Malawi

Chakwera to lead march for justice

The Nation Online - 7 ore 43 min fa

Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president Lazarus Chakwera will today lead his supporters in a march to the High Court premises in Lilongwe where the court is scheduled to decide on preliminary applications in the elections case.

In an interview on Tuesday, MCP secretary general Eisenhower Mkaka confirmed what has been dubbed the March For Justice and that Chakwera, who alongside UTM Party president Saulos Chilima is challenging the presidential race results in the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections, will lead a peaceful march.

He said: “The court asks for two party representatives. So, during the scheduling, our president with another official will be [present] in the courtroom. There is nothing more he is going to do other than listen to what will be happening.”

A flyer notifying supporters about the march indicates that Chakwera will lead the marchers from Mbowe Service Station near Crossroads Complex Roundabout to the court in Area 3 clad in their party colours.

Malawi Police Service has since said it is ready to provide security to the marchers and has appealed for a peaceful march.

National Police spokesperson James Kadadzera said police do not give anyone a right to demonstrate in the city, but the council.

He said: “Let me assure you that we will provide total protection to them when they will be marching tomorrow [today]. They will have our full protection and we are appealing to them to march peacefully and unarmed, but they should be assured of our protection.”

On Friday, the court adjourned the scheduling conference to this morning when it will rule on preliminary objections by President Peter Mutharika, who is the first respondent in the case,  for the court to dismiss the petitions of Chilima and Chakwera, first petitioner and second petitioner, respectively.

Chilima and Chakwera filed separate petitions disputing the May 27 Malawi Electoral Commission declaration of Mutharika as winner of the presidential race with 1 940 709 votes representing 38.57 percent followed by Chakwera with 1 781 740 votes representing 35.41 percent with Chilima finishing third and ahead of four other aspirants with 1 018 369 votes representing 20.24 percent.

The two cited irregularities, especially in the results management process, as some of the factors justifying nullification of the presidential election.

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Categorie: Malawi

APM’s state of crisis

The Nation Online - 7 ore 50 min fa
  • Will current elections fallout append national agenda?

President Peter Mutharika will this Friday deliver his State of the Nation Address (Sona) amid a crisis surrounding his legitimacy that could hamstring his multi-billion dollar agenda.

Facing a divided Parliament—torn mostly among his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and a powerful bloc of independents—Mutharika’s address may not just need to provide a roadmap for the country based on his party’s manifesto, but also from his rivals’ policy proposals.

Mutharika delivers the Sona last year

Accommodating his detractors’ ideas—especially those from MCP’s Lazarus Chakwera and UTM Party’s Saulos Chilima—into his broader agenda could help build political capital for a President who won just 38.5 percent of the votes. The results mean that at least 60 percent of the electorate do not fully agree with his vision for Malawi.

An even bigger task for the President fighting to save his  fresh presidency in courts of both law and public opinion, will be signalling in his speech of how the country can dig itself out of the current post election dungeon, according to a political analyst Ernest Thindwa of the University of Malawi.

The President may also need to frame how he wants Malawians and the international community to view him in the context of the post-election disputes and weak governing mandate in a country facing a cocktail of challenges that are deepening poverty.

Thindwa: He should come out clear on unity

Mutharika is presiding over timid economic growth rates too low to make an impact towards poverty levels; a shrinking labour market in a population dominated by youths; an unstable energy environment that is speeding up the country’s de-industrialisation; institutionalised fraud and corruption that deprives taxpayers 30 percent of the national budget and a collapsing social service delivery architecture torturing citizens in crucial sectors such as health, education and agriculture.

Thus, even as he moulds a narrative in the Sona of a man in charge while fending off legal challenges from Chakwera and Chilima as well as protests from civil society groups, economic commentator Gilbert Kachamba wants the President to show that he will translate his lofty campaign promises into actionable policy prescriptions.

The President has promised to grow the economy from the current four percent to at least seven percent in 2019 to 2024.

While the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in March revised upwards Malawi’s growth rate for 2019 to five percent from its earlier forecast of 4.1 percent on account of unexpected boost in agricultural output and electricity, that expansion is well below the seven percent target that the Mutharika administration has been dangling.

If the fund’s gross domestic product (GDP) forecast holds as it has mostly done in the past, then it means Mutharika’s promises to more than double the country’s GDP per capita to $1 105 and  increase employment by 22.5 percent is a near impossible task.

