Malawi Speaker Msowoya, Manganya tussling for UTM’s running-mate post

By Nenenji Mlangeni

LILONGWE-(MaraviPost)-Reports reaching the Maravi Post disclose that Speaker of the National Assembly Richard Msowoya and well-known comedian Michael Usi, popularly known as Manganya are battling for the post of runningmate in the newly formed United Transformation Movement (UTM).

This has been witnessed by social media posts particularly circulating on various WhatsApp groups indicating that Usi will partner Malawi Vice President Dr. Saulos Chilima in the forthcoming 2019 tripartite election.

While other post indicates that Chilima will partner former Malawi Congress Party (MCP) Vice President Richard Msowoya.

The posts have attracted mixed reaction among Malawians with some supporting Msowoya while others supporting Usi.

Speaking in an interview with Zodiak Broadcasting Station (ZBS), UTM Spokesperson Joseph Chidanthi Malunga denied commenting on the matter, saying the movement’s concentration is on the launch of the grouping.

According to Malunga, after the launch the movement will hold its much awaited elective conference where all acting positions will be dissolved and new office bearers will be elected.

Malunga then urged all Malawians to register and vote in the forthcoming polls.

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Malawi’s anti-graft body ACB winds up MK2.8 bn police fraud probing

LILONGWE-(MaraviPost)-Malawi’s anti-graft body, the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), says it has concluded investigations into the alleged fraud at Malawi Police Service involving Pioneer Investments.

The ACB has been investigating a MK2.8 billion (US$4 million) Malawi police food supply contract awarded to Pioneer Investments – a firm owned by an Asian-born Malawian businessman Zameer Karim.

“We concluded our investigations last week. I cannot tell you the internal processes which has to be followed as we decide our next course of action. There is a law which parliament made for the bureau to use in whatever we do,”said Anti-Corruption Bureau boss Renecks Matemba as quoted by The Daily Times .

A leaked investigative report, widely circulated on social media, said the businessman deposited MK145 million (US$203,000) into an account belonging to the ruling party and of which President Peter Mutharika is sole signatory.

Karim denied wrongdoing. “My company was awarded the contract after a rigorous process so I don’t see any wrongdoing,” he said.

Last week, the ruling party announced that it had paid back the MK145 million.

Matemba said the bureau has finalized its investigations but declined to divulge contents of the final report and the bureau’s next course of action.

Among others, the Corrupt Practices Act, which Matemba was referring to, states that the Bureau should seek permission from Director of Public Prosecutions before taking criminal proceedings on any of its files.

Matemba had told the press in the aftermath of the leakage of a report which brought to light the alleged fraud that the bureau would continue investigating the matter.

Meanwhile the bureau has been sued as third party cited by Youth and Society which wants the bureau to give them all the documents and evidence it collected during their investigations to use evidence against the suspects.

The Democratic Progressive Party has come under fire for accepting the K145 million which are believed to be proceeds from the fraud.

The party has committed to paying back the money but Youth and Society has refused to withdraw the case.

The DPP maintains that the party accepted the money just like any donation and is only returning it to Karim because of the misunderstanding which has surrounded the saga.

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Lilongwe’s Hope Counseling & Recreation Centre up for drug abuse and HIV/AIDS’ youth free

LILONGWE-(MaraviPost)-In a bid to help young people with skill that help them to overcome life challenge, Hope Counseling & Recreation Centre has intensified session camps in the capital Lilongwe.

This comes amid media reports of young people entangled with drug and substance abuse coupled with sexual immoralities.

The development that has rendered them into contracting the pandemic HIV/AIDS, early pregnancies and marriages dashing their life dreams.

Through the camps started August 3 at Sheafer Conference, Assembles of God Hall (MAGU), the youth aged 10 to 24 are equipped with skills to make informed decision.

Among others topics covered during the sessions including sexual reproductive health rights, sensing and reporting sexual abuses, stress and depression management, hygiene, spiritual and health well-being.

