Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Michesi peaceful but gender-based violence bites


Once, on March 10 1991, Michesi Mountain stirred into destructive wakefulness, causing mayhem and casting long shadows of despair as flush floods destroyed what Phalombe District residents had worked so hard to build in 27 years of Malawi’s independence.
The incident, whose impact was trumpeted by a rock avalanche, hit the limelight both locally and internationally. Who could ignore once vibrant villages lying in ruins, haunted by deaths, injuries and the spectre of helpless and hopeless families?
The March 10 1991 event can as well be described as a ‘loud’ crisis.
Today, Michesi still looms large, albeit depleted of the forest cover that once made it shelter for bio-diversity but there is s ‘silent’ crisis ravaging the seemingly undisturbed community.
Go to Mkhulambe Trading Centre, some two or three kilometres away from Michesi Mountain, and the peaceable atmosphere will mislead you into believing that all is well.
It is only when one talks to Traditional Authority Mkhulambe that they realise the gravity of one, silent and neglected problem.
After all, 1991 is such a long way back. Children have been born, post-Phalombe disaster children who have no idea, let alone memories, about what happened then. In fact, Michesi Primary School is full of learners whose present bears no blemishes of the past.
At the Mkhulambe Trading Centre, a bustling market, replete with about three drinking joints, betrays the picture of an area that once lay in ruins. One stretch of dusty road actually takes one to Michesi Mountain, the starting point of the 1991 disaster, all the way to Phalombe Central Business District – or Zero Point– without passing through Chiringa and Migowi centres.
Michesi Mountain has become the passage to Phalombe Zero Point, where all life begins. The district’s main public health facility, namely Phalombe Health Centre, is there. One commercial bank close to the District Health Office serves as an indication that the culture of saving is entrenching itself in Phalombe. The branch of one food chain store offers residents a modern shopping experience, not to mention the many shops. A Malawi Police Service Station is there, protecting the lawful citizen from jungle-suitable behaviour.
During both day and night, life comes to life at Phalombe Zero Point.
However, as the rest of Phalombe moves on, silent crises damage the fabric of society in Mkhulambe’s area.
“Cases of early marriages and gender-based violence are real. We also face the problem of high school dropout rates but we are working on that. The problem is that some girls and women have been suffering silently,” says Mkhulambe, an ambassador for girls’ education in Phalombe District.
Mkhulambe was there when water, self-driven and utterly destructive, swept through the area in 1991. After all, Michesi River, which served as one of the outlets for the flush floods, runs peacefully now, a stone-throw away from her residence at Mkhulambe Trading Centre.
Just that it is not clear whether her choice of residence— her house is located behind a Salvation Army church building made of red bricks — is intentional; that, maybe, the church building is in front of her house to shield her from evil forces such as flush floods.
For the time being, things seem to be working— but only as far as flush floods as concerned, for other challenges have silently crept in. Mkhulambe says her subjects now face another serious problem that may, if not addressed, even threaten to take away the gains made since 1991.
“Gender-based violence should not be tolerated. Some women are dying is silence. I think early marriages are one of the factors to blame for increased cases of gender-based violence. We have a role to ensure that this done not happen by sending our girls to school,” Mkhulambe adds.
Indeed, gender-based violence and school dropout rates were two of the issues that gained currency during a meeting Umodzi Youth Organisation (Uyo) organised at Mkhulambe Trading Centre two weeks ago.
Uyo, which is running the one-year ‘Stand Together in Fighting Violence Against Women and Girls’ Project in Phalombe, thanks to financial support from Amplify Change, enlightened 20 girls and women who have been watching silently as the vices of gender-based violence and early marriages eat through the fabric of society.
Phalombe Acting District Courts Administrator, Issa Salanje, and District Social Welfare Officer Emmerson Gama were handy— taking the 20 girls and women drawn from Mkhulambe’s area through topics such as right to education, right to life, freedom of association, human dignity and personal freedoms, among others.
Like Michesi River on March 10 1991, the floodgates were opened; just that these were the floodgates of knowledge, and not self-driven water whose results were utterly destructive.
Uyo Project Coordinator, Stella Masamba, observes that, apart from incidents of gender-based violence, cases of school dropout are rampant.
“Come to think of it, every year, 450 girls drop out of school in Traditional Authority Mkhulambe’s area. This is an alarming figure, especially because those who drop out of school opt for marriage. So, we had to come in a bid to reduce cases of gender-based violence. We have been doing this by addressing issues of harmful cultural beliefs and practices,” Masamba says.
Masamba is not speaking from the blues. During a Phalombe District Executive Committee meeting earlier this year, it was revealed that gender-based violence was one of the issues negatively affecting girls and women in Mkhulambe’s area.
It was further revealed that the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace was the only organisation working in the area— one organisation facing a hill of problems.
One of the women in the area, Ruth Mponda, observes that most women have been silent on gender-based violence because of lack of knowledge.
“All we needed was to have our eyes opened,” Mponda says.
Maybe, having had their eyes opened, the community members will pull the 13-year-old girl I found drinking opaque beer in one of the bars at Mkhulambe Trading Centre out of the trap, and take her back to school.
The future lies in girls like these.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Hot yesterday, quiet today: Wanted artists, project


