Friday, July 30, 2010

Kalero, zaulimi wang'ombe zamkaka: Dairy farming: The toils and sweat of raising ‘living banks’


Less than 15 people- apparently, unelected officials of the people- sat down in some tiny Blantyre board room a couple of months ago. Their duty: to decide, without public mandate, whatsoever, the future and income-destiny of 4, 000 Malawians who eke their living by feeding dairy animals so the animals may in turn churn out the ‘waters of cash’- milk- and contribute towards the growth of the country’s dairy industry.

Coffee and milk exchanged hands in that board room, rife with smiling faces and hand shakes. Then, the smiling faces came out, wearing the mask of sad news, to declare some irrevocable decision to 4000 people who feed the nation through that nutritious drink milk.

“From June 1, 2009, the buying price for raw milk from local farmers will change from K68 per litre to………..” there was some chuckling noise- apparently in anticipation of good news, by milk producer groups- including Shire Highlands Milk Producers Association of Malawi (Shimpa) and Malawi Milk Producers Association (MMPA) whose Chairperson and President, respectively, is Phillimon Kapinji.

Willard Aaron Khungwa, and Phillimon Madukani Phiri, Chairperson and Financial Manager for Bvumbwe Milk Bulking Group, respectively, would have jumped in a parachute of excitement over the, apparently, imminent ‘good’ news- like all other people at Chandamale Milk Bulking Group, also in Bvumbwe, Thyolo, and other parts of Malawi. Adjustments in buying prices, though very welcome, rarely come handy for milk producers.

“K50.” Silence.

It was a reduction and not adjustment as anticipated by milk producers, a decision that has shocked farmers.

That (silence), too, was the mood when milk producers met in Blantyre Friday, under the armpit of Shimpa, to discuss about the new development.

“It will affect dairy farmers. A lot goes into feeding the animals, milking, and medication that even the K68 per litre buying price for raw milk was hardly enough to meet the needs of the poor farmer,” said Kapinji a day later at his base in Thyolo (Bvumbwe).

He adds: “Otherwise, there is no future for dairy farming in Malawi .”

Kapinji said increased imports of milk products, especially from European countries, where dairy farmers have their running and production costs “massively” subsidized, were chocking local industry because such products often attracted cheap prices on the local market. This has meant increased production costs for local milk products’ processors and influenced their recent decision to reduce raw milk buying prices from farmers.

His statement sounds very much like what Dairiboard Managing Director, Theodora Nyamandi, said about production costs. She bemoaned the high production costs in the country saying they were impinging on local companies’ capacity. Last week she was reported to be outside the country to give a refreshed view.

Kapinji has his suggestions on reducing the impact of foreign milk products on local production: The current taxation regime for products from the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa region be increased from the current 10 per cent to 25 per cent; special permits should be required for foreign manufacturers to export their products to Malawi; a 10 per cent (foreign) quota be imposed on European products so that the remaining 90 per cent market share is restricted for domestic milk processors.

But, according to Malawi Economic Justice Network Executive Director, Andrew Kumbatira, that would be against international trade protocols that advocate for free and fair trade. To Consumers Association of Malawi Executive Director, John Kapito, it would be tantamount to gagging consumer choices.

When there are so many products to choose from, products’ prices tend to be cheap; when there are few options available, the consumer is pushed from left to right by powerful manufacturers, he says.

However, Kapinji banks on the Ministry of Industry and Trade. He urges the ministry to come to the rescue of local dairy farmers and the processing industry, which rests on continued milk supply from farmers.

He blames the reduction in raw milk buying prices (by processors) not on the processors; the system. He wants the once tight control measures to be back, replete with strategies and mechanisms that shelter the local dairy farmer from market shocks- a form of social security measure for their toil and sweat.

Processors of milk products- led by Suncrest Crimaries and Dairibord, among others- announced recently they would reduce buying prices for raw milk from K68 to K50 effective June 1. The processors say the influx of foreign milk products, both for fresh and powdered milk, had resulted into lack stocks of locally processed milk returning from the market.

This is said to have affected he performance of local industry players.

Back ground of dairy industry in Malawi

The country’s economy depends on agriculture, in which 90 per cent of the population is said to be involved in agriculture at some stage, in some way. With an average land holding size of 1.5 ha. Agriculture experts have tended to put much emphasis on increased production per hector while policies on livestock are directed towards self-sufficiency in all livestock products, and the export of any surpluses that may arise.

The Malawi Growth and Development Strategy (MGDS; 2006-2011) goal on agriculture, for instance, is to increase the share of smallholder farmers from 23.6per cent to 34.9 per cent, as well as increasing the trade volumes for agricultural products.

According to Wilfred Lipita, Director for the Department of Animal Heath and Livestock Development in the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, this goal was being met. He said the country had witnessed an increased number of dairy farmers because it had revamped the once-down-and-out extension systems infrastructure.

The country, however, suffers from insufficiency in milk production, a development that has attracted target specific interventions from the Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Industry and Trade, and that of Economic Development.

Efforts aimed at developing the dairy industry in Malawi date back to as early as 1970 when Food and Agriculture Organisation (Fao), through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), initiated a programme that focused on improving productivity of dairy cows under smallholder farms. It focused on the use of agro-products as a concentrate source in a bid to provide fresh milk for the increasing population; reduce importation of milk by-products; and provide an alternative means of income for farmers hither to used to cultivating maize.

The majority of farms established then used liberal amounts of a mixture of maize bran, and dried leucaena leaves were being fed to cows, while the majority of farms used maize bran. All cows were confined to stalls as a means of conserving energy, for easy detection of heat and to avoid contact with local Malawi Zebu bulls, according to a report from the then Department of Animal Health and Industry of the Ministry of Agriculture.

The system of confining dairy animals to stalls continues to date as a means of preventing diseases and contact with the Malawi Zebu.

The Fao and UNDP dairy farming initiative saw 1200 farmers from Blantyre , Lilongwe and Mzuzu being given ½ Friesian crosses. Records were then kept from 1973 to 1984, and data sent to the International Livestock Centre for Africa (ILCA) which analyzed it to compare the important reproductive and productive traits; measured the influence of environment, including years and season; assessed the suitability of various crosses to the different agricultural areas in the country and; determined the trends in dairy production.

The development helped agricultural researchers in coming up with the right breeds and crosses for Malawi . It covered Blantyre South, Blantyre North, Chiradzulu, Thyolo North, Mulanje West and Zomba, and used ½ Friesian or ¾ Friesian breeds.

Agricultural area, breed group, year of calving and area by breed interaction had a significant effect on total lactation milk yield, with high total milk yields in Zomba and Thyolo North (where most of the farmers who make up Shimpa are located and continue to practice dairy farming). The Ministry of Agriculture report attributes this to the general availability of animal feed throughout the year and because most farmers were new to dairy farming and were prepared to accept new innovations from extension workers more readily than their counterparts who had long time experience with the Malawi Zebu.

“These people resisted the idea that crossbred cows should be managed differently. In addition, smallholder operations were first started in Thyolo North and farmers in that area had gained more experience in handling crossbred cows than farmers elsewhere,” reads the ‘Productivity of Dairy Cows under Smallholder Farms Using Agro-by-products as a Concentrate Source’ report in part.

It adds that common feeds included Urea, cottonseed cake, Molasses, Maize bran, Monocalcium phosphate, salt, maize, groundnuts cake, wheat middlings and Dicalcium minerals, products Kapinji said had become too expensive for the local farmer, now faced with reduced raw milk supply prices.

Ministry of Agriculture analyses current situation

The Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security says it has been trying hard to improve the dairy farming environment in the country, with much emphasis on increasing production and good management systems.

Wilfred Lipita, Director for the Department of Animal Health and Livestock Development- an arm of the ministry- said in an exclusive interview Friday dairy farming was growing at an average rate of 15 per cent since 2001, resulting into increased dairy animals and milk production per cow.

The country had 17, 000 dairy animals in 2001. Now the figure has gone up to 38, 000, and Lipita says the development comes in the wake of increased efforts towards revamping the industry and improved security that farmers no longer look behind their backs.

“Currently, the average milk yield per cow each day is 8 litres. This means we are now producing over 34, 000 metric tonnes of milk annually. If you multiply the 34, 000 times 1, 000, you will discover that Malawi is producing millions of litres of milk each year.

“Government has put in place facilities, strategies and the necessary infrastructure to develop the industry: We now have Livestock Multiplication Centres, which are producing dairy crosses for sale to farmers that, in 2008, we managed to produce 150 dairy cows which have already been sold to farmers owing to the huge demand for dairy cattle; we have put in place measures aimed at improving the number of breeds produced every year to 500; and are providing extension services to dairy farmers to increase production and improve on their animal husbandry practices,” said Lipita.

He added: “You may wish to remember that the Animal Multiplication Centres nearly collapsed some years ago. We have revamped them and are now working. We are also working on the low milk consumption problem; we think it emanates from poor husbandry practices, resulting into inadequate production. Let our farmers realize that there is money in dairy farming because dairy animals are ‘moving banks’; they are ATMs (Auto teller Machines) one merely needs to feed and take good care of.”

Lipita said milk products also had the “healing power” to change the social-economic and nutritious status of Malawians, saying that was the reason government initiated the Dairy Development Project. This is a self-funded (Malawi Government) initiative aimed at improving fortunes in the dairy sector.

During the 2007/08 fiscal year, government provided K120 million for implementation of the project, a working figure that increased to K150 million during implementation of the 2008/09 national budget. Lipita said the ministry also expected K150 million in this year’s to 2010 budget. The budget is yet to be passed, as the country’s new fiscal year takes effect from July1.

He said they expected to increase efforts towards encouraging good housing, feeding mechanisms, disease control and pasture production among the country’s 4000 dairy farmers. Lipita advised farmers against dipping their dairy flock in any other tank, as that would compromise milk quality.