Hope Counseling & Recreation Centre board chairperson Pilira Ndaferankhande told The Maravi Post in an interview that the exercise has reached over 250 youths in the city.

Ndaferankhande disclosed that there is great demand for parents that theirs children be equipped with life skill for right choices.

She added that camps will continue till the country’s primary and secondary academic calendar opens in September that more young people be reached.

“We are targeting young from all background in the city. These sessions have helped youths to change their bad life style that shutters their dreams.

“We have well-trained health, social and law experts, spiritual leaders who are equipping the young people on all life aspects that they make informed life decision,” says Ndaferankhande.

Lizie Kachinga Jere, one of the participants minced no words lauding the exercise for changing her like for the better.

Lizie said the session were essential for youths to learn other aspect of life after tertiary education at African Bible College (ABC).

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Malawi economists against Brics loan proposal

LILONGWE-(MaraviPost)-Some economic commentators have reservations over President Peter Mutharika’s idea to borrow from Brics’ New Development Bank established in South Africa, stressing that public debt levels are already high in relation to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

On arrival from the Brics summit on last Sunday, Mutharika told journalists that he has instructed Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Emmanuel Fabiano to file a loan application for Malawi to benefit from the US$34 billion set aside by the bank for infrastructure and energy sector development.

Mutharika backed the establishment of the bank, saying institutions such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund are dominated by western countries.

“They have set up this new bank worth US$50 billion and I am hoping that we can take advantage of that bank [to promote] infrastructure and power sectors in Malawi. So, we will do our best to access that,” Mutharika said.

But Economics Association of Malawi President, Chikumbutso Kalilombe told The Daily Times that it is not viable for Malawi to be exploring borrowing opportunities as it may cause macroeconomic imbalances.

“Currently, public debt levels are above the limit of debt to GDP ratio of 50 percent. This means that we, as a country, have reached unsustainable levels. This outturn also implies that we, as a country, may have problems in serving our debt since debt is, on average, growing faster than the country’s GDP. This has potential to cause macroeconomic imbalances,” Kalilombe said.

Economics Research and Evaluation Consultant, Colen Kaluwa, concurred with Kalilombe, saying most infrastructure development projects have been used in the past to swindle money from public coffers.

“When he says infrastructure development, that becomes tricky because its where people start siphoning money through bogus contractors. Borrowing is not bad per se but, right now, Malawi is heavily indebted both outside and locally. As such, adding more debt to a more fragile economy will be detrimental,” Kalua said

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Escom taken to task over unreasonable tariff increase

BLANTYRE-(MaraviPost)-The country’s utility body, Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) was on Monday at pains to justify its 60 percent four-year electricity tariff hike plan, prompting stakeholders to accuse the power utility of pushing its inefficiencies to consumers.

One of the participants at the forum, Soustain Chigaru wondered why Escom budgeted for bad debt which it claims is incurred through illegal connections when it has put in place what it is calling strict measures to curb the malpractice and introducing a prepaid system for all electricity users.

Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI) chief executive officer Chancellor Kaferapanjira said the overheads, especially those associated with staff, that have remained a major component of the costs for each function should not be passed on to the end-user customers.

He also said provision for bad debts, resulting from Escom’s inability to collect debts from government ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) and some private sector players, should not burden end-user consumers with a higher tariff.

“The worst thing is that these provisions have been made despite Escom proposing to install prepaid meters in government institutions and all private sector organizations during the base tariff implementation period.

“Escom further projects bad debts to increase by three percent annually such that there is a huge jump in projection. This is, therefore, questionable and a major concern to us,” said Kaferapanjira

Echoing on the same, Consumers Association of Malawi (Cama) executive director John Kapito called for serious reforms within Escom if stakeholders are to appreciate the real cost of power generation and distribution.