And with the current political uncertainty that has helped to nudge the Malawi kwacha to head south and give businesses a pause before injecting capital, among other unintended consequences, the President’s promises of scaling up investments by $3.5 billion between 2019 and 2024—with 16 percent projected to be achieved in 2019—appear far-fetched.

That also goes for the plan to raise revenue and grants to an average of 30 percent GDP and achieving total government expenditure to GDP of 25 percent on average.

Economists The Nation talked to yesterday were sceptical that the current environment and policy approach can turn around the economy in the manner the Mutharika administration wants everyone to believe.

University of Malawi’s economics professor Ben Kaluwa said there are too many “blockages” to achieving what he called an economic miracle for Malawi.

“What the DPP is promising is beautiful on paper, but experience has shown that most of the public funds are being put to waste. At the same time, we seem not to be doing things right by attracting more investors who can create jobs and help grow the economy.

“While the ruling party is talking of unleashing $9 billion direct investment by the private sector into the economy, industry is shrinking due, among others, to a stringent tax regime. Government needs to make its policies consistent,” said the professor who teaches at Chancellor College in Zomba.

It is this scepticism and concerns that Mutharika may wish to address by clarifying how the goals will be achieved, according to Kachamba.

He said the Sona is an opportunity for President Mutharika to demonstrate sound judgement and vision by showing a specific roadmap for the country’s economic recovery.

“The President must assure Malawians how he will deal with rampant corruption, graft and theft of public resources. The economy cannot grow, let alone be turned into a middle income economy when these vices are still on the rise.

“Besides, no meaningful investors can come to the country without an assurance of a strong energy base. And ours is still an agro-based economy where we mostly export raw materials that fetch low prices,” Kachamba said.

But given that the Sona is also a speech that sets the political tone, the President might do well to strike the right cord to help the country move past the current dissension across the country, according to Thindwa.

This is because, he said, the ongoing post-election conflict could burn the bridge connecting electoral promises and their actualisation.

Said Thindwa: “The biggest expectation that people have from the President’s [Sona] is to come out clearly on how he can achieve country unity that is now at the lowest ebb.

“In my view, the President needs to accept that there is something very wrong with our electoral laws that leaves people more divided. We will all be very disappointed if he does not prescribe how the roots of this discord can be dealt with.”

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Categorie: Malawi

From Machinga to parliament at 24

The Nation Online - 8 ore 11 min fa

Young people aged 15 to 30 constitute about a third of Malawi’s population of 17.6 million, but they are often excluded from politics. Sights of the elderly sleeping on the job in the country’s 193-seat National Assembly somewhat personify that the county’s political landscape remains a playground for the old.

As most young people are being reduced to spectators of the games old-timers play and passive recipients of decisions they make, Fyness Magonjwa has taken a route less travelled by her peers.

Magonjwa (R) with a fellow first-timer during orientation last week

 At 24, she is the youngest of the members of Parliament elected on May 21—a feat formerly held by Thyolo South West’s Roy Commsy and Blantyre North East’s Angela Zachepa.

Out of the 192 legislators sworn in on Monday and Tuesday this week, 45 are women—up from 32.

The Machinga South East Constituency legislator Magonjwa defeated seven other aspirants. According to Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC), Magonjwa amassed 8 108 out of the 30 497 votes cast.

 Why politics?

A firstborn in a family of four children, Magonjwa turns 25 on June 26. She grew up in Machinga, experiencing first-hand the challenges faced by the rural Malawians she will represent for the next five years.

“Because I know the problems faced here, the changes I want to bring in my constituency include good medical care, potable and safe water for all households, a good road network to ease transport problems and issues of electricity,” she says.

Magonjwa is affiliated to Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

The self-styled admirer of First Lady Gertrude Mutharika says the parliamentary seat was not handed to her on a silver platter. Nevertheless, she is happy that her dreams have come true.

She narrates: “There is a lot of mudslinging, backbiting and castigation that I have had to go through to get elected.

“Some were using my age to de-campaign me, stating that I am too young and won’t ably present the people’s needs and speak on matters of national interest in Parliament, others went as far as alleging that I do not come from my constituency, so I can’t represent the people there.”

However, the majority of the voters in the constituency did not mind the castigation.

“My constituents believed my promises as well as my capabilities. They understood that representing them has got nothing to do with age or gender, but rather the issues that affect them which I want to address and the positive change that I want to bring in the constituency,” she explains.