Some artists stormed the music scene with pomp, but have since calmed down to the point of being anonymous. Some projects, too, face a similar challenge.  RICHARD CHIROMBO recounts some of the stories.
Munte Louis: Musician misunderstood!
His goal was to turn everything human into gold. In the end, however, he found that this quest for artificial perfection locked him into a barren world of misunderstanding. That is the story of musician Munte Louis.
“I don’t know why I am misunderstood. A good example of this misunderstanding is my song, ‘Usandimenye Mnzanga’, which people re-titled ‘Undibwezere Mavoti Anga’. That’s not what I intended the song to be; that song is not political,” Louis once told me.
Louis said people’s misconceptions might have granted the ruling elite reason to interpret the song as the musings of a man whose temper was tinted with the blood of partisan politics. 
“That is not the case, though, as, in ‘Usandimenye Mnzanga’, I retell the story of a farmer who sat under a peach tree, and started admiring his water melons and wondering why they (water melons) did not grow on trees. It was my way of playing around with an ideal world. A world in which human beings live in harmony with nature, and with each other. An orderly world,” Louis said, adding:
“In this ideal world, everything is in order. That is why a peach falls from the tree but does not injure the farmer, prompting him to praise the creator for letting water melons grow on the ground. That is why, as we read in the scriptures, God saw that everything was good in the beginning.”
But maybe these misunderstandings signify the difference between working with people’s sores and their souls. As a professional cobbler, Louis has been working on people’s shoes for the better part of his adult life, straightening wayward sores, without the slightest murmur from the lifeless shoes!
Louis has been satisfied in this cobbler world; a world that represents God’s ideal world because what you see is what the manufacturer created.
That, too, could be the folly of importing ‘ideal’ world scenarios into the world of human beings— a world where what is given out may be re-interpreted, misinterpreted, and, in some cases, distorted.
“May be it is difficult to work with people. People interpret issues their own way, selecting only what suits them. My song (Usandimenye Mnzanga) is not political at all. But people interpreted it their own way,” Louis said. 
On suggestions that he is not a natural musician, and that some people just picked him from the streets and took him to the studio to provide vocals for ‘Usandimenye Mnzanga’, Louis said there is no truth in such claims.
“For your own information, ‘Usandimenye Mnzanga’ is part of a 10 track album that includes songs such as the title track ‘Tomorrow’, ‘Nthawi ya Mango’, ‘Banja Langa Latha’, ‘A Neighbour’, ‘Dad’, Uchitsiru Wanga’, ‘Yesu Wandigwira Dzanja’, ‘Mkwati’. They [songs] address a number of issues that hinge on the human being, including love,” Louis said.
‘Tomorrow’ was a combination of efforts by Ma Hot Mavembe Band. The late Chuma Soko played the keyboards; Jack Kamwendo played the bass guitar; Dan Sibale was on the saxophone; with Dan Louis, Louisa Louis and Munte Louis offering the backing vocals.
The soft-spoken artist perfected his art at Apostolic Faith Mission Church in the early 1990s. He was a member of Mabvembe Choir, playing Acapella music. He, then, used this experience to compose songs that he took to the door steps of a number of would-be sponsors.
So promising was the future that, according to the artist from Traditional Authority Malemia in Nsanje, music distributor O.G. Issa pledged to purchase 30, 000 copies of his ‘Tomorrow’ album.
“I counted my fingers and the amount came to K600, 000 at the time. As fate would have it, however, the music distributor changed his mind at the last minute. It’s all because people, including the ruling elite, misinterpreted my lyrics,” Louis said.
The truth is that Louis said these things over three years ago. The future was promising.
Today, nothing, if anything, is heard of him in the music circles.
Is it a case of another hot artist growing cold feet and leaving music lovers in mid-air? If a decade passes without him coughing through another song again, it may well be the case.   

Elusive glory?
While artists such as Louis are yet to re-ignite their romance with music through the composition of new sounds, others, such as Wambali Mkandawire, are still in the limelight— but not for winning international awards that came in droves at one point in their lives.
It is not an exaggeration to say Malawians still remember how Mkandawire’s debut international album, ‘Zani Muwone’, put Malawi on the international map between 2002 and 2003.
The album, an eclectic mix of Malawian, Congolese and West African rhythms, saw Wambali being nominated for the Kora award in 2002. The year after, he won the Music Award for the Best African Artiste.
According to www.instinctafricaine.com, “Wambali Mkandawire was first introduced to Malawian traditional music and Congolese music by his grandparents who were working in Belgium Congo, where he was born. When he was eight years old, his grandparents returned to what was then Nyasaland.”
This notwithstanding, Wambali nurtured his talent in Malawi, starting with his stint with Pentagon Band in the late 1970s. The band later created a niche by fusing rock with traditional music. This was before he joined New Song, Youth for Christ Band, as one of the singers.
In 1988, Wambali recorded his first solo album with Krakatoa Music in Cape Town, South Africa. During the same time, he recorded and toured with ‘Friends First’, a South African music group.
On release of ‘Zani Muwone’ in 2002, Wambali was invited to perform at the North Sea Jazz Festival held in Cape Town, South Africa, in 2002. 
 
