Politics – The Nation Online http://mwnation.com Top Malawi Breaking News Headlines Thu, 23 Nov 2017 09:50:05 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9 ‘We have put wrong leaders in right positions’ http://mwnation.com/put-wrong-leaders-right-positions/ http://mwnation.com/put-wrong-leaders-right-positions/#respond Wed, 22 Nov 2017 08:37:31 +0000 http://mwnation.com/?p=222774   Last week, Speaker of the National Assembly Richard Msowoya led hundreds of Malawians at Mlare in Karonga where the National Initiative for Civic Education (Nice) Trust held a Democracy Fair. His speech centred on questioning why people continue clapping hands for politicians who steal their money. Our Mzuzu Bureau Supervisor Joseph Mwale caught up…

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Last week, Speaker of the National Assembly Richard Msowoya led hundreds of Malawians at Mlare in Karonga where the National Initiative for Civic Education (Nice) Trust held a Democracy Fair. His speech centred on questioning why people continue clapping hands for politicians who steal their money. Our Mzuzu Bureau Supervisor Joseph Mwale caught up with him later to discuss this passiveness and matters relating to democracy and elections in general. Excerpts:

Msowoya: The people themselves must make that decision

Q

: What is your assessment of Malawi’s democracy?

A

: Democracy requires responsibility and that responsibility cannot start from the top. People on the ground, in the rural areas, must be taught and that is why we commend Nice Trust for the good work that they are doing because people need knowledge about what their responsibilities are. When they have that knowledge, they begin to act responsibly. But what we have seen in Malawi is that such responsibility has been hijacked by too much craving for money. We have lost our responsibility. We have lost the sense of character. We have sold everything for money. Anything that has to do with money is where we think quality is. Because of that, we have put wrong leaders in right positions and things have not moved. The country continues to be behind all other Sadc [Southern African Development Community] countries. If you look at Mozambique, this country went through 17 years of civil war, but they are quickly overtaking us. Then you have Tanzania, and especially talking from Karonga here, most of the household workers, and those looking for piece-works, were coming from Tanzania during the time of Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda, but the trend is changing.

Q

: Why is the trend changing?

A

: The trend is changing because Tanzania has

got good leadership, and we have lacked good leadership in Malawi. So, to reverse that, the people themselves must make that decision because they can think that it is from the top. That it is the Speaker’s office, therefore it is too high for us to correct, but the effects of that trickle down to them and it affects their lives on a daily basis.

Q

: How can people get out of this passiveness?

A

: First is about knowledge because when people have knowledge, they know exactly how to make decisions. But also, it’s to continue just preaching, you know the love of money, all of us are victims of money but must begin to understand that it is not just money that makes things move. It takes good leadership, quality leaders, people who can sacrifice, people who have the patriotism when doing public work.

Q

: During your tour of pavilions, you asked so many questions at pavilion of Malawi Electoral Commission on the 2019 elections. Are you worried?

A

: The idea that we are talking about is we are looking for a greater transparency and better accountability in the electoral process. An electoral process that always ends in court suits, litigations and something, it means there are flaws in it. As Malawians we must accept, and if we are really in business that we want to change our country for the better, then we must not be afraid to find out what the problem is. We must begin to find the process of solving such problems. Certainly, transparency in our electoral process leaves a lot to be desired. I am sure you are aware now that there are two bills in Parliament; there is a private members bill that has been pending for some time. All those things are done because people have realised that probably this is a recipe for war in future. We can keep on hiding, keeping our heads in the sand, but these problems will still affect us and the development of this country.   If people can agree on changes, and those changes to go through normal processes and effected, I am sure they will lead to a better, more transparent, more accountable Malawi for the benefit of everybody.

Q

: Mlare is part of Karonga Central Constituency christened ‘Benghazi’ because of electoral violence. What do you think must happen ahead of 2019 elections?

A

: At first, when the name Benghazi came about, those who participated in the violence looked at it as some source of pride. But overtime, they have realised that such name has not brought any positive image for themselves, and I am sure the aspirants in Karonga Central, do not wish that name to be repeated. I am sure all of them need clean politics and political parties will make sure that they go through the democratic processes in order that leaders who are chosen are those that will not be advancing violence as a way of getting elected.

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IF I WERE : Lazarus Chakwera http://mwnation.com/if-i-were-lazarus-chakwera-3/ http://mwnation.com/if-i-were-lazarus-chakwera-3/#respond Wed, 22 Nov 2017 08:32:39 +0000 http://mwnation.com/?p=222768   Leader of opposition in Parliament and president of the Malawi Congress Party (MCP), I would realise that I went out of my way by describing President Peter Mutharika as a ‘prince of thieves’ in my response to the President’s address made at the opening of the 47th Session of Parliament on November 10 this…

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Leader of opposition in Parliament and president of the Malawi Congress Party (MCP), I would realise that I went out of my way by describing President Peter Mutharika as a ‘prince of thieves’ in my response to the President’s address made at the opening of the 47th Session of Parliament on November 10 this year.

If I were Chakwera, I would appreciate that regardless of how I view APM, he is the Head of State and has to be accorded the respect that he deserves.

Oh yes man of God, as leader of opposition in the House, I would lead by example other than use such derogatory words, especially against the whole Head of State.