Too young?

The victory of the youngest parliamentarian in the 2019-2024 cohort could be a testimony that where there is a will, there is a way.

“I believe that every person, irrespective of age and gender, is capable of actively participating in politics. However, because women and young people are usually looked down upon and castigated in various forms, there is just need for boldness, self-belief and determination,” she states.

Magonjwa attended both primary and secondary school in Mangochi. She is currently studying for an advanced diploma in public health. 

And apart from her inner drive to serve people and transform her rural constituency, she pays tribute to her parents and relatives for supporting her in the race to Parliament.

“When I told my parents about my plans to contest as a member of Parliament, they were so surprised. They did not expect it. However, they happily accepted and supported me,” adds Magonjwa.

Lessons

NGO-Gender Coordinating Network (GCN) coordinator Innocent Hauya celebrates the parliamentarian for defying the odds that keep young people down.

He states: “Although Machinga is a predominantly Yao and Muslim community where basically tradition and religion intertwin to limit women’s and girls’ opportunities for education and social advancement, Magonjwa has risen beyond the setbacks and has come out as a success. This is something young women should learn from.

“Being young and without any professional experience, I do not think she had a lot of resources to mount a successful campaign. However, she still contested and used other strategies to get her messages across to motivate people to vote for her. That is also something people, especially young women, should learn from. Yes, politics is expensive, but there are others unconvential ways to beat economic challenges.”

Hauya urges old and experienced legislators to support newly elected young legislators, including Magonjwa,  to develop public speaking skills, self-control, etiquette and other dos and don’ts.

Youth activist Charles Kajoloweka from Youth and Society urges political parties to remove “structural barriers that exclude young people from decision-making processes in mainstream politics”.

“Most of the young people who have made it in the 2019 elections have made it through political parties. This tells us that if there were supportive mechanisms within the political parties, we could see more young people making it into decision-making positions,” he says.

Kajoloweka states that the critical point to increase the numbers of the youth in politics is during primary elections where most of them lose.

“We need affirmative action within political parties to ensure that there is a fair participation of young people, particularly through the primary elections process. The National Youth Policy talks about a minimum of 30 percent youth representation at all levels. Perhaps this is something that even political parties can begin to consider by creating a 30 percent youth quota in decision-making processes starting from the area committees at the grass-root level to the national governing councils,” he explains.

Invest in them

Looking forward to 2024, Kajoloweka wants the focus now to shift towards retention of the elected youth.

“We appreciate that there are young people who have made it and we encourage political parties to do more by providing continuous support to the youth so that they can deliver to the expectations of their constituents. This will help them be retained so that they can become a reference point of successful youth leadership in politics,” he says.

Kajoloweka believes the losing youthful candidates in the May 21 elections remain “a powerful social capital for 2024”.

“In our view, that is already a mobilised group of young people that have demonstrated their strong political will to participate in a competitive democratic process. We need to give them a hand, encourage them and invest in their capacity development so that they prepare well for the next elections,” he says.

“We just hope that DPP or whichever party makes it at the end of the court case will invest in the elected ones by giving them positions. For instance, there are specific ministries that people would expect to see being headed by young people.”

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Categorie: Malawi

Peter Mutharika

The Nation Online - 8 ore 16 min fa

Head of State and government , I would walk the talk by extending an olive branch to opposition leaders to calm flaring tension that has engulfed the nation after the May 21 Tripartite Elections.

If I were the re-elected President of the Republic Malawi, I would not be doing the opposite of the appeal I made to my political opponents during the swearing-in ceremony for all of us to move on peacefully after the gruelling elections which were too close to call.

President Peter Mutharika

If I were APM, I would not allow the ballot box, that symbol of any functioning democracy, to plunge the nation into prolonged tensions that do not make me look smarter.

Instead, I would not provoke my political opponents with hate speech as I did during my rally in Mangochi on Sunday by insinuating that the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) will never rule this country until 2084.

Oh yes, I would recall that while I have been preaching unity, I am not walking the talk.

If I were the President, I would realise that I have a duty to unify a nation divided along political lines and the way I conduct myself has the potential to calm or worsen the situation.

That is if I were APM, unfortunately, it is a mere wish.

