Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The agenda of the meeting between president Bingu wa Mutharika and representatives of Non-governmental organisations slated for this morning, remains unclear

President Bingu wa Mutharika
Lecturer -Blessings Chinsinga

The agenda of the meeting between president Bingu wa Mutharika and representatives of Non-governmental organisations slated for this morning, remains unclear.

The development according to sources has left some of the concerned members from the civil society reluctant to attend.
Mutharika has summoned the NGO representatives and a chancellor college lecturer -Blessings Chinsinga.
Chinsinga-a political science lecturer at Chancellor College is the centre of the ongoing animosity between Chancellor College teaching staff and the Inspector general of police Peter Mukhitho, after the police chief summoned the lecturer over remarks he made during one of his lectures.

And recently members of some NGOs have raised alarm on a number of governance and economic issues including the ongoing fuel crisis.

When contacted this morning, presidential spokesperson Hetherwick Ntaba told Capital fm details of what will be discussed will be known after the meeting.

And Deputy Minister in the Office of the President and Cabinet Nicholas Dausi accused the media of fuelling misunderstandings between government and the NGO’s.

Authorities say a recent spark of demonstrations by various sections of the society is an indication that people in the country are truly free.

Aaron Sangala
 A recent spark of demonstrations by various sections of society is an indication that people in the country are truly free.

This is according to Home affairs and internal security minister, Aaron Sangala.
The remarks come at a time when University lecturers from Chancellor College held their protests in Zomba on Monday.

Students from polytechnic also staged a protest over delays by the school authorities to disburse stationery allowances.
And the recent one is that of primary school teachers in Thyolo who are demanding their outstanding hardship allowances.  
Some commentators say these developments could be a signal that the government was failing to govern the nation and people have lost trust.
But speaking to capital fm Sangala downplayed the fears saying public demonstrations are part of human rights.

Inspector General of Police left with only a few hours to apologise if lecturers at the Chancellor College are to resume work.

Inspector General of Police

Inspector General of Police Peter Mukhitho is left with a few hours to apologise if lecturers at the Chancellor College are to resume work.

The lecturers gave an ultimatum of today for Mukhitho to apologise for summoning Blessings Chinsinga over his alleged remarks on the protests of Egypt and Tunisia.
They have since been on strike from last week for what they described as an infringement on their academic freedom.

Meanwhile, Mukhitho faces a fresh accusation from his junior officers for allegedly practising nepotism when promoting police officers.

In a letter addressed to President Bingu wa Mutharika the junior officers accuse the police chief of denying them risk allowances when working in life threatening conditions.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Thirteen polytechnic students who were arrested on Thursday claim that there were beaten while in police custody.

Thirteen polytechnic students who were arrested on Thursday are claiming that there were beaten while in police custody.

The students were arrested after staging demonstrations aimed at forcing the college authorities to release stationery allowances.
They have since been released on bail.
The college’s student’s union president, Evance Mola, told capital fm that their lawyer is currently handling the matter.

Meanwhile, classes are expected to resume today at the college following the release of the students.
Classes were disturbed after their arrest and some students stormed the Blantyre police station, demanding for the separation of their colleagues from other remandees.
The students are answering charges of conduct likely to cause breach of peace and hearing of the case is set to begin on March 4.

Lawyer, Lucius Kankwalala is representing the students.

Government authorities are today expected to respond to queries regarding the salary of first lady, Calista Mutharika

Calista Mutharika
Government authorities are today expected to respond to queries regarding the salary of first lady, Calista Mutharika.

Malawi Congress Party (MCP) spokesperson on finance in parliament, Joseph Njobvuyalema, called for an explanation on the conditions of employment for the position of coordinator for safe motherhood including benefits which the first lady holds.
Mutharika was appointed by her husband President Bingu wa Mutharika on august 16 last year.
However, government in December last year, paid the first lady a gross salary of 9 million kwacha in arrears from May 1, 2010.

When contacted, both deputy minister of presidential affairs, Nicholas Dausi and presidential spokesperson, Hetherwick Ntaba declined to comment on the issue.

It is expected that the authorities may address the issues in parliament today when it resumes sitting.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Representatives of the polytechnic students union say the street demonstrations they staged have achieved their goal

Davie Chingwalu
Representatives of the polytechnic students union say the street demonstrations they staged have achieved their goal as authorities have assured them that their grievances will be sorted from today.

Students at the college protested the delayed payment of book and stationary allowances and tuition fees.

The demonstrations ended in chaos as the students allegedly lined up along the Masauko Chipembere highway and pelted stones at vehicles forcing the Police to fire tear gas at them to break the demonstrations.
The situation was eventually calmed down by the law enforcers.

