falsehoods about celebrities are easily spread and believed. Kaunda demonstrates this when he narrates about false rumours of his marriage collapsing when he and his wife Sherry have never separated.

Reading between the lines, one can also appreciate the importance of family and his closeness to two of his 10 siblings. Clearly Billy’s closest sibling is Dexter whom he mentions often in the book in their various experiences growing up. His elder brother Obingtone clearly plays the role of the father as Kaunda’s dad died of suspected poisoning.

Though respectfully, Billy’s book demonstrates how his father’s drinking made his early life a misery. The book also highlights the strength of a woman (his mother) who had to take care of 11 children on meagre earnings as well as endure her husband’s tantrums when drunk.

All in all, Kaunda’s book is clear testimony that the life of this musician is indeed full of hills and valleys. If I were to give it a grade, it would be a seven out of 10.

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Categorie: Malawi

2 Malawi Queens scoop UK awards

The Nation Online - 1 ora 46 min fa

Two Malawi   Queens stars goalkeeper Towera Vinkhumbo-Nyirenda and goal shooter Joyce Mvula have shined brighter   in the United Kingdom’s (UK) Vitality Netball Superleague (VNSL) by sweeping individual awards.

Vinkhumbo-Nyirenda, who plays for Strathclyde Sirens of Scotland, has won the Players’ Player of the Season and Best Goal Defender awards while Mvula of Manchester Thunder is the league’s second best shooter.

Vinkhumbo-Nyirenda

According to VNSL website www.netballsl.com, the Vinkhumbo Nyirenda, “who made her VNSL debut in 2020, but truly stamped her mark in the competition with Sirens in 2021, was exceptional.

“The Malawian was a rock at the back for a Scottish side, who exceeded all expectations this season,” the website said.

In an interview yesterday, Vinkhumbo-Nyirenda said the winners were announced yesterday, but the prize presentation is expected to be held in London on Sunday at the end of the semi-finals and final game of the VNSL 2021 season.

Speaking from he5r Scotland base, she attributed her achievement to God, saying she never thought players from rival teams of vote for her as their best player as well as best goalkeeper of the season.

“Honestly, I am so overjoyed and in disbelief at the same time that I have been decorated with these two top awards. Vitality Netball Superleague has some of the most skillful netballers in the world and winning these two individual awards is surely the will of God,”  she said.

Vinkhumbo-Nyirenda also paid tribute to her teammates and coaching staff, especially coach Karen Atikson who also won VNSL Coach of the Season Award, for being part of her success story.

She is is also among the seven players that have made the 2021 VNSL All Star VII, which recognises the league’s most outstanding goalkeeper, goal defender, wing defender, wing attacker, centre, goal attacker and goal-shooter.

On the other hand, Mvula was the runner-up for the Gilbert Golden Shot Award won by Lightning’s Mary Cholhok. She has scored 650 goals, 122 behind Cholhok.

Since joining Sirens at the start of this season, Vinkhumbo-Nyirenda has been instrumental to the improved performance of Sirens, which  are sixth on the 11-team log-table with 31 points from 20 games. Loughborough Lightning lead the pack following a tie on 51 points with Thunder and Team Bath, who have made it to the semi-finals alongside Rhinos (36 points).

Her individual brilliance is also evident on the league’s statistical chart where she has proved to be the most outstanding player on the defensive lines; she tops the list of players with the most intercepts (60) and the most turnovers (93).

Alongside Mvula, Vinkhumbo-Nyirenda was on the list of top 10 players nominated for the award, but came out the best after accumulating the most votes among fellow players in the league.

When the list was narrowed down to a final shortlist of four players on Wednesday this week, the former Kukoma Diamonds player was the only goalkeeper competing for the accolade.

She was up against Team Bath centre Serena Guthrie and goal-shooter Kim Borger and Leeds Rhinos’ goal-shooter Donnel Wallam.

Malawi Queens coach Peace Chawinga-Kalua yesterday hailed Vinkhumbo-Nyirenda for making the country proud.

“Towera is a complete player, who is talented, focused and eager to improve her skills. This is why she is excelling in the foreign land and it is not surprising that she has won the accolade,” she said.