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Categorie: Malawi

Post May 21 polls: SA Chief Justice weighs in

The Nation Online - 8 ore 22 min fa

South Africa’s Chief Justice Mogoeng Thomas Reetsang Mogoeng has weighed in on the electoral impasse currently facing Malawi with a plea for the Judiciary to discharge its duties without fear or favour. In an interview with our News Analyst SUZGO CHITETE, Mogoeng states why it is important that only people of integrity become judges.

Mogoeng: We must not hide behind judicial independence

The Judiciary is supposed to be independent. How do we ensure that it is free from any external influence and only accountable to the people?

The Judiciary is a servant of the people. The people employ us. The people pay us. We are, therefore, in this position as their servants and we must not hide behind judicial independence when we are called upon to account for how we serve the nation.

In South Africa, we have structures in place such as the Judicial Conduct Committee within the Judicial Service Committee that ensures that any misconduct by a judicial officer is confronted and dealt with.

How do you ensure there are no backlogs of cases and missing of case files in court?

We have created norms and standards that emphasise on the speedy finalisation of cases without undermining the quality of justice. We have also implemented programmes like Judicial Case Management that facilitate speedy finalisation of cases.

We have also arrested the stealing of files, dockets which used to happen before. We have digitised our filing system to avoid situations where cases drag due to missing files.

Talking about elections and politics, should electoral disputes really be decided by the courts?

I think it should. If you can’t have courts mediate these disputes, who else then? That is why it is of critical importance that those who become judges or magistrates are truly men and women of integrity because if you have a corrupt judge now charged with the responsibility to decide on an election matter, it is just a question of someone offering them money or promising them a promotion and then they end up making judgement in favour of those who are to benefit them. The nation should be vigilant against those who corrupt the justice system and be taken away from the system.

What would you recommend should be the appointment procedure for a judge  to have only people with integrity, as you put it, for the job?

I don’t think there is any particular system that I may recommend, but the bottom line is this: Whatever system you adopt, just make sure there is transparency.

You can’t have a system where a politician just decides that I would like the following person for this position without the nation, the legal fraternity and even the media providing necessary input of what they know of the candidate.

For example, the President appointed me, but I had to be subjected to a two–day interview in the presence of the media. It was televised live. As if this was not enough, the public were allowed to make their submission of what they know about me. That should be the process. America, Germany, South Africa are doing it. We all can do it.

That is the appointment of the Chief Justice. I guess are you proposing the same for judges?

Yes, this is for judges. Allow a public interview. Television, radio, print media should all be allowed to be part of the process. The emphasis is that there must be transparency so that the nation should be satisfied that the appointed one is a credible candidate.

We are in a situation in Malawi where tempers are high and the situation is generally volatile as the nation awaits the outcome of the case in which Malawi Congress Party and UTM Party want the presidential election nullified. What would be your word of advice?

I think the bottom line is we all need to appreciate that the Judiciary has a critical role to play in securing peace and stability in any nation. We must not get to a point where the nation loses confidence in its Judiciary.

The Judiciary must always administer justice without fear, favour or prejudice. In the belief that my colleagues who are adjudicating this matter are men and women of integrity—what I can only say to the nation is that wait for the court to do its work and let justice prevail.

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Categorie: Malawi

Persons with albinism count

The Nation Online - 8 ore 35 min fa

Previous estimates have suggested that Malawi has approximately 17 000 persons with albinism, but the 2018 Population and Housing census report indicates that there are almost 135 000.

The new count represents approximately 0.8 percent of the total population of 17.6 million.

Given the rate of attacks, some parents of children with albinism in the country are so afraid and they have gone to foreign embassies in Malawi to seek asylum. So have some adults who fear for their safety in Malawi.

While seeking asylum might seem over-the-top, the reality is that there appears to be no tangible way out for victims and potential targets of attacks on persons with albinism in countries such as Malawi.

For example, Heatherwick Ntaba, the chairperson of the presidential task force on albinism, has often wondered whether the banning of witchcraft as did Tanzania might be an answer to ending attacks.

This thought is informed by the belief that that attackers usually act consistently with instructions from witchdoctors.

This, in itself, is a body of work that the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (Osisa) is beginning to explore.

There are several other challenges though.

For example, the death of potential witnesses and at times suspects at the hands of the police and prison authorities is proving to be of significant concern in countries like Malawi.

Recently, reports emerged of one witness who is said to be gravely ill after suspected poisoning. Another witness died in custody under suspicious circumstances. Yet another witness has made some sensational claims about the possible complicity of high-ranking officials in the killings.