How I wish I were O’ Chakwera because I would realise that other than hitting out at the President, I would take it as an opportunity to offer possible solutions as the president-in-waiting.

If I were Chakwera, surely I would be the first one to realise that  the use of such words in Parliament contravene the rules of the House.

I am saying if only I were Chakwera, but I am not the man of the pulpit turned politician.

 

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Kamlepo, others Face CDF queries http://mwnation.com/kamlepo-others-face-cdf-queries/ http://mwnation.com/kamlepo-others-face-cdf-queries/#comments Wed, 08 Nov 2017 06:23:12 +0000 http://mwnation.com/?p=221545 Constituency Development Fund (CDF) assessments in Rumphi have shown that millions of kwacha in the 2016/17 fiscal year were allegedly spent on unnamed projects or materials not budget for. According to the report, the queries account for 88 percent of K10 million meant for Rumphi West Constituency; 42 percent for K11.1 million in Rumphi Central…

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Constituency Development Fund (CDF) assessments in Rumphi have shown that millions of kwacha in the 2016/17 fiscal year were allegedly spent on unnamed projects or materials not budget for. According to the report, the queries account for 88 percent of K10 million meant for Rumphi West Constituency; 42 percent for K11.1 million in Rumphi Central and 89 percent of K10.7 for Rumphi East.  Our Mzuzu Bureau supervisor JOSEPH MWALE engages Rumphi East legislator KAMLEPO KALUA to explain what happened:

Kamlepo: I did not steal the money

Q

: The report shows that you did not do well on implementation of CDF. How did you use the money?

A

: That is not true because in 2014, I inherited a debt of about K14 million. This meant that whatever promise I had made to the people prior to the elections did not materialise because I had instructed the district council to take care of that debt. I am perhaps the only member of Parliament [MP] in this district or Malawi

who had cleared the debt of former MPs to the tune of K14 million. At that particular time CDF was K6 million, so you can see that the whole of 2014 and 2015 nothing tangible took place in my constituency.

 

Q

: How do you feel about this news considering that you are the deputy chairperson of the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament which tracks use of public finances?

A

: After I was told that the debt is cleared, I went to the district commissioner [DC] and said: “Looking at the fight that I get involved in corruption, I am not going to touch this CDF, come up with a committee.” So, a committee was elected. I accept that it was a political committee because I am a politician. I am not hiding from that, because if I am hiding away from that fact, then I am not a politician. This is the committee, that together with people at the DC that were implementing the programmes. Therefore, if there is deficit in that constituency, I should not be the one to blame, but blame the staff at the council and the committee in the constituency. But I do not know that there is any problem from the way I have inspected the projects.

 

Q

: How ideal was electing a political committee for CDF?

A

: It is ideal because politics is what is taking place in Malawi. Unless you don’t know, it’s all politics. Whatever I do is politics. Whatever I think and whatever I say is politics. Even Goodall Gondwe, the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, is there because of politics. He is not a Minister of Finance because of a charitable organisation, but because he is a politician. Now, if the money is missing, I cannot be blamed, neither should the committee be blamed, but the council should be blamed. The question is: How did the council release the money without following proper channels of releasing the money when I told them that they should only release the money when there are proper channels?

 

Q

: So, you are blaming council officials when you put them at the mercy of a political committee?

A

: If the committee was stealing, I would have known. I have told them that if they ever steal, I will hand them over to the police. So, the blame is not mine. They say 88 percent of money is missing. This means not even a drop of development has taken place in Rumphi East. If that is the case, then where is the money? We have about 320 primary schools in my constituency and each one of them has at least received something out of CDF. This package does not come at once, because when it was K9 million, we were getting it in four tranches. As I am talking to you, the K23 million that has been the talk of this nonsense, since we raised it from K18 million to K23 million, we have only received K3 million.

 

Q

: That is my question: where is the money? You must answer that!

A

: It is not me. I have told you that from 2014, I said: “I am not going to touch that money under CDF.” If that money is missing, who is embezzling it? The blame should not come to me. n

 

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IF I WERE:George Mituka http://mwnation.com/if-i-weregeorge-mituka/ http://mwnation.com/if-i-weregeorge-mituka/#respond Wed, 08 Nov 2017 06:18:30 +0000 http://mwnation.com/?p=221543 Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) public relations officer (PRO), I would realise that even the eight-hour electricity load-shedding programme model aimed at ensuring equitable distribution of in the face of power outages, is not working according to plan. If I were bwana Mituka, I would realise that some areas are still experiencing power outages…

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Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) public relations officer (PRO), I would realise that even the eight-hour electricity load-shedding programme model aimed at ensuring equitable distribution of in the face of power outages, is not working according to plan.

If I were bwana Mituka, I would realise that some areas are still experiencing power outages for over 12 hours just days after the so-called new load-shedding programme was issued.

Oh yes, Mr Mituka, I would appreciate that when Escom fails to abide by its schedules, it is the consumers that are inconvenienced and this leads to loss of trust.

How I wish I were the Escom PRO, because I would tell my bosses that the new eight-hour model should only have been announced after the corporation was optimistic it would work.