Chawinga-Kalua added that Vinkhumbo-Nyirenda’s achievement is proof that the country has great netball talent.

So far, all the netball players that Malawi has exported have been star performers in the foreign leagues abroad. Shooter Mwawi Kumwenda, who plays for Australian giants Melbourne Vixens, has won several individual awards, including the 2020 Suncorp Super Netball Most Valuable Player.

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Categorie: Malawi

CAF club tourneys to kick off Sept 10

The Nation Online - 6 ore 13 min fa

CAF has anounced that the next edition of its continental club tournaments—CAF Champions League and CAF Confederation Cup—will kick off on September 10.

According to a statement issued by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) on Tuesday, the tournaments will kick off with the first round of the preliminaries with the group stages set to start next February.

Bullets’ Chiukepo Msowoya (in red) captured during Champions League

The continental football governing body has also increased the number of players to be registered from 30 to 40.

Nine substitutes will be allowed on the bench instead of the usual seven, the statement said.

TNM Super League champions Nyasa Bullets will take part in the CAF Champions League while Silver Strikers are set to participate in the Confederation Cup.

CAF said Bullets have since welcomed the developments.

The People’s Team chief administration officer Albert Chigoga yesterday said: “We will have more time to prepare and our players, who are nursing injuries, will have time to recover.

“The increase in the number of players to be registered also provides us with an opportunity for more options.”

CAF has extended the five substitutions per rule for the 2021/22 inter-clubs season.

The 12 highest ranked national associations will be allowed to  feature two clubs in both tournaments.

The countries are Algeria, Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Guinea, Morocco, Nigeria, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Tunisia and Zambia.

The registration of players has also been extended to August 15 2021.

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Categorie: Malawi

Top-flight netball back after long break

The Nation Online - Gio, 24/06/2021 - 23:12

The new top-flight netball season throws off tomorrow with the 2021 Rainbow Paints Blantyre and Districts Netball League (BDNL) at Blantyre Youth Centre (BYC) after a year and a half of absence due to Covid-19.

However, there are mixed reactions on whether the new season will be competitive, considering that players are coming from a long break and most teams are financially crippled due to scarcity of  sponsors.

Said BDNL champions Kukoma Diamonds Lumbani Mtonyo, chairperson: “It is going to be tough for us considering that our players are coming from a long break. However, we are not afraid; we will fight and we still have the fighting spirit. We believe in ourselves and we trust in God.”

However, she was hopeful that her team, which takes on Prison Sisters in the league opener, will not suffer serious financial struggles along the way as they negotiate for continued sponsorship with Capital Oil Refining Industries (Cori).

Their rivals First Choice Tigresses, who will be up against Legends tomorrow, said they are more than ready for the showdown.

“We have been looking forward to this moment when we are expected to prove that we are a sponsored team,” said Tigresses team manager Helen Mpinganjira-Tasosa.

Unsponsored teams such as Thunder Queens, Serenity Stars and Chilomoni Sisters believe that the league might be less competitive at the start, but will improve in the long run.

Said Thunder Queens captain and assistant coach Joana Kachilika: “For us, it has always been a struggle; most of our players have been going to and from our training sessions on foot for the past two weeks due to lack of transport. It will not be easy to pick up form. However, with the hunger and passion we have for netball, we will try our best to do well.”

Rainbow Paints representative Jangale Chiosa yesterday said they are ready to bankroll the league, but could not disclose if the sponsorship will be increased from K7 million.

“We will announce the sponsorship package on Saturday,” she said.

According to BDNL general secretary Annie Hanjahanja-Billie, the league will throw off with an encounter between Gerald Tasaukadala Sisters and Chilomoni Sisters at 10am before a tussle involving Thunder Queens and Serenity.

“Diamonds and Prison will lock horns at 1pm while Tigresses will take on Legends at 3pm,” she said.

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Categorie: Malawi

MBS trims certification fees by 50%, businesses smile

The Nation Online - Gio, 24/06/2021 - 22:55

The Malawi Bureau of Standards (MBS) says it has reduced certification fees by hakf in a bid to improve performance of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the country.

MBS director general Symon Mandala made the announcement in Lilongwe on Monday during the opening of the second MBS training on standards and certification process.