The President of Malawi [Peter Mutharika] has come under heavy criticism, particularly from Malawian civil society, for being too quiet at times when it really matters.

It did not help matters that the then minister of Homeland Security Nicholas Dausi once publicly stated that not enough people with albinism have died in Malawi to warrant the type of reaction that the Association of Persons with Albinism and other civil society actors are calling for.

Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania are not the only sites of concern across southern Africa.

In Eswatini (formerly Swaziland), for example, judgement is still awaited in the matter involving the killing of Sipho Mahlalela, in which his wife is the principal suspect along with two other men. 

South Africa is currently awaiting the extradition of an Eswatini traditional healer who, in concert with others, is accused of having had a hand in the killing of a South African citizen with albinism.

And, although Mozambique has also adopted a national action plan, not much has been heard about its roll-out and challenges therein.

Curiously, Southern Africa Development Community (Sadc) heads of State and government have not been quite as engaged on this matter. One wonders why.

Perhaps the inaction also explains the lack of funding towards national action plans. The failure to apportion sufficient resources by the various States that have crafted national action plans suggests that they are not sufficiently appalled by what is happening.

As Osisa, we remain committed to ensuring that this matter remains on the radar until all Sadc citizens with albinism are safe from attacks.

It is for this reason that, on the occasion of International Albinism Awareness Day, we call for deeper reflection on the issue of albinism in Africa.

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Categorie: Malawi

No DPP parades booking in other cities

The Nation Online - 8 ore 49 min fa

It has emerged that the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has no plans for victory parades in the Northern, Central and Eastern regions.

Interviews with DPP officials and city councils have revealed that the parades were only booked in Blantyre where Blantyre City Council initially gave preference to DPP and barred civil society organisations (CSOs) under the banner of Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) who requested to stage a march on June 20 to push Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson Jane Ansah to resign for allegedly mismanaging the May 21 Tripartite Elections.

Leading victory parade: Mchacha

While DPP regional governor (South) Charles Mchacha said the party would organise the parades nationwide from June 18 to 24, a move widely seen as having the potential to clash with the CSOs, Lilongwe and Mzuzu city councils indicated they only had requests for June 20 marches from HRDC.

DPP leaders in the North and Centre as well party spokesperson Nicholas Dausi also said yesterday that they will not be holding the parades ‘now’ to celebrate victory in the elections.

DPP regional governor (North) Kenneth Sanga, in an interview yesterday, said the victory parades in Mzuzu would be held at a later date.

He said: “We are not doing that now.”

However, Sanga could not indicate when the region will undertake the exercise.

In the Central Region, DPP vice-president Uladi Mussa said he needed to consult before responding to the query.

There was no response from DPP vice-president (Eastern Region), Bright Msaka when contacted for several times while his regional governor Julius Paipi could not be reached on his mobile phone.

However, Dausi said the party will hold the victory parades as announced by Mchacha in all the country’s 28 districts. He said the programme was being finalised.

“For now, we are still working on the programme, but tomorrow morning [Wednesday] I should be able to tell you the whole programme,” he said.

In Lilongwe, the city council’s chief executive officer John Chome wrote HRDC chairperson Timothy Mtambo yesterday advising the organisers to, among others, provide 100 marshals who will put on reflectors for ease of identification.

The letter followed a meeting between the council, organisers and police on Monday where they agreed that demonstrations will begun from Lilongwe Community Centre ground, through Mchesi road, Kamuzu Central Hospital Roundabout to Capital Hill main-gate where the petition will be delivered.

The council has given HRDC between 8am and 2pm for the demonstrations and thereafter the protester to disperse to their respective homes.

In Mzuzu, both Mzuzu City Council spokesperson McDonald Gondwe and HRDC chairperson (North) Happy Mhango confirmed holding a meeting on Monday where they agreed on the modalities.

Said Gondwe: “The only issue we discussed at length was the starting point for the demonstration. We will start Katoto Secondary School because Form Four students will be writing exams. But we were assured that the demonstrators will behave and all is on track.”

Mhango said they assured the council that HRDC respects the right to education and would in no way try to destabilise the process of examinations.

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Categorie: Malawi

K13bn US project boosts farmers’ yields, income

The Nation Online - 9 ore 11 min fa

United States Agency for International Development (Usaid) has touted one of its agricultural projects for boosting yields for smallholder farmers through the use of 50 new improved seed varieties.

