Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Malawi, Togo game chancelled

Football Association of Malawi (FAM) President, Walter Nyamilandu has for the last minute told Malawian soccer fans that the game between Malawi and Togo has been cancelled. Nyamilandu said the game has been cancelled because they have not received any official confirmation from their opponents.
The flames
"As the situation stands now, we would rather play Kuwait other than hope for a friendly against either Togo or Zambia because up to now there is no confirmation.

"Togo's friendly was subject to their trip to Congo Brazaville where they were scheduled to camp which has not materialized. So, we could not take a gamble because Togo were not forthcoming and instead we will play Kuwait," he said, on speaking to the country's local news paper, Nation Sport.

The game between Togo was scheduled to be played on January 2 after Flames' return from Egypt where they are playing another friendly with Egypt today.

Kuwait is also in Egypt amid preparations for their Asian Cup match against Austria which will take place on January 6.

Meanwhile, Malawian soccer fans are worried since they were preparing to see another top class player, Emanuel Adebayor after they last watched Didier Drogba and Solomon Kalou to name a few.

Malawi is preparing 2010 African of Nations Cup matches that will take place in Angola. They were drawn in Group A with Mali, Angola and Nigeria.

Tiwonge Chimbalanga, Steven Monjeza's bail ruling Monday

The Blantyre Magistrates Court has set Monday next week as a date on which to decide whether to give the two arrested gay partners, Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, bail.
The two staged a public gay engagement on Saturday, December 26, 2009- the first of its kind in Malawi.
That led to their arrest on Monday.
Chimbalanga and Monjeza have since been committed to the Chichiri Maximum Prison as they await their bail ruling on Monday.
Edgar and Davis Law Firm is representing them.

Malawi has no respect for human rights, say arrested gays

Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, the two Malawian gays arrested for organising a public gays' engagement on Saturday, have accused Malawian authorities of surpressing human freedoms, citing the arrests as a living example.
Monjeza and Chimbalanga told Zachimalawi yesterday (Tuesday, when Zachimalawi paid them a visit alongside other Malawian journalists, they had gone through hell they no longer believed they were Malawians.
"In fact, we are separating now, having realised that Malawi has no homosexual rights. We are saddened with what has happened to us; all the brutal questioning and the like. God is the best judge," said Chimbalanga, as Monjeza shook his head in disbelief.
The two, however, said they would not change their sexual orientation because of the harassment, but would instead be steadfast in defending their rights.
They have since appealed to well-wishers for financial and legal help, saying this was the requisite time to challenge Malawi's "repressive laws" on homosexuality.

Gays activists' demonstrations Friday

The arrest of two gay lovebirds, Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, has irked the Malawi Gay Rights Movement (Magrim), a representative body for Malawian gays and lesbians, which has since planned one big demonstrations slated for Friday in Malawi’s commercial city, Blantyre.
Magrim Publicity Secretary, Wongani James Phiri, confirmed the development, adding the grouping was saddened that police officers acted with “brutality by expediently arresting the two innocent citizens” yet the country was grappling with increased cases of armed crime.
Phiri said Magrim was also planning to team up with well-wishers in a drive aimed at raising funds for the two’s defence in what will be Malawi’s first court case on homosexuality.
“We have always said that Malawian homosexuals have been suffering in silence for a long time, and our pleas have always fallen on deaf ears. Look at what is happening now; this is harassment and an infringement on personal freedoms, as enshrined in the United Nations’ 1948 Declaration of Human Rights. We have organized a demonstration scheduled for Friday in Blantyre,” said Phiri.
The Magrim publicist revealed that the demonstration will take place on Friday, and will start from Upper Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre at 08:30am, and end at the Old Town Hall in Blantyre City Centre.
“Let all gays and lesbians come out in the open and fight for their rights. This is also an opportunity for us to challenge our repressive laws. We are also asking lawyers wishing to stand up for human rights to contact us; we have special arrangements for them,” he said.
He said it was very unfortunate that the two were arrested while the government has recently been making statements that it has been failing to reach out to the gay community because they are operating underground.
However, there are mixed reactions over the gays’ arrest, with the Christian community condemning their “regrettable” action and some regal minds saying the Malawian penal code is very open on the matter.
Blantyre based evangelist Reverend Sylvester Chabuka said he was very disappointed with the stand that the two people chose to take saying it was morally ‘rotten and inhuman’.
He said while the Malawian constitution does not allow discrimination of some groups of society there was need for Malawians to be cautious on behaviors they are copying from what he described as ‘western elements’.
However, a prominent Blantyre lawyer said the actions of the two did not warrant any arrest.
He said that the Malawi penal code was drafted at a time Malawi was still a closed society and there was need to loosen up some of the strict provisions.
Southern region police publicist Davie Chingwalu has since said the two have not been charged.
“We are still questioning them, after which we will determine what to do with them,” said Chingwalu.
Meanwhile, the two are expected to appear before the Blantyre Magistrates Court on Wednesday, with Magrim imploring the homosexual community to patronize the court and stand up for one of their own.

Former Malawi president, Bakili Muluzi, seriously ill

Former Malawian president Dr Bakili Muluzi is seriously ill.
Muluzi, who recently returned to Malawi from the United Kingdom where he was operated on dislocated spinal disks, Tuesday sought medical attention at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital’s Magnetic Resonance Centre reportedly after enduring a sleepless Monday night.
The former President’s son, Atupele, said in an interview his father was advised to seek urgent medical attention in South Africa for the slipped disks but awaits court approval as he is currently answering to corruption charges in his K72 billion corruption case.
He revealed that his family lawyers were currently working on the court documents to allow his father fly to South Africa for “immediate” medical treatment.
QECH does not have the medical facilities requisite to Muluzi’s ailment, yet another reminder of perpetual resource constraints currently facing the country’s health care delivery system.
Frail looking Muluzi, who announced his retirement from active politics on the eve of Christmas last week, drove into the grounds of Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital at around 8am in the morning and some people present at the hospital said Muluzi was visibly in pain.
Muluzi himself confirmed the development at the hospital, only answering, “I am in great pain” when journalists sought his views.
According to his family, the former president is experiencing back problems around the area he was recently operated on for dislocated spinal disks.
This has forced Muluzi to make the United Kingdom, where he receives specialized medical treatment, his abode of hope.
His family has since revealed that Muluzi was advised by his doctors to stay in London, and not come to back to Malawi on December 16, 2009 according to bail-bond conditions for his corruption case, until he healed successfully. A medical report indicates that the former president needed two more weeks of recuperation in London, noting his trip to Malawi could have aggravated his medical condition.
But that would have put him in bad books with the country’s Anti Corruption Bureau. Officials, who already doubted Muluzi’s prospects to return to Malawi when he sought a court injunction permitting him to seek medical help in the UK some three months ago.
The Anti graft body alleges that the former Malawi president diverted millions of donor funds into his personal account to build his business empire.

Arrested gays plan seperation, say homosexuals have no rights in Malawi

Two Malawian gay lovebirds Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga have announced their pans for separation after noticing that Malawi has no gay rights.
Speaking from Blantyre police, the equally shaken two said they did not understand why the police was keeping them under custody.
Chimbalanga said she saw no reason for police to pounce on homosexuals when heterosexuals wed openly.
“We are being victimized for simply expressing what we feel, why are police officers victimizing us when heterosexuals wed publicly without being bothered, we have done nothing wrong our conscious is clean God is the best judge,” said Chimbalanga.
On his part Monjeza was very saddened with what had happened adding that this would affect their sexuality.
“However we are separating because we have realized that Malawi has no homosexual rights,” said Monjeza.
The two are to appear before the Blantyre magistrates’ courts today with scores expected to witness the hearing of the case that has raise a lot of public interest.
According to views monitored on radio phone-in programmes, many Malawians want a speedy trial for the two for doing what has been described as indecent act.
Meanwhile the Malawi gay rights movement (Magrim) has blamed increased public outrage against the two (gays) on ignorance, saying when it comes to issues of homosexuality many Malawians is illiterate.
Magrim publicist Wongani Phiri said the problem with many Malawians was that they failed to differentiate sodomy and homosexuality.
“For example many Malawians don’t know the difference between sodomy and homosexuality attributing the sex acts that happens in prisons to homosexuality, however being gay is natural as opposed to the behaviour that happens in prisons,” he said.
He said the movement was in full support of the present development trends taking in the country that demonstrated that Malawi was no longer a conservative nation.
“We are in full support of the government plans to change the national flag because it shows that government realizes that things are no longer the same and that modern laws and national emblems should reflect the modern trends. The same is true with the country’s homosexual statutes; they are old fashioned, do not reflect current trends, and need to change. It is no longer a luxury but a matter of urgency now,” said Phiri.
Meanwhile, the two appeared before the Blantyre Magistrates Court this morning, where, among others, their lawyers Noel Supedi of Edgar and Davis Law Firm argued that the two’s case was not as serious as treason.
The lawyers cited the case of former Vice President Cassim Chilumpha, whom government accused on planning to assassinate president Bingu wa Mutharika but still got court bail.
However, prosecutors argued that the case was so serious it would be immaterial for the court to grant bail.
The court is expected to make a ruling pertaining to bail next Monday.
Monjeza and Chimbalanga have since been transferred to Chichiri Maximum Prison.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Gay lovebirds at Blantyre Police

Blantyre Police has confirmed reports it is keeping the two lovebirds arrested yesterday for staging a public gay engagement, the first of its kind in Malawi.
Steven Monjeza and Tiomge Chimbalanga complained to Zachimalawi, however, that they were forced to sleep the rainy, cold night without any covers on. The two were shaking like birds soaked in refregerated water.