I would further realise that it is such inconsistencies that leave the public wondering whether the electricity supply company is serious in its drive to end the power outages.

But I am Garry, not George! n

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I’m not a political prostitute—Ngwira http://mwnation.com/im-not-political-prostitute-ngwira/ http://mwnation.com/im-not-political-prostitute-ngwira/#respond Wed, 01 Nov 2017 07:18:52 +0000 http://mwnation.com/?p=220909 In July, Mzimba Hora legislator, the Reverend Christopher Mzomera Ngwira, returned to the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) after being banished from People’s Party. Our Mzuzu Bureau supervisor JOSEPH MWALE caught up with the legislator to explain his vacillations on political see-saw. You dumped DPP shortly after the death of Bingu Wa Mutharika in April…

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In July, Mzimba Hora legislator, the Reverend Christopher Mzomera Ngwira, returned to the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) after being banished from People’s Party. Our Mzuzu Bureau supervisor JOSEPH MWALE caught up with the legislator to explain his vacillations on political see-saw.

You dumped DPP shortly after the death of Bingu Wa Mutharika in April 2012, joined PP and now you are back to DPP. Why the back and forth?

Ngwira: I know DPP have started my politics there

When I joined politics a few years ago, my first party was DPP until such a time when I left the party for PP. I had my reasons for moving out of DPP, which I cannot explain now.  This time, I have gone back to DPP because I have seen what has happened to PP, the party I joined to support. You have seen what has happened with PP. I led a revolution, telling people what we should have done to make that party stronger again, but I was accused of not wishing the party well and they kicked me out. But you know that I did very well when I was PP provincial governor in the Northern Region. It is in the Central, Southern and Eastern regions that they did not vote for PP. In the North, we stood with PP president Dr Joyce Banda and gave her lots of support. When she went out to a place I do not know, I stood my ground that we should make the party strong, but I was opposed by the very same people who have now also left the party. So, I am not a political prostitute. I have just gone back to my old party, the original party where my politics started.

During your rallies, you constantly tell people that you would campaign heavily if given some position in DPP. What really do you want in DPP, to be governor?

No, you cannot appoint yourself a governor. To be a governor, one needs to be a hard worker, someone who thinks because the going is not easy. So, I cannot say yes or no. There are several positions in the party. Whatever position I will be given, I will take it.

Why do you want a position in the ruling party?

Why I want a position is because when you are not given any position, you will be just a backbencher and hand-clapper. That is what I don’t want. I want a position so that I can serve the party well, to the best of my knowledge and ability. It is not just because I want to be a leader. There are several positions in the party and they can choose which one they want me to occupy and support the party and the President [Peter Mutharika].

You seem to have strong negative views towards Malawi Congress Party (MCP). Have you been shaken by the opposition party’s landslide win in by-recent elections?

You should understand, especially if you come from the North, that we have been supporting our friends. Not only DPP today, but we have been supporting MCP, but MCP does not support us. I hear MCP saying they will get many votes from the North, but never. This will only happen over my dead body! I will go everywhere in the region to remind people of the atrocities that MCP committed during its time in power [1963-1994]. If I will be one of the DPP leaders in the North, I will stand firm and remind voters of what these people [in MCP] have been doing to us.

Are you not ashamed that the MCP you are talking so much against won five of the six areas in the by-election recently?

Even if DPP was not in government, I would still go back to join it. I know DPP. I started my politics there. I know the people.  I know the leadership. This is one reason I didn’t want to leave PP until they thought of booting me out of the party because they thought I was dividing it. All I wanted was to have the party strengthened so that we win the 2019 elections. MCP is celebrating because of the few seats they have won during the by-elections. We must not be taken up by this small victory. You remember that we have been supporting these people and each time we support them, they do not come back to thank us. You remember what we did in 1999. We gave them all the support in the Northern Region. In the South, nearly all MPs from Chikwawa and Nsanje were for MCP. The MCP-Aford coalition had over 90 MPs. But did the party win the presidency? No! So, they should not celebrate the win in the by-election. They should know that this is just a wake-up call for DPP, a reminder that if someone was lazy in DPP, it is time to wake up, stand firmly and win the bigger prize in 2019.  We have seen where we have gone wrong, but now we will come up with a strategy to win in 2019.

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If I were Peter Mutharika http://mwnation.com/if-i-were-peter-mutharika-11/ http://mwnation.com/if-i-were-peter-mutharika-11/#respond Wed, 01 Nov 2017 07:18:24 +0000 http://mwnation.com/?p=220914 President of the Republic of Malawi, I would realise that I am sticking my neck out by promising Malawians that blackouts will be a thing of the past in a year’s time considering the agony and frustrations the issue has created. Yes Your Excellency, while the so-called surprise meeting with the boards and management of…

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President of the Republic of Malawi, I would realise that I am sticking my neck out by promising Malawians that blackouts will be a thing of the past in a year’s time considering the agony and frustrations the issue has created.

Yes Your Excellency, while the so-called surprise meeting with the boards and management of Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) and Electricity Generation Company (Egenco) last week was commendable, it will take extra and consistent effort to ensure that the two electricity bodies walk my talk.

If I were APM, I would not forget that I have a tough task to prove that my visit to Escom offices was not a mere political tactic to be seen to be doing something about the situation in the countdown to the 2019 presidential polls.