He said farmers should only dip dairy animals in special tanks, as dipping at any other place would increase the chances of milk contamination. Normally, he said, animals are not supposed to be milked for one to two days once dipped in undesignated dips to reduce the hazardous risk of poisoning consumers.

Asked to comment on the issue of pricing, Lipita said pricing remained a contentious issue, one that could be tackled by increasing production because farmers would not feel the hard pinch of low buying prices if they produced more. They would still live above the poverty line, he maintained.

“The issue of marketing is a complicated one. I understand that milk processors, who were buying raw milk at around K68, now want to reduce the buying price. There is need to come up with an amicable system where the needs of the consumer, processor and producer have to be reconciled. There are many people, already, who don’t drink milk; so, if we increase final product prices, it may affect the consumer, If we increase the (raw milk) buying price, the processor will push over that cost to the consumer as they would still want to get something out of the business that, in the end, this remains a complicated issue,” said Lipita.

He said, meanwhile, dairy farmers needed to increase production to curtail some of the effects because that would translate into negligible implications on their living standards.

“In fact, they will move out of poverty because, if one sells eight litres a day, that would be K400 and well above the poverty line. Let’s work together to bring a solution to this, that is to say farmers, consumers and processors,” he added.

Producers speak out: Bvumbwe Milk Bulking Group

Bvumbwe Milk Bulking Group (BMBG) is a grouping of dairy farmers formed in 1973, a living effort of the Fao/UNDP initiative of long. It has, in the words of the group’s Finance Manager, Phillimon Madukani Phiri, a group of farmers who depend entirely on milk.

There are 575 members for the group, with 350 of them supplying milk on daily basis.

“Milk is the life of many people here. Any problems in prices and wastage of raw milk affect them greatly, to the extent that some of them fail to pay school fees for their dependants,” says Madukani Phiri.

Yet, this group- of small, rural farmers who can hardly afford the demands of life without milk- has lost K1.3 million from May 15 to May29.

“Our buyer (one of the big milk processing companies in the country; name withheld) reduced the amount of milk we supply to them, saying we were supplying too much milk. Yet this is the same country where they say milk consumption and production is low: where is the logic? Our storage facilities (two) keep 3.200 litres of raw milk daily, ready to supply to our buyer,’ he said.

May19, 2009 came as any other day. The two cooling facilities (sorry; one- Madukani Phiri claims the other one got damaged after one of Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi’s (Escom) power black outs. K200, 000 is needed to get it repaired by the poor farmers as Escom has refused to shoulder the blame) were filled to the brim when, from nowhere, the processor came and said he would take only 2200 litres.

“1, 000 litres of milk went bad that day. Sadly, the trend has continued to date (May29, day of the interview at Bvumbwe. This means we have lost a whooping K1.3 million, small as we are and made up of farmers who entirely depend on milk for a living,” said Madukani Phiri, visibly a perturbed man.

He was a bit confused because, to shape up to the new development of a quota, he has to decide as to whose milk should be sold (as part of the 2200 litres the processor says will be buying, leaving 1, 000 litres for the flies) and whose (milk) should not.

“That is difficult. This is a group, and groups don’t work like that. We are losing a lot of milk and dairy farmers are complaining because that is money to them, It is school fees and fertilizer. To see their efforts wasted like that could have dire consequences for the dairy industry and, the time these processors would wish us to improve production, the industry will have been destroyed. How do we tell farmers we will only use milk from 150 of you and not all of you?”

Coming at a time processors and policymakers were saying milk production and consumption remained low per capita, the development is a jig saw puzzle to many farmers in Bvumbwe. You can see milk flowing, around the Police roadblock, as women resort to selling raw milk at K250 per 5 litre bottle.

Madukani Phiri challenges everybody that farmers in Bvumbwe have the capacity to deliver on any demand for milk, disputing sentiments milk production was low. He said milk production was now so overwhelming that processors had introduced quotas on milk producers, a development blamed on imported, cheap milk products.

That Friday afternoon, May29, a group of people were seen flocking to Bvumbwe Milk Bulking Group. During the day, there were not many customers who flocked to the group’s sales’ office to buy own-processed milk- why now?

“They know that some of the milk has gone bad and can not be sold to processors, and want to lay their hands on it for home consumption.”

As it turned out, some brought tins, others 5 litre bottles. Only that the watchman also said he wanted alittle bit, so he warned people against taking from his basin.

That is a sad end that has become part of the story since May19, as 1000 litres of milk produced by largely-impoverished farmers goes bad daily, and others see lack in that misfortune. A new breed of milk drinkers has been created at Bvumbwe!

“We really need help; the introduction of quotas by milk processors will affect many people and affect dairy farming,” says Madukani Phiri, now in the milk cooling room where one equipment no longer works, pointing at the five melting ice blocks. They have taken the task of electricity.

Quotas threaten milk production

The Malawi Milk Producers Association (MMPA) has bemoaned the introduction of quotas by milk processors, saying the new trend would stifle growth in the industry.

Phillimon Kapinji, MMPA President, said in an exclusive interview the development went against well-researched findings that have revealed glaring disparities in milk production and consumption in the country.

Kapinji said the development would affect the 4000 farmers who earn their living through milk production.

“There is no basis for that, really. When have we started producing so much milk as to introduce quotas? Bulking groups have been heavily affected by this,” said Kapinji.

He said there was need for government’s intervention, adding MMPA had already started negotiations with the Ministry of Industry and Trade and that of Agriculture.

“Much as we understand that local suppliers are being outdone by cheap milk imports from the European Union and other Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa countries, introducing quotas will only disenfranchise and kill the industry,” he said.

He urged government to introduce mechanisms aimed at controlling the “overwhelming influx” of powdered milk imports, and make sure the percentage of imports made up for only 10 per cent of local market share so that the remaining 90 per cent (market share) is reserved for local milk producers and processors,” said Kapinji.

Kapinji, however, contradicted with Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security statistics over the number of dairy farmers in Malawi . He said his organisation had 6, 000 registered farmers- a development he said signified growth of the industry.

He said dairy farmers stood a better chance of resolving their problems and challenges if they formed associations related to their cause. He said working in groups had so many benefits, including bulk buying of animal feed, supply bonuses and continued flow of income as other members came to the rescue of each other in times of financial inadequacy.

History of dairy farmers groups

The establishment of milk bulking groups came after the early efforts to develop dairy farming in Malawi , carried out in the early 1970s.

Kapinji, who is Chairperson for the Shire Highlands Milk Producers Association (Shimpa) and President for the Malawi Milk Producers Association, said bulking groups arose when the number of farmers started to increase, and the need for a more common, authoritative voice emerged.

“These groups have since grown tremendously. There are several advantages: people work together; have a steady market as processors also want to be assured of continued supply and opt for groups other than individuals; they receive volume bonus, when they keep steady milk supply; and buy animal feed at wholesale prices, and reduce the costs incurred in rearing animals,” said Kapinji.

He said solving problems, such as the recent introduction of quotas, was also easy when farmers used one voice to air out their concerns.

Other groups include Dwale, Chandamale, Thunga, and Bvucco Community Based Organisation for Dairy Goats in Thyolo and Kalikwe Milk Buking Group in Dedza. Bvumbwe groups have benefited from the Agricultural Research and Development Programme’s initiative- the Dairy Entrepreneurship Project (Kukweza bizinezi yamkaka) meant to improve prospects in the sector. The One Village One Product initiative also works with people in groups, dairy farmers being some of the beneficiaries in Thyolo.

Through the Bvumbwe Milk Processing Unit, farmers have learnt improved farming practices that could as well compliment Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security’s projections to improve daily milk production per cow by double in five years’ time.

Bvumbwe Milk Bulking Group is the biggest in Malawi , with 575 members.

“That is why we are currently discussing with the Ministry of Industry and Trade, as well as that of Agriculture on various issues pertaining to the industry and how we can help improve things,” he said.

That was the reason, he added, Shimpa had many members. The association has 23 bulking groups in Blantyre , Thyolo, Mulanje, Chiradzulu, Zomba and Neno, while MMPA has members in all milk producing districts of the country.

We want better conditions, farmers say

Bvumbwe farmers have asked for improved conditions in the dairy industry, saying they were getting almost nothing out of their sweat and were leaving on the fringe of life’s basics.

Rhoda Solomon, 56, a dairy farmer with two cows, said she had a dream during her tender years: she wanted be able to take care of her children, meet her daily needs without too much dependency on her husband and to lead a comfortable life.

She thought dairy farming would be the route towards her destiny-dreams.

“I have managed to achieve some of these but am still struggling to break through the hard barrier to comfortable life. There is money in dairy business but things are not going on well, especially on prices,” said Solomon, as she joined other women farmers gathered at Bvumbwe football ground in preparation for World Milk Day on June1.

She wanted milk processors to increase buying prices for raw milk; a wish likely to end in disappointment as processors have reduced buying prices effective June1.

Only one of her three cows is being milked at the moment, giving her 10 litres of milk every day. That was K680 Kwacha daily before the price reductions-she will now make do with K500. This is against the K7, 200 she uses to buy the four 50KG maize husks bags she uses per month, among other inputs.

“We need improvements in prices so that we may be able meet other daily needs. Money from milk is not meant to be channeled into milk production only,” said the woman farmer from Tayale Village in the area of Traditional Authority Bvumbwe in Thyolo.

Her sentiments were echoed by John Damiano, 55, from Gunde Village , T/A Bvumbwe, Thyolo and Jason Binali, 54, from the same village. The fathers of 10 and 3 children, respectively, said they spend more on production inputs that what they got in return did not meet their daily requirements.

The two have two and seven dairy cows respectively, which they said made the “burden” of animal feed cumbersome.

“I need three bags of maize bran every month at K1800, 3 bags for Cowpeas husks at K1, 800 and medication costs. I can’t meet all these requirements with the money I get; the processors would have increased the price to K70 or K80,” said Damiano, surprised at the news they would, in fact, reduce the buying prices.