The year that was 2009

Manganya Strategises on Piracy
By Richard Chirombo
Comedian Michael Usi, aka Manganya, says he has put in place stringent anti-piracy mechanisms ahead of the release of his latest movie, ‘Living on Poison’.
‘Living on Poison’ is set to be premiered next month, August 1, at Comesa Hall in Blantyre- a development Usi describes as a life-time opportunity for Malawians to choose their favourite episodes for inclusion in the final product.
Usi says he has leant a bitter lesson from what happened to his ‘Dr. Manga’ film, which got into the wrong hands and is now out of his control. ‘Dr. Manga’ continues to be shown on various international Airlines, yet the talented comedian has got nothing to show for his talent and sweat contributed towards that acclaimed film.
This has prompted Usi to put in place stringent measures aimed at arresting piracy long before the release of ‘Living on Poison’.
“This time around, we have become cleverer in that we have put in place stringent measures aimed at preventing piracy. We are building from our experience with ‘Dr. Manga’ film; a lot of people got arrested because of pirating that film. This time, we have increased monitoring mechanisms and are ready to take those caught pirating to book,” said Usi.
A soft-spoken Usi, resting his right leg over the left in his office in Blantyre, promised that ‘Living on Poison’ would be a record breaker for Malawi, as he has become more and more inquisitive about human behaviour in the film.
“I have always been fascinated with human behaviour: why do people behave the way they do? This, and many more, forms the thesis of this film,” said Usi.
The yet-to-be-released ‘Living on Poison’ has episodes that tackle various real life experiences- a cheating husband, an inner political cycle that happens to be a lying lot in a bid to impress the President, and prisoners convicted on grounds of reformation, only to be turned “from criminals to beasts” because of the poor treatment they get at prison.
The short of it all is that people pretend to be what they are (cosmetic living)- which Usi equates to living on perform, as an individual’s natural scent gets enveloped in perform and fellow beings live a lie about such an individual since they merely get the painted side- when they are far from it.
“Living on Perform’ is an ambitious film. That is manifest in the fact that it represents, at least, four nations: Sweden, Burundi, United Kingdom and Malawi. These nations are represented by the people who play their roles in the film, adding the much needed flavour, experience and solidarity to the Malawian production.
Usi would also wish to involve the Malawian public, that those who will trek to Comesa Hall on August 1 and partake of the feast will be in for an entertaining surprise.
There will be an assortment of public competitions-all funny, really. One will be about overalls; who will dress quicker than the rest?
Nsima, too. Who will eat his mountain load of Nsima faster than the other?
Laughing: Who will hold the vocal chords a little longer. Who will laugh a little longer?
“There will be many interesting things,” he said.
Usi became the first Malawian to receive international recognition when, in August 2008, he was honoured with a plaque for his outstanding service to youth ministry in West-Central African Division. The event took place in Calabar, Nigeria.

‘Dr. Manga’ piracy case lingers on
By Richard Chirombo
Comedian Michael Usi has so many unanswered questions about his first film, ‘Dr Manga’.
When he set out to release ‘Dr. Manga’ some four years ago, he had a clear vision. He wanted to take Malawi’s film industry to the next big level.
That happened because the film found itself in such countries as Nigeria, South Africa, Ghana, Tanzania and United Kingdom. The film even flew on acclaimed international Airlines free of charge, in both the economy and business class segments.
It was with the same spirit, wishing to make it big for Malawi, that he sought the services of a merchandise film, which promised it would reproduce ‘Dr. Manga’ and make it available to as many as possible. Usi, too, would get more money for his sweat.
He never did.
And the film is no longer in his hands.
What happened?
Usi could not say much, for fear of pre-empting what has been lined up for the courts. He could only reveal, however, that: “In fact, that issue has gone to court, and my lawyers have advised me against speaking much about it, as it remains a sensitive issue. All I can say is that that issue is now in court.”
Usi hoped that he would come to the root of so many unanswered questions. He, and Malawians, may also get to know how the ‘Dr. Manga’ film grew legs and found itself being shown in world acclaimed Airlines.
He, and the nation, will also learn how ‘Dr. Manga’ film went to the airport, booked a ticket, and……..boom, found itself in the United Kingdom, Nigeria and other countries.
No that he loathes success and fame, who would hate that? It is a question of benefiting from one’s sweat.
“A lot goes into producing a film. So much money that you need something back. Justice, too, is another issue. Piracy harms innocent people,” he said.

MPS pays up
By Richard Chirombo
The Malawi Police Service (MPS) has paid the K5.7 million fine meted by the Super League of Malawi (Sulam) for the unceremonious way they withdrew Eagle Beaks from the league.
MPS announced recently it would not allow Eagle Beaks, one of the two sides it sponsors in the league, to continue plying its trade in the country’s prestigious league. Instead, MPS was for merging of the two sides into one team.
This irked the Super League of Malawi, which threatened to penalize sponsors of the two sides. MPS would be required to cough half of the league’s running costs, amounting to over K25 million.
The figure was later reduced to K5.7 million following some mitigation from MPS, which included the point that off loaded players would still be well taken care of.
Williams Banda, Sulam General Secretary, confirmed today MPS had paid the fine.
“The money will help us off set some of the costs incurred in preparing for the league. We will also modify the fixture we have released to accommodate the team that will replace Eagle Beaks,” said Banda.
Meanwhile, it has emerged that NCIC, formerly Pakeeza United, will replace Eagle Beaks.
A Sulam meeting held this week resolved to bring Pakeeza back into the league, owing to its league position the time it got the boot from the TNM Super League last season.
The team slided back to the Central Region Chipiku Football League alongside Michiru Castles, which is now playing in the Southern Region Arkay Plastics Football League.
Banda asked other teams, such as Michiru, not to despair as their time would come in future.
Initially, Sulam planned to organize play offs amongst Michiru and Pakeeza following the withdrawal of a Northern region side on grounds of financial incapacity.


Comedian Tackles Malawian Politicians in New Film
By Richard Chirombo
Michael Usi, aka Manganya, has prepared a timely concoction for politicians in his ‘soon-to-be-released ‘Living on Perform’ film.
‘Living on Perfume’ will be premiered at Comesa Hall in Blantyre on August 1, a development Usi says will accord Malawians film lovers an opportunity to critique and suggest episodes to be included in his final release less this year.
Malawi is still leaking of the May 19 Presidential and Parliamentary elections scent, elections widely acclaimed for their peaceful conduct.
Usi says he had included an episode tackling politicians because he wants the newly-elected President, and all other world presidents, to know that there are inner cycles in political administrations who tell the president outdated realities.
These people feed the president with barium meal because they want to protect their jobs, a trend that disadvantages the voting public because the leader they elected ends up leaving in a cosmetic world- a world and far from present realities, he says.
‘Living on Perfume’ is an episode-centred production tackling various other issues, apart from politics. These include the barbaric treatment of prisoners in Malawian penitentiary institutions when the basis for convicting such individuals was ‘reformation and rehabilitation’.
“It is like living on perfume, living the cosmetic side of life. Instead of being reformed, as prisoners are made to believe, our people are turned from ‘criminals’ to ‘beasts’. That is living on perfume.
“It’s the same with our politicians: We elect them for what they tell us during campaign, believing, as they do, that they will fulfill their part of the promise. The next thing is that the president meets an inner political cycle of advisers that tells him things not reflective of the situation on the ground. The president starts living on perfume,” said Usi.
He asked presidents to be careful, if they were to be in touch with realities on the ground. That will save them from ‘living on perfume’ and getting out of touch with the electorate.
Usi has produced two films so far, films that made international in roads. These include ‘Dr. Manga’ and ‘Manganya in Action’.
He was last year in August honoured with a plaque in recognition of his outstanding service to youth ministry in West-African Division, at a ceremony held in Calabar, Nigeria.
His main concern, however, remains piracy of his films.
Usi doesn’t understand how his films have found themselves on international Airlines. ‘Dr. Manga’, for instance, continues to be shown on various international Airlines.
‘Dr. Manga’ can also be found in Nigeria, Tanzania, South Africa, Mali, and Zambia, among other countries, yet he did not contract any production company there.
Malawi’s film industry is in its nascent stage, though talk of the country’s own Mollywood version has recently been on film lovers lips.

We are here, opposition
By Richard Chirombo
Opposition political parties have assured voters they will not abandon their checks-and-balances role over government actions, putting to rest fears Malawi has a lame-duck opposition following the ruling Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) overwhelming victory on May 19.
The opposition now has a combined 44 seats, against DPP’s official tally of 114. The majority of independent Members of Parliament has declared their allegiance to the ruling party, waving the development tag for their sudden change of heart.
The country’s largest opposition, Malawi Congress Party (MCP) has 26 seats, though it has fired former party Publicist Ishmael Chafukira from its membership ranks, reducing its tally to 25.
Chafukira still seats on the opposition benches.
United Democratic Front (UDF), the second largest party, now has to make do with 16 MPs as independent MPs stole the show from the political parties and got more MPs as a block. They got 36 in the 193-member parliament.
Parliamentary elections never took place in Blantyre City Central following the death of National Rainbow Coalition (Narc) candidate Masautso Mbewe. A by-election will take place on July 31, though the Narc- the party that caused failure of the polls- has indicated it will not feature any candidate.
The opposition has surprised political observers by showing it still had teeth to bite, though the bite would be less fatal than during the past five years- when the opposition dominated parliament and made government business python-some.
It all started with MCP president John Tembo after Finance Minister, Ken Kandodo Banda, presented his budget Friday. Tembo said the budget was not pro-poor and would not benefit the ordinary voter in the village.
Tembo faulted the budget for reducing the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) allocation, a development described as sad and inconsiderate since the ordinary person has been allocated a smaller cake as large business players feast.
“I am rather disappointed that our people will not benefit much from this, though the budget is a mixed bag,” said Tembo.
Political analysts said Tembo’s sentiments indicated that he could still rise above internal party squabbles to speak out on crucial issues. Tembo’s Leader of Opposition position is currently being disputed, changing him from de facto opposition leader to mere backbencher in parliament.
The issue has been referred to the newly-instituted Legal Affairs Committee of Parliament for deliberation.
The surprise came through Ibrahim Matola, Leader of the UDF in Parliament.
Matola surprised the ruling side by describing the country’s economic achievements as a “fruit tree that bears no fruit”.
Malawi has been described by the United Kingdom based Economist Intelligence Unit as the second fastest growing economy in the world after oil rich Qatar.
Matola said this was merely opium smoke because ordinary Malawians were yet to benefit from the economic growth.
“There is nothing on the ground; commodity prices continue to rise. Where is the logic? Malawi is currently a fruit that has not borne fruit. The same thing applies for the so-called economic achievements,” said Matola.
In separate interviews, Tembo and Matola vowed to press on with their role as opposition leaders. He said that was the only way Malawians could have faith in the opposition.
“Let me dismiss fears that there will be no real opposition this time around; we are here. But we will not just oppose, we will make constructive criticisms and contributions,” said Tembo.
Matola, on his part, said UDF was committed to complimenting government’s development efforts, a task he said could be well done through constructive criticism.
“Let me say here that we have a vibrant opposition. Our wish is that the government side will be considering our legitimate concerns. We all want Malawi to develop,” said Matola.
President Bingu wa Mutharika has promised to make it easy for the opposition, saying DPP will not abuse its majority in Parliament- the way the country’s opposition abused its majority during the last parliament and made government business tough business.

