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Archive for September, 2012

‘Do not shy away showcasing your talent’, Zahara

South African jazz queen Zahara, real name Bulelwa Mkutukana, says Malawian youth should emulate her by showing up their talents. She was speaking to journalists in Lilongwe on her arrival for a series of shows marking Standard Bank’s forty-two years of banking in Malawi

“I am where I am because of my talents’, said Zahara, 24 while encouraging the youth not to shy away from showcasing their talents.

The youthful singer, songwriter and poet said the fact tickets for her shows were sold within days after announcing of her performances signify the love Malawians have for her music and how they are ready for her shows which be alongside Malawi’s legendary Wambali Mkandawire.

The singer, who was expected to arrive in the afternoon, jetted in late in the evening, as it is reported that she had missed her flight. This had forced the bank to book her another flight that landed at Chileka International Airport in Blantyre where she had to connect to the capital Lilongwe.

According to information gathered Zahara was last night performing at a private cocktail where the State Vice President Khumbo Kachali was invited.

Zahara, whose 2011 debut album Loliwe won her platinum in 13 days after release will first perform at the Bingu Conference Centre in Lilongwe today, Saturday September 22, 2012

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Beds snatching scandal: govt owns up, to return beds

Few hours after State Vice President’s visit to Mponela Rural Hospital, government has directed that the beds that were snatched at midnight be returned from Mzimba where they were sent.

Veep Khumbo Kachali, earlier visited the hospital and demanded for a report on the circumstances that led to transfer of beds from the Mponela facility to Mzimba hospitals. Coincidentally, Rt. Honorable Kachali comes from the same district. Further, two constituencies in this district will be going to the parliamentary bye-elections

The bed snatching scandal, attracted angry condemning from all angles amongst them the women parliamentarians who demanded that the beds be returned to Dowa in 24 hrs. Peoples Transformation Party (PETRA) also weighed in on this saga.

Beds snatching scandal: Veep Kachali visits Mponela Hospital

State Vice president Khumbo Kachali this afternoon made a stopover at Mponela Rural Hospital few days after the controversial midnight bed snatching incident by health ministry officials.

Veep demanded report on the circumstances that led to transfer of beds from the Mponela facility to Mzimba hospitals. Coincidentally, Rt. Honorable Kachali comes from the same district. Further, two constituencies in this district will be going to the parliamentary bye-elections

The vice president is expected to respond to the call made by the community who are demanding their beds back. Kachali maintains that he was not involved in the transfer of the beds.

When he arrived, the vice president met acting hospital administrator Buthelezi Mvula who took him to the hospital warehouse where he saw over 21 beds in stock. He proceeded to visit women wards before his departure. His visit lasted approximately less than an hour.

His visit comes after several people have condemned the transferring of beds at the hospital.

Do not relax, Norwegian ambassador urges civil society

The Royal Norwegian ambassador to Malawi Asbjørn Eidhammer has advised civil society organizations in the country not to relax in fighting things to do with human rights.

He said this at a meeting aimed at creating meangful dialogue on accountability for civil society and governance institutions in Malawi. “The current change of government does not mean that civil and human rights are secured for good” he said. The ambassador said the human rights organization must be vigilant as they are more human rights concerns that are more deeply rooted and circumstances that are more difficult to change.

He said the change of government has given the organizations an opportunity to direct their energies to on work on many issues that need their attention. He cited examples of recent reviews that are showing that many Malawians including prisoners still do not have access to justice and that woman and people living in rural areas are not able to access services that are being offered by human rights organizations.

Ambassador Asbjørn Eidhammer said diverse groups like women, youth, disabled, and minority groups should all take part in free expression in any democratic debate.
He therefore applauded newspapers and radio stations that withstood the pressure to silence them in the recent past but stood their ground.

In his remarks, board chairman for Human Rights Consultative Committee (HRCC), Mr Undule Mwakasungula, said he believes that governance institutions are a key to enhancing democracy in the country.

Responding to a question as to why the civil society organizations are keeping quiet to some governance issues taking place in the President Joyce Banda’s administration, Mwakasungula said the organizations are repositioning themselves on how to start tackling some of the issues. But he was quick to point out that, some organizations like Consumers Association of Malawi and the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace have started pointing out some bad things under the new administration.

He denied the accusations circulating on social media networks that civil society organizations are supporting administration owing to their silence over the visible missteps of the current administration yet they were so vocal against the late Bingu wa Mutharika’s rule.

Vicious Dogs’ owner fined K2.5million

The Lilongwe Magistrate Court has given a fine of K2.5 million to the South African national Mr. Dean van Scavo for his dog’s biting of Mr. Kefas Chimdima in 2010. Mr. Chimdima was employed as guard at the van Scavo’s residence in the capital Lilongwe.