The varieties were developed over five years by researchers through the $18.6 million (about K13.7 billion) Feed the Future Malawi Improved Seed Systems and Technology (Misst) project.

Ministry of Agriculture Irrigation and Water Development controller of agriculture services Alexander Bulirani

Usaid Malawi director of economic sustainable efforts Cullen Hughes said last week in Lilongwe that with the new varieties, smallholder farmers are harvesting more from their sizable land despite climate change impacts.

“This project ensured smallholder farmers get more yields from the small piece of land which is critical to help with food security in future.

‘The project developed 50 enhanced yield varieties and we hope seed-producing companies who have the incentives will work to see these technologies scaled up and adopted by farmers,” he said.

The project, which phased out last week, improved seed systems for groundnuts, pigeon pea, soya beans, drought-tolerant maize and orange fresh sweet potato.

Ministry of Agriculture Irrigation and Water Development controller of agriculture services Alexander Bulirani said as the project winds up, there has been production of about 15 500 metric tonnes of seeds that have reached out to about 1.2 million farmers.

He said: “Reaching out to the farmers means that they were equipped with knowledge and resources. Right now the impact is that farmers will have varieties that are resilient to diseases and drought.”

Seed Traders Association of Malawi (Stam) chairperson John Lungu said the technologies have broadened the seed business horizon as they will be taken up by the seed-producing companies.

He said the varieties impact is dependent on farmers adopting the technologies; hence, companies will be marketing the same to farmers to beat the use of fake seeds.

Masst chief of party Naomi Kamanga said the project, which started in 2014, reached 230 000 households with improved technologies, researched and developed Aflasafe product which mitigate aflatoxins in maize and groundnuts.

One of the Misst advisers, Patrick Okori, said the project has increased farmers’ income per hectare.

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Categorie: Malawi

Cost of living jumped 3% in May—report

The Nation Online - 9 ore 12 min fa

Consumers had to dig deep into their pockets in May as the cost of living rose by three percent, a Basic Needs basket (BNB) study by Centre for Social Concern (CfSC) shows.

During the month under review, Mzuzu City was the most expensive as a family of six spent over K130 000 on basic necessities.

In contrast, the cost of living—the cost of maintaining a certain standard of living—in Blantyre, Lilongwe and Zomba was a little softer as a family of six needed K119 000, K113 000 and K115 000, respectively, to earn a living.

The study also sampled municipalities such as Karonga, which showed that a family of six spent over K122 000 compared to Mangochi’s K96 000.

Commenting on the findings, CfSC executive director Jose Kuppens, in an interview on Monday, said under normal circumstance, the cost of living could have been going down because farmers are selling their produce.

Consumers Association of Malawi (Cama) executive director John Kapito agreed that the cost of living has gone up.

Kapito called for a review of the minimum wage, currently at K25 000, saying it has been too low for a long time.

During the review period, a 50 kilogramme bag of maize in Lilongwe was sold at K8 429, K8 200 in Zomba, K9 000 in Blantyre, Mzuzu K9 333, Karonga K6 500 and Mangochi K10 000.

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Categorie: Malawi

Inflation rate dropped to 8.9% in May

The Nation Online - 9 ore 13 min fa

Malawi’s annual inflation rate eased by 0.2 percentage points to 8.9 percent in May 2019 from 9.1 percent the previous month, the National Statistical Office (NSO) said yesterday.

The slight drop was a result of a drop in food inflation, which eased to 13 percent from 13.8 percent while non-food prices ticked up to 5.7 percent from 5.4 percent, NSO said.

“[Monthly] food inflation rate is at -2.4 percent compared to -8.4 percent recorded in April, 2019 while non-food inflation rate stands at 0.5 percent compared to 0.2 percent recorded in April 2019,” reads NSO Stats Flash.

On the other hand, urban month-to-month inflation rate is at 0.1 percent while urban food and non-food inflation rates stand at -0.6 and 0.5 percent, respectively.

In its Monthly Economic Report for May 2019, Nico Asset Managers said inflation rate is expected to ease to around eight percent at the end of 2019 and gradually converge to five over the medium-term.

“These estimates are predicated upon the continued softening of global oil prices, favourable rains and higher agricultural output and controlled government spending.

However, adverse weather, pest-related disruptions to crop production and a sharper than expected depreciation of the kwacha, an increase in the global oil prices pose major upside risks and may cause the inflation rate to edge up,” said the investment advisory firm in the report.