Alliance Partners Take Low Profile
By Richard Chirombo
Alliance partners to opposition United Democratic Front (UDF) and Malawi Congress Party (MCP) have been conspicuously quiet after the May 19, Parliamentary and Presidential elections, keeping people wondering about their next move.
UDF/MCP alliance partners were vocal before the elections, following UDF National Chairman Bakili Muluzi and MCP president John everywhere they went. These parties included the Congress for Democrats, Malawi Democratic Party, and Malawi Democratic Union.
It was the same case with Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) electoral partners in the names of Peoples Progressive Party and Peoples Patriotic Front. These parties have also been conspicuously absent from the scene.
Some of the party leaders have been seen, mainly in the commercial city of Blantyre, attending to private business issues, presenting a cool picture miles and miles away from the vocal politicians they were.
One of the party leaders, Malawi Democratic Union president Amunandife Mkumba, said the parties were now strategizing on the next move.
It is time for political reflection and, there after, you will learn of our next move,” said Mkumba.
However, some of the leaders said they were now attending to their private businesses ina bid to improve on their parties’ financial position.
Most political parties in Malawi are funded by their founders, a development that has been blamed for inculcating the ‘founder’s syndrome as it became difficult to replace such leaders in cases where they are not willing to relinquish power voluntarily.

Two grounds against World Bank’s K3b. loan
By Richard Chirombo
The World Bank has come under a spate of criticism from Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) experts, who accuse the bank of playing hide and seek over repayment terms and leaving out a corresponding infrastructure development component necessary to increase universal access.
This follows the decision on June 25 by the bank’s Board of Executive Directors to approve a US$20 million (K3 billion) International Development Association (IDA) credit for Malawi. The initiative is part of the Regional Infrastructure Project which aims at reducing the countries connectivity problems to international communication services, and is envisaged to reduce connectivity charges for the population.
The project also has a component that facilitates the review of policy and legal frameworks currently in use in the ICT sector, apart from strengthening the enforcement capacity of the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority’s.
However, Information, Communication and Technology Association of Malawi (Ictam) has warned that the project could end up being too costly for the country for its oversight of two crucial development components.
Ictam Publicity Secretary, Tobias Kumwenda, said in an exclusive interview this week Malawi stood to lose more than it could gain, in terms of financial obligations, if the issues of repayment terms as well as a corresponding infrastructure development project funded by the same IDA facility were not addressed.
“We feel that the government made a fundamental mistake in not conducting comprehensive consultations with ICT experts, including their mother body, Ictam. This had led to the exclusion of two crucial components, namely: corresponding infrastructure

Malawi: the virgin tourist destination

The infectious friendliness is not only evident in smiling bare-footed people; it resonates through a huge billboard with the inscription ‘Exit the land Jeito, welcome to the land of Chishango’ as you enter Malawi from Mozambique through the Southern tip district of Mwanza.
As a first traveler to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) member state, you are bound to be surprised why any country would be proud to align its identity to a condom brand. Well, the truth is that Malawi is one of the sub-Saharan African countries highly affected by the HIV and AIDS pandemic. Sub-Sahara Africa is said to be the epicenter of the HIV and AIDS pandemic- no wonder, Malawians seem to increasingly feel that a true friend is one who warns you about any possible danger, a gesture of good will, in a Malawian way.
However, despite the condom advertisement, Malawi, just as its neighbor Mozambique, has stinging statutes regulating sex work.
As if realizing that the sex industry cannot be fully controlled, especially behind the curtains, the two countries take pleasure in warning tourists in advance of the importance of safer sex during their days of stay as they remain some of the countries having high HIV and AIDS prevalence rates.
Reaching the border post on the Malawian side, you would have already started feeling as if you chose a wrong destination for your holiday. Occasionally, you see children begging for alms; however, these are just some of the few-orphaned children that survive on alms they solicit from the several travelers going in and out of Malawi.
The blur of some reggae music from the bars just near the border post will soon greet you with the spirit of the warm-hearted nation. As you wait for the immigration and customs officials, you probably will be enticed to go and try one Malawian beer and even food as most of these bars also have restraints serving a wide range of Malawian and Portuguese cuisines.
“The first time I traveled to Malawi from south Africa I found the border at Mwanza very boring. I felt like I had landed my self in a wrong holiday destination when compared to my home in Ontario,” said Christen Hoffman a Canadian national based in Johannesburg, South Africa.
She recalled that whilst she was regretting having chosen Malawi out of all tourist destinations in southern Africa, a black market forex vendor who wanted to know if she wanted some local currency approached her.
“I did not have any local money at that point and was feeling very hungry having traveled the whole day from Johannesburg to Mwanza and the polite way he approached me just made me feel like I was in my second home,” she recalled.
She said, as opposed to young men from other countries she has traveled to, the young vendor treated her like a queen that she instantly fell in love with Malawi.
“The good thing about Malawians is that they are very polite and usually happily come to your side when you need help,” she said.
Driving from Mwanza towards the commercial city of Blantyre, a 110-kilometer drive, takes you about two hours and, as you drive in the December heat, the cicada tweeter greets you as you enjoy the best scenery of Malawi’s natural beauty.
The traditional mud huts along the M6 road that connects Malawi to the rest of southern Africa will pop their way up your camera lens even before you reach the shire river, one of the never-miss-to-shoot spots. You would be empty going back home without taking some memory shots at this place.
A word of comfort would suffice at this point: Never be touchy with the seemingly ‘raw’ treatment you get from overzealous police officers at police checks as they go about their routine search.
A tour guide, Edward Sakwata, renders credence to this. He complained in an interview that police officers usually wear hard faces when they see tourism in the company of dreadlocked tour guides. The reason, as you may guess, borders on drugs.
Sakwata alluded to the cat-and-mouse relationship that exists between Malawian police officers and dread-rockers, mostly young men: there are always suspicions of drug peddling.
“When a police officer sees a European tourist accompanied by a young dreadlocked tour guide, their impression is that the two are involved in a drug deal,” he said.
Arriving in Blantyre you will be feeling very tired. However, you have just started your Malawian adventure for nightlife in Blantyre is the most thrilling experience to many a tourist.
If you did not have advance bookings for accommodation, there are several backpackers’ packs offering a variety of affordable prices for tourists.
Most of these clubs do not close until the wee hours of morning, and you will actually realize the more reason why a huge condom billboard greets you at Mwanza border.
Girls that usually eke their living through commercial sex work will surely not leave the bar counters, their source of income, until they drop dead in sleep or get hooked up by some hot-blooded client. That is the cut-home point for them, when tomorrow’s financial mists are cleared, and they have only hope for better things to come.
Chris Johnston, a British national on some two-week vacation to Malawi, said his first day in Malawi was the most interesting one.
“Upon arriving in Blantyre, I did not have an idea of where I would sleep for the night as I was proceeding to Mulanje Mountain the following day; however, when I went to the Blantyre tourist market, I met this young girl who showed me the other side of Blantyre,” he said laughing.
Ironically, Johnston almost mistook the towering Soche hill- one of the green hills perched gigantically in the ever-clear Blantyre sky- for Mulanje Mountain. Blantyre, the commercial city of Malawi, is the anti-thesis of a European city: so many industrial establishments, little, if any, pollution at all.
Mulanje Mountain is among Africa’s three highest mountains in Africa, and a never-miss destination for any tourist visiting Malawi. Attached to the mountain is a rich cultural history.
To some hikers, the myths attached to the mountain’s highest peak, christened ‘Sapitwa’ (No-go-zone) sound more less like fairly tales, It would, however, be in your interest to heed what the locals say.
Only recently, Brazilian hiker Gabriel Bushman thought the locals, through a local Mulanje Mountain Conservation Trust tour guide, were joking when they told him no one went to Sapitwa alone. Bushman so no sense in such sense and set on the journey himself, telling his guide to get lost! He never came back, only his lifeless body, and only after a tasking 10 days of searching.
What a coincidence that a plane sent by the Brazilian government failed to find his body; the locals did.
Some locals said Bushman was found because the spirits in the mountain liked him. They released him so he could meet his people; just unfortunate he tripped and fell on his way back. The locals wept heartily for him, as if he were their friend.
People of Mulanje have different theories about people who go missing on the missing. Others speculate that these people fall into Ruo River, whose source is the mountain that is Mulanje, are then washed away. Just like that.
Whatever the truth, the spirit tales dominate.
“When one wants to go to Sapitwa, there is need to offer special prayers- other wise there will be no return,” said Maxwell Chifika, a local from the district.
Chifika has seen people go on Mulanje Mountain and come; or go, and really go. No trace or clue to the living. Whatsoever.
After Mulanje, the Malawian adventure will not be complete if you do not swim in the warm, blue, fresh waters of the Lake Malawi. The country has one fresh lake, Lake Malawi, and three inlet lakes- Chiuta, Kazuni, and Chilwa.
The bus drive from Blantyre to Mangochi will take you four hours. The road from Blantyre to Mangochi has a rich vein of Malawian traditions.
The common sight is that of women wrapped in traditional Malawian Chitenje ‘Wrapper’. You will also not miss the art ware and handcraft merchandise
Skillfully displayed along road kiosks.
Zomba would be the next good stop over. Even if you arrive at night, you will not be up for a lonely night as the town that used to be Malawi’s capital city during the British rule has some interesting tourist spots.
Most of the Victorian houses that once housed the British administrators are now part of a flourishing hospitality industry, now serving as lodges and Restaurants.
However, of much interest would be a visit to Ku-Chawe just on top of Zomba plateau.
The trout farm on the plateau and the Chingwes hole have been some of the wonders that have made the Chawe adventure a must not miss for tourists in Malawi.
The emperor’s view just on top of the plateau offers you a rare opportunity to view places as far much as Mozambique. What is more, such a view at night offers you the tonic to appreciate the view of distant towns below.
“My Malawian experience could not have been complete without the Kuchawe sojourn; the tour to the plateau on a fair evening gave me an opportunity to enjoy a rare Malawian experience,” said Catherine Pereira a Canadian tourist.
As you go to your final destination, Mangochi, you will find lots of merchandise that would be good for take-home souvenir.
Namwera turn off, for one, offers a wide variety of sculptures and paintings
of high quality.
For Angela Tamayenda, a Malawian national staying in the US, says she usually finds time to stop at Namwera and buy her American friends some African crafts from this part of Africa.
“Every time I come to Malawi for holidays, I make it a point to visit Namwera and buy some art work. My American friends always appreciate these,” she said.
She said the unique thing about the arts and crafts at Namwera was that they had straightforward themes.
By the time you arrive in Mangochi, you really would have understood why the accolade the Warm Heart of Africa befits Malawi.
The beautiful lake birds and nice people you meet on the way could have long made their way into your camera. Sure enough, and the beauty of Malawian culture fully embedded in your bone marrow.
However, the best time for a nice Mangochi experience comes in the evening. Most resorts in the Lakeshore district organise scintillating cultural activities targeting both tourists and the local visitor.
Dances such as Gule wa mkulu, which UNESCO recognizes as a protected cultural heritage from Malawi, dominate in the evenings.
Just do not flit with a frying pan of commercial sex workers who flock into this area looking for the cash in the pleasure and fan. However, these women have their own sex styles, including ‘Aeroplane’ and ‘Winnower’. How they do it is another protected Malawian cultural heritage.
Warning: Please ‘get dressed’, Malawi has one of the highest HIV and AIDS prevalence
Rates in sub-Saharan Africa. Commercial sex workers have their own role in this!

