Namisa Blogger of the year 2013,Stimulating the much needed debate

Archive for August, 2012

My Opinion: Congratulations PP; DPP, MCP, UDF, et al you are next

The highest decision-making body in all parties is the party convention. As the People’s Party (PP) is holding its convention at the College of Medicine in Blantyre, it is only proper to congratulate them. By conducting their maiden indaba, the PP, which was formed in 2010, has underscored one thing: that there is no excuse not to convene such a gathering. Democracy is representative.

With the ruling party setting the pace, it is expected that all political parties in Malawi will hold their conventions as soon as possible so that people should have informed choices of who to vote for in 2014.

The importance of holding party conventions cannot be emphasized. It affords the [party] followers to be led by people they have trust and the governors do so with the confidence and trust of the governed. On the hand, earlier conventions afford the general population to sample the candidates of the various torch bearers in an upcoming election. The voters, therefore, do make informed choices. Charity begins at home, so they say. Intra-party democracy starts at the party conventions and it grows. In the end democracy wins.

While I am at it, it is worrying that most of the major parties have not gone to the convention for years despite claiming to be democratic. The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is yet to afford its general membership the chance to elect its office bearers seven years after its formation by the late Bing wa Mutharika. For all these years, it only pleased the professor leader to appoint people to the party’s National Governing Council (NGC). This does not reflect the progressiveness and democracy that the party’s name seems to proclaim.

The United Democratic Front (UDF) is now a less united front as it is so engulfed with internal bickering punctuated by factions; each having a chairman and/or a president. This has left supporters of the former ruling party (1994-2005) so confused and lost as they have watched hopelessly a numbers of its senior leadership (from both camps) dining with PP either inside government, in PP or both . The last time the ‘democratic’ party had a shame convention was in 2003 at the Comesa Hall in Blantyre. This, I must say, was to rubber stamp the presidential candidate Bingu wa Mutharika, the rank-outsider and create the position of National Chairman of its sole financier, Dr. Bakili Muluzi.

The oldest party in the land, the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) seems to be stuck with its strongest man Right Honorable John Z.U. Tembo. It is not clear if the ‘big man’ is exiting the stage anytime soon for others to lead the once-upon-a-time mighty MCP. This has cleared leadership problem in the party and those who had earlier indicated their interest to lead the party have left, very disgruntled. Some are still waiting in the wings.

Therefore it is big win for democracy for PP to hold its convention two years before general elections considering that all NEC positions are up for grabs. However area of concern is that nobody would like to compete on the highest seat. It could have been good to see all posts including that of the president up for grabs.

In an election, just as it is in any race, there would be losers and winners alike. The party will be re-defined and its future reshaped based on the conduct of the ‘losing big names’ or better still the ‘losing founders’.

It is also not clear if the convention will address the issue of running mate considering that there will be election of three vice presidents as per the three political provinces of the party. Who among the three elected vice presidents would be the running mate would break or make the party. But that is for another day and most importantly for the PP membership to handle.

Are delegates familiar with the constitution or it’s a matter of rubber-stamping it? Reports indicate the delegates were receiving the constitution only last night. If this is true, I doubt if they had time to scrutinize the legal document to make meaningful use of it as they deliberate at the convention.

Regardless, I say congratulation to the People’s Party. You have shown the way; let the DPP, UDF, MCP and all political parties in Malawi follow.

Long live intra-party democracy!

Deadlocked: Malawi; Tanzania fail to agree on Lake Malawi

Experts of the Tanzania and Malawi have recommended that the issue on lake dispute should take place again in Dares Salaam, Tanzania next month from September 10th to 14th. This follows a week long closed door meeting between the two sides in northern city of Mzuzu.

The main issue which the two parties have so far failed to agree on is the legal interpretation of the British and Germany treaty on the boundaries between the two countries.

Speaking to journalists, Malawi Minister of Foreign Affairs Ephraim Mganda Chiume said if all negotiations fail they would take the matter to International Court of Justice (ICJ). However, his Tanzanian counterpart counter-argued saying the talks is just the beginning and that both countries should do their best in subsequent negotiations and perhaps involve a third party before the ICJ proposal is implemented.