On the other hand. Binali said he only engaged in dairy farming to meet his dairy needs, but could not invest in anything because the proceeds he got from rearing milk yielding animals were not sufficient to meet other needs.

“In fact I have always wanted to channel some of the proceeds I make from dairy farming towards other equally-befitting ventures like opening up a grocery. I can’t, unless the processors increase the prices for buying from us. They make more money than us, the real farmers,” said Binali.

Zam'mbuyomu. Kukamba zademokalase: Some Lessons from Malawi’s Nascent Democracy

This Saturday, May 9, 2009, a group of people gathered at Goma Primary
School in Chikwawa. The bicycle parade to Mgabu Trading Centre, as one
way of sensitizing people about the beauty of taking part in national
elections, was taking too long to start. But everybody kept quiet, no
murmuring, complaints, whatsoever- just some inner, psychological
pain. It was as if everybody, more or less, blamed themselves for
their delinquency, lack of power to make things happen their way or
merely pushed it over to bad luck.
Among this group were Chikwawa group village heads- Goma, Senjere,
Changa, Makande, Linga, Singano, Konzere, Jombo, Mpheza, and Mgabu. At
Mgabu Trading Centre waited Traditional Authority (T/A) Mgabu himself,
and a host of other T/As; Ngowe and Sub-TA Masache, among others. The
meeting at Mgabu Trading Centre was initially slated for 10:00am, but
arrival delays for a Two-toner vehicle carrying the Public Address
System meant 12:00 noon would be the most probable time for departure
to the Trading Centre.
Then, around 11:00am, something happened- unrelated to the event that
was to be, but in the end (it) related, all the same. Made to relate
by the sharp democratically-tuned eye of Maynard Nyirenda, Programmes
Officer for the Sustainable Rural Growth and Development Initiative
(SRGDI), an organisation behind this great gathering of traditional
leaders and other villagers; for most of these, the relatively long
distance they had traveled registered on their bicycles. The village
‘motor vehicles’ had added some dusty colour to their, mostly, black
Distance speaks. It speaks through dust that clings to such mobile
property as bicycles, vehicles, ferries, even wheelbarrows.
Back to 11:00am, and what happened:
A man in his late 30s was chasing a little dog in, somewhat, lucid
manner from the Southern end of Goma Primary School. He caught up with
it just some two metres from Nyirenda and me, behind the primary
school. The ‘master’ then started whipping the little dog, fiercely,
without mercy, to the extent of even throwing six stones at it (poor
dog!). To Nyirenda’s amazement, the dog did not come anywhere near us
to seek refuge but lied down before him, licking his hands in an
attempt to mollify him.
That is typical of dogs; they often remain close to their master, even
when the master is away. They wait at home for his return, for in the
dog’s mind the master will always return, and then follows him
whenever it is permitted once he returns. The man, who later said his
name was Simeon Makaza, was a good man, according to some of the
villagers who sat patiently under Acacias trees, waiting for the
bicycle parade to Mgabu. He was only infuriated at his dog’s
discourtesy in eating his two mice. He had laboured and toiled really
had to get those two (mice) because, he claimed, eight more had eluded
his seemingly clever hands.
“I wanted to teach it (the dog) a lesson because it is still young,
only nine months old. As they say, Kuongola mtengo ndiukadali waungono
(the best time to straighten a tree is when it is still tender and
young),” said Makaza, seemingly satisfied with the ‘job’ he had done.
We did not leave Makaza at Goma Primary School, he and his dog. He
went home, some 100 metres away, took his bicycle and joined the
bicycle parade for Mgabu when 12:00 noon came and it was time to go.
Every one on the parade wore t-shirts written ‘Ndife Amodzi’ (We are
One). Except some four people because they had come alittle late when
the t-shirts had run out, but they still cycled, fully aware of the
importance of the day.
Any lessons from the ‘master’-little dog scenario at Goma (Primary
School)? I asked Nyirenda.
“Yes,” said Nyirenda. “It is like democracy”.
Here is a master and his little dog, and you talk about democracy. Has
that scenario gone that far?
“It’s not going far (linking the two to democracy); I am just applying
the things we come across in everyday life, like what we saw at Goma,
and relating them to democracy. The symbols we come across in life may
represent so many things, including the relationship between leaders
and their subjects, which I may link to democracy. There must always
be a process through which leaders are made accountable………….”
I say, how does that relate to democracy?
“It relates. The dog had eaten its master’s two mice, isn’t it?”
He claimed so.
“Right. That applies in democratic systems of government, like ours
here in Malawi, too. The national leaders ‘eat’ our votes because we
cast them (votes) for them (leaders). The votes are not for free. It
is like investing power in them and we expect something back.
“Something in terms of development initiatives, favourable laws and
accountability. By beating up the dog, the owner- I wouldn’t love to
call him master, which does not apply in democracy because the master
is the voter, the purported subject- Makaza was just trying to make it
accountable for the two mice. Everything we see could have lessons to
the systems of our every day life,” said Nyirenda.
That was the reason national leaders have to play to ‘little dog’ once
every five years, he said. Just what happened on May19, 2009.
So, the delays in departing for Mgabu were a blessing in disguise; one
more lesson about democracy. Nyirenda said, for Malawi’s democracy to
grow and attain maturity to the level of the United States of America,
for instance, there was need to gauge the pay we have traveled, and
suggest some of the things we may put in place to make our leaders
accountable, other than instilling in them the spirit that they were
Malawians needed to find out the impact of the four times (1994, 1999,
2004 and 2009) our national leaders were made to lie down and account
for their political actions. They then got re-elected (positive
sanction) or got the boot (negative sanction). That happens when
little dogs lie down.
Rafiq Hajat, Executive Director for the Institute for Policy
Interaction (IPI) and his counterpart at the Active Youth Initiative
for Social Enhancement, Marcel Chisi, agree with Nyirenda that there
is need to draw some lessons from the 15 years of Malawi’s democracy.
The boat is not half empty because even chairperson for the Public
Affairs Committee (Pac) Fr. Boniface Tamani, Human Rights Consultative
Committee’s (HRCC) chairperson, Undule Mwakasungula and Gender Support
Programme’s Cecilia Mussa agree- a common voice echoed by political
analysts and scientists.
Some of these lessons came out clearly during public lectures
organized by SRGDI with funding from the German institution GTZ. It
came under the ‘Demokalase Yathu’ (Our Democracy) Project, which was
conceived to help Malawians design democratic principles that make
local sense, and tallies with our hopes, wishes and aspirations.
Hajat, Mzuzu University political analyst Noel Mbowela, Chancellor
College lecture in the Department of Political and Administrative
Studies Joseph Chunga, among others, guided Malawians through this
process. Each step towards the whole 15-years process a lesson.
Some of these lessons also came from various other analysts and observers.
Malawi has no parliament, just a national assembly