If I were the President, I would remember that having plans to address a situation is one thing while implementation is another thing.

If I were Mutharika, I would realise that the power outages have virtually brought the economy to a halt; hence, the need to treat the situation as a crisis.

But I am Garry.

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Four women, no winner http://mwnation.com/four-women-no-winner/ http://mwnation.com/four-women-no-winner/#comments Wed, 25 Oct 2017 09:27:40 +0000 http://mwnation.com/?p=220342   Only four women contested in last week’s by-elections and none of them won. Gone is a one-off opportunity to increase the number of women in Parliament and councils. Our News Analyst MERCY MALIKWA caught up with lawyer and gender rights activist Ngeyi Kanyongolo on low women participation in politics. Q1 : How do you…

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Only four women contested in last week’s by-elections and none of them won. Gone is a one-off opportunity to increase the number of women in Parliament and councils. Our News Analyst MERCY MALIKWA caught up with lawyer and gender rights activist Ngeyi Kanyongolo on low women participation in politics.

Kanyongolo: We need to do something about it

Q1

: How do you feel that only four out of the 19 contestants in six by-elections were women?

A1

: That figure is on the lower side, but I think when we look at the bigger picture, proportionately, that is not too different from participation of women in general elections. So, in terms of proportionate representation, that is low. But it has been lower than that even in general elections. I think it is not very surprising.

Q2

: What is your take on the fact that none of the four has made it to represent the constituency or ward?

A2

: The results are very worrying. We really would have thought that we would improve in the level of women participation by having a few women elected either as a councillor or as a member of Parliament.  We should be concerned and maybe find ways of improving from what has happened.

Q3

: Just 18 months to the 2019 Tripartite Elections, what picture does this paint?

A3

: It is very negative. We should quickly learn lessons from what has happened and prepare. I know that most of the gender activists are already preparing for the 2019 elections and we can only hope that it will get better. It is unfortunate that there weren’t many interventions during the by-elections, but mostly I think it is because of lack of funding and resources for the non-governmental organisations [NGOs] that normally get involved with these activities to do so. But for the general elections, they are already preparing now and we can only hope for the best.

Q4

: Talking about funding for women advancement campaigns, should we say that by-elections do not matter?

A4

: They do matter. Every opportunity in the electoral cycle should be taken seriously to allow women enter into politics. I think it is just that with the by-elections there is no enough time to plan. Therefore, because most of the NGOs depend on development partners’ support, maybe it becomes too difficult for them to intervene. But with the general elections, because we are prepared, we know when they are going to take place, it becomes a

lot easier. However, I think we should take by-elections seriously as the general elections. Probably, that is a point of reflection where in future we may have to think of ways how NGOs and gender activists will still intervene in by-elections.

Q5

: How best can activists address MEC concerns that that even during general elections, some campaigners come late, when many women have already dropped?

A5

: That is a genuine and a fair observation. From a post-mortem review of the 2014 elections, lessons were learnt. If you see what has happened since 2014, they have been working on elections. The idea that elections should be looked at as a process and not as an event has been internalised. And then from 2015, there were those national conferences and meetings which were convened by gender activists to look at what went wrong and they came up with strategies on what to do next. Then, after that, they have looked at the regulatory framework, the policies and the laws to find what impedes women’s participation. There has also been a campaign around affirmative action, talking to political parties and voters on how they can support women. So, I think there is a slight difference from previous interventions. This time around, they have started early. They have been working throughout. They might not have adequate funds to go and talk to the women, but even if you look at some of the programmes in place now, for instance the women political empowerment group at Ministry of Gender that works with most of the NGOs, they have been having their meetings, they are prepared and they have written proposals to donors seeking funding. So, we can only hope that things will keep on improving and that this time around women will be reached in good time than we have done before.

A6

: Are political parties doing enough to move from rhetoric to action regarding women empowerment?

A6

:There is a lot that political parties need to do and I think in some fairness, they already have started doing what they are supposed to do. For example, the national conferences that we had soon after 2014 elections, part of the critique was that there wasn’t enough support from political parties and even their framework—their constitutions and manifestos, did not really reflect the required support for women. So, over the years, in 2015 and 2016, organisations like Centre for Multiparty Democracy have been working with political parties to redo their party constitutions and to look at their party manifestos to make sure that the framework is in place for them to properly support women. And then we have had some political parties that have been working with some NGOs such as NGO-Gender Coordinating Network [GCN] and Women’s Legal Resources Centre [Worlec] just to put in place strong structures working with women wings and role models to mentor young women.  I think we are slowly going beyond the rhetoric and some effort is really being put by political parties to support women. But then, I think we will only be able to test whether they are serious if, for example, if the constitution that they have gendered will be passed at their conventions because most of them are still waiting for their party conventions to pass the gendered amendments that they proposed. And then, looking at what has happened with the by-elections, one would say that we really have not gone far enough for us to go beyond the rhetoric. But I think efforts are being made, small steps, very incremental, but some change can be seen. It will take time but I think we need to take some serious steps as we approach the general elections. n

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IF I WERE:Peter Mutharika http://mwnation.com/if-i-werepeter-mutharika/ http://mwnation.com/if-i-werepeter-mutharika/#respond Wed, 25 Oct 2017 09:23:29 +0000 http://mwnation.com/?p=220340   President of Malawi and the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), I would realise that my party’s poor showing in the recent by-elections offers food for thought ahead of the 2019 Tripartite Elections. If I were APM, I would accept the harsh reality that winning just one out of six positions up for grabs confirms…

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President of Malawi and the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), I would realise that my party’s poor showing in the recent by-elections offers food for thought ahead of the 2019 Tripartite Elections.