Poly students demonstration
Police at polytechnic
According to southern region police publicist Davie Chingwalu, thirteen students have been arrested.
While blaming the law enforcers for being too heavy handed, the president of the students union at the Polytechnic Evance Moola, says the protests have paid dividends.

SCQBE condemns the involvement of pupils in Bingu's birthaday celebration

President Bingu wa Mutharika

Education activists condemn the engagement of primary school pupils to participate in preparations for president Bingu wa Mutharika’s birthday celebrations.

An education activist has condemned the engagement of primary school pupils to participate in preparations for president Bingu wa Mutharika’s birthday celebrations.

Pupils learning
Pupils rehearsing
Several pupils from some schools in Lilongwe are missing an average of two hours a day in order to rehearse ahead of Mutharika’s birthday activities next week.

And speaking to Capital Fm this morning Benedicto Kondowe who is the Executive Director of Civil Society Coalition for Quality Basic Education said there is need for the office of the president and cabinet to publicly condemn this.

Moderator Reynold Mangisa is planning to end legal action

CCAP Blantyre synod moderator Reynold Mangisa is planning to end legal action in which he was challenging his expulsion from the church.

Speaking in his first  radio interview since the expulsion, Raymond Mmangisa who was Moderator of the Blantyre Synod of the Church of Central African Presbyterian, CCAP, Mmangisa told Straight Talk host Brian Banda that he would be withdrawing the case because it could best be handled internally.

Mmangisa was expelled after he criticised his church elders for siding with Catholic bishops who issued a pastoral letter last October that was highly critical  of the policies of President Bingu wa Mutharika’s administration.

Mmangisa was re-instated following court action.

Students from polytechnic in Blantyre are protesting over stationery allowances

Malawi Police
Rhodes Msonkho
Capital fm’s Rhodes Msonkho was at the polytechnic and filed this report;

 It was a chaotic scene.

The sound of gun fire was in the air.

The air itself was filled with teargas that brought tears to the eyes.
It felt like a longtime of violence yet it lasted less than five minutes as the police charged into crowds of students at the polytechnic in Blantyre, a constituent college of the University of Malawi to put down the unrest.
After few minutes, the demonstration was over.  But the effects of the teargas were being felt as far as Queen Elizabeth central hospital a kilometer away.

Poly Students running

Also affected by the stinging and stinking gas were shoppers at the nearby Northgate shopping mall. Like me most people affected looked for water to wash out our stinging ayes and painful throats.

There were no injuries but the police have confirmed  the arrest of 13 students in connection to the riot.

southern region police publicist Davie Chingwalu told Capital fm the students will appear in court soon.

For now, the situation at the polytechnic remains calm.

But it was not known what new course of action would be taken by the students or the polytechnic authorities.

Meanwhile, the police have fired teargas to disperse the protesting students.
It is said the teargas has spread to Queen Elizabeth Central hospital where patients are allegedly affected.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The visiting Scottish Pop Star Anne Lennox cast doubt on Malawi meeting development goals if donors cut aid

The Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament, Alex Fergusson, on Tuesday visited Malawi national assembly and witnessed the parliamentary deliberations.Fergusson was accompanied by pop star Annie Lennox  -a special envoy from the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association – in the public gallery.

The Malawi Speaker said the visit by his Scottish counterpart was “important”.

According to Fergsusson, an “exceptionally strong” relationship had grown between the Scottish and Malawian parliaments.

He and the ex-Eurythmics star, who was awarded an OBE in The Queen’s New Year honours for her work with AIDS charity work, will visit various projects with Scottish links including schools, feeding centres and hospitals.

And the visiting Scottish Pop Star Anne Lennox has cast doubt on Malawi meeting the Millenium development Goals-MDGs if donors cut aid on HIV and AIDS programmed.
Lennox, who is also a special envoy on HIV and AIDs to the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, told Capital fm in Lilongwe.

The pop star has accompanied Speaker of the Scottish Parliament, Alex Fergusson, as guests of the National Assembly.
She said considering the magnitude of the pandemic in Malawi and other developing countries, it is illogical for international donors to cut their aid.

She however commended efforts made by the authorities in providing care for the infected and affected thereby reducing the prevalence rate.

Muslims are celebrating the birth of Prophet Muhammad

The Muslim community from across the country are today celebrating the birth of Prophet Muhammed.
The day will be characterized by a Ziyara parade which has been organised by the At-Tariqatul Qadriah Sunni Association-AQSA.
 In Blantyre, the parade will start from Kanjedza Mosque this morning to Mpingwe Sports club where activities marking the day will take place.