One of the things that came out clearly was the revelation by Chisi
that Malawi has no parliament, only a national assembly. This took
students from the Catholic University by surprise. There was some
sort of understandable disgust provoked by that revelation, though it
is clear that constructive thinking, ironically, is almost taking the
place in Malawian politics of the politics of patronage as the void-
once filled by the zeal to appease, regionalism and nepotism- is being
filled with pour ideologies.
Having done away with the one party system of government, and thus
one-sidedness in thinking, people can now focus on a myriad of other
issues- truths, half truths, untruths, abuse, ignorance, or prejudice.
Chisi has picked prejudice, saying the events of 1997 in parliament,
when members of parliament (MPs) repelled the Senate, hinged on
prejudice for the people of Malawi because, as the behaviour of MPs
during the 2004 to 2009 House manifested, there was need for checks
and balances.
“Who could check that bunch of MPs? Not the constituents, because
those people were clearly following their party leaders’ bid, but the
senate. That is to say chiefs, minority groups, among others. It is
sad, but true, that Malawi has no parliament because of that action in
1997. Parliament comprises both the senate and the national assembly.
No one way about it,” says Chisi.
Hajat, however, says, as far as he was concerned, the Senate was still
there- at least in his mind- because the 1997 MPs did not call for a
referendum when undertaking such an “enormous task” as to discard off
chiefs and other minority groups in that one mad sweep.
That sounds very much like in 1993. In that year, Malawi’s political
curtain was apparently in tatters and appeared ripe for revolution.
Then came May17, 1994, when came the abrupt, but highly anticipated,
change- a new untried political demand made for a nation of learners.
It was a curious state of limbo buried by a collective barrage of
“That revolution is not over. We need that spirit to reverse the
damage imposed by a handful people over a nation state. We need the
Senate,” says Hajat.
He may be infuriated because, as it turned out, the hopeful image of
politics of perfection proved merely an illusion. The specter of a
smooth ride and fairness was apparently remote from a country still
dozing from a dictatorship, weakened by a new slanderous, castigating
multiparty regime still nursing the pangs of a shattered economy, an
overtaxed population and rife with traits of regionalism.
We may be lucky now, though, as political analysts and experts have
started replacing the lack of serious dissent, based on the view that
democracy would be perfect and the constitution hole-free. The likes
of Edge Kanyongolo, Boniface Dulani, among others, have contributed a
willingness to do voluntary research that unearths our shortfalls,
which they have presented at various platforms. No longer do members
of the academia, civil society organisations (CSOs), private sector
and the media view the political situation through the same prism.
This pleases Nyirenda, who chips in: “This situation will accord the
curious, progressive citizen a candid view of where our democracy has
come from while, for political scholars, it will supply some footnotes
to the relevance of citizens’ participation and, of course, give more
ammunition to the ‘dyed-in-the-wool’ critic of the Republican
Nobody is willing to relinquish grip over public media
One Bruce Sterling never set foot on Malawi. True. Yet, the practical
machinations of his words render credence in Malawi. If that sounds
unfamiliar, hear him (Sterling): “Knowledge is power. Do you suppose
that (that) fragile little form of yours, your primitive legs, your
ridiculous arms and hands, your tiny, scarcely wrinkled brain can
contain all that power? Certainly not! Already, your race is flying to
pieces under the impact of your own expertise. The original human form
is becoming obsolete.”
Nyirenda agrees that knowledge is power. There are so many ways of
getting this knowledge- through school class rooms, conferences,
meetings, seminars, every day experience. But none, he says, surpasses
the power of radio in Malawi, and to some extent television. And no
radio station surpasses the reach of Malawi Broadcasting Corporation’s
(MBC) Radio One (though Zodiac Broadcasting Station is going that
“People are being denied balanced knowledge here in Malawi; those
entrusted with the mandate to rule are not loosening their grip over
MBC, and that has an impact on democracy. What it means when we say
‘Knowledge is power’ is that it can change perspectives, it can tilt
results, it can misinform. Our people are being shown one side of the
coin and that is a serious anomaly,” says Nyirenda, an observation
once shared by many.
Dulani, Kanyongolo, Hajat, Mwakasungula, Hajat, international
electoral observers, parliament, former president Bakili Muluzi
(himself an abuser of the same) have all spoken about it. Even the
Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority and Electoral Commission’s
(EC) media monitoring units have pointed it out. No change.
Students who also patronized the Demokalase Yathu Public lectures felt
the same- the need to open up the airwaves to dissenting views.
“Let the people get the power. Whether they have the capacity to
contain that power (knowledge) is irrelevant in democracy. Democracy
means power to the people and knowledge is one way of imparting that
knowledge, power,” says Mwakasungula.
EC Chairperson, Justice Anastasia Msosa, bemoaned it too (patronage of
the public media) in her assessment of the official campaign period.
“The public media has performed miserably in leveling the playing
field for other political parties,” she said.
Democratic governance makes it necessary to provide a time frame,
which in Malawi’s case comes every five years after any other national
election, where it is necessary to unmask, through a secret ballot,
the mass of repressed political wishes lying within the unconscious so
that a new possibility founded on informed knowledge and choices may
be launched to inspire people towards the next course of development.
Two months before this all-important unmasking process, the EC pays
for airtime on public broadcasters so that other political players
should have a platform to share their plans, aspirations, wishes
compressed in manifestos.
It never happened in Malawi this time (2009), though it happened in
1994 when the winds of change drew cracks across the hither to single
wall. This is despite the fact that, with the 2004 general elections
approaching and Muluzi ineligible to succeed himself- having served
the two constitutional terms- people thought things would change.
There is hope, however, as most analysts agree. Chisi and Mwakasungula
agree that 2009 may not be fatefully late a beginning to start the
process of change. We are still learning, says Chisi, as evidenced by
the fact, for example, that it may take Malawi over 228 years to reach
the level of democracy of the United States (if maturity in democracy
was measured by the number of years in it, which is, fortunately, not
the case. Democracy lies in the head- the willingness to learn and
While it may be hard to know the real intents behind people who would
want to abuse their political mandate by monopolizing public airwaves,
Mwakasungula says it becomes less hard to isolate their intents from
the will of the people. It all boils down to intolerance and
selfishness, which is often fortified by their propaganda apparatus
including the use of public broadcasters.
Our liberalized markets need democracy, too
The idea behind democratic systems of government is to avoid monopoly
of power by politicians. Those who opted for democracy over all other
forms must have learnt it the hard way from corporations that
monopolized markets in the past. The corporations originally had power
over every dimension of people’s lives: they produced what they (not
people) wanted; produced whatever quantity or quality they determined;
they fixed prices and costs; they decided on the future of each of
their employees and, sometimes, on the future of entire communities.
They could even determine where people lived; what work, if any, would
do for them (people); what they had to eat, drink and wear; what sort
of knowledge, schools and universities needed to encourage; and what
kind of society children had to inherit. Not only that, they also
affected everybody in their treatment of natural resources and how
they decided to deal with their own factory garbage and residues.
Some of these ills, chips in Hajat, continue to be practiced with our
market players.
“Take our tobacco buyers, for instance; they form cartels and connive
on prices; they refuse to share, let alone disclose, part of their
huge profits with the tobacco farmer in Rumphi, Kasungu, Dedza. The
case is the same with the tea grower in Mulanje, Thyolo; and cotton
growers in Salima, Chikwawa, Nsanje. This shows the clear need for
democracy in our market economy,” says Hajat.
He adds that the British government, for instance, makes more money
from taxes imposed on tobacco products than the ‘real’ man who toils
on the ground in Malawi can ever imagine in his basket. They make
billions, he says, when it remains the same old poverty story for the
African farmer.
His sentiments may emanate from the reality that, while our economic
system is sold to us under the banner of a liberalized, free
enterprise economy, experience shows that free enterprise no longer
exists, if, in deed, it ever did. This because free enterprise, as the
name implies, would have been a system in which buyers and sellers had
equal powers, met at a neutral market in the real village, possess
equal information and make their trade without leaving traces of
poverty behind.
Our markets may not be that neutral, in the words of Hajat, because
tobacco buyers dictate the stakes and government still passes
legislation that rigs the market by giving certain groups investment
tax credits, incentives, depletion and depreciation allowances,
subsidies, rebates and price supports.
Assertions best understood by long time Kasungu farmer, Andrew Bauti:
“We need democracy on the tobacco market, and powers enabling farmers
to vote out players who practice unfair trade. In our system,
currently, neither small and big businesses nor buyers and sellers are
equal in any way. It is very unfair on us because we toil and get
nothing in return.”
That may be true because power is contagious. It can only be fought
with equal, or more, power. Buyers are more powerful than the rural
farmer. That is where democracy comes in when, for once, common
citizens retain their power to fight possible excessive use of power
by those in elected positions. This upon the realization that every
human group that exercises power does so, not in such a way as to
bring total happiness to those who are subject to it, but in such a
way as to increase that power.
That happens when we all pretend to own up to the moral values of
democracy none of us really possesses. And Hajat is against it.
From personal to ideology-based politics
Then comes the question of presidential and parliamentary elections.
Sterling wrote that elections were a means by which people delegated
and extended their mandate to national leaders so that, after a
specific period of time, the people (electorate) get their mandate
back and extend it through the election, or re-election, of new
Every thing in life is an extension, he argued: as the wheel is an
extension of the foot; clothing an extension of the skin; the roof an
extension of the sky; synthetic hair an extension of tree leaves;
democracy an extension of choice, to the effect that it is no longer
meaningful to see democracy as a subject. It has even moved from an
object of desire to that of designing.
People have designed elections not as an end, but a means to an end.
And the way Malawians are achieving their means to this end (electing
leaders) has pleased Fr. Boniface Tamani, chairperson for the Public
Affairs Committee (PAC) so much.
“People have moved from the politics of personalities to politics
based on principles and ideologies, something we have been advocating
for all these years. It is pleasing to note that we have started
moving towards that direction,” said Tamani.
It is only natural to appreciate, as he does, because every election
is a complex process. The complexity is compounded by the reality that
it involves a multi-purposed society of ever-evolving egos, a
development that means voting on personal, regional, or ideological
lines may not be out of the complete question. To expect that every
one will vote on the basis of principles is tantamount to thinking
that every citizen thinks alike, says Nyirenda.
“Elections and democracy in other words, counters the myth that we
live as autonomous individuals, as islands unto ourselves, without
rights balanced by duties. Our ‘Demokalase Yathu Project’, for
instance, is premised on the realization that every decision each and
every Malawian makes-whether it be to sell yourself into slavery or to
sell yourself into prostitution- adds to and creates the telos of
communities you are part of. You do not exist as an island, in
democracy, you live in the context of majority wishes,” said Nyirenda.
Not that the majority should take everything for themselves, he adds,
but must employ selflessness, compromise, servility and understanding
to improvise the minority population (voters), the social-economically
disenfranchised, the socially and politically marginalized and the
psychologically weak. When people vote on ideology lines, it feeds
into their nature that they must consider the wishes of others without
being tainted by partisanship, nepotism, regionalism, or whatever,”
according to Nyirenda.
Many analysts have hailed Malawians for voting along ideological lines
this time around, though sentiments by Malawi Congress Party leader,
John Tembo, seemed to suggest he wanted people to maintain the status
What does the sentence, “Those who know the politics of this country
will understand that the way (Bingu wa) Mutharika has amassed the
number of votes he has is very, extra-ordinary”, mean? (That is an
issue for next time).
People get the government they deserve
This is Rafiq Hajat’s tirade against none-voters. During the 2004
parliamentary and presidential elections, only one in every two
registered voters trekked to the polling station, while the rest
stayed home, some remained on the wheel (track and bus drivers). It is
called voter apathy, a term referred to a scenario where eligible
voters decide to stay out for various reasons. There has, however,
never been a comprehensive study on the reasons voters opted to stay
out of the polling station even before voting (when you vote, you are
not supposed to linger around the polling station. Before you vote,
you are most welcome).
“Some of these people were then heard murmuring and complaining about
all sorts of things. If you don’t vote, the government and
administration that comes in is the one you deserve. The solution lies
in voting,” he said.
He may be backed by fact. In 2004, people gave Mutharika, then
standing on United Democratic Front ticket, 36 per cent of the
presidential vote. The policies, ideologies and principles he brought
into office were the things that the people deserved, those who voted,
but more importantly, those who did not.
Come May19, 2009. There was a huge turn out, which Muluzi has equated
to the situation and enthusiasm of 1994. It can not be ruled out that
most of the voters that shunned voting in 2004 came out this time
around, and voted for Mutharika.
Mutharika has chalked 2, 946, 103 votes, translating into 50.7 per
cent of the total votes. Tembo, his staggeringly insignificant runner
up, got 24 per cent of the vote when he got 1, 370, 044 votes. EC
statistics indicate that 5.8 million people registered to be in that
lonely house, polling booth, for some 10 seconds or more.
Why do we say that? “Because Mutharika has amassed an overwhelming
number of votes than anyone else in multiparty democracy since 1994.
The people who stayed out have understandably contributed to this,
after discovering that, may be, Mutharika’s style of leadership could
be something they have wanted all along and deserve,” says Gender
Support Programme’s Cecilia Mussa.
The youth have a great role to play in Malawi’s democracy
It came out clearly, from the minds of Chancellor College’s Chunga and
Mbowela of Mzuni, that Malawian youths form a political bloc that can
be dismissed at one’s own peril. The youths, especially those pursuing
higher education, are taken as role models in rural areas, are
flexible to new ideas, have more access to communication channels, and
have the energy to pursue their dreams, said Chunga, and could
therefore influence political change.
Mbowela cited last year’s election in the United States of America,
where he said the youth, as a bloc, influenced the election of Barack
Obama, as the first African American president. This influence lies
not in voter apathy, but in the ways their goals and aspirations are
employed and the common end to which they are directed. In the USA,
this common end came in their hope for change, and voting for it.
It lies in action, youths’ power, according to Mbowela and Chunga.
Action Chunga said was evident during the nationalist period when
university youths formed a universities’ revolution group that
influenced political change across the width and breadth of the
A power still evident in current development initiatives. The youth
contribute towards farming in Malawi, they have helped in Malawi
Social Action Fund work, as well as the income generating public works
programme, adds Chunga.
But their main power and influence lies in their numbers. If only they
redirect their energies (from violence) to leadership participation,
their influence could work well for the country’s development agenda,
in the reckoning of Chunga.
Gender equality, too, is a great issue
A long, long battle that represents, in a way, the short of human
rights advocacy. The United Nations has mechanisms that ensure that
minority groups are not suppressed by the majority- some form of
guarantee that the majority will not take everything to themselves but
employ selflessness, compromise, servility and understanding on the
needs of the minority.
Nowhere do they talk about the suppressed majority, like women, and
how the powerful, influential minority should handle them
(selflessness, compassion, compromise, servility, understanding), a
magnanimous sort of international oversight because women comprise a
whooping 52 per cent of the Malawian population.
The suppression of women arose originally on grounds of economics,
which held that cultural and moral change derive from changes in
economic structure. This perceived suppression got perpetuated with
the concept of private property; mainly because women could reproduce,
they, like animals, were defined as property.
Mussa feels that this practice is continuing in Malawi, looking at the
nature of positions our women hold in society. It is evident in the
continued second class status most women are subjected to, especially
in rural areas where the husband is very much the patriarch to be
feared and worshipped in equal measure.
“It is also clear in the difficulties women continue to face in so
many areas- their continued difficulty in regulating such matters as
sex, marriage, procreation and divorce,” she says, one of the reasons
gender activists may have almost turned gender equality advocacy into
women empowerment campaigns.
Mussa is convinced this practice is also rampant in employment because
it allows employers to get two workers for the price of one as there
are huge disparities between salaries men and women get at the
workplace. The man is paid wages but his wife, who performs the
services necessary for him to live a decent life during the many hours
he spends at work, is not paid (by the husband).
Women also provide a cheap reserve of labour, which helps keep wages
down and profits up.
Will this change?
Emma Kaliya, NGO Gender Coordinating Network’s chairperson sees no
reason why it should not. She says, through advocacy work, things were
now improving- raising the hopes even higher for women is the fact
that the black clouds may ascend even further and live room for light.
This light comes when women are elected, or appointed, into decision
making decisions.
“That is why we have applauded President Mutharika for choosing Joyce
Banda, a reputable woman, as his running mate and, consequently, vice
president of this country. We are really happy. Now we want a female
speaker,” said Kaliya.
Some 40 seats have gone to women in parliament, following the May19
elections. This goes against the target for the 50-50 campaign for
women meant to catapult more women into decision making positions.
Only that the secret ballot may not be the best of catapults.
Gender activists are not worried, though. They say ensuring that women
get to the same level as men, in terms of numbers and influence, is a
process. But it is not a one-day process.
As Malawi moves more and more towards the island of democratic
maturity, women shall finally make it, according to Kaliya, who sums
“We know for sure it will happen, and society will be an improved lot
because women are known for their caring nature, their unsurpassed
The battle for women empowerment, a majority that suffers suppression,
is a battle of love, and care.
Democracy is Malawian
Chisi further dispelled suggestion democracy was foreign. He said it
was both local and foreign, but more local than foreign.
“Our chiefs practiced it over a long period of time, even before
colonialism. In fact, colonialists found democracy here (in Malawi)
because our chiefs used to delegate cases to their counselors (Nduna
zamfumu). Isn’t that democracy?”
Local government elections are an integral part of democracy
Hajat says the absence of councilors has been felt for the past four
years, one that shows that their presence fills some void in the
democratic open space. He says failure to hold local government
elections violates people’s development and political rights, as the
duty of MPs was not to initiate development activities in their areas
but make laws.
Nyirenda and the others agree. How can we help the common Malawian
understand the tenets and principles of democracy when there is no
democracy near him (meaning councilors). He says councilors were
“democracy brought to the people”,- a form of living democracy that
sits and chats with the people and sleep with the people.
“Unlike most MPs, councilors live with the people they represent; they
know them personality. Isn’t that not democracy near the people?”
This has been one of the shorts so far; democracy that stays with the
people. The distance from Salima to Capital Hill is too huge to be
‘walked’ on foot. The distance to the councilor’s house is not, says
The journey to explore the lessons from our fifteen-year old
democracy, too, is too huge to walk on foot. It is like walking from
Salima to Capital Hill.
We may be forgiven for being at Mvela in Dowa, and not Capital Hill yet.