He said: “We hope that by subsidising the certification fees, more SMEs will get certified which will create jobs for more Malawians.”

Mandala urged SMEs to collaborate with the bureau in ensuring that quality products are being produced for the market.

MBS figures show that certification fees range from K9 000 to K100 000.

In his reaction, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Institute (Smedi) director of training Edward Chilima said the institute is working with MBS to ease the transition from uncertified to certified SMEs and help them compete in organised markets.

He said, to date, Smedi has trained about 160 SMEs and plans to reach out to as many SMEs as possiblein the country.

One of the trainees, Sandy Charumia, a horticulture farmer based in Lilongwe, said the reduction in the certification fees will encourage more SMEs to get their products certified by the bureau.

She said: “The training will help us with knowledge on what standards we as SMEs should always keep to ensure our products are safe.”

The training, which targeted SMEs from Lilongwe and surrounding areas, sought to equip the SMEs with product quality improvement skills and also educate them on the certification process.

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Categorie: Malawi

Skilled workforce key to development

The Nation Online - Gio, 24/06/2021 - 22:41

Deputy Minister of Labour Vera Kamtukule says the Technical, Entrepreneurial and Vocational Education and Training Authority (Teveta) has a critical role to play  in the development of the country by providing a skilled workforce.

She made the remarks on Tuesday during the opening of a two-day workshop of 29 technical and community college instructors and assessors in Blantyre.

Kamtukule: Malawi needs skilled labour force

Said Kamtukule: “The Government of Malawi attaches greater importance to the Tevet sector as it is one of the key factors to the building of a better Malawi.

“The importance of skills development cannot be over-emphasised if the country is to attain the Malawi 2063 Vision.”

On his part, Malawi National Examinations Board finance director Thomas Dokotala said technical college instructors and assessors need to have requisite skills to produce quality graduates.

He said the results of such assessments play a crucial role in enhancing the quality of graduates from the colleges.

Teveta acting executive director Modesto Gomani said the capacity building of the beneficiaries will ensure quality service delivery.

Maneb facilitated the workshop which drew participants from Eastern and Southern regions.

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Categorie: Malawi

Women cooperative reaps gains of commercialisation

The Nation Online - Gio, 24/06/2021 - 22:31

It is a busy day at Nsanama trading centre, a local commerce hub in Machinga District.

Numerous people are out and about; trading, shopping, loading bags of rice in a truck, boarding taxis, and the women at the cassava milling factory are hard at work, loading and grinding cassava in the mill that can be heard for miles around.

From this: The all-women group of farmers, produces high-quality cassava flour

The main operator is holding a metal bar, swinging it inside the mill where they have put the dried cassava. She must swing it hard for the cassava to go down a grinder.

Another woman, her face covered in white flour, is holding a bucket under a pipe from which the flour is coming down.

“We give each other turns,” explains the woman operating the machine while wiping sweat from her face. “It will be much easier when we install the new machine because it won’t require us to physically operate it to grind the cassava.”

But they are not the only women working at the factory on this day.  Outside the building, about a dozen women are doing other activities; some are washing buckets while others are loading the dried cassava into sacks to pass it on to those inside.

It is a chain of coordinated activities, with a clear division of labour.

Such is the unity of purpose that distinguishes the Nsanama Women Cooperative in the eastern district.

The group produces high-quality cassava flour and their production capacity with the new machine is about to increase, raising hope not only for members, but the entire community.

Matching grants

The cooperative, run and managed solely by women farmers, has received a matching grant from the Agriculture Commercialisation Project (Agcom), a $95 million project financed by World Bank to promote commercial farming.

Part of the Agcom funds is earmarked for matching grants, given to market-linked producer organisations. Beneficiaries of the production alliances are expected to contribute 30 percent of the sought funding.

“We need to work with groups that are committed and can make the contribution as a demonstration of commitment and we aim to reach groups that will be able to sustain the gains beyond the life span of the project,” says Teddie Nakhumwa, Agcom national coordinator and an agriculture economist himself.

The Nsanama Women Cooperative is among the first of 30 production organisations to qualify for the matching grant. In the first tranche, the group received about $15 000 (about K11.8 million) and purchased a state-of-the art mill.