In August 2002, Wambali was awarded the World Intellectual Property Organisation Award for Creativity, the first time this award was given to an African artiste.
Not that Wambali was the first to get international recognition. He is one of the few that include Dr Daniel Kachamba, who was recognised in Germany, where he went as a Mister but came back as a Doctor due to his prowess in music. That’s what music can do; turn locals into international celebrities.  
However, it has been over three years since Mkandawire won an international award; meaning that he has work to do to reclaim what is truly his.
Long road to completion
Well, the Blantyre Cultural Centre (BCC), formerly the French Cultural Centre (FCC), is not a musician, but events there affect musicians and other artists one way or another.
At the centre of controversy is the timeframe set aside for the BCC renovations project. The then Ministry of Tourism and Culture officials indicated, in writing, that the project would take two years.
First to question the rationale behind the time frame was the then Tourism and Culture Minister, Moses Kunkuyu, but observers thought his sentiments were political rhetoric.
“Two years? Why two years? I thought the place is small, and the renovation works could be completed within a reasonable time frame. Maybe this is a sign that we need to change the way we do things, not only in the arts but in tourism too. We should adopt the work ethic of efficiency in carrying out development projects. Taking two years to renovate the place could cost the government more,” Kunkuyu said at the time, adding:
“Are we not talking of renovating grass-thatched structures, windows and other things? Is it necessary to do that in two years? I thought it was possible to do it within, say, six months. That’s what I am thinking.”
Well, BCC renovations project started with promise. But the two years set for project completion ‘came’ some two years ago.
This is disadvantaging considering that BCC is centrally-located and people from various parts of Blantyre find it convenient to get to the place.
In addition, BCC normally offers lower rates since it was bought to further the cause of artists in the country.
At first, K200 million was set aside for the project, but, the project is one of Cashgate victims, which means officials had to source funds from elsewhere, and that led to delays.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

INTERVENTIONS THAT ARE NEEDED IN CONTRIBUTION OF THE MEDIA TO THE CONSULTATION, FORMULATION AND IMPLEMENTATION STAGES OF THE POLICY CYCLE IN THE MALAWIAN CONTEXT WRITTEN BY RICHARD CHIROMBO

INTERVENTIONS THAT ARE NEEDED IN ORDER TO IMPROVE THE QUALITY OF THE CONTRIBUTION OF THE MEDIA TO THE CONSULTATION, FORMULATION AND IMPLEMENTATION STAGES OF THE POLICY CYCLE IN THE MALAWIAN CONTEXT  

The media play a critical role in national development, but this role has often suffered setbacks in the Malawian context due to the alienation of the media in the consultation, formulation and implementation stages of the policy cycle. An analysis of the situation reveals that this is because the media are left out at the conception, or problem identification, necessitating a paradigm shift that entails engaging the media from the conception, or problem identification, to the implementation stages if the media are to play an active role in the policy formulation and implementation stages so that their contributions are incorporated in national development goals.
A policy is a decision implying impending or intended action (Bauer and Gergen, 1968: 21). In analysing policies, two aspects are generally considered the most significant, namely, process (policy making) and content. According to Bauer and Gergen, the mass media are among the external groups which influence the policy process at its various stages. These stages include problem identification (articulation), policy recommendation (aggregation), policy decision (adoption), policy implementation, policy evaluation, and policy resolution or change (Fischer, 1991). Lambeth (1978) indicates that the functions of the media in the policy process include anticipating problems in advance of public officials, alerting the public to problems on the basis of official warnings,  informing the public of the stakes the competing groups had in solving problems, keeping various groups and the public abreast of competing proposals, contributing to the content of policy, deciding the tempo of decision making, helping lawmakers decide how to vote, alerting the public to how policies are administered, evaluating policy effectiveness, and stimulating policy reviews (Lambeth,1978 :12).
However, while the policy makers acknowledge that the mass media serve a number of functions within the context of government policy making (Olengurumwa, n.d.), the media are often left out of the conception, or problem identification, stage, as a recent policy development in Malawi attest. The Democratic Progressive Party administration, through the Malawi Communications Communication Authority has recently formulated a draft Communications Act (Broadcasting/Content Services) Regulations 2015 without engaging the media industry from the onset (Mpaka, 2015). According to Malawi News, the government is proposing a slew of provisions on how public, private and community broadcasting should operate. A clear indication that the media industry was not consulted from the onset is raised by Media Institute of Southern Africa-Malawi Chapter chairperson, Thom Khanje, who is quoted as saying thus: “This document has a huge bearing on our democracy and government should be as transparent as possible with it. It should ensure that all areas of concern are debated on thoroughly and recommendations adopted.”