Nthawiyo 2009; paja kunali achina Maotcha Banda: More export opportunities to Japan

By Richard Chirombo

Malawi could increase the number of exports to Japan and reduce its trade balance gap following that country’s offer to increase the list of Malawian products currently trading hands there.

The country presently exports macadamia nuts, honey and other One Village One Product (Ovop) products to Japan, commodities Malawi’s ambassador to that country, Roosevelt Gondwe, said had won the hearts of Japanese consumers and increased their appetite for more products.

Gondwe revealed in a recent interview that negotiations between the two countries on the list of potential products to be included under the new arrangement were under way, adding the task was left in the hands of the Malawi Export Promotion Council (Mepc).

He described it as a “very big opportunity”, one that could help the country fill a long-existent export gap, and increase foreign exchange earnings at a time the global economy was going through turbulent economic times following the financial crunch that started with oversights in the United States futures market and has now spilled over to other world economies.

“Malawian products, such as macadamia nuts and natural honey, have won the hearts of many Japanese consumers that they have been asking for more. This prompted us to start negotiations through Mepc, and we expect that over 10 types of products could be included, so long as we have the capacity to supply consistently because consumer habits are permanent,” said Gondwe.

He said Malawi’s agro-based economy could be spared from many world markets shocks if there was market-diversification of exports crops, meaning the export of as many crops as possible to as many international markets as available.

The Japan offer comes in the wake of intensified development-diplomacy campaigns by Malawi, a development reported to have tripled interest in the strategic Malawi Growth and Development Strategy areas of mineral exploration, tourism and manufacturing, according to sources in the Department of Foreign Affairs’ Economic Division.

Gondwe said the country could still make the best out of the current global economic quagmire, so long as exporters met international standards. He said the current economic crisis could have led to some laxity by some dominant exporters, and countries that often find it tough to penetrate some markets could try their lack and, possibly, win long time consumers on the international market.

Deputy Industry and Trade Minister, Ellock Maotcha Banda, has concurred with Gondwe, saying the economic crisis could be an economic blessing in disguise for countries like Malawi, and asked small and medium scale enterprises to intensify products’ marketing.

Maotcha Banda said by taking advantage of some probable laxities by some dominant exporters that often stand in the way of Malawi, the country could create long term marketing opportunities for its “often unique” products.

“There is no time for laxity; it is time to try our chances by exporting good quality products. We have a lot of unique products in this country, and the good thing is that experience has shown that these products (of ours) are habit-forming. That is the key; export something that is habit-forming and you have a long term market right before you,” said Maotcha Banda.

Zachaka chatha: RBM, Regional trends favour MSE as sole player


Malawi will join the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) region in having one stock market player in Malawi Stock Exchange, a development defended by Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) as not being counter-competitive.

This is in tandem with regional lines of operation, where most Sadc member states either have one stock exchange or are yet to establish one. Neighboring Zambia, for instance, has the Lusaka Stock Exchange.

A stock market is just one of the types of central bank licensed-places where property ownership changes hands in a country; the others include Foreign Exchange market, Bond market, Derivatives market and Commodities markets.

Investigations carried out this week revealed that most Sadc member states have either one stock market or are yet to institute one. The trend is the same in most countries of the world except for the United States of America and a handful of big economies, where research revealed the existence of regional stock markets in accordance with the scale of economic activity.

RBM Bank Secretary, Samuel Malitoni, acknowledged in a written questionnaire that chances were that Malawi could have only one stock market in pursuit of regional trends, and said the move could not be counter-competition or against values of a liberalized market.

“The fact is that most of the countries in the Sadc region and all over the world have one stock exchange. A country is not doomed if there is (only) one stock exchange,” said Malitoni, adding there was no need to establish another stock market since we already have one.

Malitoni said, to that end, the Central Bank’s role as a regulator would be to achieve three key objectives of regulation. These include protecting investors and shareholders; ensuring transparency, efficiency and fairness; and to reduce systematic risks.

In the Malawi scenario, RBM mandate revolves around licensing market players such as brokers, investment advisors and portfolio managers, supervising stock market activities, and providing guidelines on market conduct.

“Our expectations are that the Malawi Stock Exchange will remain a market where stocks or equity and other financial securities will be traded. The exchange will (also) be expected to move along with developments that are taking place on the global market,” he said.