Malawi’s year-on-year inflation rate has been in single digit lane since last year.

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Categorie: Malawi

Malawi maize prices volatile

The Nation Online - 9 ore 20 min fa

Malawi has the highest level of maize price volatility compared to other sub-Saharan African countries, a recent study has shown.

The study by two researchers from International Food Policy Research Institute (Ifpri) Dennis Ochieng and Rosemary Botha, investigated the structure, conduct and performance of the country’s maize market.

The study found that maize does not bring the desired income

The findings show a widespread lack of maize grading standards and common weights measures that characterise the country’s maize marketing compared to other countries in the region; hence, it does not fetch desired revenue on the market.

Reads the report in part: “In terms of the performance of the maize market, maize prices have been highly volatile with high volume seasonality and high price volatility.

“Overall, Malawi had the highest level of price volatility in comparison to other regional countries such as Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique, Rwanda and South Africa. About 61 percent of traders perceived that prices were most volatile during main harvest seasons.”

The report also found that the local maize market is not transparent enough to facilitate traders’ planning, which would likely help stabilise both volumes and prices.

This means that prices in different markets do not follow the same patterns, which suggests poor integration between markets in different locations both within and between regions.

“Discretionary policy interventions that restrict and undermine incentives in the maize trade should be minimised if not eliminated and that upgrading road and telecommunication infrastructure in remote areas, as well as better warehousing, will facilitate timely and cheaper access to markets and market information,” reads the report.

Agriculture expert Tamani Nkhono-Mvula said the findings are a true reflection of the maize marketing situation in Malawi.

“Since there is no commercial maize production in Malawi, the market itself responds to the informality of maize production and marketing in the country.

“If you look at country by country in the region, there is commercial production because the maize value chain is well established and there are companies that use maize as raw material for production, for instance, the production of cornflakes” said Nkhono-Mvula.

He said the situation is worse due to the dysfunctional of Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) which was supposed to be providing a ready market for the staple grain.

Maize is an important crop to the country, and as part of food, contributes about 45.2 percent to the Consumer Price Index (CPI), an aggregate basket for computing inflation.

This means shortage of maize has a direct bearing on inflation.

This year’s maize surplus was estimated at 355 000 metric tonnes out of a total output of 3.3 million MT.

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Categorie: Malawi

Fam U-turns on overseas camp

The Nation Online - 10 ore 27 min fa

  • Women’s team to use Cosafa Cup for Olympic preps

In a twist of events, Malawi women’s national football team will not camp overseas to prepare for a second-round CAF Women’s Olympic qualifier against Kenya.

Part of the action between Malawi and Mozambique in 2020 Olympic qualifier

Instead, Football Association of Malawi (FAM) has announced that the team will use next month’s Cosafa Women’s Championship to be staged in Port Elizabeth, South Africa to tune up for the Olympic qualifier.

FAM in April announced that the team would camp overseas for the qualifier against Kenya following an emphatic 12-1 goal aggregate victory over Mozambique in first round.

Making the announcement in April, FAM president Walter Nyamilandu said they wanted to treat the women’s football team the same way they had treated their men’s counterparts who camped in Belgium for the same competition.

But yesterday Nyamilandu said they shifted the overseas camp because it clashed with the Cosafa Women’s Championship scheduled for next month.

“We have agreed with the National Women’s Football Association [NWFA] to use the forthcoming Cosafa Women’s Championship to prepare for the Olympic qualifying match against Kenya. We will, thereafter, go for overseas camping after progressing to the next round,” he said.

Women’s football coach Abel Mkandawire said the Cosafa Women’s Championship was perfect for the Olympic qualifier preparations because they will play Africa teams.

The coach said the regional tournament would provide the technical team a chance to try players’ combinations in a competitive situation.

“The timing of the competition is just perfect. We will utilise the Cosafa Women’s Championship to the fullest,” he said.

The development means if the team beats Kenya, the overseas camp will be used to prepare against high rated Ghana or Gabon who also clash in the second round.

Soccer analyst Charles Nyirenda said the idea was welcome as it would help the association cut costs.

“On administration point of view, it’s a right call. The team can utilise the Cosafa championship which is all-paid for in terms of accommodation and other expenses.

“The overseas camp on the other hand, depends on FAM’s coffers. In terms of opponents, it’s also better to camp overseas to prepare for top teams like Gabon and Ghana. The players just have to work hard and beat Kenya,” he said.

