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

Archive for January, 2013

January 17 mass protests: shop owners beef up security

With hours remaining before the much-publicised January 17 demonstrations, shop owners in the capital city have, this week, been busy putting security measures to their premises for fear of looting as was the case during the July 20, 2011 mass protests.

Shop owners along Malangalanga, Kamuzu Procession roads, Devil Street, as well as Bwalo La Njobvu have, for the past week, been seen putting burglar bars, electrical fence among other security measures around their premises just in case hell breaks loose.

In separate interviews with two shop owners, Mr. Chan Hau, a Chinese and Mr. Ibu Ibrahim, a Nigerian along Kamuzu Procession road; told me that they have put such security measures to avoid people who would have intentions of rooting as demonstration are taking place

So far, the mass action, championed by the Consumers Associan of Malawi (CAMA) continues to receive mixed reactions from all sectors of the society. The church and some political commentators have been calling on government and the consumer rights body to dialogue.

However, John Kapito, the brains behind the mass protests, has reiterated that the demonstrations are on tomorrow despite some of the organizers pulling out at the eleventh hour. He said the demonstrations are aimed at pushing government to address economic problems affecting the consumers, amongst them, the continued rising of prices of goods and services largely caused by the simultaneous devaluation and floatation of the local currency.

The Joyce Banda government insists that there is nothing that can be done now because the Economic Recovery Plan (ERP) which it has put in place and under implementation will take time to bear meaningful results.

The mass protests coincide with the three-day state visit by Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki who arrived in the country today. Kibaki is the second head of state to visit the landlocked country in a space of one day. African Union Chairperson and Benin president Dr Thomas Bon Yayi had a two-hour visit last night.

President Kibaki is expected to hold discussions with his Malawian counterpart President Mrs Joyce Banda, the business community as well as attend the ground breaking ceremony for the construction of the bypass road from Mchinji road to the Blantyre-Lilongwe M1 road. He is also expected to lay a wreath at the former president Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda’s mausoleum at the city centre in Lilongwe.

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Nsaliwa’s contract saga: Kwataine loses trust in Minister Kunkuyu; demands answers

The Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra) saga is refusing to die as its Board Chair Martha Kwataine has expressed loss of trust and confidence in the Information Minister Moses Kunkuyu and his Principal Secretary (PS) Anthony Livunza accusing them of leaking confidential information to the media.

Ms. Kwataine is also demanding answers from government as to what is so special about Macra “so much that it (government) can bend its own policy?”

Meanwhile, Kwataine is calling for an emergency meeting at any time when both Kunkuyu and Livunza are ‘free’ beginning from Wednesday January 9, 2013, this blogger has established.

In a letter dated January 6, 2013 which is a direct response to Kunkuyu, the board chair argued that the article which appeared in the Weekend Nation regarding Nsaliwa’s contract clearly shows that the minister took the board minutes to the reporter.
This, according to Kwataine, was not only aimed at embarrassing her, but unethical.

She also alleges that one senior government official is in the habit of printing email communications amongst the Macra board members for high authorities.

“Besides, the article clearly indicates that it is the minister who took the board minutes to the reporter which is unethical. I am well informed that one senior government official within the board has been printing email communications amongst board members to higher authorities. This is very unethical and embarrassing. How assured are we that such communications do not leak to the media?” reads the last but one paragraph of the letter in my possession.

The tough-speaking health rights activist has warned that no single member of the board has the mandate to conduct a press briefing over the matter arguing she is the only one mandated to do so. “As far as am concerned, I am the only spokesperson of the board and nobody else is,” reads the letter.

In the letter, Kwataine is accusing Kunkuyu of flouting government laid procedures in the renewal of Nsaliwas’ contract. “All along I have been wondering and questioning what is special about Macra so much so that Government can bend its own policy in order to accommodate the renewal of the contract” she wondered.

“I should think you will give me answers to my question and examples of parastatal organizations whose CEOs had their contracts renewed without following the government policy. But for me I have examples like ESCOM, MERA, NACIT and others whose vacancies were in the papers following government policy,” said Kwataine who is also Executive Director for the Malawi Health Equity Network (MHEN).

According to her, the Nsaliwa saga is a repeat of the previous regime mistakes where government would willy-nilly ignore its own policies in order to serve personal interests. She further alleges that Malawians know that Kunkuyu hijacked the whole process and went behind their back (the board) and recommended Nsaliwa to President Joyce Banda.

She however, stood by what she said in the Weekend Nation story and vowed to continue speaking the truth.

Nsaliwa who was appointed by former president late Bingu wa Mutharika had his contract renewed recently in dubious circumstances.