On this Malawian, the Malawian minister agreed to give room to what has been proposed but pointed out that the issue should be resolved once and for all and be disposed of as quickly as possible. According to Mganda Chiume, the matter has been there for 50 yrs. and there is need to find the way forward.

Some of the propositions in the joint communique are that Tanzania wants exploration of oil to be stopped until the matter is resolved. But Malawi officials say that issue of exploration should be separated from the boundary issue because the two are not related.

Further reading on the long history of the Malawi-Tanzania boarder dispute:Malawi history Mw TZ border dispute

Mw-Tz Lake Malawi Talks: communique to be released today

Outcome of Tanzania and Malawi talk on boundary is expected to be finalized any time from now.

Experts between the two countries have been meeting the past five day in Mzuzu to find a lasting solution to the Lake Malawi wrangle. Minister of Foreign Affairs has just finished his speech at the opening of the meeting in Lilongwe. He has asked the countries to resolve the matter with sober minds.

‘We have to look on the issue with sober minds. And the issue should be dealt with once and for all,’ urged Mganda Chiume

However Tanzania Minister for Lands Cornelius Mwembe said political will, patience, is what the two countries need in such a serious issue. ‘Let’s not let the negotiations come to a standstill,’ Mwembe emphasized.

(I am there to break it out! Watch the blog)

Voluntary medical male circumcision scale-up: Bwaira Hosp is now open

Men in Lilongwe and surrounding areas are expected to start receiving free voluntary circumcision services at Bwaira (previously Bottom) Hospital.  The initiative is in line with the scale up programme of voluntary medical male circumcision in Malawi.

Banner at Bwaira Hospital: Medical male Circumcision reduces risk of HIV infection

According to Henry Chimbali, Ministry of Health publicist says the hospital will offer services to males within the age range of 1 to 40.
He said apparently males have already started registering for the services.

As of this week over 2000 males around Lilongwe have registered adding that more males are expected to register when the clinic gets into full swing. The facility is waiting for official certification to start offering the services; added Chimbali.
The ministry spokesperson disclosed that such clinics are expected to be opened in Mulanje, Phalombe, Thyolo, Nkhotakota and Kasungu districts and preparations are already underway.
Last year government launched the medical male circumcision in Mulanje where over five thousand males were circumcised.

Malawi has adopted the male circumcision after a World Health Organization (WHO) trial recommended that male circumcision reduces the risk of heterosexually acquired HIV infection in men by approximately 60%. Three randomized controlled trials in Kisumu, Kenya; Rakai District, Uganda; and Orange Farm, South Africa in 2007 showed that male circumcision provided by well-trained health professionals in properly equipped settings reduces the risk of sexual transmission of HIV from women to men.

Malawi to host Commowealth Youth Parliament

Speaker of the National Assembly Right Honourable Henry Chimunthu Banda has disclosed that Malawi is expected to host Commonwealth Youth Parliament in 2013. He said this during the launch of Youth Parliament in in the capital Lilongwe.

Youth Parliamentatians pose for a group photo

According to the Speaker, the hosting of the youth parliament was announced at the 43rd conference of Commonwealth Africa region that took place in South Africa. The conference will draw youth delegates from each of Commonwealth parliaments on the African continent. Chimunthu Banda said the purpose of Commonwealth Youth Parliament is to provide a platform to the young people to be heard on issues affecting their lives.

Speaking at the function Elijah Ouopa, Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) Africa regional representative said the launch of youth parliament in Malawi is a positive move and has demonstrated that the nation is doing everything possible in the enhancement of the democracy. He said giving the youth such a platform will help the youth not only to be heard but to be taken seriously by all stakeholders.

Speaker of the Youth Parliament Dyson Maliro, who is also Member for Blantyre Bangwe constituency, said the launch of youth parliament should be viewed as a testimony of the success for young people’s long-standing quest to participate in decision making process in a democracy.

The introduction of youth parliament in Malawi has underscored the international recognition on promoting child rights through article 12 of the United Nations (UN) Convection on the Rights of the Child and Article 11 of the Youth Charter of the African UNION (AU).

It is the initiative of Malawi National Assembly with support from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Save the Children, Plan International and Timveni Child and Youth Organization

50:50 representation in Malawi Youth Parliament

Malawi will from next week launch a youth parliament which is aimed at giving the youth a platform to voice their views and concerns on critical issues affecting them. The youth parliament is within the Commonwealth Parliament agenda of giving the youth time to debate and agree on resolutions so that governments should take appropriate measures to address their (children’s) concerns.