If I were APM, I would accept the harsh reality that winning just one out of six positions up for grabs confirms my party is losing ground and taking a downward plunge while the opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) is getting stronger, especially with the recruitment of Lower Shire Valley political giant Muhammad Sidik Mia.

Oh yes, bwana President,  I would be very worried because this comes just months after a perception survey by Afro-Barometer showed my archrival Lazarus Chakwera is getting stronger. As such, I would accept the painful reality, conduct some soul-searching and go back to the drawing board to address shortfalls in my party and my laidback leadership style.

If I were President APM, I would not be carried away by the jazz from praise singers,  who see no evil and hear no evil, because they are opportunists only interested in kutola khobwe.

If and only if I were Peter! But I am Garry. Chala m’mwamba! Tamvana eti! n

 

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IF I WERE :Peter Mutharika http://mwnation.com/if-i-were-peter-mutharika-10/ http://mwnation.com/if-i-were-peter-mutharika-10/#respond Wed, 18 Oct 2017 07:24:10 +0000 http://mwnation.com/?p=219754   President of the Republic of Malawi and governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) leader, I would not proclaim that only constituencies with DPP parliamentarians are assured of development projects as I did in my speech during campaign rallies in Lilongwe Msozi North and Lilongwe City South East constituencies recently. If I were APM, I would…

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President of the Republic of Malawi and governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) leader, I would not proclaim that only constituencies with DPP parliamentarians are assured of development projects as I did in my speech during campaign rallies in Lilongwe Msozi North and Lilongwe City South East constituencies recently.

If I were APM, I would realise that I am the Head of State and Government who is supposed to serve all Malawians indiscriminately and without favour regardless of political affiliation.

Oh yes, Your Excellency, I would realise that the country is not owned by DPP and it is an insult to Malawians who elected multiparty politics in June 1993, when I was wallowing in comfort overseas, to declare that only constituencies that have my blue-eyed members of parliament (MPs) will get development.

How I wish I were APM, my President, because I would realise that development is initiated using taxpayers’ money and donor funds, not DPP coffers. Every constituency is entitled to development.

If I were the law professor, I would realise that favouritism goes against the principle of equality stipulated in Section 20 of the Constitution.

That is if I were APM, the President of the Republic of Malawi and the governing DPP. Chala m’mwamba! Tamvana eti? n

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Presidential adviser speaks on abortion debate http://mwnation.com/presidential-adviser-speaks-abortion-debate/ http://mwnation.com/presidential-adviser-speaks-abortion-debate/#comments Wed, 18 Oct 2017 07:23:15 +0000 http://mwnation.com/?p=219750   A recent study by gynaecologists at the College of Medicine and US-based Guttimacher Institute shows almost 141 000 pregnancies in 2015 ended in clandestine abortions. Unsafe abortions claim lives of up to 18 in every 100 Malawian women who die of pregnancy-related complications. Our Features Editor JAMES CHAVULA asks presidential adviser on non-governmental organisations…

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A recent study by gynaecologists at the College of Medicine and US-based Guttimacher Institute shows almost 141 000 pregnancies in 2015 ended in clandestine abortions. Unsafe abortions claim lives of up to 18 in every 100 Malawian women who die of pregnancy-related complications. Our Features Editor JAMES CHAVULA asks presidential adviser on non-governmental organisations (NGOs) Mavuto Bamusi what President Peter Mutharika makes of the silent killer and a contentious push to relax the country’s abortion laws.

Bamusi: We have to strike a balance

Q1

: Women are dying while terminating pregnancies clandestinely although the Penal Code outlaws abortion except when a woman’s life is in danger. As presidential adviser, what do you make of this irony?

A1

: The direction that government is taking is that we must scale up initiatives on issues of maternal health. You know we are coming out of a situation where Malawi has been losing a lot of women due to unsafe abortions and associated complications during pregnancy. So, the role of the civil society organisations is to work hand in hand with government in making sure that we do not lose mothers and women due to pregnancy complications. This is what even President Peter Mutharika has been repeating time and again that we must no longer lose women, that we must continue to safeguard the life of women and that maternal health should be improved. The same issue has been embraced by the First Lady Gertrude Mutharika. As an active member of Organisation of African First Ladies [Oafla] on HIV and Aids, her responsibility also extends to preventing maternity deaths. The First Lady as well as the President has an interest in promoting child rights.

Q2

: What is the first couple’s position on the push to relax the country’s restrictive abortion laws?

