Malawi parliament approved on Friday the government’s 2018 budget pegged at K1.454 trillion paving the way for government ministries, departments and institutions to begin implementing their activities for this financial year.
Members of Parliament (MPs) approved the 2018/19 fiscal plan after forcing the government to increase their salaries and allowances and increase development funding.
With the usual huge allocations to the key sectors of education, health and agriculture, the 2018/2019 budget also has, among others, allocations for recruitment of more civil servants, increment of civil servants salaries and chiefs honoraria, youth skills and entrepreneurship program and the infamous subsidies of farm input and descent and affordable housing.
Earlier, opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP), People’s Party (PP) and many other economic commentators tore apart the budget, describing it as a wishful list aimed at hoodwinking the unsuspecting Malawians ahead of the 2019 tripartite elections.
Tension had built up in the Committee of Supply stage ahead of the eventual passing of the budget as parliamentarians sought Minister of Finance Goodall Gondwe’s assurance of inclusion of their improved salaries and other benefits in the current budget.
The Committee of Supply was many times unnecessarily suspended over these matters in the week gone by, making the public fear that the legistrators were abdicating their constitutional duty.
Just before passing the budget on Friday, the Members of Parliament (MPs) unanimously pressured First Deputy Speaker Mcheka Chilenje to suspend the deliberations again, eventually forcing Gondwe and Leader of the House Kondwani Nankhumwa to bow down to their demands.
Nankhumwa told Nyasa Times after the budget had passed that all the issues and grievances the MPs had with government, had been amicably resolved.
“The queries the MPs had tabled were resolved, including the outcry for salary and allowance increases,” said Nankhumwa.
When Mcheka-Chilenje announced the passing of the budget, many MPs erupted into hand-clapping, with others giving a standing ovation.
Leader of Opposition Dr Lazarus Chakwera said he was happy that the budget had finally passed to serve the people of Malawi.
The key Appropriation Bill will be tabled on Monday, according to Nankhumwa several other issues of national interest will be tackled before the House rises.
Since it was founded by the late Ngwazi Dr Bingu wa Mutharika in 2005, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has retained the status of being a vibrant, organized and widely-supported political party in Malawi. The DPP emerged from the United Democratic Front (UDF) after President Bingu wa Mutharika’s internal conflicts with his predecessor over some decisions. Announcing the launch of the party in the Capital Lilongwe, Bingu promised three things: development, justice and security.
He struggled through his first term with heavy opposition, both from Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and the UDF. The critical thing that came out of the administration was the successful elimination of hunger through the fertilizer subsidy programme signifying the party’s belief in food security. The country became Africa’s ‘food basket’.
Bingu’s first regime proved to the general public, and the international community that Malawi can grow her own economy. Malawi grew her economy; the first five years was a miracle to Malawi. Her economy was the second fastest growing economy, coming only after Qatar. The country’s debt was cancelled and it moved on to be debt-free graduating from being a heavily indebted poor country (HIPC).
DPP’s second term was not a simple battle – amidst stiff opposition, with everyone gunning against the party, they beat the odds and won with a landslide victory in the 2009 general election.
Later on Bingu moved into a vision of seeing Malawi standing on her own. He fought against the imperialism of the international world. They brought in sanctions that were not relevant. He stood against them and we went through a turbulent time to the point that the nation plunged into fuel and forex shortages.
In a tragic turn of events, Malawi lost her great leader, Bingu in April of 2012. A first of its kind in Malawi, losing a seating head of state to death. The DPP lost her great founder and pillar.
What came in after this tragic incident was a ridicule from all angles, some people celebrated, notable people left the DPP, leaving it for dead. The then Vice President Mrs Joyce Banda left with her people, forming the People’s Party (PP) and carried on as Head of State for the remaining two years of the administration.
A leader in the name of Arthur Peter Mutharika came to be and fought for the survival of the DPP, and regrouped DPP from the opposition. It came from Opposition and won in the 2014 tripartite elections, against all odds. People voted DPP because of the promises given and the promises that the party had been fulfilling.
DPP started its reign with the same promise, adding integrity, patriotism and hardwork and have since worked very hard to deliver on her promises. Malawi has not seen deaths caused by famine, albeit going through turbulent times of floods, cashgate and droughts. The economy was brought back into shape, donor confidence restored, foreign direct investments gained, inflation reduced to a single digit.
Arthur Peter Mutharika has continued with the DPP development agenda and we have seen a number of very critical infrastructure in these sectors: water, transport, education and health. The ruling party has put in place systems such as public service reforms – to increase productivity, efficiency and guarantee professionalism in the delivery of public services.
As the DPP is going to their 2018 elective convention, it is not under the easiest of times. They have had some internal battles, which they have carefully managed to resolve.