Malawi: Cotton production gets a boost

Cotton farmers in Malawi are waiting for the commencement of production by a Chinese company to earn more on their commodity. Integrated Cotton and Textile Manufacturers, a Chinese company, has already started groundwork aimed at improving proceeds farmers earn on cotton products in Balaka.
Industry and Trade Minister, Eunice Kazembe, said the company was one of those that recently visited the country to explore investment opportunities, in line with government's goal to improve the number of industries.

Kazembe said the coming in of foreign direct investors spelled the beginning of good prospects for Malawi, as most people would now get employed, apart from increasing the number of textile and garment products manufactured in the country.

"Right now, officials from the Chinese textile and Garments Company are on the ground in Balaka district, and it is hoped that by the end of this year they will have brought all the equipment necessary to scale up their activities and bring tremendous improvements as far as the cotton industry is concerned," Kazembe said.

She lamented current trends, where the country exports raw products- a development that translates into low returns for the local grower while those who add value on the products elsewhere reap more profits.

"That is why we need more industries like this, inorder to transform the economy and bring about change. The good thing is that we have held a lot of fora on the issue of investment with foreign investors from Chana (Mainland), Britain, and even those from Asia. The idea is to transform this country by scaling up industrialisation," he said.

China’s impacts in Africa

While the coming in of Chinese companies may be good for Malawi, other countries have complained about the influx of Chinese products as Garment companies working in China are, for instance, making their own thread now, which they are exporting, thus increasing global competition.

Even the regional giant, South Africa, has not been spared, as the country's employment opportunities in the textile industry dropped from 70, 000 in 2003 to about 50, 000 in 2007. This came against increased cheap imports from Asia.

Yarn imports rose from 77, 000 in 2001 to over 100, 000 tonnes last year, though the truly alarming increase that fretted South African textile makers was the 600 per cent rise in imported textiles- up from about 5000 tonnes in 2001, to about 30, 000 tonnes in 2007.

This comes at a time when China's impact on the region's inputs is being felt, though local manufacturers like Mapeto DWSM offer outlets for locally produced materials. Regional textile trade is facilitated by the Southern African Development community (SADC) Free Trade Agreement, whose goal is to create a unified 'borderless' trading bloc for member states.

Malawi's neighbour, Mozambique, with its reviving economy at the north-eastern part of Maputo Corridor, has been putting in place initiatives aimed at garnering a share of the region's textile business. One big encumbrance, though, is that cotton production last year yielded only a forth of raw materials required by the country's ginning mills, a development that saw cotton being sourced from South Africa and Malawi, among others.

Cotton yields were 90, 000 tonnes in 2007, down from a record 122, 000 tonnes in 2006. Bad weather- droughty conditions in some growing areas but too much rainfall in other places- was blamed for the drop. Mozambican ginning mills require 400, 000 tonnes of cotton for their operations, a trend that necessitates measures to address the influx of cheap products from Asia if the region is to make any in roads into the textile market.

This has prompted South Africa to start addressing the influx of Chinese textiles through the introduction of a quota system. A China Restraint Agreement was introduced by government in January last year. It also covers such areas as firefighter gear and specialised sporting gear.

However, while conditions get tougher opportunities exist for fabrics for industrial applications globally, a market that has a growth rate of approximately 3 to 4 per cent per annum, which is far above the 1.5 per cent annual growth for conventional fabrics.

Malawi, however, is in dire need of industries, following the closing shop of most industrial players over the past ten years, a development trade expects blame on unfavourable policies and privatisation during the previous administration. However,

David Whitehead and Sons Malawi Limited, a textile and garments manufacturer has proved these assertions wrong as it continues to do better on the market, years after being privatised.

Former president Bakili Muluzi talks to Zachimalawi on retirement

.......I have no regrets- Muluzi

Former Malawi President, Bakili Muluzi, retired from active politics in London, United Kingdom, 30 days ago-and not Thursday, December 24, 2009 when he finally came out of his shell to announce the decision to an army of surprised journalists at his BCA Hill residence in Blantyre’s commercial hub of Limbe- at least that is what he told Zachimalawi in an exclusive two-hour interview yesterday (Monday).
Muluzi surprised when he confided that he was one of the Blog’s private followers, a secret he now revealed, “now that I am out of politics”.
“Honestly speaking, I have been going through Zachimalawi at least once in two weeks: you need to think seriously about including pictures on that Blog; I personally feel that it’s a good initiative because you it (the Blog) is not filled with personal vendetta”, said Muluzi, who acknowledged that he granted a “a Blogger like you an exclusive interview because I know Zachimalawi, and also because I want to set a new precedent- I want Malawians to know that Blogs are serious business. In other countries like Iran, Bloggers get arrested for doing nothing but air out their views on their own platform”.
Back to the issue at hand. Zachimalawi asked the former flamboyant President whether he had any regrets over his political life, and whether, given the opportunity, he would turn back the hand of time and correct some mistakes he might have made, and Muluzi’s answer was handy:
“I have no regrets. There is nothing I would really love to have done the other way round. People gave me a job, massive job, in 1994 and I did the best I could under the circumstances to serve them well. Where I erred, as happens in this life, I think that is human. Otherwise, I thank Malawians for believing in me; for trusting my leadership. Together we are who we are- proud Malawians.”
Asked about his decision to have another go at the Presidential slot, in 2009, even when the tide was legally against him, Muluzi said what people must know is that politicians like him always have advisers who read the situation and offer counsel to him. So, he said, he may not entirely be to blame, though he feels a mistake was made, but one that will not bother him anymore- now that he was out of politics.
His sentiment is not surprising, though. Former United Democratic Front (UDF)
Executive Member, Harry Thomson, who resigned from active politics after the disastrous May 2009 Presidential and Parliamentary elections, already squared the blame.
“I am one of the guys who pleaded with Dr. Muluzi to have another go at the presidency, despite him already serving two constitutional terms. We thought he would win,” said Thomson, before throwing in the towel.
He, too, then retired to his BCA house (his house is nowhere near a hill to be called BCA Hill house) where, as fate would have it, his vicious leashed dog dug into the leg-fresh of some jogging, unfortunate woman.
Some Malawi Television (TVM) presenter tried to blow the issue out of proportion by speaking, rather equivocally, against dog owners who unleashed their dogs during the wee hours of morning. To her, that was a deterrent to morning joggers and fitness zealots- some sure sign of power-drunkenness.
Some TVM presenters!
Well, it seems the TVM guys were at it just this Thursday (December 24, 2009). They featured the story about Muluzi’s resignation from active politics in the headline and people gathered around TV screens (yours Truly included) to watch a humbled Muluzi, one who has discovered the exactitude of where he belongs- in the cold annals of history, history so cold you begin to feel people no longer think you alive.
Worse still, you begin to forget yourself: what you were, where you have come from, and the prospects for tomorrow. It is as if someone has pulled the breaks of your life for you, you are no longer in control. Nay.
Surprise is, when the TVM guys featured the story on Muluzi, they only did it in the passing it was so casual.
Villagers who came to my house just to see for themselves the last (?) picture of Muluzi were utterly disappointed: why can’t they show him, for once, they wondered. There are times, it seems, when the viewer is more sensible than the TV producer and presenter- at least in Malawi.
Muluzi also talked about the future of the once mighty UDF. He said he no longer wanted to associate himself with the party, at least on the financial aspect of it. He, however, vowed to continue voting for UDF candidates in national elections.
“Not doing so would be the greatest cheating in my life,” he said.
The one thing he was sure he would always do, he said, was never to vote for incumbent president, Dr. Bingu wa Mutharika, for any public office.
As it were, Muluzi is still bitter that Mutharika cheated him (Muluzi) out of his own game as the political engineer!
“But, otherwise, life has to go on. This is now time to spend time with my family. I am a family man, and what politics did to me was, sought of, put my huge family role in a small box and presented to me a big, open box that was the nation to look after. But my family experience also helped me a lot- I saw government as an extended family system we, Malawians, are proud of,” said Muluzi.
Zachimalawi discussed many more things with the former president, most of which are kept for a Malawi Political History Book to be published in 2012. Muluzi happens to be one of the great Malawians whose stories are lined up in the book, one, Zachimalawi hopes, that will help us keep part of the liquid records soaking down our memories now.
But one thing Muluzi drummed repeatedly into Zachimalawi was that “I will never come back (into politics). I have had my time. I have achieved a lot as a politician, yes, and perhaps got some things wrong sometimes. That made for a good political life.”
Muluzi then slumped into his a huge maroon sofa chair; no yellow (as inn UDF) was in sight. An era is gone.