This will significantly improve production, according to chairperson of the group Loveness Andiseni.

“We currently can only manage to produce 1.5 tonnes per month against the market demand of 50 tonnes. With the new machine we will be able to meet the demand,” says Andiseni.

The new machine will also be used for making of maize flour and livestock feed, widening the group’s customer base.

The cooperative started in 2008 as a coalition of 410 women farmers dedicated to promoting fellow women farmers with support from the German International Cooperation.

Over the years, many members have opted out due to personal reasons. With only 57 women members in 2015, they registered as a cooperative.

“My husband thought this was a group of irresponsible women so he advised me to quit but I did not,” says one member, echoing a common experience among the women. “But I’m glad that he now sees value in this because I am able to support my family.” She now has a better house built with proceeds from their farming.

Andiseni too, is building a modern house—quite an imposing structure in a neighborhood full of old grass-thatched houses.

A game changer

Agcom, known as a “flagship project for both the Malawi government and the World Bank” to those familiar with it, is a joint effort to commercialise agriculture.

The shift from subsistence farming to commercial agriculture is a critical investment area of the Malawi 2063, the national vision which aims to move the country to upper middle-income status, and supported by the current World Bank Country Partnership Framework.

“We can see that some agriculture producer organisations are making investments through the matching grants and others are already recording encouraging results like the Nsanama Women Cooperative in Machinga,” says World Bank country manager Hugh Riddell. “We therefore further expect improvements in the business environment for the overall agricultural and food sector in Malawi and that such results will benefit other farmers beyond those supported by the Agcom project.”

The five-year project intends to reach out to about 200 producer organisations with matching grants among other support components, through 2023.

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Categorie: Malawi

Faith Mussa ready to shine at Berlin conference

The Nation Online - Gio, 24/06/2021 - 22:25

Musician Faith Mussa says he will use his performance at this year’s BMW Foundation EDB forum to show the world that Malawi has talent.

In an interview, Mussa said he is grateful that the foundation recognised that Malawi has talent by giving him a platform to impress the world.

“I would have loved to travel to Berlin, Germany, where the event is taking place, but with Covid-19 I will perform virtually,” he said.

The Mdidi creator said on the last day of the conference on July 2, he will perform three songs titled Ndi Konkuno, Mdidi and Waiting.

Ndi Konkuno is a song about inclusion and acceptance. Waiting is a song that talks about hope, saying that no matter what we are going through, better days are going to come,” said Mussa.

In a statement, Mussa’s manager Sam Chiwaka said the virtual conference on the subject of equity, diversity and belonging where Mussa will perform starts on June 28 and ends on July 2.

“BMW Foundation was impressed by the vibe and music Faith Mussa performs from his previous tours in Germany; hence, they engaged him to perform at this function,” he said.

Chiwaka said Mussa will not only perform but also give a short presentation of his music in relation to the subject of the conference.

In his communication, Michael Geissler of BMW Foundation wrote to Mussa telling him about his appreciation of his live performances.

“We loved the vibe of your performances that were shared with us,” he said.

The BMW Foundation EDB week is an annual event which brings various leaders together to discuss issues surrounding equity, diversity and belonging.

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Categorie: Malawi

Miss Culture dangles K3 million

The Nation Online - Gio, 24/06/2021 - 22:12

Thirteen finalists from across Malawi are set to battle it out for the Miss Culture crown tomorrow at Amaryllis Hotel in Blantyre with a ticket to an international stage and K3 million at stake.

The winner will represent Malawi at the Miss Culture International in South Africa in September.

In an interview, Lush Africa chief executive officer Lorraine Kljajic said everything is set for a memorable evening.

“We are almost done with the preparations. Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Culture Michael Usi will be the guest of honour. We will also have special guests like Tay Grin, Wendy Harawa, Patience Namadingo, among others,” she said.

The contestants are Mavis Matola, Malumbo Mtonga, Mwasalika Mfune, Leticia Bwanausi, Roberta Kanjelo, Tawina Lifukwe, Mpenya Namoyo, Nyanjura Germano, Tamara Chirwa, Monica Mwanika, Murimu Kachitsa, Bongiwe Mtambo and Eta Chirwa.