This could probably be one of the best ever political party convention in the history of Malawi where a combination of youths and old guards have come forth to challenge each other on different positions.
After the Convention, DPP will have a leader that will again propel the party into a landslide victory in the 2019 tripartite election. A journey that was started in 2005 surely continues to its future.
Why DPP will win?
DPP has created a constant pool of its members and voters. Over the years, DPP has developed a partnership of trust with its voters. This is because of its consistency and implementation of its development agenda. Moving toward 2019, it is getting more and more apparent that Malawians from all corners are going to register as voters and retain the DPP in power next year. Town dwellers are going to be voting DPP because of a road they has been constructed in their area, rural youths will be voting blue because of a new technical college that they have, rural women will be voting blue because of the potable and clean water supplying system in their area, hospitals that have been built, schools that have been built; owners of barber shops and maize meals will be voting blue because of rural electrification programmes that have extended power to their area. A lot more others will vote blue because of maturity and wide experience of the President.
Most people in Malawi just love the DPP and what they do. The party doesn’t say much of what they are doing but people see the fruits of their leadership. In time of disaster, the regime quickly deploys assistance and communities recover in no time. They are building a resilient economy in Malawi and that is the DPP: re-emerging against all odds.
Principal Secretaries for Education Science and Technology Justin Saidi and Kiswell Dakamau for Local Goverment and Rural Development on Tuesday met district commissioners and Chief Executive Officers to understand why some teachers are not yet paid their arrears.
The meeting took place in Lilongwe following a letter from Teachers Union of Malawi in which they complained that some teachers are not yet paid their arrears and TUM threatened to organise a sit by the teachers.
In the letter, TUM said since payment of teachers was decentralized, payment of arrears has remained a challenge.
Sources at the Ministry of Education Science and Technology said they are surprised why the arrears are not yet paid.
“But the payment will be done as soon as possible,” one official said.
TUM’s letter is signed by its president Willie Malimba, Secretary General Charles Kumchenga and Treasurer General Ernest Chirwa and is dated June 18, 2018.
President Prof Arthur Peter Mutharika has affirmed his government’s commitment to end hunger and malnutrition which remains high among Malawians especially children.
Mutharika made the remarks in Lilongwe at Kamuzu Palace on Monday during an audience with His Majesty King Letsie III of the Kingdom of Lesotho. The king is in the country in his capacity as United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Special Ambassador on Nutrition.
President Mutharika said the fight against hunger and malnutrition requires collective efforts hence the need for all stakeholders to hold hands with government and work together for the benefit of all Malawians.
In an effort to eradicate hunger in the country and address malnutrition, government intends to intensify irrigation farming than just relying on rain-fed agriculture, according to the president.
“Rain fed agriculture is no longer reliable and we have to look for alternative ways. My government has embarked on a mass irrigation project that will be the largest in Southern Africa,” Mutharika said.
Addressing the press after an audience with President Mutharika, His Majesty King Letsie III described the visit as great and cordial saying he had fruitful discussions with the Malawian leader.
“Our discussion centred on nutrition. We talked about the strides Malawi has made over the years in nutrition and fighting malnutrition,” King Letsie said.
Among other issues discussed were various strategies that Malawi is using in improving the nutritional status of its people and how Malawi and Lesotho can work together in fighting malnutrition.
The King observed that Malawi is doing very well in nutrition and that is why he came in order to learn a few things.
According to rankings produced by the United Kingdom Institute of Development Studies in collaboration with the New Partnership for African Development, Malawi is ranked second among 45 African countries that are doing well in fighting malnutrition.
Minister of Health Atupele Muluzi said the story of Malawi’s success is due to a strong political commitment that ensures that nutrition is put at the centre of policy development.
“We’ve managed to bring down stunting from 47% in 2010 to 37% at present. We’ve seen reduction in vitamin A deficiency. We’ve also seen reduction in anemia,” Muluzi said.
The Malawi Growth and Development Strategy (MDGS) III puts nutrition as one of the priority areas of development.
Gross lack of accountability has been exposed as 75 percent of CSOs that got elections funding towards the 2014 Tripartite Elections have failed to reconcile their accounts books todate. This has angered the UN which funds the NGOs through the UNDP which manages the Elections Basket Funding making it hard for the UN to fund them again for 2019 elections.
Projects Manager for the NGO Board Joel Mkandawire has confirmed the unfortunate development which vindicates the long held concern that many of the vocal and anti-governenment CSOs are simply conduits for siphoning donor money in the name of the people and enriching themselves under the pretext of human rights activism.
Nkhata Bay District Council has expressed concern that Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) accredited by Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) have not yet started conducting voter and civic education in the district.
MEC accredited Mzuzu Young Voices, Centre for Youth Empowerment and Civic Education, NEST, Youth Net and Counselling (Yoneco), Mbaweni Youth Association, World Fit for Children, Phunzilani Development Organisation and Foundation for Children’s Rights.