Therefore, it is apparent that the media are not involved in the policy conception, or formulation, process necessitating the need for more inclusiveness in the policy development process in Malawi. In this case, inclusiveness in policy making entails that players in the industry should be involved from the onset in the identification of a need, which, informally, implies a probe on that which should be attended to or resolved when something is missing, wrong or not working right, and action must be taken to deal with the troubling situation (Altschuld and Kumar, 2010: 3). Sometimes the word need is substituted with words such as problem, gap, deficiency, discrepancy, issue or concern (Altschuld and Kumar, 2010: 12). According to Altschuld and Kumar, a probe is done when a discrepancy is perceived— activities are not taking place in the way we think they should. Formally, need is the measurable gap between two conditions—“what is” (the current status or state) and “what should be” (the desired status or state”. Therefore, decision making occurs as a reaction to a problem or an opportunity (Robbins and Langton, 2003: 408). They describe a problem as a discrepancy between some current state of affairs and some desired state, requiring consideration of alternative courses of action. The two conditions must be measured and the discrepancy between them determined. Not doing so means that a need has not been directly identified. Inherent in needs is the idea that players must go beyond discrepancies to rectify factors causing needs (Altschuld and Kumar, 2010: 3). Therefore, the media industry should be engaged in policy formation interventions from the onset for it to contribute positively towards the policy formulation and implementation process.
However, the continued exclusion of the media at the issue or problem identification stage runs counter to principles of democracy since countries that have embraced egalitarianism— which entails that all citizens of a state should be accorded equal political, social, economic, and civil rights and privileges (Kurian, 2002: 105) — need to prioritise inclusion in policy development, and Malawi is no exception. Experience has shown that involvement of individuals conversant with their areas of focus may contribute positively towards attaining goals due to their cumulative knowledge, or literacy, in a particular context, in this case media. Hence literate thinking is viewed as the ability to think and reason like a literate person within a particular society, literally learning as socially based experiences (Langer, 1991: 17). The media could, therefore, contribute positively towards the attainment of policy goals once they see themselves as part of the process. It is, therefore, acknowledged that “The free press plays a critical role in the formation of sound public policy. The press produces a forum in which policy ideas and initiatives are tested and formed in the arena of public opinion” (Centre for Media Freedom and Responsibility, 2015).
It is only when the media are involved that they may not feel marginalised during the policy implementation stage, especially after experience has shown that if a decision maker faces a conflict between selecting a problem that is important to an organisation and one that is important to the decision maker, self interest tends to win out (Robbins and Langton, 2003: 411), implying that if communities of interest, in this case the media, are not involved from the beginning, or do not show interest from the start, they are more likely to lose out as policy makers enforce decisions that work to their advantage. Again, it has been proven that “groups tend to jump prematurely to solutions before identifying and prioritising needs or delving into what underlies them” (Altschuld and Kumar, 2010: 4). But, according to Altschuld and Kumar, needs, not solutions, have to be the concern, and groups must be kept on target, thinking first about needs. Otherwise, they warn, poor or unfitting solutions could be implemented at considerable cost of time, energy and fiscal resources. Secondly, exclusion of the media in policy formulation may lead to failure to address gaps, as it has been proven that it is possible for policy makers to mistake mere investigations in one or two conditions with needs assessment (Altschuld and Kumar, 2010: 4) especially when, in some instances, need is inferred or sensed— “Tell us what you think is needed” (a solution approach) — instead of “Help us to delineate discrepancies targeted for action”. Needs sensing is cheaper, quicker, and easier to conduct, but at best it is only about implied gaps. While of value, it falls short of what we see as a needs assessment (Altschuld and Kumar, 2010: 4). Thorough needs assessments are, therefore, important because they have an impact on what organisations do and how they change. Therefore, needs assessments must go beyond the technical aspects of procedures, which, although important, are far from enough (Altschuld and Kumar, 2010: 8).
This notwithstanding, some challenges abound in the policy making process because the press does not show interest. For example, “the press rarely follows the policy process to its conclusion. Rather, it leaves the issue at the doorstep of public officials. By the time a political issue reaches the stages of policy formulation and implementation, the press has moved on to another issue” (Burns, Peltason, Cronin, Magleby and O’brien, 2002: 238). According to Burns et al, when policies are being formulated and implemented, decision makers are at their most impressionable, yet the press has little impact at this stage. Therefore, lack of press attention to how policies are implemented explains in part why citizens know less about how bureaucrats go about their business.
In conclusion, the media can play a more defined and pronounced role in the development and implementation of policies but, in the current set up, this is not the case because the media are excluded from policy formulation process. The media are, therefore, playing a limited role in the policy implementation process, and their impact is minimal, though the situation can be reversed once policy makers become more inclusive and the media take a keen interest in policy issues.












REFERENCES

Altschuld, J.W., and Kumar, D.D. (2010). Needs Assessment: An Overview. Los Angeles: Sage Publications.
Bauer, R. A., and Gergen, K. J. (Eds.). (1968). The study of policy formation. New York: Free Press.
Burns, J.M., Peltason, J.W., Cronin, T.E., Magleby, D.B., and O’brien, D.M. (2002). Government by The People: Basic Version. New Jersey: Prentice Hall.
Fischer, J.R. (1991). Functions of the mass media in the policy process. Canadian Journal of Communication, 16(1). Retrieved from http://www.cjc-online.ca/index.php/journal/article/view/589/495.
Kurian, G. (2002). Dictionary of World Politics. Washington, D.C.: CQ Press.
Lambeth, E. B. (1978). Perceived influence of the press on energy policy making. Journalism Quarterly, 55(1), 11-18, 72. Quoted in Fischer, J.R. (1991). Functions of the mass media in the policy process. Canadian Journal of Communication.
Langer, J.A. (1991). Literacy and schooling: A sociocognitive approach. In E. H. Hiebert (Ed.). Literacy for a Diverse Society: Perspectives, Practices, and Policies (pp. 17). New York: Teachers College Press.
Media and public policy: putting policy in the news agenda. (n.d.). Centre for Media Freedom and Responsibility. Retrieved from http://www.cmfr-phil.org/flagship-programs/other-programs/special-programs/media-and-public-policy/Media and Public Policy on July 14, 2015.
Mpaka, C. (2015, July 11-17). DPP plans crackdown on electronic media. Malawi News, pp.1, 3.
Olengurumwa, O. (u.d.). The role of the media in public policy. Retrieved from http://www.nationalbook.org/ on July 14, 2015.
Robbins, S.P., and Langton, N. (2003). Organisational Behaviour: Concepts, Controversies, Application.  New Jersey: Prentice Hall.  



Thursday, February 23, 2017

President Peter Mutharika's 'Tortoise' Pace

President Peter Mutharika, victor in Malawi's May 2014 Presidential Election, hits one as an individual not at ease with himself.
Many are the times he has, riding on the wave of anger, makes a statement he reverses the next day.
Take the case of beleaguered former agriculture minister, Dr George Chaponda.
The media wanted his (Chaponda's) head on the chopping board but President Mutharika stood his ground.
Which is understandable because, in all fairness, Chaponda might not have gone to Zambia on his own volition.
There was a Peter Mutharika in the background, pushing him on.
But when the courts granted civil society organisations an injunction stopping Chaponda from serving in his capacity as Cabinet minister, the president's silence, and inactivity, on the issue raised more questions that answers.
It, surely, pointed to a president who was out to trample on the very constitution he vowed to protect. What hypocrisy!
Well, the injunction was listed but, instead of being a source of relief, things have only gotten worse for Chaponda.
The Anti-Corruption Bureau pounced on his offices and house in the Capital City, Lilongwe, and came back with wads of cash amounting to millions.
Now, the wads of cash symbolise Chaponda's burden.
He was failing to take them to the bank because that would have been a physical burden
Today, in his heart, he has another burden: To convince an otherwise suspicious public to believe in him.
What a tall order.
But the President is the real loser.  