A2

: We have to strike a balance. Government has an obligation to ensure that rights of children are safeguarded and that women do not die needlessly. At the same time, we have the civil society and system that does not condone unsafe abortion. We have a society that promotes rights of women and good health for mothers and women during delivery. Now the fundamental role that civil society has is to hold hands with government and ensure these aspirations are met. The civil society organisations and non-governmental organisations have responsibility to engage in dialogue with the Ministry of Health and other stakeholders. So the civil society is the driving force in this issue of abortion. But at the end of the day, we must all make sure that the right to life, which is a fundamental right in the Constitution of Malawi, is protected.  The third responsibility that civil society has is to conduct research and also disseminate proper and right information in as far as the issue of abortion is concerned.

Q3

: What direction is government taking following recommendations from the Special Law Commission on Review of Abortion Laws in 2015?

A3

: The direction government is taking in view of the recommendations from Malawi Law Commission is that the law on termination

of pregnancy is not changing at the moment. But what is being done is simply to add additional grounds for allowing abortions or for not allowing abortions. These are additional grounds for ensuring that any abortion which happens is safe. These grounds will enable us to further protect the life of mothers during pregnancy. Sometimes, there is misconception or misinformation that President Mutharika is encouraging abortion. That is not the case.

 

Q4

: So, what is the case?

 

A4

: The case is that the government of Peter Mutharika would like to enhance maternal rights, but also to further reduce maternal deaths and  decrease complications that are associated with pregnancies. This is fundamental in the country in as far as promoting human rights and safe motherhood is concerned. Like I said, the civil society has a critical role to play in balancing the conflicting interests and also to give out correct information to Malawians.

 

Q5

: On December 6 last year, some people petitioned the President not to allow proposed moves to relax abortion laws. If you had three minutes with the President, what advice would you give President Mutharika?

A5

: Our advice is based on proper research and not mere emotions. The advice will be based on the reality on the ground that women are taking unsafe abortions. However, the President is listening to both sides. Those that are against abortion, the President is listening to them. Those that are for safe abortion, the President is listening to them. At the end of the day, President Mutharika will make a decision that is in the best interest of Malawians. However, let me underscore that President Mutharika respects the Constitution. So the ultimate decision is that if the draft Termination of Pregnancy Bill reaches his desk, the President shall make a decision based on what is in the best interest of Malawians.

 

Q6

: Some campaigners are concerned that the law review is slow and that policymakers are shunning this controversial issue because it has some political connotations and may make political elites lose votes. Is this going to eliminate unsafe abortion in Malawi?

A6

:  Government, especially that of Peter Mutharika, does not politicise these matters. This is the issue of maternal health. The view that the review process is delaying in order to balance the political situation can be taken as mere perceptions. Any policy or law review takes reasonable time. So, whatever time is taking right now can be described as reasonable time investing into such an issue that is controversial and politically sticky. Government will take a balancing approach in managing this issue. Let me hasten to caution other players who always rush to politicise anything. So let us leave politics out of this debate over abortion laws. Let us not politicise issues to do with maternal health. We must simply treat them as issues of matters of safe motherhood and women’s health. n

 

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Oh my malawi! http://mwnation.com/oh-my-malawi/ http://mwnation.com/oh-my-malawi/#respond Wed, 04 Oct 2017 08:55:00 +0000 http://mwnation.com/?p=218716 On Saturday, the Tumbuka people from Rumphi gathered at Paramount Chief Chikulamayembe’s headquarters in Bolero for Gonapamuhanya Cultural Festival. However, the annual commemoration in honour of the first Chikulamayembe, Gonapamuhanya, was marred by political clashes. In this interview with our Mzuzu Bureau Supervisor JOSEPH MWALE, the reigning Chikulamayembe looks at how politics almost spoiled the…

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On Saturday, the Tumbuka people from Rumphi gathered at Paramount Chief Chikulamayembe’s headquarters in Bolero for Gonapamuhanya Cultural Festival. However, the annual commemoration in honour of the first Chikulamayembe, Gonapamuhanya, was marred by political clashes. In this interview with our Mzuzu Bureau Supervisor JOSEPH MWALE, the reigning Chikulamayembe looks at how politics almost spoiled the cultural event.

Chikulamayembe waves a flywhisk at Gonapamuhanya

Q

: How important is Gonapamuhanya cultural festival?

A

: You are aware that culture is of paramount importance in life because culture is a dimension of development, more especially when it is being pursued in the right direction. The youth need to know the Tumbuka way of life, where we are coming from and where we are going. To us, culture is very important, hence the annual celebration.

This year, the celebration revolved around promoting and protecting the girl child. I am aging, and someone has to take up my role, that means we have at all times to protect the young ones.

 

Q

: For three years now, Gonapamuhanya has been blighted by political scuffles. What do you make of these clashes?

A

: Politicians will never be the same with traditional leaders. Our ambitions are not the same. You see, the ruling party [Democratic Progressive Party-DPP] thinks all the activities

that Gonapamuhanya pursued belong to them. This is wrong.

They were trying to protect their authority. They didn’t want their counterparts to come in, but we challenged them. This is not a political issue, so we said: “Please can you get out of the arena”.

Of course, they obeyed, but the village heads were very annoyed with them. They chased them away. This is what you should expect from politicians. If you think, some day, you will go into the political arena and become a politician, Mr Mwale, you got to be very careful.

Q

: What do you make of these conflicts?