According to Malitoni, moving along with global developments meant improving the country’s trading systems as well as offering a clearing and settlement mechanism currently unavailable on the local bourse, developments that translated into continued changes of systems in line with global trends.

He said the development of a stock exchange depended on a number of national developments, key among these being macro-economic conditions, while a number of factors including public awareness also influenced market outcomes.

Current indicators, such as oversubscription of Initial Public Offers- which is an offer of a company’s shares to the public for the first time- pointed to increases awareness about opportunities that exist on the stock market. Through MSE, companies have become aware of the opportunity to raise capital at a relatively lower cost than borrowing from commercial banks, he said.

The RBM Bank Secretary acknowledged, however, that there was room for improvement in terms of investor education, in order to sensitize investors on the benefits of growing their savings, and also to sensitize companies on the need to raise quick capital at the stock market.

MSE also needed to move with global trends as financial market activities evolved as the whole market developed.

A stock market is just one part of a capital market- a market for securities where companies and governments raise long term funds (capital) and where the securities are traded- and its existence dates back to 1988 when Malawi, with support from the International Monetary Fund, carried out a Structural Adjustment Programme (Sap) aimed at reforming the fiscal, monetary and structural roles of government in the economy.

The Sap led to a review and enactment of a revised RBM Act and the Banking Act in 1989 enabling the Ministry of Finance to relinquish its supervision powers over banks and other financial institutions to the Reserve Bank that the Central Bank’s mandate included the promotion and development of money and capital markets in the country.

Following the new powers granted to the bank, a new instrument named the Capital Market Development Act (CMDA) number 17 of 1990 was enacted. This inadvertently vested in the Central Bank oversight powers over the capital market, and paved way for the establishment of an organized stock exchange in 1994, which started operating under the only broker at the time- Stockbrokers Malawi Limited.

On April 1, 2000, the stock exchange got delinked from Stockbrokers Malawi as its secretariat and the MSE was born.

Malitoni said, while one of the key reasons for de-linking the exchange functions from Stockbrokers was the need to bring in competition at the market, the existence of one stock market as is commonplace worldwide could not be describing as frustrating market competition but rather enhancing it.

“Opportunities exist for those wishing to invest in the other types of markets,” he said.

Kukumbukira 2009: Building 2009 polls on grassroots' communities

By Richard Chirombo
Mussa Paulo, DPP, nearly banged into an on-coming lorry ON august 27, 2007, as he attempted to duck Dyson Misomali, a United Democratic Front (UDF) director of youth for Blantyre- Kabula constituency.

Paulo, also from Kabula, is no stranger to politics, or politicians. Not merely because he currently serves as Democratic progressive Party constituency governor for youth; he has over the years been bodyguard to a myriad of notable politicians who, from an observer's point of view, have little in common other than the common string that is politics, and being Malawian.

Talk about Malawi Congress Party (MCP) President John Tembo, New Republican Party (NRP) president Gwanda Chakuamba, Stanley Masauli of the resuscitated Republican Party, and Steve Ching'ang'a, among other notable politicians- he has served them all as bodyguard- either as a single individual or part of a security detail.

"The reason I nearly got run over was political; many Malawians have a long-held view that people who belong to other political parties, other than their own, are their sworn in rivals, that there should be no interaction whatsoever. I might have shared in this misconception, but now I know (what politics is all about). Politics, in the developed world, means campaigning in the run-up to federal or national elections, and then holding hands for the sake of national development thereafter. Not in Malawi," says Paulo.

He defends his case by adding that a majority of Malawians have taken politics beyond its traditional meaning, perhaps because of its Chichewa translation of Ndale which, literally translated into English, comes to mean 'slashing one's legs at one go' (as in cutting of grass)-a martial arts technique that sees someone falling over himself from the sudden effect of a slash-like movement of the legs.

Yet, in his own words, he also reveals that on so many occasions, in his other life as bodyguard, he came to learn about the behind-the-podium-life of politicians. He saw his (former) bosses screech to resounding halts whenever they saw their perceived political 'enemies' embroiled in the delay-tentacles of an auto-mobile break-down.

After which, he says, they would agree on where they would meet for one-too-many, or beer, sessions. 'Why can't we learn from this, as we approach the May (19, 2009) general elections, that the polls may be peaceful, that in the end we will all agree to concentrate on development until one's term of office expires? There is a lot to be done to transform our lives, and all these things depend on purpose of unity".

Politicians do it at night.

A lot, it seems, needs to be done, and the signs were bounty recently at Namatete Primary School, in Blantyre, where constituency-level politicians drawn from various political parties met to discuss unity as we approach the May 19, 2009 general elections, equally expected by many a politician and political analysts to be the most challenging Malawi has ever braced since the advent of the Third Republic.

The primary school lies at a distance of 900 metres, East of Chirimba bus stage as one goes towards Blantyre City Centre. There, at Namatete, is a wall two-metres tall, that swallows linear-constructed, but dilapidated all the same, blocks christened classes. These walls also serve as classrooms. In fact, over six chalkboards cover every ten metres of this wall (sorry, classroom!) and, every school day, pupils sit down on stones facing this brown wall.

Every school day, teachers bid their homes bye saying 'we are going to school', yet it is a wall they mean. All they do, and know at this school, ironically constructed in one of Malawi's highly esteemed cities, Blantyre, is stand in front of the wall- the pupils, some can hardly afford soap, watch both the teacher and the wall. Of course they listen to the teacher and not the wall, but environments can also talk. The wall cries for help, in form of classrooms, enough teachers and quality education, on behalf of the pupils.

But, according to UDF's Misomali and Ephraim Pofera, MCP constituency secretary for Kabula, the school remains in such state because people are pre-occupied with politics: the opposition always against, the ruling party always dictating. People are the ones who suffer.

"They (innocent people) are denied their right to development. The problem affects children hard; in this case, pupils have to brace the rain, sometimes so heavy, wind, and the October sun. It's unfair, really. Tit-for-tat politicking, on every side, both the opposition and the ruling party, is retarding social-economic development," says Misomali.

This has largely been detrimental, he enthuses, as some people go about removing other parties' flags and political insignia. Where has sanity gone, when Malawi was supposed to be a boat? One boat.

In fact, in the words of Pofera, what has gone haywire with multiparty politics in Malawi, that it now means enemies to the point of shedding innocent blood? Multiparty politics were supposed to be at the individual person's discretion, whether to join this party or that, just as it happens with churches. He rightly points out that some are catholics, presbyterians, protestants, restorationists, muslims, hindus, among other religious affiliations. But they don't stone each other for their beliefs, they live in peace.

"After all, after all", exclaims Pofera, as if powered by the virtuoso of a newfound revelation, " were we not all members of one political party during the late Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda's regime. Were we not all MCP? The institution of a multiparty politics' system simply meant we now had a choice, and making one's choice doesn't mean violence or muzzling of other views. No, that is anathema to democracy," explains the MCP constituency secretary.

But all the three grassroots' political officials agree that the key to peaceful 2009 elections is not success on the voting day. Rather, the key rests in the processes initiated in the run-up to the same, and that this means political involvement of communities and their leaders. They say, at the moment, politicians only use people at the grassroot to propagate their political ambitions, mostly using violence against perceived political enemies. This is exacerbated by deep-rooted poverty, high illiteracy levels, lack of clearly spelt out ideologies and ignorance about world political systems among rural and peri-urban dwellers.

The future, however, is bright, the way MCP campaign director for the constituency Duncain Hora sees it. Hora says the first solution to any political impasse lies in the realisation that before politics and whatever it means, there was kinsmanship among all and sundry in Malawi; that brothers, sisters, cousins, uncles, aunts, grandmothers and fathers, even good neighborliness first lived before politics.

So, as we approach the 2009 elections, people should put these considerations first before thinking of politics. That way, Malawians will come to take politics and elections as only a process through which people who love each other tell those who have failed to impress and have failed electorates' expectations that "well, you will do better than this next time, from the experience you have, let us help the one we now want to fill in your weaknesses. Anyone who chooses someone, or allows themselves to be elected to fill the gaps in other people's weaknesses, is a friend in deed," says Hora.

Edward Chaka, executive director for Peoples' Federation for National Peace and Development (Pefenap), an organisation that has been holding discussions on civil and political rights in the districts of Blantyre and Thyolo, with much emphasis on freedom of assembly and association, says imparting knowledge on grassroots leaders and community members is one plausible approach to solving the probable problem of political violence during the 2009 general elections, among the country's political players.

Lack of knowledge is one weakness that has, for a long time, been exploited by politicians to use villagers as tools of political discourse. But with the requisite knowledge that comes from realizing that every citizen has a constitutionally-enshrined right to form or join a political grouping of their choice; that this right goes with the freedom to assemble as a means of achieving political ends, may be the genesis of much needed political tolerance necessary to achieve sustainable social-economic development.

"In the end, resolving political issues at national level should be a process that begins at community level; it is a local responsibility. It is at this level that people are exploited and engaged to be castigating political opponents," according to Chaka.

Kalero (flash-back: Chinese company to increase domestic cotton production, consumption

A chinese company, Integrated Cotton and Textile Manufacturers, has already started ground work aimed at improving proceeds farmers earn on cotton products in Balaka, a development that will help increase domestic consumption of Malawian products.
Industry and Trade Minister, Henry Mussa, said in an interview the company was one of the many that recently visited the country to explore investment opportunities, in line with government's goal to improve the number of industries.
Mussa 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,"said Mussa.
The minister 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.
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 experts 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.

Flash-back 2009: Culture threatens women representation- DC

There can not be sustainable women empowerment in development and politics if women lobby groups live out culture in their campaigns, says Chikwawa District Commissioner Lawford Palani.

Palani was speaking on Saturday at the beginning of a four-day training for Association of Progressive Women (APW) community and district facilitators in preparation for the May 19, 2009 general elections.

He said most organizations lobbying for greater women representation were forgetting culture as a crucial component in the quest to achieve the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) 30 per cent women participation goal set in Blantyre in 1997.