RESULTS OF THE FIRST ROUND OF 2016/17 AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTION ESTIMATES SURVEY

Government of Malawi

PRESS RELEASE


The Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development annually conducts Agricultural Production Estimates Survey. The objective of the survey is to assess the country’s agricultural production to inform planning and policy direction for the nation. The survey includes all agricultural commodities, thus, crops, livestock and fisheries. The survey is conducted in three rounds every year.

The first round is conducted from September of the preceding year to January of the current year. The first round estimates are based on farmers’ intentions on crops to be grown and their related hectarage. The results from the first round may not conclusively inform the ultimate agricultural production as farmers’ intentions can change in the course of implementing respective farm activities; weather conditions and related parameters may also change in the course of the agricultural season. Nevertheless, results of the first round provide early warning signals on national food security so that policy makers in the public, private and non state sectors can make informed decisions regarding impending food situation.
The second round is conducted from February to March and focuses on verification and adjustment of area measurement for crops grown by the sampled agricultural households. Results obtained are used to determine crop area planted for the season. Results of this round are normally released in April every year.
The third round which is normally considered as the final round is undertaken during the harvesting period from April to May. The third round mainly involves weighing of the harvest to obtain actual yield for crops. The third round indicates the national food basket and determines the food deficit or surplus.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development has finalized the first round of 2016/17 Agriculture Production Estimates Survey. The results show that national maize production is projected at 3,220,712 metric tons, which is 35.9 percent higher than the 2015/16 final round estimate of 2,369,493 metric tons.
Rice production is expected to go up by 41.5 percent. Production of sweet potatoes is projected to increase by 27.6 percent. Millet and sorghum production will increase by 118.6 and 79.3 percent respectively. However, wheat production is projected to drop by 6.4 percent.

The results also show that productions of groundnuts, beans and pigeon peas are expected to increase by 22.2, 15.0 and 19.7 percent, respectively.

For major cash crops, tobacco production will decrease by 36.6 percent while cotton production is expected to go up by 7.6 percent.

In terms of livestock, the population of cattle has increased from 1,470,895 to 1,508,299 representing 2.5 percent increase as compared to the final round for the 2015/16 agricultural season. The populations of goats and pigs have also increased by 5.0 percent and 14.6 percent.

Fish production for capture fisheries has increased by 8.4 percent and aquaculture fish production has also increased by 46.7 percent. Overall, fish production has increased by 10.0 percent.

For more information, please contact the Secretary for Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development.




Erica Maganga (Mrs)
SECRETARY FOR AGRICULTURE, IRRIGATION AND WATER DEVELOPMENT
13th February, 2017

Saturday, February 18, 2017

DECISIONS BY THE BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS OF THE COMPETITION AND FAIR TRADING COMMISSION AT THE 47TH MEETING



The Board of Commissioners (hereinafter referred to as ''The Commission") of the Competition and Fair Trading Commission held its 47th Meeting in Lilongwe on 3rd February 2017 to consider and adjudicate over cases relating to unfair trading practices, anti-competitive business conducts and mergers. These cases were brought before the Commission in accordance with Section 8 of the Competition and Fair Trading Act.
In total, the Commission considered and adjudicated over a total of twenty-seven (27) cases. This statement provides a summary of the Commission's determinations of the cases.
For more information, contact Mr Lewis Kulisewa on 0999960235 or email lewis.kulisewa@cftc.mw

CHARLOTTE WEZI MALONDA
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR


SUMMARY OF THE COMMISSION’S DETERMINATIONS OF THE CASES
ALLEGED SUPPLY OF PRODUCT WHICH IS LIKELY TO CAUSE PHYSICAL HARM TO CONSUMERS BY SPICE EMPORIUM SHOP

The Commission ordered Spice Emporium Shop in Limbe to pay  a fine of five hundred thousand Kwacha (MK500,000-00) for deliberately supplying products likely to cause injury to health and failing to comply with consumer protection statutes.

Investigations carried out by the Commission established that Spice Emporium Shop were deliberately supplying expired products which were likely to cause injury to health or physical harm to consumers. The expired products included non-carbonated soft drinks and spices such as Everest Bar Bhaji Masala, Everest Royal Garam Masala and Everest Pani Puri Masala. This was contrary to Section 43(1)(e) of the Competition and Fair Trading Act which states that:

"Á person shall, not in relation to a consumer, supply products which are likely to cause injury to health or physical harm to consumers, when properly used, or which do not comply with a consumer safety standards which has been prescribed under any written law”

Further, Spice Emporium refused to comply with instructions from the Commission's inspectors to remove the expired products from the shelf, thereby subjecting unsuspecting consumers to increased harm.

By refusing to comply with consumer protection authorities set by Government, Spice Emporium violated Section 6(1)(d) of the Consumer Protection Act which obliges business enterprises to cooperate with Government authorities in the execution of policies relating to consumer protection.



ALLEGED EXCLUDING LIABILITY BY BEFOWARD COMPANY LIMITED
The Commission ordered Be Forward Company Ltd to exchange the non-runner motor vehicle it supplied to Mr Daniel Likugwe with a motor vehicle in good running condition.