The love between Malawi and North African soccer giants

Malawi is a lucky kid; but one who often bumps into trouble by almost always bumping into North African opponents during Confederation of African Football (CAF) draws.
It happened in 2008, when the Malawi National Football Soccer team, aka Flames, bumped into football unluck again, upon being drawn against the then African champions Tunisia.
Supporters of Tunisia jubilated at being drawn against so soft an opponent. In Malawi, people quaked in their boots, the dark gods were here once again- haunting Malawi football.
Well, the Tunisians got more than they bid for. In Blantyre, at the giant Kamuzu Stadium, Malawi were leading Tunisia 2-0 by half time. That young, nimble-footed talented Joseph Kamwendo was a wonder to behold, as usual, turning the Tunisian defence inside out.
The Tunisians were lucky, though, because less than ten minutes from regulation time they got a penalty after defender Allan Kamanga tripped one of their own in the penalty box. Kamanga thought the referee had something against him, so he complained until the ref could take it no longer and gave him a red card.
The Tunisians took the penalty , but- don’t ever think the goal is in yet!- goalkeeper Swadick Sanudi saved it. The score board (though Kamuzu Stadium has none now, though the adverts on it remain as if someone would be so foolish as to look that side and read the dead score lines) remained the same- 2-0.
But Malawi were one man less, so the North Africans were bound to score anyway. Something they did before long, after three minutes of missing the penalty. They also struck misfortune again, at the dot of full time.
The match ended 2-2 and I could not help sitting down on the Eastern terraces, perturbed, angry and beating my chest.
If only we could defend to the last minute…………if only Kamanga hadn’t tempered with the referee….if only- you know what happens. Hallucinations and daytime dreams.
But, in that pain, something was cemented like a concrete stone- friendship.
The Tunisians offered to host the flames as they prepared for other opponents, right there in Tunisia.
It has become a habit, it seems, for Malawi to be drawn against North African sides, or else it is a CAF conspiracy!
In the campaign for Angola next year, we got in the way of Egypt the African champions and bit them Chiukepo Msowoya’s last minute thunderbolt that left the Egyptians more
angry than hungry.
In Cairo, Egypt, they beat us 2-0. Again, friendship was there for the taking.
Today, Saturday, Malawi have left for Egypt to play an all-paid-for friendly with the Pharaohs.
The Egyptians are Malawi’s best friend.
From there, the Flames will be preparing for a match on December 29 against Togo in Blantyre, Malawi. After which, the Flames will line up against Ghana on January 2, 2010 (oh, now we have started talking of 2010; how days die) in Swaziland.
Flames coach, Kinnah Phiri, is happy with the gesture of the North Africans.
“We owe part of our qualification to Angola to these North African teams. They are so good to us; they remember us. They have been an integral part of our dream- the dream to Angola inclusive,” said Phiri.
In Angola, Malawi has been drawn in the same group as Mali, hosts Angola and North Africans Algeria.
Ironically, Algeria beat Egypt under temperamental circumstances- making it more likely that Egyptians will rally behind Malawi when they line up against Algeria.
Will Algeria and Malawi, like Egypt and Morocco, fall in love? That is the big question hanging over Malawi’s qualification to Angola, 25 years down the line.
It has been a long, long journey.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Zambia: AIDS trial volunteers contract HIV virus

Close to a quarter of volunteers that took part in a microbicide gel clinical trials in Southern Zambia have contracted HIV due to alleged failed efficacy of the gel, meant to prevent the contraction of the virus that cause AIDS.
The microbicide gel was administered to 1,340 HIV negative women by the Microbicide Development Programme in Mazabuka, about 285 kilometres, south of the Zambian capital, Lusaka. Half of these have contracted HIV and one died two years ago, raising fears of the efficacy of the gel.

Twelve months after the commencement of the latest trials, it has emerged that close to a quarter of the volunteers who were enrolled onto the trial have contracted HIV, our reporter said.

Microbicide Development Programme regional co-coordinator, Ruth Kasanda has declined to make any public remarks regarding the outcome of the latest trials.

National AIDS Council spokesperson, Justin Mwinga has acknowledged existence of the trials but explained that further details would be relayed to the affected parties and the general public after intense investigations.

Similar sentiments have been echoed by Ministry of Health spokesperson, Reuben Kamoto Mbewe who stated, results of microbicide gel would be availed to the public after a detailed report is handed over to the ministry, currently embroiled in a financial scandal involving US$ 2 million.

The microbicide research trials which begun as far back as 2005 have over the years yielded discouraging results, though little has been made public.

According to classified information gathered from the latest outcome, “results of the trials have since been submitted to by the Medical Research Council of the United Kingdom to the Microbicide Development Programme”.

It has also been learnt that in mid January 2010, all the women who volunteered to undergo the clinical trials would be briefed on the outcome of the research.

The research is being supported by various bodies including the Medical Research Council of the United Kingdom and U.S based Meharry Medical College’s School of Education.

Most promising

Professor James Hildreth and Professor Vladimir Berthaud announced at a news conference in Lusaka in 2006 attended by this reporter, microbicide research was the next preventive measure to contain the spread of HIV in sub-Saharan Africa.

PRO 2000, a vaginal microbicide gel, had been hailed as the most promising microbicide in a decade of research on female-controlled prevention methods.
The gel contains molecules that are intended to clump around HIV before it can penetrate vaginal walls.

Results of a clinical trial published early this month found no evidence that PRO 2000 reduces the risk of HIV infection.

The trials in South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia involved more than 9,000 women between September 2005 and September 2009.

It followed a smaller trial of the gel, which had indicated that using the gel might reduce HIV infections by a third.

The disastrous results emanating out of the Mazabuka research site in southern Zambia have come less than five months before international researchers, clinicians, scientists and journalists prepare for the 2010 International Microbicides Conference (M2010), which will be held in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA from May 22-25, 2010. The conference is expected to review and deliberate on microcode as an alternative HIV preventative measure.

Engaged gays arrested

Malawi police officials have moved in to arrest gay lovebirds Tionge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza, barely two days after the two got engaged at a public function in Malawi's commercial city of Blantyre.
Monjeza and Chimbalanga surprised Malawians by becoming the first self-acclaimed homosexuals to engage publicly.

Malawi grapples with bush fires

Ridiculous. A worker at Raiply Plantations in Northern Malawi is not happy with the way his boss nagged him for making some careless mistake; he wears the robe of darkness and goes on rampage, setting part of the plantation ablaze!
Another plantation worker quarrels with another over food at lunch- the other worker has eaten more than his fair portion of collective lunch, and things go asunder. The offended party sets part of the plantation ablaze as part of his anger-healing process.
It is Monday, September 28, 2009. Pay day.
The bosses delay payment by one more day and the workers, incensed, raze part of the plantation.
Anyone sacked from the plantation is sure to vent their anger on the plantation as well, and that has always been the striking fate of Vipya Plantations, government tree plantations concessioned to privately-owned Raiply.
Just last year, 300 hectares of forest went up in flames under similar circumstances, and this has angered Raiply Chief Executive Officer Thomas Comen.
“The cost for such behaviour is huge. These bushfires are destroying a lot of biological diversity in the plantation, apart from causing huge losses of money because we cannot sell trees that have been badly burnt for timber purposes,” said Comen.
Comen said cases of burning plantations were becoming common place, largely perpetuated by the angry employee, sacked worker, disgruntled community member, clueless hunter, and cigarette smoker.
“The situation is really bad. It takes 30 years a raise a tree, but only uncontrollable anger to go back to square-one. Why destroy something that has taken up more resources in a single sweep of anger, frustrating the country’s economic prospects?” he queried.
Comen said, however, Raiply was doing it can to bring sanity where anger reigns, and has established new grievous handling mechanisms to bring sanity home.
“We want everyone to report their grievances. This way, we will be able to resolve all grievances amicably, and in a way that does not bring destruction to the forests and losses to the company. Communities must own up to the fact that the plantations, in a way, belong to them. They will bear the brunt of climatic changes arising from distortions in weather patterns emanating from the effects of destroying the plantations,” said Comen.
Daulosi Mauambeta, Executive Director for the Wildlife and Environmental Society of Malawi (Wesm), blames community ignorance for the trend. He said most community members were still unaware of the effects of destroying natural resources even in face of tangible climatic changes taking place around us.
“People even think that climatic change is a Western phenomenon that has nothing to do with us. The truth is that the changes are here with us, and may not be reversed should we continue with our old ways. We need to change people’s attitudes,” said Mauambeta.
Traditional Authority Karonga, one of the prominent chiefs in Northern Malawi, where Vipya is located, has vowed to mete out strong punishments to people who cause bush fires and destroy the environment willy-nilly.
“These resources are not for us but our children. Anyone who punishes an unborn child will surely be punished heavily. Setting Vipya ablaze is like killing the unborn child and I will not tolerate that,” said Karonga.
Government has for the past two years increased budgetary allocations to natural resources and environmental management, raising hopes that, perhaps, what remains of Malawi’s environment and natural resources may not be lost forever.