“Culture is one of the biggest challenges thwarting efforts aimed at making sure that women play an active role in the development of Chikwawa, and any efforts aimed at ensuring their greater representation in decision making and politics should be targeted at dispelling prevalent cultural stereotypes. For instance, many people still believe that women should be confined to the kitchen, all because women lobby groups concentrate on urban-based meetings instead of tackling the cultural aspects with cultural custodians,” said Palani.

Palani also warned civil society organizations fighting for more women representation in the district against being partisan, saying women promotion did not entail openly campaigning for an aspiring woman Member of Parliament belonging to one political party at the expense of men competing for other parties as it would wrongly be translated as playing partisan politics.

He said organizations accredited to carry out voter civic education, while at the same time carrying out mobilization campaigns for women empowerment, needed to adhere to all principles of neutrality such as avoiding wearing party colours and being free from any political influence- aspects he said could tarnish the credibility of the electoral process.

He warned that organizations and individuals who flouted these principals risked being prosecuted, according to the electoral laws governing Malawi.

APW Programmes Officer Noel Msiska advised the facilitators, whose main duty will be to carry out civic voter education and mobilizing voters to vote for women, to heed the DCs call by avoiding behaviour that may discredit the electoral process.

He said while there was confusion lingering over the neutrality of women lobby groups in the civic voter education process, as they are largely viewed as being against men, the truth was that they were not campaigning for individual women aspirants but general women representation.

“People who accuse women lobby groups of being partisan in areas where their parties are featuring men surprise us because they are in the forefront congratulating us in constituencies where they feature women. This means that it is not a big issue to campaign for women, so long as organizations take a non-partisan stance,” said Msiska.

The training was funded by Norad, through NGO Gender Coordination Network- where APW heads the permanent committee for women in politics.

Make yours a meat-free Monday

What a difference a day makes

London - 22 July 2010

If everyone in Britain stopped eating meat for just one day a week, it would reduce greenhouse gases by the equivalent of taking five million cars off the road. Wow!

I just discovered this fab Animal Aid video, with great music by Moby, which explains how.

Watch and enjoy:

Make yours a meat-free Monday.


According to the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), the farming and slaughtering of animals rates as one of the top three causes of all the major environmental problems confronting the world.

These include land degradation, climate change, air pollution and water shortages. According to a landmark 2006 UN FAO report, animal farming is responsible for 18 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, which is more than the entire transport sector combined.

The message of Animal Aid's film is that if everyone in the UK gave up eating meat for just one day a week, this would result in greenhouse gas emission reductions equivalent to taking more than five million cars off the road.

More information about meat-free Mondays and how you can make a difference, see here:

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Bingu wa Mutharika you are a ahero

Pesident Bingu wa Mutharika: I followed what you said yesterday during the press briefing- just wanna say 'YOu are a hero'. Sure.

I respect you, a lot; for what you said.

But give The Nation Newspaper adverts.
The out-going Chinese Ambassador to Malawi, His Excellency Lin Songtia has been awarded the Distinguished Media Relations Award (DMRA). The Bwaila Press Club (BMC) said Songtian's contribution to media development in the country deserved such high recognition.
During a farewell party hosted in honour of the ambassador who lives Malawi next August, the club emphasized that for the past two years the ambassador has been in the country, there was an enhanced and open-door media policy between China and the Malawian media.

"About 30 of our media colleagues have been to China on scholarships. About 20 more are expected before the end of the year. We see this plus the readiness to accept and respond to the local media's working strides as a great step in the promotion of the media in Malawi," said M'theto Lungu, BMC chairperson.

The DMRA, added Lungu at the function mainly made up of the country's media personnel based in the capital city, Lilongwe, is an annual recognition for eminent and other outstanding Malawians who have cultivated a professional and friendly media relations with Malawi's journalism.

"As we also aim at promoting transparency and accountability within our media circles, we wish to use the award as a measure for outstanding and excellence between ourselves and our audience. Grassroots people who also endear their socio-economic ventures will form part of beneficiaries of the DMRA," he explained.

Songtian himself said he was grateful for the recognition and that it shall go a long way in reminding him of the important role the Malawi media has played in opening up his country's policy and development endevours in Malawi, Africa and the world at large.

"Mostly, both China and Africa are reported in the negative in the western press. The cordial relations that exist between my embassy and my country with the Malawi media has helped to show the world that China is an equal and important friend in development.

“We humbly contribute to the global economy and come in to assist our friends in Africa and beyond. We may have different approaches but both Malawi's traditional and new friends are important. We all need to come in and assist, learn and contribute to the development of all our friends. It is no competition," he told the journalists.

The DMRA was presented to Songtian by the Media Council of Malawi's (MCM) executive director, Baldwin Chiyamwaka, who gave a vote of thanks on behalf of the BMC.

"We are grateful for China's contribution to the development of the media in Malawi. With this award, we want to wish you a great end to your mission in Malawi and also to make it a constant reminder to your Excellency that we embrace and enjoyed the relationship that you cultivated with us.

"Your door was always open to journalists and you made it a worthwhile to contribute to train some of our colleagues in your country. Indeed, you will remain a good friend in deed," said Chiyamwaka.


Someone bumped into Peter someday

BNP leader runs away when challenged

Refuses to apologise for BNP's anti-Semitism, homophobia & attacks on Muslims

London - 22 July 2010

The far right BNP leader Nick Griffin was ambushed at his press conference and photo call at Millbank Studios in London this afternoon by human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell.

See BBC footage of the ambush and a full transcript here:

Mr Tatchell sneaked between the photographers pack and strode right up to Mr Griffin as he was showing off his Buckingham Palace Garden Party invitation, which was withdrawn by the Queen earlier today.

"As soon as he saw me he had a look of horror on his face," said Mr Tatchell.

"I asked Griffin: 'Isn't it about time you apologised to the British people for your party's long history of anti-Semitism, homophobia and attacks on the Muslim community?'"

"Griffin looked sheepish. He seemed stumped for an answer. I asked him again. Then he just ran off. What a coward.

"Griffin's minders shoved me down the stairs. It's proof that the BNP doesn't believe in free speech or in the public asking their leader awkward questions. It shows the kind of autocratic society the BNP would impose if they ever won power.

"For many years, the BNP has preached a totalitarian ideology of anti-Jewish, anti-black, anti-gay and anti-Muslim hatred. The party has a long and strident hatred of non-white immigrants and asylum seekers. It's racist views are an affront to democratic values.

"Behind Nick Griffin's silky words and smiles lurk his party's neo-fascist roots. The BNP is a threat to human rights and social solidarity," said Mr Tatchell.


by Vijay Kumar

THE KABAH IN MECCA WAS NOT BUILT AS AN ISLAMIC MOSQUE. It was an ancient temple that had been shared by polytheists, Christians, Jews, and Hindus, honoring 360 different deities. In 630 A.D. the Kabah was captured by Islam in its military invasion and conquest of Mecca.

On the day of its capture, Mohammed delivered an address at the Kabah in military dress and helmet, according to Ayatullah Ja’far Subhani in his book, “The Message”:

“Bear in mind that every claim of privilege, whether that of blood or property is abolished . . . I reject all claims relating to life and property and all imaginary honors of the past, and declare them to be baseless . . . A Muslim is the brother of another Muslim and all the Muslims are brothers of one another and constitute one hand as against the non-Muslims. The blood of every one of them is equal to that of others and even the smallest among them can make a promise on behalf of others.” —Mohammed

Mohammed’s address at the Kabah overthrew the Meccan government and declared all of Islam, anywhere in the world, to be a political and military state against all non-Muslims, regardless of the non-Muslims’ political, geographical, or national origins.

“If anyone desires a religion other than Islam (submission to Allah), never will it be accepted of him.” —Koran 3:85

Although the rightful owners of the Kabah are the many religions that shared it before the Islamic military conquest of Mecca, according to Subhani the Kabah today is under the control of a hereditary regime going back to Mohammed: “currently the 12th Imam from the direct descent of the Prophet of Islam is the real protector, its custodian and guardian.”

All Islamic mosques everywhere in the world are required to have a clear visible indication pointing in the direction of Mecca and the Kabah, where the international political and military state of Islam was founded. In most mosques there is a niche in the wall—the mihrab—that points toward the seat of Islamic power. Each mosque, like the Kabah, is governed by an Imam in compliance with the political documents of Islam.

Mosques and the Political Documents of Islam

The Koran is the supreme political document of Islam—its political manifesto and political constitution. It is the only constitution of the nation-state Saudi Arabia, which is the home of Mecca and the Kabah, where all mosques point, and is the birthplace of Islam.

The Koran is a totalitarian constitution. It demands submission by anyone within its jurisdiction. The Koran governs all mosques everywhere in the world.

As a political document, the Koran asserts that everyone in the world is within its jurisdiction. So far, Islam has not been able to enforce that totalitarian claim on the entire world, but has managed to do so through threat, infiltration, violence, terrorism, and coercion on roughly 20% of the world. It is engaged in a 1400-year-long Universal Jihad to dominate the rest of the world. All mosques are its outpost headquarters.

Central to the Koran’s political mandates is prohibition of religious freedom and religious tolerance, along with denouncements of religions such as Christianity and Judaism.

“O ye who believe! take not the Jews and the Christians for your friends and protectors: They are but friends and protectors to each other. And he amongst you that turns to them (for friendship) is of them.” —Koran 5:51

“Fight and slay the Pagans wherever ye find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war)” —Koran 9:5

All mosque leaders must be loyal to and supportive of these political and militaristic mandates.

The Koran as a political document also forbids separation of church and state. That is why every Islamic nation, where Islamic leaders have managed to gain power, is a theocracy, ruled by the Koran and Islamic Sharia law.

The Hadith (reported sayings and acts of Mohammed) and the Sira (the official biographies of Mohammed) are the other political documents that, along with the Koran, constitute the basis for Islam’s Sharia law.