Cosafa deputy chief executive officer Suzgo Nyirenda, a Malawian, said they deliberately scheduled the tournament just before the Olympic qualifiers to help the teams prepare.

“We know how tough it is to get strength-testing matches,” he said.

The Olympic qualifiers will identify two African teams which will represent the continent at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Japan.

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Categorie: Malawi

CSOs finally get nod to march in Blantyre

The Nation Online - 10 ore 40 min fa

In a swift turn of events, Blantyre City Council (BCC) yesterday rescinded its decision to stop Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) from holding demonstrations on June 20 to force the resignation of Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson Jane Ansah.

The U-turn came hours after civil society organisations (CSOs) under the banner of HRDC moved to get a court order to restrain the council from stopping them from exercising their constitutional right to demonstrate.

Flashback: People led by CSOs demonstrate against poor governance

BCC public relations manager Anthony Kasunda confirmed the new development in a telephone interview, saying the council, which had initially barred HRDC purportedly because Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) had earlier booked for its victory parades, arrived at the decision following a tripartite discussion.

He said: “We arrived at the decision following the complaint from the CSOs. We had a discussion with CSOs and the police. So, we arrived at the decision to consider them. We have given them three hours to demonstrate.”

Reacting to the development, HRDC chairperson Timothy Mtambo hailed the council for making what he described as “the right decision in the interest of the majority of Malawians who are pursuing electoral justice”.

But he warned the council against tendencies of barring concerned Malawians from expressing displeasure on irregularities concerning national issues.

He said: “The decision which the council has made is what we wanted. I would like to commend government if it intervened on this. People should not be denied their right to demonstrate. So demos are on.”

This is not the first time that BCC has given HRDC a tough time. On September 7 last year, the council also barred HRDC from holding a protest march on the basis that DPP had already obtained permission to conduct Blue Day activities along the city’s streets.

The development forced HRDC to shift the protests to September 21, where demonstrations were held across the country to, among others, protest worsening corruption in the country and nepotism in government appointments.

In April this year, the council also refused to grant permission to CSOs for demonstrations that were slated for April 27 against President Peter Mutharika’s purported maladministration, corruption and impunity.

Earlier yesterday, CSOs held a press briefing in Lilongwe where they told journalists they were proceeding with demonstrations in Blantyre despite the city council’s initial block.

One of the human rights defenders, Reverend McDonald Sembereka, said demonstrators were not going to fear a repeat of “excessive force” which police used to disperse Malawi Congress Party (MCP) supporters at the party’s headquarters in Lilongwe a week ago.

National Police spokesperson James Kadadzera made assurance in an interview with The Nation on Monday that police will provide maximum security for demonstrators as long as they operate within the law.

In an interview yesterday, MCP secretary general Eisenhower Mkaka confirmed what has been dubbed the March For Justice and that Chakwera, who alongside UTM Party president Saulos Chilima is challenging the presidential race results in the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections, will lead a peaceful march.

He said: “The court asks for two party representatives. So, during the scheduling, our president with another official will be [present] in the courtroom. There is nothing more he is going to do other than listen to what will be happening.”

A flyer notifying supporters about the march indicates that Chakwera will lead the marchers from Mbowe Service Station near Crossroads Complex Roundabout to the court in Area 3 clad in their party colours.

Malawi Police Service has since said it is ready to provide security to the marchers and has appealed for a peaceful march.

National Police spokesperson James Kadadzera said police do not give anyone a right to demonstrate in the city, but the council.

He said: “Let me assure you that we will provide total protection to them when they will be marching tomorrow [today]. They will have our full protection and we are appealing to them to march peacefully and unarmed, but they should be assured of our protection.”

On Friday, the court adjourned the scheduling conference to this morning when it will rule on preliminary objections by President Peter Mutharika, who is the first respondent in the case,  for the court to dismiss the petitions of Chilima and Chakwera, first petitioner and second petitioner, respectively.

Chilima and Chakwera filed separate petitions disputing the May 27 Malawi Electoral Commission declaration of Mutharika as winner of the presidential race with 1 940 709 votes representing 38.57 percent followed by Chakwera with 1 781 740 votes representing 35.41 percent with Chilima finishing third and ahead of four other aspirants with 1 018 369 votes representing 20.24 percent.

The two cited irregularities, especially in the results management process, as some of the factors justifying nullification of the presidential election.

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Categorie: Malawi