The short in Ken Kandodo’s 15% civil servants pay hike

PAY increments for civil servants have always been loaded with symbolism all over. To some, they remain a typical sign of political maneuvering. To others, a mature sign of an individual-nation’s economic investment plan to improve on service delivery and increase production.
Yet, to many others, it remains an orgy of appeasement policies.
The increments always follow a strikingly similar pattern all over the world: a Finance Minister, Minister of the Exchequer, or whatever name sounds well on a country’s lips, introduces them by way of budget statements in parliament (though they have been known to come through special bills in other countries, too), they are deliberated on, and then passed or nipped in the bud.
The money then comes from tax payers, who ironically include the civil servants themselves. The thinking seems to be that a country that fails to pay its own workers through locally-generated resources can not feed itself. The civil workers then get a more fat cheque the next pay day.
Analysts, too, almost seem to agree that such developments represent the sun’s rays for many under-paid workers, and act as the staircase to a savings culture that has eluded Malawi for as long as the word independence came to stay.
The only sticky point comes when it comes to mapping the ‘right’ time to apply just such pay increments, as there are no general agreed parameters.
However, International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank and International Trade Centre (ITC) statistics seem to indicate that pay increments prove more effective when applied against set parameters.
The most common, and most agreed parameter, is that of growth or decline rates for government’s services- both local, by gauging the performance of government departments and related services, and foreign (through the export of human capital). That is why they see it fit to include growth or decline rates for government’s services.
While shedding more light on efficiency in public service delivery, the ratings also add up to a country’s balance of trade with the rest of the world.
There has been no such analysis in Malawi, an anomaly that dates as far back as 1980. President Bingu wa Mutharika has won the acclaim of the Civil Servants Trade Union (CSTU) by increasing civil servants pay more than once during the past five years. The union has, however, called for a much more-percentage package for the increments to weigh positively on workers’ lives.
Mutharika seems set to increase the stakes even further during the 2009/10 fiscal year, and the rest of his last term of office, as indicative in new Finance Minister, Ken Kandodo’s, inaugural budget statement. Kandodo told parliament some two weeks ago it was in government’s plan to add 15 per cent onto existing packages, though some civil servants have asked for more through a myriad of Letters to the Editor entries.
One such servant, Dominic Gervasio Kaliveni , wrote recently the 15 per cent increase was welcome but not good enough. He said most civil servants’ lives revolved around a search for the basics, something that showed through poor service delivery as they could not invest more sweat into a pittance.
While intended beneficiaries indicate that a much bigger increment was all they needed to stroke their output senses, statistics sourced this week indicate that Malawi risked losing out on the real benefits of pay increments without a comprehensive analysis of growth rates for its public services and, in deed, human resource it exports to other countries.
IMF Balance of Payment statistics spanning from 1995 to 2002 are blank on government services’ growth or decline; a trend that continues with other subsequent Balance of Payment statistics, including that of 2007.
This has resulted into zero-rating for Malawi’s trade balance statistics, as well. Trade balance entails a nation’s monetary worth of imports and exports (this includes products and services).
International Trade Centre statistics are also blank on government services, both locally and internationally (through human resource exports).
“It is unfortunate that there are no data on the volume (growth or decline in percentage) of Malawi’s services,” reads a Capacity Study to Promote Exports of Services from Malawi report. It was released on January 31, 2005.
The report says some of the areas that need evaluation and rating included accounting, auditing, book keeping; educational services; equipment leasing; health related services; legal services; managerial consulting; peace keeping and security services; research
(both agricultural and medical-based); tourism and other related services.
While civil servants include those working for the education sector, tourism, research services, public health service delivery system, among others, there has been no evaluation of their performance (in terms of performances) for decades.
Knowledge about a country government service rating- in terms of percentage growth or decline- helps governments, especially those in the European Union, to place a value on the heads of their expatriate staff.
The development has seen most developing countries complain over the use of Western aid, saying European countries spend much of their resources, often meant for development initiatives in Africa, on paying their nationals who are often engaged in such projects.
An independent report on the work of one of the country’s top development partners indicated recently most of its resources went into running costs, which included staff payment. It said only a small chunk went towards real development.
The findings attracted wide-ranging debate, but shed more light on how countries use service valuing systems to take investments and development aid back into their respective countries economies.
Ironically, these services are billed by WTC as some of the areas that could help cover up for the country’s seasonal trade imbalances.
Malawi added some 31 per cent over 2007’s K69.2 billion trade balance deficit. The Ministry of Economic Planning and Development indicates in its 2008 report the country sank even deeper into that year’s abyss, registering a whopping K90.4 billion in imbalance.
It is hugely expected that the country is set to post another trade balance deficit this year. Just how big or small is will be is the only question remaining, now that it is clear the global economic crisis, declining world prices for crops would be some of the acceptable excuses.
However, Kandodo indicated during presentation of this year’s budget statement, government decided to effect another civil servants pay increment in continuing with its motivation programme.
This is expected to feed well into government’s decision to reduce the Pay As You Earn taxable blanket from K9, 000 to K10, 000. The development, however, also indicates that some of government’s workers continued to receive very little packages, below K10, 000.
While delays to carry out a comprehensive government services’ rating report seem more of a luxury than necessity, the Malawi Congress of Trade Unions (MCTU) feels that it goes a long way in influencing foreign investors to exploit Malawian workers.
Currently, the only parameter used to value a Malawian worker (used by foreign investors) seems to be the provision of minimum wage. This seems to have given employers teeth to exploit workers, with some taking as little as K4000 for a home package per month, as most investors opt for temporary employment deals.
MCTU Secretary General, Robert Mkwezalamba, says most foreign employers are taking the cue from government to abuse workers.
“Our workers are heavily exploited, one of the reasons we have been advocating for a revision exercise of our minimum wage. But it goes beyond that, we need more other mechanisms to solve these problems. This includes valuing the services of our workers competitively,” said Mkwezalamba.
MCTU has been battling foreign employers over pittance-pay and conditions of service.
The mother trade unions body feels that the employers over-value their fellow nationals while undervaluing their Malawian counterparts, a trend that had serious repercussions on conditions of service.
Mkwezalamba cited the tendency by some foreign employers to offer different packages for foreign and local staff, respectively, holding similar qualifications and competency levels.
This has riled MCTU president, Luther Mambala, who calls for the deportation of exploitative foreign employers.
Mambala also asked government to initiate measures that would shelter the Malawian worker from sheer exploitation.
“This is our country; why should we suffer?” he queried.
If Malawians are not valuable at home, where else will they be?
That is the short in Kandodo’s proposed budget: it works on assumptions without valuing performance. It rewards papers instead of performance, say the unionists.
In the end, people who perform highly without papers are exploited by exploitative foreign imployers.

Beira Port awaits Malawi Cotton

AS the wrangle over this year’s cotton prices rages on back home, Mozambican ports have already started preparing for the arrival of Malawi cotton.
This is true for Cornelder de Mozambique, the port authority for Beira. The company, owned by Cornelder Holding and the Mozambican Port and Railways has a 25 year-long concession spanning from 1998 to 2021.
Orlando Belo, Cornelder de Mozambique’s Operations Director, disclosed in an interview the port was now ready for Malawi cotton.
“We have done a lot of infrastructural planning, and part of this involved handling preparations for Malawi cotton, which usually starts trickling in by August. In fact, we expect a lot of cotton next month (August),” said Belo.
Belo said the port authority knew nothing about the cotton wrangle in Malawi, and would press ahead with preparations for the country’s cotton.
Cotton is one of the cargos, alongside tobacco, tea, and cotton, which pass through the port of Beira.
Last year, 101 thousand metric tonnes of cotton passed through the port, while 208 metric tonnes of Toor hall, 281 metric tonnes of sugar and 1, 321 metric tonnes of tea passed through the port.
Tobacco made up for 7, 721 metric tonnes of the cargo.
Government has been legs-and-hands in a battle with cotton buyers, trading under the name Cotton Development Association. Government has set K75 as the minimum cotton buying price this year while the buyers have rocked their coffers tight, opting for between K32 and K36.
Principal Secretary for Agriculture and Food Security, Andrew Daudi, reiterated in an interview the stakes would not be reduced, and hoped the buyers would, for once, toe government’s line.
“We are not relenting on the prices. In fact, government did not just come up with the price; it considered the costs that went into cotton cultivation during the 2008/09 agriculture season,” said Daudi.
Daudi said government’s set prices were meant to improve the social-economic status of Malawian farmers.
Government included some strategic cash crops in last year’s fertilizer subsidy programme, a development cotton buyers feel may have influenced government’s stand.
Accommodation of cash crops in the 2009/10 fertilizer subsidy programme this fiscal year has, however, been scraped in new Finance Minister, Ken Kandodo’s K20.91 budget line, as indicated in his inaugural budget statement.
Samuel Chikuse, a cotton farmer from Bitchai village in the area of Traditional Authority Karonga in Salima, complained in an interview any more delays in opening the cotton market could cost his crop weight and, thus, more financial returns.
“It’s becoming scary for us, farmers. Our appeal is that, should there be no agreement between government and the buyers within the next two weeks, government should just buy the crop from us at the set minimum prices and sell it to international buyers. There are good market opportunities in China,” said Chikuse.
He implored government to stick to its eggs.