A

: I think that they are denting the beautiful event called Gonapamuhanya. I also think that these people have a very private political motive. This is the second time they have done that.

Last year, they started doing the same, but there were people who controlled them before things went out of hand.

This year, they have done it again. I think that there is a sinister motive. But all the same, this is a traditional event, not a political issue. We will not get disturbed by politicians.  I have made that clear and I told them on Sunday that we will not be disturbed.

Q

:  Why do you invite politicians to the event?

A

:  Usually, they are not invited. We only invite the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development and the President. I believe that it is the two who invite other party officials and followers. So, it is these party officials who make a lot of noise, not the legislators or senior officials.

Q

: What are you doing to ensure that next year’s Gonapamuhanya does not become another political battlefield?

A

:  I have discussed this matter with my advisers and the rest of the chiefs around me. We are taking a step to deal with this once and for all. We want to talk to the President and other authorities to say that this is bad because they are painting a very bad image [of Gonapamuhanya] and we are not happy about it. We would not want to have this sort of situation next year. Shortly, I will be meeting the President [Peter Mutharika]. All in all, after the fracas, we had a very nice ceremony because we had a huge delegation from Zambia, we danced, ate and drunk. It was a very nice event. n

 

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IF I WERE: William Liabunya http://mwnation.com/if-i-were-william-liabunya-2/ http://mwnation.com/if-i-were-william-liabunya-2/#respond Wed, 04 Oct 2017 08:51:31 +0000 http://mwnation.com/?p=218730 Electricity Generation Company (Egenco) chief executive officer, I would appreciate that the jazz about power production challenges, including low water levels in Lake Malawi and its outlet Shire River, have been said time and again without any lasting solution in sight. If I were Willy, therefore, I would always remember that Malawians want to hear…

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Electricity Generation Company (Egenco) chief executive officer, I would appreciate that the jazz about power production challenges, including low water levels in Lake Malawi and its outlet Shire River, have been said time and again without any lasting solution in sight.

If I were Willy, therefore, I would always remember that Malawians want to hear about the interventions my company is putting in place to address the chronic power problem in the long term.

If I were in charge of the power producer, I would appreciate that the blackouts have become irritating to electricity consumers and while there is all this commendable talk about procurement of diesel -powered engines to increase power output, I would realise that what power-starved Malawians want to hear is whether there are decisive solutions to the prevailing challenges.

Oh yes Willy, I would realise that the onus is on me to prove to Malawians that ndizotheka and Egenco can turn things around.

If only I were the Egenco boss, I would realise that Malawians expect Egenco to be pro-actively developing strategies to prevent emerging problems.

But I am not the Egenco boss, am I? n

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Grace Chiumia http://mwnation.com/grace-chiumia-2/ Wed, 27 Sep 2017 09:07:19 +0000 http://mwnation.com/?p=218205   Minister of Home Affairs and Internal Security, I would acknowledge that my move to order the arrest of 14 National Intelligence Bureau (NRB) officials was total abuse of office. If I were the lady who calls herself ‘Obama’, I would appreciate that when a whole Cabinet minister goes out of his or her way…

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Minister of Home Affairs and Internal Security, I would acknowledge that my move to order the arrest of 14 National Intelligence Bureau (NRB) officials was total abuse of office.

If I were the lady who calls herself ‘Obama’, I would appreciate that when a whole Cabinet minister goes out of his or her way to the extent of ‘spying’ on the officers who were having a normal and cordial meeting to find ways on how to advance their grievances, it paints a picture of someone who is not only overzealous, but does not know what she or he is doing.

How I wish I were madam Chiumia as I would realise that the NRB officers were just exercising their rights.

Oh yes, madam, I would also realise that if the real Obama—that is Barack—knew that there is someone who likens herself to him but behaves funny, he would be totally ashamed.

If I were Grace, I would take time to conduct some soul-searching as regards my conduct as a minister to avoid being a disgrace. Unfortunately I am not Grace Chiumia, the whole minister who sinks so low as to ‘spy’ on officers having a normal meeting relating to their welfare. n

 

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‘It is impossible to produce a duplicate certificate’ http://mwnation.com/impossible-produce-duplicate-certificate/ Wed, 27 Sep 2017 09:04:55 +0000 http://mwnation.com/?p=218201   Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) will on October 17 hold by-elections in three constituencies and three wards in the country. These by-elections are coming against the background of lack of funding, an issue that forced MEC to indefinitely postpone the elections initially scheduled for June 6. Our news analyst MERCY MALIKWA engages MEC director of…

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Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) will on October 17 hold by-elections in three constituencies and three wards in the country. These by-elections are coming against the background of lack of funding, an issue that forced MEC to indefinitely postpone the elections initially scheduled for June 6. Our news analyst MERCY MALIKWA engages MEC director of media and public relations Sangwani Mwafulirwa on the by-elections preparations and other electoral issues. Excerpts:

 

Mwafulirwa:Only four out of 19 candidates contesting are women

Q

: How are the preparations going on?

A

: The preparations are on course and MEC is assuring all people that, come October 17, by-elections will take place in all the six areas where they are scheduled to happen. As we stand today, funding has been provided to MEC and that is why we have managed to conduct several processes like registration and voter update, nomination and now we are planning to start printing ballot papers. We should assure everyone that the process won’t stop this time around.