Investigations conducted by the Commission showed that, in 2013, Be Forward Company Ltd supplied a non-runner second hand motor vehicle to Mr Daniel Likugwe, contrary to indications at the time of purchase, that it was in perfect running condition. The vehicle, which was purchased at US$3,200 was delivered without an Engine Control Unit (ECU). This was clear-cut misrepresentation which resulted in the consumer suffering substantial consumer harm and a blatant violation of Section 43(1)(b) of the Competition and Fair Trading Act which provides that:

"Á person shall, not in relation to a consumer, engage in conduct that is likely to mislead the public as to the nature, price, availability, characteristics, suitability for a given purpose, quantity or quality of any products or service".

Further, by excluding liability on a defective motor vehicle, the company breached Section 43(1)(b) of the Competition and Fair Trading Act which states that:

"Á person shall, not in relation to a consumer, exclude liability for defective products".

The Commission further ordered Be Forward Company Ltd to refund all the related expenses incurred by the Complainant in trying to fix the problem.





ASSESSMENT OF THE IMPACT OF THE TAKEOVER OF METROPOLITAN HEALTH LIMITED BY MEDHEALTH LIMITED

The Commission has authorized the proposed takeover of Metropolitan Health Ltd by MedHealth Ltd.
This follows an application for the authorization of the proposed takeover of 100% shareholding in Metropolitan Health Limited by a local company MedHealth Ltd.
Analysis of the information gathered by the Commission shows that the proposed takeover will simply result in change of ownership of the company without changing the market structure or any other competition factors. Further, the proposed transaction will ensure that the business of Metropolitan Health continues to exist in Malawi, hence sustaining and maintaining same levels of competition on the market.
Accordingly, it was unlikely that the transaction will result in substantial lessening of competition in Malawi.

ALLEGED RESTRICTIVE BUSINESS PRACTICE BY TELEKOM NETWORKS MALAWI LIMITED IN THE SPONSORSHIP OF FOOTBALL

The Commission has ordered Telekom Networks Malawi Ltd (TNM) and Super League of Malawi (SULOM)to follow international best practices in its sponsorship arrangement for the Super League football tournament.

Investigations conducted by the Commission showed that the sponsorship agreement between the Super League of Malawi (SULOM) and Telekom Networks Malawi (TNM) contained clauses which had the effect of restricting competition in as far as advertising and football sponsorship was concerned.

After a thorough analysis of the information gathered during investigations, the Commission concluded that, while the Sponsorship Agreement foreclosed football sponsorship as an advertisement platform for TNM competitors, its effect would not likely result in substantial lessening of competition in the telecommunication market. However, the sponsorship agreement was found likely to have negative effect on the development of football in Malawi.
Accordingly, in the event that the two parties agree to renew the sponsorship at the end of the current contract, the Commission ordered that the proposed agreement should be submitted to the Competition and Fair Trading Commission for assessment of compliance with the Competition and Fair Trading Act.
Further, the Commission ordered the Sports Council of Malawi to consider developing guidelines for sports sponsorship, particularly, football taking into consideration best practices from other jurisdictions to prevent sponsors from taking advantage of the weak bargaining power of sponsorship recipient.



Charlotte Wezi Malonda

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Ministry of Agriculture Offices On Fire in Lilongwe

When an opposition Member of Parliament contested Parliamentary results after the May 20 2014 elections, Malawi Electoral Commission went up in smoke-- destroying all evidence that would be tendered in court.
Today, the issue is about Maize-gate. The scam involves the importation of maize from Zambia, by Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation, at exorbitant prices.
Now, just when the Commission of Inquiry instituted by President Peter Mutharika to investigate the deal on Saturday submitted its findings to the president, Ministry of Agriculture offices in Lilongwe are on fire.
The fire is raging at Capital Hill, raising suspicions that someone is up to something.
With the Democratic Progressive Party on song, Malawians know that this path is all too familiar!

Friday, January 27, 2017

Rihanna in Malawi!

What a lucky week for Malawi.
In a week when US pop star jetted into Malawi, another star, Rihanna, is in Malawi right now.
Madonna was reportedly seeking to adopt two more children from Malawi, namely David Banda and Mercy James.
Judiciary spokesperson, Mlenga Mvula, confirmed the development during the week, saying Madonna had filed an application whose results would be out in two weeks.
But the artist denied this in a statement, saying she was in Malawi to visit some of her projects.
And, just in the nick of time, in pops another US artist, Rihanna.
Rihanna, who is in the Central Region of Malawi, has been playing with school kids during the day.
She seems happy in the company of the children. She is seen sitting on the ground in pictures posted on social media.
It, really, has been a wonderful week for Malawi.
A concoction of Madonna and Rihanna-- influencial women united in fame, and in the double 'n' ending in their first names!
Below are some of the pictures trending on social media. 


Friday, January 13, 2017

Malawi Government Closes Down Times Group

The Malawi Government, through the Malawi Revenue Authority, has closed down Times Group.
Times Group is Malawi's oldest media house, established in 1895.
Officials from the revenue collection body have seized vehicles, closed down Times Radio, Times Television, The Sunday Times, The Daily Times, Malawi News-- media outlets of the company.
Times Group publications have been publishing stories about the maize scandal, in which grain marketer, Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation bought maize from Zambia on exorbitant prices.
Meanwhile, officials from MRA are on the premises, chasing everyone out of the company.
Times Radio is meanwhile playing music, while Times TV is not broadcasting live.
MRA claims Times Group owes them money.
The notice came Thursday evening and, instead of waiting for the company to respond, they have seized company property.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

No More Rogue and Vagabond

Since 1964, Malawi Police Force [now Malawi Police Service] officers have been thieves who have survived on money stolen from the poor.
A stranded man, powered by nothing like money in the pocket and whatever little was kept there, could be cornered by corrupt police officers who would demand some money or take the poor individual to a police cell.
The money involved in the corrupt practices is usually called 'Ya Udzipulumutse Wekha' [Save Yourself Dues].
Meanwhile, the rich and affluent continued to drive posh vehicles in the dark of night; unperturbed by police and whatever sense of justice remains in the corrupt nation called Malawi.
It was the poor who were the targets of systematic theft.
Which is why Tuesday is a momentous day for Malawians as the High Court in Blantyre has ruled that rogue and vagabond is "unconstitutional".
Hail justice!