Malawi to benefit from World Bank's ICT initiative: Experiences from other countries


Communications Infrastructure Project (CIP)
Despite the recent liberalization in the Burundi telecommunications sector, services remain costly and inefficient, thus making the cost of doing business very high. Teledensity remains poor at 3% and more than 90% of subscribers are concentrated in the urban areas. More needs to be done, both to improve the regulatory environment in which the development of the sector takes place and to develop the basic infrastructure to enable operators to extend their services to rural areas. Indeed, the lack of national transmission backbone networks is hampering the development of ICT services in Burundi, with virtually no access to the public network outside of the main towns. The core backbone will significantly facilitate the task of the telecommunications operator in providing last mile connectivity.
The development of such infrastructure to connect the population but also government institutions and the development of e-applications will be the basis for better performing, efficient administration, for more transparency, and ultimately for better governance.
The Burundi Communications Infrastructure Project will focus on providing:
• Technical assistance, capacity building and Monitoring & Evaluation support to MTPT and ARCT in the areas of policy, legal and regulatory frameworks, formulation of Public Private Partnership arrangement for the development of national backbone infrastructure, design of capacity purchase contracts, environment, communications, etc.
• Support for (i) establishment of a virtual landing station and an internet exchange point, (ii) the rollout of a national backbone as part of a PPP arrangement (and in cooperation with the European Investment Bank), (ii) purchase of capacity for targeted users (iv) financing the Governments’ virtual communications network and (v) the extension of ICT coverage in rural areas.
• Initial support for the preparation work for eGovernment applications.
A more detailed project description for the Burundi Communications Infrastructure Project can be found here.
More information on Burundi:
World Bank Burundi website
Country Brief
Country Assistance Strategy
Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper
ICT At-a-Glance Table
Burundi and the Millennium Development Goals
Doing Business in Burundi
Public Information Center

Transparency and Communications Infrastructure Project (TCIP)
The Government of Kenya has launched a short-term governance action plan to accelerate transparency and accountability measures and to provide the enabling environment for private sector-led growth, particularly in the ICT ector, where Kenya has been a regional leader. Within its "Framework for improving ICT", Kenya is seeking to further liberalize the ICT sector and create the enabling environment for private sector participation (PPP) and developing its e-government initiative.
The Kenya Transparency & Communications Infrastructure Project will focus on providing:
• Technical assistance which will allow the Ministry of Information and Communications (MoIC), the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK), the eGovernment Directorate at the Office of the President, the Kenya Education Network Trust (KENET) and the Public Procurement Oversight Authority (PPOA) to accelerate reforms and ensure that TCIP activities are carried out in a sound and enabling environment. The support will focus on areas of policy, legal and regulatory frameworks, formulation of Public Private Partnership arrangements, formulation of disbursement and governance mechanisms for key TCIP activities, design of capacity purchase contracts, scaling up the Government Information Portal, classification of Government data, environment studies, communications capability, etc.
• Support for (i) financing capacity purchase schemes for targeted users (Government users, universities, business process outsourcing industry), (ii) financing the Governments’ virtual communications network, (iii) scaling-up of successfully piloted Digital Village initiative, and, (iv) encourage the development of SMS and Interactive Voice response (IVR) e-Services
• Support for the roll-out of key eGovernment applications.
A more detailed project description for the Kenya Transparency and Communications Infrastructure Project can be found here.
More information on Kenya:
World Bank Kenya website
Fact Sheet
Country Brief
Country Assistance Strategy
Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper
ICT At-a-Glance Table
Kenya and the Millennium Development Goals
Doing Business in Kenya
Public Information Center

Communications Infrastructure Project (CIP)
The Madagascar Action Plan (MAP) places connected infrastructure (including telecoms), as one of its eight engagements. Madagascar’s participation in RCIP would allow it to respond to the priorities identified in the MAP in ensuring an efficient and affordable communication. For example, the MAP places a special emphasis in ensuring that all urban and rural areas are covered by a reliable, accessible, affordable communication system and that businesses will be able to communicate throughout the country. The deployment of a national backbone and the development of Universal Access in rural areas will ensure there is wider geographical coverage and better access to services. The MAP further establishes that these objectives will be achieved by promoting partnerships with the private sector to provide new and better infrastructure, which is fully in line with the proposed approach.
The Madagascar Communications Infrastructure Project will focus on providing:
• Technical assistance, capacity building and Monitoring & Evaluation support to MTPC and ARTEC in the areas of policy, legal and regulatory frameworks, formulation of Public Private Partnership arrangement for the development of national backbone infrastructure, design of capacity purchase contracts, environment, communications, etc.
• Support for (i) establishment of a virtual landing station and an internet exchange point, (ii) the rollout of a national backbone as part of a PPP arrangement (and in cooperation with the European Investment Bank), (ii) purchase of capacity for targeted users
More information on Madagascar:
World Bank Madagascar website
Country Brief
Country Assistance Strategy
Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper
ICT At-a-Glance Table
Madagascar and the Millennium Development Goals
Doing Business in Madagascar
Public Information Center

As a landlocked country, Malawi relies heavily on good cross-border and national backbone connectivity to source its international capacity and for improved access to communications. Celtel, TMN and MTL (among others) are all developing backbone facilities, in particular in the south of the country and between Blantyre and Lilongwe, where profitability is higher. However, no backbone facilities are planned for the north of the country, cross-border links are limited, and access and affordability need improvement throughout the territory.
The government of Malawi has expressed interest in participating in RCIP and discussions are currently underway to define priorities for funding under the program. The project will likely contribute to covering gap financing for the roll-out of backbone networks north of Mzuzu, in partnership with private sector operators, as well as the establishment of a virtual landing point in Blantyre, the purchase of capacity for targeted users and the development of selected eGovernment applications.
The initial estimation of this project is in the order of $20-24m. The project is expected to start in 2008.
More information on Malawi:
World Bank Malawi website
Country Brief
Country Assistance Strategy
Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper
Comprehensive Development Framework
ICT At-a-Glance Table
Malawi and the Millennium Development Goals
Public Information Center

The Telecommunications sector in Mozambique has experienced strong growth over the last few years after a wave of reforms introduced after 2000. Access has grown dramatically and availability of infrastructure has improved.
The Government of Mozambique, recognizing that ICTs can be a key contributor for regional integration and economic growth, is discussing options for participating in RCIP. The main thrust of the project in Mozambique will be to enable citizens and government to efficiently make use of the existing and future infrastructure at affordable rates. The project will also help lay the foundation for expanded and interoperable eGovernment services.
The initial estimation of this project is in the order of $15-18m. Discussions are currently underway to define priorities for funding under the RCIP program. The project is expected to start in 2008.
More information on Mozambique:
World Bank Mozambique website
Country Brief
Country Partnership Strategy
Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper
ICT At-a-Glance Table
Malawi and the Millennium Development Goals
Development Information Center

The Government of Rwanda intends to transform the economy of Rwanda from one primarily based on agriculture to one based on services. It sees ICT as a key enabler of this transformation and has made several major steps towards encouraging the development of the ICT industry and the use of ICT-based applications. As part of this strategy, the Government is discussing its participartion to the Regional Communications Infrastructure Program.
Based on Rwanda's IDA grant status and the IDA financing available to Rwanda, the RCIP Rwanda operation will be structured as an IDA grant of about US$15m.
Discussions are focusing on the Government of Rwanda’s priorities for the inclusion of activities eligible for financing under the RCIP Program. These include co-financing of national backbone elements in the context of Public Private Partnerships, financing of international capacity purchase schemes for targeted user groups, capacity-building for the regulatory authority and relevant Government's institutions.
RITA has been chosen as the lead implementation agency for the RCIP Rwanda operation, building on RITA's experience for the on-going implementation of the eRwanda project (eRwanda is a related Government of Rwanda initiative also supported by the World Bank).
RCIP Rwanda will be submitted for approval by the Board of the World Bank on May 22, 2008 and should become effective by August 2008. Documentation related to this operation will be posted on this website as they become publicly available.
More information on Rwanda:
World Bank Rwanda website
Country Brief
Country Assistance Strategy
Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper
Comprehensive Development Framework
ICT At-a-Glance Table
Rwanda and the Millennium Development Goals
Public Information Center
The Africa Regional Communications Infrastructure Program is open to Angola, Botswana, Burundi, Comoros, DRC, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, provided these countries are eligible for IDA or IBRD financing.

Country Assistance Strategy (CAS)

Background on Country Assistance Strategy
The Country Assistance Strategy (CAS) is the most important World Bank country document. It is tailored to the needs and circumstances of each country and lays down the World Bank Group's development priorities, as well as the level and type of assistance the Bank will provide for a period of three years.
The CAS preparation is a participatory process. Before the adoption, key elements of the strategy are discussed with government representatives; and to ensure the widest possible involvement, public dialogues are also held, with Internet-based discussions taking place in many countries.

However, the CAS is not a negotiated document. Any differences between the country's own agenda and the Bank's strategy are highlighted in the CAS document. A progress report is issued in the intervening year. More information is available at the World Bank CAS website.

Malawi CAS ─ 2007-2010

The support that the World Bank plans to provide to Malawi from 2007-2010 is outlined in the 4th Country Assistance Strategy (PDF). The CAS supports the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy (MGDS 2006-2011) whose focus is to reduce poverty through sustained economic growth and infrastructure development. The MDGS prioritizes six key areas that are the basis for Malawi’s economic growth, namely: agriculture and food security; irrigation and water development; transport infrastructure development; energy generation and supply; integrated rural development; and prevention and management of nutrition disorders, and HIV/AIDS.