Said Kljajic: “We will give certificates of recognition to outstanding models. Kachitsa won the Social Media Diva Award by getting the most votes. This automatically means she makes it into the top five.

“We will also have awards going to Miss Personality, Big Sister, the Face of Africa Fashion and Arts Festival and Social Community Champion for the girl showing more passion into charity course, Best Catwalk of the night and the Most Dedicated Model.”

The competition will consist of five key categories of sportswear sponsored by Lily Alfonso, office wear by PY Designs Africa and swimwear and evening gowns sponsored by Ngugi International.

She said they have lined up five judges, including media personality Angel Chima, long-time Miss Malawi organiser Carver Bhima, a representative from the main sponsor Exploits University, businessperson Veronica Curtis and Mayamiko Nkoloma of Imoysis.

“The judges will be looking at poise, confidence, intelligence, knowledge of the Malawian culture, among the criteria for coming up with a winner,” said Kljajic.

For the top two winners, an academic scholarship sponsored by Exploits University awaits them.

“Total prizes for the winner amount to K3 million. One of our main objectives is to empower the girl child in Malawi through education,” said Kljajic.

Exploits University Chancellor Desmond Bikoko said they are inspired to see more educated women in Malawi.

“We can never have too many educated women in our young democracy,” he said.

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Categorie: Malawi

There is information gap between Cosoma, artists

The Nation Online - Gio, 24/06/2021 - 22:08

For years, there has been a war between artists and the body mandated to protect their creative rights, Copyright Society of Malawi (Cosoma). The bone of contention has mainly bordered on the distribution of royalties and how the same are calculated. This week, yet another artist, Patience Namadingo rose up to once again challenge the copyrights body, accusing it of slacking in its mandate. Our reporter BRIAN ITAI engaged arts commentator Wonderful Mkhutche on the long-standing matter. Excerpts:

There has been some mistrust between artists and Cosoma. Why do you think the two sides have failed to achieve a common understanding? 

The fight between Cosoma and artists has indeed been going on for years. Recently, Billy Kaunda, through his autobiography, Hills & Valleys, also revealed how musician Evison Matafale was once at loggerheads with Cosoma. Matafale accused the society of ripping off musicians of their hard-earned sweat through royalties. He felt Cosoma was not giving musicians enough. This was in 2000. And 21 years later, we have musician Patience Namadingo saying the same. That is in reaction to recent distribution of royalties by Cosoma to musicians. Much as we acknowledge the accusations and frustrations, it is hard to establish who is right or wrong between Cosoma and the musicians, for one reason: there is a huge information gap between these two in terms of how Cosoma comes up with the royalties and how much they are paid by companies or media houses for music.

In this scenario, can we say one side is wrong and another is right?

The information gap that exists is not about one side being right and the other side being wrong. It is about both sides working together to fill this gap. In my view, Cosoma has been slow and less innovative in its mandate on copyright. As much as musicians themselves have not been organised to push for favourable changes through Cosoma, the society has been too comfortable in its business-as-usual approach. The music industry is changing, and so must Cosoma. But the society has not been proactive enough in moving with times to make sure it protects musicians. It gains from musicians, but musicians do not gain much from it. This must be the starting point on the way forward between the two.

What does royalties mean to artists?

Artists are in entertainment as business. That is their source of income, and just like every worker, they need to be protected by Cosoma. The royalties that artists get from Cosoma is an entitlement, the sweat they worked for. But artists have not been protected enough to the extent that what they put in is not what they get. There are many loopholes in the industry which Cosoma must fill, for example piracy. Artists have been complaining for years, but nothing much has been done to enforce the laws. Many artists have even been forced out of the music industry due to this.

Now we have seen musician Patience Namadingo challenging the system. Did it have to come to this again?

Yes, it had to. It was just a matter of time and this is necessary. Namadingo has a voice in the music industry and through him we will reflect on what is going wrong or right with Cosoma. However, the legal approach he has taken will only drain the energy from what could have been an opportunity to force some favourable changes in the music industry. This issue needed concerned parties to sit together for an honest conversation, and not in the court of law.  However, the attention Namadingo has drawn to the issue is important. It will be a step forward regardless of how the dispute will end.

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Categorie: Malawi