Speaking recently during a District Executive Committee meeting, Nkhata Bay District Commissioner (DC) Rodney Simwaka said there is need for serious civic education now that MEC will use voter biometric registration system.
Basically, the biometric system will involve use of National Identification (ID) cards during voter registration which means only those with the IDs will be allowed to register.
MEC has since arranged to have National Registration Bureau staff at voter registration centres to allow those that did not register during the recent mass national ID registration exercise to register for both at one venue.
“Communities need to be sensitized on the importance of registering using voter biometric,” Simwaka said.
National Initiative for Civic Education (NICE) District Manager Lucy Kaluwa said it is only NICE who are on the ground civic educating the communities on registration which starts October this year in the district.
“We are now busy civic educating the communities using football bonanzas on the importance of registering for the forthcoming tripartite election next year,” Kaluwa said.
Yoneco’s Nkhata Bay District Manager Dunreck Pande said his organisation is looking for funds to start the civic education.
But Nkhata Bay District Electoral Clerk Master Nthali said apart from accrediting CSOs, MEC has employed constituency civic education assistants.
Meanwhile, phase one of voter registration starts on 26th June in Kasungu, Salima and Dedza districts. Nkhata Bay, Likoma, Mzimba and Mzuzu are in the last phase (eight) which will start on 27 October, 2018.
The First Grade Magistrate Court in Phalombe on Thursday sentenced Group Village Headman Kamwendo of Traditional Authority (TA) Nkanda in Mulanje to 30 months Iimprisonment for obtaining by fraud K792, 000.00 cash from Oxfam.
A court report indicates that the chief, whose real name is Patrick Gama, used one of his subjects, Owen Banda, to solicit the money on the pretext of representing beneficiaries of Oxfam’s Social Cash Transfer who were not present.
Oxfam was conducting a cash transfer programme in Mulanje and Phalombe districts where it was giving free money to ultra-poor households for them to survive.
Phalombe Police arrested Gama 52, on 27 February, 2017 upon receiving a complaint from Oxfam officials about this chief’s conduct.
During hearing of the case, state prosecutor Inspector Hartwell Kachikonga asked the court for a stiff punishment as a way of sending a message to people in leadership positions that they will not be spared if found on the wrong side of the law.
“Your Worship, the chief is a public figure in his community and his conduct has brought disrepute to status of traditional leaders. As such, he deserves a stiffer punishment,” Kachikonga told the Court.
In mitigation, the accused pleaded for a lenient sentence saying he is a first offender and the bread winner for his family which has 6 children, four of whom are orphans.
In his judgement, first grade magistrate Damson Banda said the traditional leader’s act was shameful and sent a bad message to young people who might become crooked leaders in the future hence no need for granting leniency.
The Magistrate then sentenced the accused to two and half years in prison effective 13 June, 2018.
Malawi governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) will hold its national convention on July 1, 2018. Following the announcement of the date, there has been a proliferation of people who are campaigning to fill various positions in the party across the social media and other forums.
Among the people that have shown interest to run for a position is Clement Chancy Mwale. He will challenge the incumbent Grezelder Jeffrey wa Jeffrey for the position of Secretary General (SG).
“I want to bring new and civilized politics in DPP. I want to help the party triumph convincingly during the forthcoming tripartite elections,” Mwale told Nyasa Times in an exclusive interview on Sunday.
Mwale is not new to DPP politics. He has served the party in various administrative capacities since its formation in 2005, under its father and founder, the late Bingu wa Mutharika.
According to Mwale, he served as DPP administrator responsible for the day to day operations of the party at its national headquarters secretariat, and was appointed its administrative Secretary in 2014, a position that he served up 2014. This is the experience that gives him a head-start to bring in the needed operational creativity and leadership for a seamless and forward-looking DPP as it glides into victory in the tripartite elections next year, he said.
Mwale claims his decision to contest draws from a consistent desire to serve in the DPP leadership with utmost loyalty, diligence and dedication in order to take the party to greater heights in line with the party’s founding leader, late President Bingu wa Mutharika’s vision of transforming the political organization into one that truly serves the interests of Malawians.
Minister of Local Government, Kondwani Nankhumwa, on Sunday announced that he will contest as the ruling Democratic Progressivd Party (DPP) vice president for the Southern Region at the party’s convention slated for July1 to 3 in Blantyre.
Nankhumwa is leader of government in Parliament and member of Parliament for Mulanje Central constituency.
Through his official Facebook page Nankhumwa announced: “After a lot of deep soul searching, I am finally pleased to announce that I will run for the position of Vice President South.”
He said “servant leadership is key to DPP success in the forthcoming elections.”