According to Media coordinator for the event, Prince Jamali prayers are among the activities lined up to commemorate the birth of Prophet Muhammad.

Meanwhile, the event will also be held in Lilongwe, Mzuzu and other cities and townships.

Law makers set to start debate on the pension bill this afternoon

Parliamentarians are this morning expected to start debating on the pension bill after it was presented in the house on Tuesday.
Chairperson of the finance and budget parliamentary committee, Ralph Juma presented the bill which proposes that civil servants should retire within the age range of 50 to 65 years.
However, officials of the Malawi Congress of Trade union-MCTU want the employees to receive their money at the age of 45.

Quoting  the  national  statistics  office 2008  population  census, unionists  argue  that the country’s life  expectancy is  low therefore more employees will  not enjoy  their  retirement  benefits.
The union further proposes that employees should receive their retirement money after they have worked for 15 years in a company even before reaching the retirement age.

Many civil servants are supporting the MCTU stand, adding experience has also shown that it takes a long time for beneficiaries to receive their retirement package.

During deliberations yesterday, Leader of the house George Chaponda moved a motion for an early adjournment in order to give ample time for law makers to scrutinise the bill.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Inmates are urged to be responsible and reform during their in the prison.

Speaker of the National Assembly Henry Chimunthu Banda made the call in Blantyre when law makers donated assorted items to Chichiri prison worth 500 thousand Kwacha.

According to Chimunthu Banda, staying in prison is not the end of life as most former convicts are now holding top positions in the country.

The donation was made through an initiative called taking parliament to the people in which law makers are involved in different social activities.

The Prison’s Officer in Charge Gibson Singo described the donation as timely saying the prison is facing a lot of hardships due to limited resources.

Media plan more talks with government

The media managers in the country are expected to hold further consultations with government as soon as possible to resolve issues surrounding the amendment of section 46.

The section empowers an information minister to ban a newspaper deemed not to be serving the interests of the public.

President Bingu wa Mutharika has since assented to the bill to become a law.
These consultations follow a recent meeting between government officials and the media held in Blantyre where the two sides signed a communikee.

Among other issues, the document contains a request from government to the media to report professionally and refrain from reporting stories that destroy the image and credibility of the country.

Some media managers have told Capital fm that dialogue between the two sides is paramount in order to address the misunderstandings on the anti-media laws.

Failed protests may affect donor support

The move taken by government to block the fuel protests that were scheduled to be held in Lilongwe and Mzuzu might further anger donors.

This is according to Mustafa Hussein, a lecturer in administration and political studies at Chancellor College.The demonstrations were aimed at forcing the authorities to provide a lasting solution to the crisis which has been on-going since last year.

But prior to the demonstrations, some organisers of the protests were taken to police for what is described as a discussion on how the concerns could be handled.

These were Undule Mwakasungula, chairperson for human rights consultative committee, the organisations national coordinator Mavuto Bamusi, Dorothy Ngoma of the National Organisation of Nurses and Midwives and Robert Mkwezalamba secretary general for the Malawi congress of trade unions-MCTU.

This comes a few days after the German government and the Millennium challenge account of the Unites States of America announced their withholding of funds to Malawi for the country’s poor record on human rights and governance.

Hussein told Capital fm that donors were closely monitoring the developments taking place in the country.He says the detention of the activists and blocking peaceful protests could force them not to release aid to the country.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Government and Media sign communique

The signing of a communiqué between government and the media is expected to remove mistrust between the two sides.This is according to Information and Civic Education Minister, Symon Vuwa Kaunda.

The document has been signed following a two day meeting held in Blantyre over the weekend.According to Kaunda, this agreement will pave way for more dialogue between the two parties.

The two sides have agreed on nine resolutions. Among them, government is requesting the media to report professionally and refrain from reporting, within and outside the country, stories that would destroy the image and credibility of the country.

Station Manager for Capital Radio, Alaudin Osman, who is also the Executive member of the Media Council of Malawi, says government and the media are obliged to have regular meetings from now on wards.

Police stop fuel demonstrations

The police have moved in to stop demonstrations against the current fuel crisis that was scheduled for this morning in Lilongwe and Mzuzu.

The law enforcers describe the planned demonstrations as illegal.This comes two days after President Bingu wa Mutharika challenged the organisers of the protest march, the Human Rights Consultative Committee-HRCC to call off the protests.

Mutharika said he would sponsor their trip to Beira and Nacala ports to see for themselves what is causing the crisis.

And in Mzuzu, all is set for the demonstrations which are expected to start from Katoto Freedom Park to City council offices.The protesters are also expected to submit their petition to the city council chief executive officer Richard Hara.