Q

: Since the official campaign started on September 13 2017, has MEC received any complaint regarding electoral malpractice or violence?

A

: The commission is monitoring the campaign activities and so far no complaint has been received bordering on intimidation, violence, disruption of rallies, creating of no-go zones for other candidates and even use of foul language. This is an indicator that our democracy is maturing and candidates and their supporters are now turning to issue-based campaign. We are optimistic that this will be the status up to the end of the campaign.

Q

: MEC reduced nomination fees for women to encourage their participation in elections as candidates. Is the initiative bearing intended results?

A

: The commission has always been eager to implement ideas that can promote women participation in elections as candidates if its neutrality cannot be compromised. In 2013, MEC introduced the 25 percent discount for local government and parliamentary women candidates in preparation for the Tripartite Elections in 2014.

The practice has been maintained in all the four sets of by-elections held since May 2014. While the commission is confident with the initiative, it is apparent that more work needs to be done by other stakeholders.

In the current by-elections there are 19 candidates of whom only four are women; three are contesting for parliamentary seats while one is standing for local government. In Msozi North Constituency, Mtsiliza and Ndirande-Makata wards all the contestants are men. There are many reasons why people choose to contest or not but it has always been the wish of all stakeholders, including MEC, to see women contesting in all elections.

Q

: How many voters are expected to vote in these by-elections?

A

: A total of 160 339 voters are expected to cast their ballots in all the three constituencies

and three wards. Of these, 12 428 are new voters who were registered during a voter register update run from August 24 to 28.

Q

: Past by-elections have been characterised by low voter turnout. What are you doing to counter this trend?

A

: MEC is intensifying its civic and voter education outreach through community engagement meetings where community stakeholders such as chiefs, faith leaders and their subjects are invited. The commission is also deploying teams with loudhailers that go into the communities with messages about the importance of taking part in polling. We have also printed posters and brochures that are being distributed with messages about elections. These teams also go in the communities to distribute letters to faith leaders and teachers which are read in churches and schools. MEC is also placing jingles on radio stations to reach out to the same electorate. However, MEC at the same time recognises that other stakeholders have a role to play, especially political parties. We have noted in the past that during campaign period, rallies are well patronised by supporters of the candidates or parties. But during polling, these people do not show up in good numbers to vote. We encourage politicians as they are conducting their rallies to motivate their followers to turnout in large numbers for polling. The best thing a member can do for a candidate or party they love is to vote in their favour and not just attend rallies. They should know that it is casting a ballot which counts if a party or candidate will get a seat and not high turnout during campaign rallies.

Q

: Recently, there have been media reports that some politicians were copying voter certificate numbers with an intention of rigging the elections. What has the MEC done to address the situation?

A

: MEC is also not aware of the reasons why people copy voter certificate numbers because it is impossible to produce a duplicate certificate and use it to vote. When one presents a voter certificate at the centre to vote, the staff have to check that the voter certificate photo and details match with those in the register and also with the person who wants to vote. There will also be an extra voters’ register for the monitors so that they can also check the correctness of the details against the register and the person intending to vote.  Any variation like a voter presenting a certificate whose details are different from what we have in the register has to be probed.  Include the fact that even those who have lost their certificate can vote as long as they are on the register and positively identified.

Q

: Persons with disabilities have always complained that some facilities used at centres are not disability friendly. Have you addressed these concerns?

A

: The commission has put in place measures to help persons with disabilities cast their ballots with ease. On the polling day, they will not be allowed to queue but will be ushered to the front. Voting will not take place in classrooms, some of which have steps with no rumps, but on open ground which means those using wheelchairs will be able to access the polling processes with ease. For those with visual challenge, the law says they should bring along someone whom they trust to assist them in voting but not making a choice for them. If they fail to bring someone, then the presiding officer alone should assist that person. Apart from the provision of the law, the commission will also provide tactile ballot templates which will enable persons with visual impairment to cast their votes on their own. n

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If I were Nicholas Dausi http://mwnation.com/if-i-were-nicholas-dausi-2/ Wed, 20 Sep 2017 08:53:13 +0000 http://mwnation.com/?p=217653 Minister of Information and Communications Technology, I would have gathered all the necessary information before addressing a press conference on President Peter Mutharika’s trip to New York, United States for the 72nd United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). If I were my good friend that is Nick, I would realise that if I did not have…

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Minister of Information and Communications Technology, I would have gathered all the necessary information before addressing a press conference on President Peter Mutharika’s trip to New York, United States for the 72nd United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).

If I were my good friend that is Nick, I would realise that if I did not have vital information such as the budget and full itinerary of the First Citizen, then I was not ready to meet the media.

Oh yes Nick, if I were you I would recall that the issue related to the President’s prolonged stay after the last UNGA stirred controversy and, therefore, it was important to get his full itinerary before facing the press.

How I wish I were the official government spokesperson because I would appreciate that it is lack of such vital information that creates room for speculation.

I would further realise that Malawians have the right to know the itinerary of their President because his expenses are met by their taxes. Unfortunately, I am not my good friend known for his bombastic words that is Nicholas Dausi.

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