The CAS supports the MGDS by focusing on the achievement of four outcomes:
CAS Outcome Related MGDS Goal

1. Improve smallholder agricultural productivity and integration into agro-processing.

Medium term economic growth through agriculture and agro-processing. Decrease need for food aid.
2. Put in place a foundation for longer term economic growth through improved infrastructure and investment climate.
Increase private sector led growth and competitiveness in regional and international markets.
3. Decrease vulnerability at the household level especially from HIV/AIDS and malnutrition.
Management and prevention of nutrition disorders, HIV and AIDS.
4. Sustain improvements in fiscal discipline, budget execution, and accountability of the civil service. Good governance.

In the 4th CAS, the Bank seeks to support Malawi through projects identified by Malawi as key to meeting its development goals. The Bank will also support policy dialogue by gathering data and producing analytical studies on economic and social development. The Bank will also collaborate with other multilateral and bilateral partners to co-ordinate the provision of development assistance.

Previous CAS:

The FY04-06 CAS (PDF) was a transitional program built on strengthening economic management and achieving macroeconomic stability; establishing a platform for sustainable poverty reducing growth; and supporting improved service delivery and expanded safety nets.

Comprehensive Development Framework (CDF)
Background on Comprehensive Development Framework
Eliminating poverty, reducing inequity, and improving opportunity for people in low- and middle-income countries are the World Bank Group's central objectives. The Comprehensive Development Framework is an approach by which countries can achieve these objectives. It emphasizes the interdependence of all elements of development—social, structural, human, governance, environmental, economic, and financial. The CDF advocates:

A holistic long-term strategy

The country in the lead, both "owning" and directing the development agenda, with the Bank and other partners each defining their support in their respective business plans

Stronger partnerships among governments, donors, civil society, the private sector, and other development stakeholders in implementing the country strategy

A transparent focus on development outcomes to ensure better practical success in reducing poverty.
The CDF is the foundation for the new partnership betweeen developed and developing countries to achieve improvements in sustainable growth and poverty reduction that will help countries achieve the MDGs, (see The Monterrey Consensus, 2002, PDF). The CDF approach, operationalized through PRSPs in low-income countries, provides the common foundation for implementing this new partnership at the country level. To learn more about the CDF, visit the CDF web site.
Malawi and the CDF
The Malawi PRSP (PDF) for FY04-FY06 incorporates elements of the CDF principles. The strategy is comprehensive, coherent with a results-oriented strategic framework. The consultative process through which it was developed has led to country ownership of the strategy. For more information, please refer to the Malawi PRSP (PDF, 4 MB).

Millennium Development Goals
1990 1995 2000 2007
Goal 1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
Employment to population ratio, 15+, total (%) .. 71 71 72
Employment to population ratio, ages 15-24, total (%) .. 47 48 49
GDP per person employed (annual % growth) .. 18 -1 4
Income share held by lowest 20% .. .. 4.8 ..
Malnutrition prevalence, weight for age (% of children under 5) .. .. 21.5 18.4
Poverty gap at $1.25 a day (PPP) (%) .. .. 46 ..
Poverty headcount ratio at $1.25 a day (PPP) (% of population) .. .. 83 ..
Prevalence of undernourishment (% of population) .. .. .. 29
Vulnerable employment, total (% of total employment) .. .. .. ..
Goal 2: Achieve universal primary education
Literacy rate, youth female (% of females ages 15-24) .. .. 71 82
Literacy rate, youth male (% of males ages 15-24) .. .. 82 84
Persistence to last grade of primary, total (% of cohort) .. .. 39 36
Primary completion rate, total (% of relevant age group) 27 48 66 55
Total enrollment, primary (% net) .. .. 99 88
Goal 3: Promote gender equality and empower women
Proportion of seats held by women in national parliaments (%) 10 .. 8 14
Ratio of female to male enrollments in tertiary education .. .. 37 51
Ratio of female to male primary enrollment 82 89 96 104
Ratio of female to male secondary enrollment .. .. 75 83
Share of women employed in the nonagricultural sector (% of total nonagricultural employment) 10.5 11.3 .. ..
Goal 4: Reduce child mortality
Immunization, measles (% of children ages 12-23 months) 81 90 73 83
Mortality rate, infant (per 1,000 live births) 124 120 103 71
Mortality rate, under-5 (per 1,000) 209 202 170 111
Goal 5: Improve maternal health
Adolescent fertility rate (births per 1,000 women ages 15-19) .. .. 160 135
Births attended by skilled health staff (% of total) .. .. 56 54
Contraceptive prevalence (% of women ages 15-49) .. .. 31 42
Maternal mortality ratio (modeled estimate, per 100,000 live births) .. .. .. 1100
Pregnant women receiving prenatal care (%) .. .. .. 92
Unmet need for contraception (% of married women ages 15-49) .. .. 30 ..
Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases
Children with fever receiving antimalarial drugs (% of children under age 5 with fever) .. .. 27 25
Condom use, population ages 15-24, female (% of females ages 15-24) .. .. 9 ..
Condom use, population ages 15-24, male (% of males ages 15-24) .. .. 28 ..
Incidence of tuberculosis (per 100,000 people) 258 390 425 346
Prevalence of HIV, female (% ages 15-24) .. .. .. 8.4
Prevalence of HIV, male (% ages 15-24) .. .. .. 2
Prevalence of HIV, total (% of population ages 15-49) 2.1 12.1 13.5 11.9
Tuberculosis cases detected under DOTS (%) .. 42 44 41
Goal 7: Ensure environmental sustainability
CO2 emissions (kg per PPP $ of GDP) 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1
CO2 emissions (metric tons per capita) 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1
Forest area (% of land area) 41 40 38 36
Improved sanitation facilities (% of population with access) 46 51 55 60
Improved water source (% of population with access) 41 52 63 76
Marine protected areas, (% of surface area) .. .. .. ..
Nationally protected areas (% of total land area) .. .. .. 19.5
Goal 8: Develop a global partnership for development
Aid per capita (current US$) 53 43 38 53
Debt service (PPG and IMF only, % of exports, excluding workers' remittances) 28 24 25 2
Internet users (per 100 people) 0.0 .. 0.1 1.0
Mobile cellular subscriptions (per 100 people) 0 0 0 8
Telephone lines (per 100 people) 0 0 0 1
Fertility rate, total (births per woman) 6.9 6.6 6.2 5.6
GNI per capita, Atlas method (current US$) 180 160 150 250
GNI, Atlas method (current US$) (billions) 1.7 1.6 1.7 3.5
Gross capital formation (% of GDP) 23.0 17.4 13.6 26.0
Life expectancy at birth, total (years) 49 48 46 48
Literacy rate, adult total (% of people ages 15 and above) .. .. 64 72
Population, total (millions) 9.4 10.1 11.6 13.9
Trade (% of GDP) 57.2 78.5 60.9 68.5
Source: World Development Indicators database

Figures in italics refer to periods other than those specified.
Page: Country: Malawi Row: Series Column: Time
Note: In some cases the data are for earlier or later years than those stated. Goal 1 targets: Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people whose income is less than one dollar a day. Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people who suffer from hunger. Goal 2 target: Ensure that, by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling. Goal 3 target: Eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education preferably by 2005 and to all levels of education no later than 2015. Goal 4 target: Reduce by two-thirds, between 1990 and 2015, the under-five mortality rate. Goal 5 target: Reduce by three-quarters, between 1990 and 2015, the maternal mortality ratio. Goal 6 targets: Have halted by 2015, and begun to reverse, the spread of HIV/AIDS. Have halted by 2015, and begun to reverse, the incidence of malaria and other major diseases. Goal 7 targets: Integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programs and reverse the loss of environmental resources. Halve, by 2015, the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water. By 2020, to have achieved a significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers. Goal 8 targets: Develop further an open, rule-based, predictable, non-discriminatory trading and financial system. Address the Special Needs of the Least Developed Countries. Address the Special Needs of landlocked countries and small island developing states. Deal comprehensively with the debt problems of developing countries through national and international measures in order to make debt sustainable in the long term. In cooperation with developing countries, develop and implement strategies for decent and productive work for youth. In cooperation with pharmaceutical companies, provide access to affordable, essential drugs in developing countries. In cooperation with the private sector, make available the benefits of new technologies, especially information and communications.

Superstitions in Malawi: Zooming in on Siku owner saga

Wednesday, July 6, 2009: A man drives to Blantyre’s Bangwe Township and is mobbed by residents for having three dead chickens on him. Within hours, talk is common around town- not only about the man, but the company vehicle he was allegedly using.
From nowhere, the word Siku becomes synonymous with dead chickens in Bangwe. The way the issue has been blown out of proportion smacks of something more than meets the eye. There has to be some invisible hand from somewhere, possibly people who would love Siku, and some of its directors’ reputation, thrown in the mud.
It serves, sadly once again, as a reminder of how as a nation we are so much affiliated to jealousy and its ugly machinations. No wonder our wonderful National Anthem throws a chord over the issue of jealousy.
The truth of the matter is that there is no fuss around the issue of rituals. Rituals are as old as life itself, practiced all over the world. It has always been an integral part of the history and cultural heritage of many people around the world. In Latin America, Asia, Africa, Europe and elsewhere, rituals are common place.
In Southeast Asia, for example- with its heavy seasonal rains, the diversity of flora and the abundance of metal ores, agricultural communities have had their rituals since the 4th Millennium BC.
Archaeological and cultural records from Java, known for its favourite geological conditions, have proved beyond reasonable doubt that rituals, religious and cultural beliefs sustained the people there, and gave them some common heritage. Not only in Asia has this happened, elsewhere, too.
Abundant archaeological and cultural evidence from as many as six continents indicates, clearly, that what has come to be known as modern life is merely a combination of immerging trends and our ritualistic past- a past so full of invaluable traits and life colours. This overwhelming evidence, whose force of truth became more powerful in the Late Pleistocene period, and mainly from sites