Many countries in the commonwealth countries have already adopted the practice. However, in Malawi the youth parliament is expected to start meeting next week in a three day session.

According to Speaker of the National Assembly Henry Chimunthu Banda says this year’s youth parliament will have a 50:50 representation in line with the promotion of the gender equality. He pointed out that the parliament will consist two sides of the house namely government and opposition and will also see the youth coming up with office bearers like leader of the house, leader of opposition, and chief whips.

According to the speaker, resolutions that will be debated in the youth parliament will be binding and shall be reported to the main parliamentary committees of the national assembly for endorsement. The speaker, therefore, said the launch of the youth parliament is in line with the national assembly strategic objectives to increase the outreach work of parliament of taking parliament to the people.

The introduction of youth parliament in Malawi has underscored the international recognition on promoting child rights through article 12 of the United Nations (UN) Convection on the Rights of the Child and Article 11 of the Youth Charter of the African UNION (AU).

It is the initiative of Malawi National Assembly with support from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Save the Children, Plan International and Timveni Child and Youth Organization

Breaking News: Chimwemwe Banda, booted out of MBC

Chimwemwe Banda who was Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC)’s ‘woman-in-the-news for all the bad reasons has been redeployed to the Ministry of Health as deputy director. This is with immediate effect, according to my source.

She was MBC’s Director of News and Programs.

Malawi, Tanzania to meet on boarder dispute

Malawi is ready for joint technocrats’ meeting with the Tanzania government scheduled for next week. The meeting is aimed at reviewing the demarcation and reaffirmation of the two countries’ boundaries.
According to highly placed source in Malawi government, issues of standoff between the two countries will top the agenda. The meeting is expected to take place at Sunbird Mzuzu hotel on August 20, 2012.
The meeting comes against the background series of meetings that Malawi and Tanzania have been in, for years. According to the source, the discussions will determine the way forward on several issues surrounding boarder demarcations of two countries. After the experts meeting they will be a ministerial meeting for the way forward.
However both countries’ leaderships have publicly indicated their readiness to defend their countries.

Mmangisa pleads not guilty

Lilongwe Chief Executive Kelvin Mmangisa has pleaded not guilty to two counts when he appeared before the Lilongwe magistrates court in the morning. He is being accused of pocketing K23 million in allowances and failing to account of the money under his custody.

Presiding magistrate Resident Magistrate Ruth Chinangwa has adjourned the case to 10th of October for hearing.

Lilongwe City boss was arrested on allegations that he unlawfully pocketed millions of kwachas in extra allowances on top of his consolidated salary. He is also being accused of illegal drawing of extra money on top of his salary at the City Assembly. he is also suspected of pocketing allowances for a trip to Italy which did not take place. He was arrested on of 5th July.

It is alleged that Mmangisa has been drawing almost K600, 000 as extra on top of his monthly allowance since he was appointed as Lilongwe City chief around 2009 by late President Bingu Wa Mutharika.

The money is now totaling to K23 million which recently Ministry of Local Government asked him to account for and return.

Aside

Battle between Daza and MCP refuses to die

The Lilongwe high court today has shifted to Monday the 13 August to making a  ruling in a case in which Malawi Congress Party (MCP) Dr Chris Daza is challenging his suspension from the party.

According to Dr Daza’s lawyer Wesley Namasala said the ruling which was set for today has been shifted to Monday because the presiding judge Chifundo Kachale was not available.

Daza was suspended just after a month when the High Court ordered the party to reinstate him after he was expelled last year.

He was suspended after he presented a petition to the party dated August 1 2011, with signatures of office bearers calling for the convention to elect a new leader.

He also wants the convention to inform the membership on finances and clearly saying veteran leader John Tembo is ineligible to run for party presidency as per party constitution.

But MCP administrative secretary Potiphar Chidaya accused Daza of presenting a fraudulent petition as “the list contains dubious district committees, signatures or wrong people who are not chairpersons recognized by the party.”

MCP disciplinary committee agreed to suspend Daza after he failed to appear before it to answer on the accusations of “fraud”.