“There is only one law which ought to be followed, and that is the Sharia.” —Syed Qutb

Sharia law is administered by Islamic Imams who interpret the law and hand down rulings in their sole discretion. Sharia law does not allow trial by jury. Sharia law also mandates a double standard of laws for Muslims (believers) and infidels (non-believers). Sharia law mandates a discriminatory tax, called jizya, on non-Islamic religions and nations:

“Fight those who believe not in Allah...until they pay the jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.” —Koran 9:29

Sharia law also mandates discrimination toward women, and forbids any criticism of Islam or its founder, stifling freedom of speech.

Sharia law also mandates that all men are slaves with no right to freedom of religion:

“Allah’s right on His slaves is that they should worship Him (Alone) and should not worship any besides Him.” —Mohammed, Sahih Bukhari 4:52:108, Narrated Mu’adh

Sharia law does not allow for separation of church and state. Sharia regards church and state as one inseparable entity governing every aspect of individual and social life, both spiritual and secular. That is why all Islamic nations are theocracies.

In short, Sharia law stands in direct opposition to the American Constitution and Bill of Rights. The implementation of Sharia law demands the overthrow of the American Constitution and our form of government and system of laws. Mosque leaders, in every nation in the world, are loyal to the Koran, the Hadith, the Sira, and consider them divine law, and therefore supreme over all manmade laws.

Other political and military documents of Islam include treaties of Mohammed, which are held in reverence by Islam as models of conduct in relations between nations.

“Ye have indeed in the Messenger of Allah [Mohammed] a beautiful pattern (of conduct) for anyone whose hope is in Allah.” —Koran 33:21

“War is deceit.” —Mohammed, Sahih Bukhari 4:52:268, Narrated Abu Hurarira

In one treaty proposal, to Jaifer and Abd, Mohammed wrote:

“If you two accept Islam, your country will, as usual, remain with you. But if you refuse or object, it is a perishable thing.” —Mohammed

In another, to the Chiefs of Aqaba, he wrote:

“It is better for you either to accept Islam or agree to pay Jizya and consent to remain obedient to Allah . . . If you do not accept these terms . . . I shall have to wage war (to bring peace and security).” —Mohammed

These same patterns and political mandates have been used over and over by Muslims since 610 A.D. to invade and conquer many civilizations and nations throughout the world, and to eradicate human rights and freedoms in those lands. Iran once was called Persia and was Zorastrian. Egypt was Christian. What was once a Hindu civilization was conquered and made into Pakistan, which is now part of the Axis of Jihad, along with Iran and Saudi Arabia. Afghanistan was Buddhist for thousands of years. Now its chief exports are heroin and Islamic terrorism.

“When We decide to destroy a population, We (first) send a definite order to those among them who are given the good things of this life and yet transgress; so that the word is proved true against them: then (it is) We destroy them utterly.” —Koran 17:16

In every instance where Islam has conquered and “destroyed utterly” a nation or civilization, the key to the conquest was the establishment of mosques, which are political and military command and control centers for Islam, and which all point toward the seat of Islamic power: the Kabah.

Mosques and the Fallacy of the “Moderate Muslim”

The majority of Germans during World War II were not active members of the Nazi party, were not waging war, and were not involved in the holocaust. The leaders, though, were active members of the Nazi party, were waging war, and were involved in the holocaust.

The majority of Russians and eastern Europeans under the rule of the U.S.S.R. were not trying to spread Communism throughout the world, and were not threatening and waging war and revolution, but were going about their daily lives trying to survive. The leaders, though, were doing everything they could to spread Communism throughout the world, and were threatening and waging war and revolution.

Throughout history, since 610 A.D., the leaders of Islam have been waging Universal Jihad around the world for the purpose of Islamic totalitarian domination of the world. It has never mattered what percentage of the Muslim population was “peaceful” or “moderate.” Peace and moderation are not relevant to the totalitarian mandates of Islam’s political documents, and Islam’s leaders always follow the totalitarian mandates of Universal Jihad contained in them.

There are post-Nazi democracies. There are post-Communist democracies. There are no post-Islamic democracies. Literal Islam, as contained in its political documents, is the consummate totalitarianism. Neither Nazism or Communism had a metaphysical factor, as does Islam. Islam uses its metaphysics as a wedge to drive in its totalitarian political doctrines.

Once Islam has established itself sufficiently in any nation, it seeks to overthrow any existing regime or constitution or law, and replace it with Islamic theocracy. Even the most “moderate” Muslim is bound to obey Islamic law, and so is bound to fight if ordered to fight:

“When you are called (by the Muslim ruler) for fighting, go forth immediately.” —Hadith Sahih Bukhari 4:52:79:Narrated Ibn ‘Abbas

All Islamic mosques have Islamic leaders (rulers) who can call Muslims for fighting, and as such are satellite headquarters for spreading Literal Islam’s political doctrine of world domination and totalitarianism—no matter how many “moderate Muslims” they serve.

Mosques and the Worldwide Islamic State

Islam is a de facto political state wherever it exists anywhere in the world. The Koran is its constitution. The Kabah is its seat of power, still in the control of the regime that occupied it in 630 A.D. All Muslims in the world, regardless of nationality, are required to travel to the Kabah at least once in their lifetime and pay homage to it.

The fact that nations and international political institutions in the world do not recognize Islam as a de jure state is irrelevant. Mohammed himself declared it as a state, and Islam’s own political documents declare it to be a state, and, ipso facto, it always is a state-within-a-state, governed by the Koran and Sharia law internally, anywhere that it has not yet gained full power and control.

“The Believers are but a single brotherhood.” —Koran 49:10

“A Muslim has no nationality except his belief.” —Syed Qutb

“Islam wishes to destroy all states and governments anywhere on the face of the earth which are opposed to the ideology and program of Islam regardless of the country or the nation which rules it. The purpose of Islam is to set up a State on the basis of its own ideology and program.” — Syed Abul A’ala Maududi

Just as our Constitution of the United States binds and identifies us as a single political and legal union of non-contiguous states, territories, political groups, and people, so the Koran binds and identifies all Islamic nations and all Muslims as a single political and legal union of non-contiguous nations, territories, political groups and people, regardless of geographic boundaries, whose seat of power is the occupied Kabah. All Islamic Imams, in every mosque everywhere in the world, are bound to the Koran as supreme law.

As we have seen, Islamic law gives Islamic Imams the power to order Muslims to fighting. The German Max Weber, who had considerable influence on international law and politics, defined “state” as that entity that has a “monopoly on the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory.”

Islam declares that the Koran and Sharia law are divine, and, as such, are the only “legitimate” law in the world. In that way, Islam “self-legitimizes” its right to use physical force anywhere in the world, and the right of every Imam in every mosque in the world to call for physical force and violence at any time. This makes every Imam in every mosque a military leader.

Islam is a state by every definition and theory, and is a state hostile to and at war with the United States of America and its Constitution.

Mosques and Treason and Sedition Against the U.S.

Islam’s political documents and law call for the overthrow of our Constitution and our man-made laws, and therefore for the overthrow of our government, which by definition constitutes sedition and treason. The Islamic documents call for the overthrow of our government—a protector of religious freedom and human rights—through violence:

“I was ordered to fight all men until they say ‘there is no god but Allah.’” —Mohammed’s farewell address, 632

“I have been ordered to fight with the people till they say, ‘None has the right to be worshipped but Allah.’” —Hadith Sahih Bukhari 4:52:196 Narrated Abu Huraira

“He who fights so that Allah’s Word (Islam) should be superior, then he fights in Allah’s cause.” —Hadith Sahih Bukhari 1:3:125 Narrated Abu Musa

“I asked the Prophet [Mohammed], ‘What is the best deed?’ He replied, ‘To believe in Allah and to fight for His Cause.’” —Hadith Sahih Bukhari 3:46:694 Narrated Abu Dhar

“And fight them till there is no more affliction (i.e. no more worshiping of others along with Allah)”. —Hadith Sahih Bukhari 6:60:40 Narrated Nafi’

“Soon shall We cast terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers.” —Koran 3.151

“I am with you: give firmness to the Believers: I will instill terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers: smite ye above their necks and smite all their finger-tips off them.” —Koran 8:12

“Against them make ready your strength to the utmost of your power, including steeds of war, to strike terror into (the hearts of) the enemies, of Allah and your enemies, and others besides, whom ye may not know, but whom Allah doth know.” —Koran 8:60

The Koran, as the constitution of Islam and Muslims, is diametrically opposite to the United States Constitution and Bill of Rights. According to Islam and Muslims, the Koran is divine law, uncorrupted and incorruptible, whereas the United States Constitution is man-made and is not infallible, and therefore is corrupt. The U.S. Constitution is the antithesis of the Koran; therefore Muslims have no obligation to obey it.

A mosque in the United States is a command and control center of a foreign political and military state that seeks the overthrow of our government, and an Imam in a mosque is a political and military representative of a foreign state that calls for the overthrow of the United States.

The laws of the United States provide specific criminal penalties for sedition and treason. These laws are not only applicable to those advocating and calling for the overthrow of our Constitution and our government; they are applicable to anyone who gives “aid or comfort” to such declared enemies of the United States, or who “organizes or helps or attempts to organize any society, group, or assembly of persons” so engaged. The terms “organizes” and “organize” extend to “the recruiting of new members, the forming of new units, and the regrouping or expansion of existing clubs, classes, and other units of such society, group, or assembly of persons.”

Mosques are just such units.

Vijay Kumar is a Republican candidate for U.S. Congress from Tennessee's 5th District. A native of Hyderabad, India, Mr. Kumar lived in Iran during the 1979 Islamic Revolution, when he came to the United States. A naturalized American citizen, Mr. Kumar has lived in Nashville, Tennessee for 24 years. He has been married to his wife, Robin, a native of Bowling Green, Kentucky, for 27 years, and they have three children, two of whom are adopted.