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Those were the days!

Once, when Bakili Muluzi was Malawi's president, the talk around town was that he never missed a funeral, especially those of his friends.
And Muluzi had the look of someone who swam in such talk; for it made him sail directly into public favour.
And public favour, the way it is programmed, can sway an election in a politician's favour.
That reminds me. Muluzi was a politician. He, therefore, had to win votes by hook or crook.
But, then, there was something real-- something so close to the people-- about that man. The look on his face.
During funerals, Muluzi could really be said to be sad.
And the man had a penchant for remembering faces. Once Muluzi set his eye on you, he could not forget you. It was as if your face was written in his mind.
Except, of course, me!
Whatever I am today, it is because of the UDF News, which took me in as a correspondent as I cut my teeth in journalism.
Well, the pay was not good enough, but the training was worth it.
The late Elson Kasinja [may his soul rest in peace] shaped my writing. Joseph Kayira was always encouraging me. Richard Chinansi was a brother-in-arms. In Edith Malamula I found an inspired female journalist. Of course, Harriet Kachingwe was always there to typeset our work.
Then, there was Levison Lifikiro, the UDF News editor. Lifikiro once worked as one of the editors at Malawi's oldest newspaper, The Daily Times, and took me by the arm whenever I goofed.
At one point, I wrote an article in UDF News about what was public information. Former UDF director of research, Humphreys Mvula, has announced his resignation from the UDF [in this case, United Democratic Front, the party] and I put that in the newspaper.
He came to the office the moment the news was out on the streets. He was angry. He shouted. He asked for Richard Chirombo.
Fortunately, he [Mvula] did not know me in person. So, I came out of our newsroom, to the outside where Mvula was shouting and threatening. Lifikiro patted him on the back, from now and then, but Mvula could have none of it. He wanted to see and meet Richard Chirombo.
I was there, and I shook in the knees.
Well, Lifikiro saved my skin.
A week later, I met Mvula at Tambala Food Products Limited and he picked me from Ginnery Corner, where Tambala Food Products is, to Blantyre Central Business District. I even introduced myself. Mvula was in the company of Tusekere Mwanyongo.
Tell you what Mvula was smiling and we have been smiling at each other ever since.
Bygones, in Mvula's world, are bygones.
But, then...the only sad thing that ever happened to me was that Muluzi once shook everyone's hand at a public place and refused to shake mine. I do not know why!
Those were the days!

Peter Mutharika's Government Wasting Our Time

No need for an example. The statement below suffices:

For immediate release
December 16, 2016
Ministry of Information and Communication 
Technology
Private Bag 310
Capital City 
Lilongwe 3
Malawi

RESPONSE TO CHAKWERA’S “INSULT AND PROVOKE” STRATEGY

Government would like to express its disappointment in Leader of Opposition Honourable Reverend Lazarus Chakwera’s so-called “State of the Nation Address”. 

We particularly note that Hon Chakwera’s statement reflected more of his own state of mind, his ulterior motives, his political psychology and the nature of his leadership more than the state of the nation.It is a well-known fact that Chakwera does not have the legal grounds for claiming to make a “State of the Nation Address” when he is not a Head of State. 

We feel sorry that Chakwera is suffering political delusions 
of imagining that he is the one ruling this country. These political delusions are caused by the fact that he is living a myth. Chakwera has never accepted that he lost the 2014 Electionbecause he failed to put in place structures across the country.

We also know he is leading a political party that rejected 
democracy and lost the referendum call for multiparty politics in 2003. Since then, Malawi Congress Party (MCP) has never embraced democracy. As a result of their anti-democratic ideology, MCP has always rejected the will of the people and any Election results throughout 1999, 2004, 2009 and 2014. 

In all these Elections, Chakwera’s party has always found an excuse to deny the outcome of the popular vote. You can safely predict that Chakwera’s party will also claim vote rigging once they lose the 2019 Election. We further understand Chakwera’s political psychology and frustration as a result of an abortive mission. We know that Chakwera conspired and colluded with Joyce Banda to frustrate the 2014 Elections. 

Joyce Banda ordered the Malawi Defence Force (who acted 
professionally and refused) to disrupt the Malawi Electoral 
Commission (MEC) tally centre; ordered the MDF (who again 
refused) to stage a coup to take her own Government; and to nullify results by reading sections of the Constitution that do not exist. Malawians will never forget those trying days.

All these abortive political shenanigans were based on the 
deal that President Arthur Peter Mutharika's election had to be 
frustrated for Chakwera to take over from Joyce Banda. 

The underhand agreement was that Chakwera was supposed to take over to protect Joyce Banda from possible Cashgate arrest as she deeply feared Peter Mutharika’s take over. 

We know that the strategy was that Joyce Banda would call for another Election in 90 days. Joyce Banda betrayed this intention herself when she tried to nullify the Election using laws that do not exist. 