The court had found Mr. van Scavo guilty of reckless behavior and endangering human life which attracted 7 years imprisonment with hard labor. However, the then Chief Resident, who is now High Court judge Chifundo Kachale had slapped the South African national with a fine of K2.5 million in which K1 million is going to the courts and K1.5 million will be paid to the victim Mr. Kefas chimdima.

Earlier on police prosecutor Happy Mkandawire had asked the court to give the South African national a heavy fine urging that the victim was permanently disfigured following the injuries he sustained during the incident. But lawyer for the defendant George mwale had pleaded with the court that his client had been cooperative enough during the period Mr. Chimdiama was in hospital. Counsel Mwale had told the court he was in agreement with the court charges but asked the court should keep in mind that his client had paid over R300 thousand in hospital bills and that he had already paid over K540 thousand as a compensation.

U-turn: “we won’t sell the limos…”-Kunkuyu

Minister of Information Moses Kalonga Shawa Kunkuyu today has told journalists that government will not sell the state-of-the-art Mercedes Benz which were bought with donor funding during the tenure of the late Bingu wa Mutharika. This is a complete U-turn to the pledge that President Mrs. Joyce Banda made when she assumed office in April this year of her intention to dispose of the limousines, indicating they are not necessary for a struggling economy like Malawi.

The purchase of the limos by the late Mutharika drew donor anger mainly from the UK government who reciprocated by cutting aid to the impoverished southern Africa country. Late Bingu also attracted donor dissent when his government bought a presidential jet.

Speaking at a press conference held at the Ministry of Economic Planning, the government spokesperson said government has no plans to sell the luxury car as ministers and other government officials are using the fuel-guzzling cars for the time being. He said government would like to maintain the cars as there is a great need for ministers and top government officials to travel in and out the administrative capital on government assignments.

According to Kunkuyu selling of the cars would mean that government has to buy new car for ministers which would be expensive arguing that the present state of the country’s economy cannot afford replacing the cars.

This is a second U-turn by the Joyce Banda government on its earlier stand of undoing what was considered to be late wa Mutharika’s ‘extravagance’. Alongside the decision to sell the expensive-to-maintain cars, President Joyce Banda also pledged to sell the presidential jet to cut on costs. This, (selling the jet) has been reversed opting instead, to lease it out while she travels on commercial airlines.

Her decision on disposing off the jet and limousines received international applause mainly from the donor community led by the British government. It is yet to be seen how the donors would receive such a reversal.

Govt pounces on parallel forex traders as import cover falls to a precarious 0.96 months

There was drama and confusion at the Lilongwe City Shopping mall owned by the Press Trust when civilian police invaded the premises and started shooting in the air in order to arrest vendors alleged to be trading foreign currency illegally.

This took place around noon on Thursday September 6 2012. According to eye witnesses there has been a heavy presence of civilian police since Monday. It is believed Thursday was the day for operation.

This brought business to a standstill as the retail shops operating in the mall like Spar, Game, Mr. Price, Gallitos, Pizza Inn, Pep amongst others had to temporarily suspend business. During the raid over five people suspected to be forex dealers were arrested.

This has come at a time when the Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) reported that the country’s  foreign reserves fell to its lowest level only representing an import cover of 0.96 months wall below the recommended 3months cover. This is contained in the RBM’s Money Market Statistics Report of September 3 2012.

Countries are expected to maintain a minimum of three months’ worth of imports if they are to protect themselves from crises. Malawi’s present situation is so precarious considering that the landlocked southern African country is a predominantly importing country and with the tobacco selling season almost over.

Goodluck Jonathan to visit Malawi

The Nigerian President Dr Goodluck Ebere Jonathan will be arriving on September 10 2012 for a state visit. Sources within the Malawi government have indicated. Duration of the state visit are, however, still sketchy

While in the country, President Jonathan is expected to hold bilateral talks with his Malawi counterpart President Mrs Joyce aimed at fostering the socioeconomic and diplomatic ties between the two countries. Goodluck Jonathan is also expected to meet his subjects resident in the landlocked southern African country.

Jonathan’s visit follows Joyce Banda’s visit to the Africa’s highly populated country in July this year. During that visit, President Banda indicated that the two countries would soon be establishing permanent diplomatic missions

Re-instate Daza; court orders MCP

The High Court in Lilongwe has ruled against the Malawi Congress Party, restraining it from suspending the party’s embattled Secretary General, Pastor Chris Daza.

Making the ruling in his chamber on Friday August 31 2012 in a Civil Cause 219 of 2012, Justice Chifundo Kachale sustained Daza’s application for an interlocutory injunction against the oldest political party in Malawi from implementing its December 29 2011 decision to suspend him. Daza was accused of abdicating his responsibility as a Secretary General after been restored to the same by the courts earlier on. He was also accused of creating parallel party structures.

Justice Kachale dismissed the party’s defense on the basis of breach of the party’s constitution and failure to afford Daza his constitutional right to natural justice.