Within those 90 days, MCP and People’s Party (PP) would gang up against Peter Mutharika, with Chakwera assured of the support of state resources to win the repeated vote. All this political conspiracy miserably failed. As a result, Chakwera does not believe that he is not ruling this country. His posturing himself as a head of state in his so-called “State of the Nation Address” is also coming from the same political delusion.

In his political dream, Chakwera believes that he needs to be arrested first for him to become a national President. He believes that one cannot lead Malawi without being arrested. In fact, people from inside Chakwera's camp have told us 
that his current strategy is to keep insulting and provoking the 
President so that he can fulfill his dream to be arrested by Government. 

His political dream to be arrested is a strategy to buy public sympathy and divert attention from his embattled leadership in the divided MCP. 

The writing of his infamous statement is part of 
his "Insult and Provoke Strategy". 
We would like to assure him that we are not going to arrest him simply to fulfill his political strategy. If the church housing and corruption scandals he piled up while he was President of his church should get Chakwera arrested, that will be poetic justice on a different course. 

We are happy to see him continue enjoying his democratic freedom of ranting, raving and parroting empty propaganda so that Malawians should judge his lack of political integrity and dignity. 

We are told that even some of his own MCP colleagues are totally embarrassed with him and we are pleased that Chakwera is publicly destroying himself. We totally appreciate that Chakwera deliberately agreed with his party to keep saying everything that President Mutharika is doing should be labelled "empty and failed". 

We know that in his strategy, Chakwera has chosen to be 
blind to all the efforts being pursued in this country. We are pleased to note that there are many Malawians who see the opposite. 

There are many people who appreciate that we have contained the hunger by flooding the country with maize both for the most vulnerable people and those who can buy from ADMARC; we have stabilised the economy and brought it from the ruins of Cashgate; we are building roads and running this 
Government in the absence of budgetary donor aid. Objective Malawians can distinguish our successful efforts to keep this country going from our challenges. 

But if Honourable Chakwera chooses to see emptiness in 
everything, that is his political strategy. If he cannot see development projects in his own constituency including a bitumen Kasiya road by this Government, little wonder he cannot see development anywhere. All we can say is that Malawians are wise and critical enough to judge for themselves. 

We also know that Reverend Chakwera was handpicked from the pulpit because MCP wanted a candidate with 'a godly appearance' (maonekedwe aumulungu) in order to cleanse its haunted image of 30 years of blood shedding, violence and deception. 

That is why Chakwera sidelined the old guards of the party in a desperate attempt to rebrand the party by exploiting the Malawian youths who did not see its blood-bathed political past. This strategy has failed and divided the MCP because new members are failing to work with the old supporters of the party. 

We know that Chakwera is becoming agitated with desperation as a result. 

While we understand Chakwera's desperation, we urge him to respect the Head of State. We also challenge him to rise above hate and jealous to prove to Malawians that he has any integrity of leadership. 

Respect for our Head of State is respect for our country.

MALISON NDAU MP

GOVERNMENT SPOKERPERSON &
MINISTER OF INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATIONS
TECHNOLOGY

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

President Peter Mutharika Moving Away From Bingu's Dream

They were brothers to boot.
In fact, it was one brother, former president Bingu wa Mutharika, who plucked Peter Mutharika, Malawi's incumbent president, from the United States of America where he had been thing as professor.
And, since his introduction in 2008, President Peter Mutharika has moved on to become Malawi's president, having shrugged off Joyce Banda and her People's Party in the 2014 Tripartite Elections.
However, Peter, too willing to distance himself from the Bingu wa Mutharika who plucked him from near oblivion, has started touting things Bingu wa Mutharika took for granted.
For example, while Bingu wa Mutharika openly made fun of boreholes, saying they were not sustainable, president Peter Mutharika was on Monday all over the sky, celebrating that his government has constructed 12 boreholes under Central Region Water Board.
By all standards,  Peter was supposed to be ashamed that a whole water board has reduced itself to a borehole-driller, instead of providing safe, tapped water to people.
Peter's shift is, indeed, ambarrassing.
Bingu wa right and Peter is wrong.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

FOR ZOMBA




There comes a time when, as Richard Washburn Child— former United States of America Ambassador to Italy; yes, he who wrote the foreword in Benito Mussolini’s ‘My Autobiography’— puts it, one reaches fourth to touch reality in himself, and finds that he himself has gone a little forward, isolated, determined, illusive, untouchable, just out of reach— onward!
Well, it must be that time.
One day, three years ago, I made Zomba my second home under the pinch of necessity.
But, then, the movement itself was just soup; the main dish was hope that, once I would stumble in the trenches of tertiary education, I would leave ignorance— ignorance and my own uncertainty— behind.
Well, it has happened. But it has not happened.
Why? Because where I went [Zomba]— which I thought was the future; more less like a forward movement— has only brought me back to what I left behind [in Blantyre]. That is, experience. Life’s experience.
So much so that, as I go back to Blantyre, turning my back on Zomba, I realise that the forward move I made has, through its lessons, only taken me back to ‘The behind’— the world that was supposed to remain behind. That world is not Blantyre; that world is life.
Now, I will let Benito Mussolini speak for me:
"I do not believe in the supposed influence of books. I do not believe in the influence which comes from perusing the books about the lives and characters of men.
For myself, I have had only one great teacher.
The book is life— lived.
The teacher is day-by-day experience.
The reality of experience is far more eloquent than all the theories and philosophies on all the tongues and on all the shelves.
I have never, with closed eyes, accepted the thoughts of others when they were estimating events and realities either in the normal course of things or when the situation appeared exceptional."
Now, I do not know what I am saying.
And, so, let me leave Zomba behind. To Blantyre; where I will know what to think, believe and say.
I do not know what I am saying!