But Escom chief executive officer Allexon Chiwaya maintained that the proposal to raise the tariff is justified as Escom plans to undertake investments over the stated period. He also said the cost-reflective tariff model it intends to adopt seeks to improve the electricity supply situation.

He said Escom plans to invest K157 billion during the new four-year base tariff period.

Said Chiwaya: “We want to upgrade several existing transmission lines from wooden to steel towers to minimise downtime, substations to accommodate demand growth in water pumping and commission new transmission lines and substations to accommodate load growth.

“Other than this, we did a cost of service study to determine how much it costs Escom to produce electricity. As such, we want to engage on a cost-reflective model without which, investors may not come to invest in Malawi since investors invest where there is a return. We also want to carry on our work with reflective costs as it was revealed the company produces below cost.”

In his response to concerns from industrial and domestic consumers during the first public hearing on the tariff hike application organised by Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (Mera) in Blantyre, Chiwaya said Escom’s share of the end-user tariff is 37 percent of the total K43 per unit; adding that the company has also budgeted for a minimum of three percent margin for bad debts for the four-year period.

Mera director of economic regulation Eunice Potani has since said the regulator would consider the adjustments proposed by Escom if the State power utility, a quasi monopoly, demonstrates commitment on the plans and projects outlined in the proposal.

“What we are saying is Escom is only presenting its path. It is only at the point when the projects take off when we will enforce these tariffs. Consumers will thus only be allowed to pay for the agreed tariff once the projects take off,” explained Potani.

In recent months, Escom has been in the news for all the wrong reasons. In June, its board chairperson Thom Mpinganjira admitted blatant abuse of procurement procedures that has cost the State-owned enterprise dearly.

Last week, revelations of theft of 3.8 million litres of diesel valued at K1.9 billion meant for the running of diesel-powered generators to boost power production and supply came to the fore after Vice-President Saulos Chilima raised the issue during a United Transformation Movement (UTM) rally in Blantyre on July 29.

And on Saturday, the parastatal’s director of administration and human resources Dafter Namandwa quantified the losses to illegal connections to be around MK1 billion monthly

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NICO holdings’ profits up

By Steven Godfrey Mkweteza

BLANTYRE-The conglomate, Nico holdings p/c has posted an increase in profit after tax of MK16.1 billion in the year 2017 as compared to a restated loss of MK1.4 billion it posted in 2016.

The interim chairman for the grouping Gaffar Hassam told the stakeholders of the holdings to its 48th annual general meeting {AGM} held in Blantyre.

Hassam said the gross revenue for he year 2017 also increased by 30% to MK134.3 billion compared to MK103.5 Billion for the year 2016.

“it has been a great ear indeed as we registered a significant revenue growth and profit after tax as compared to previous years. This is despite the difficult economic fundamentals tat the country is going through,” said Hassam.

Hassam said the growth in profitability was recorded due to remarkable performance in general insurance, life insurance, asset management business and improvement in the performance of the banking business.

“we work with people and not machinery. There is a lot of hard work from the dedicated staff and we put much emphasis in customer service,” Hassam added.

However, Hassam said some of the holdings subsidiaries mostly from outside the country did not perform as expected due to some limitations.

He mentioned Nico life insurance, Nico general insurance and NBS bank as some of the best performers in the year under review.

“But we are still very hopeful and expected that the other subsidiaries will perform better in the future. We plan to bring about new innovations and products that would boost our revenue tag,” added Hassam.

Among others, the AGM declared a final dividend of MK1.04 billion representing 100 tambala per share as recommended by the directors.

The AGM also re-elected Sangwani Hara, Harold Bijoux, Patrick Chilambe and Robert Mdeza to the board of Directors.

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Four Chikwawa men arrested over forced circumcision

The Malawi Police in Chikwawa on Monday arrested four men for allegedly administering unsafe and forced circumcision to underaged boys.

The arrest was made following a manhunt that the law enforcers led by Assistant Superidetendent Kalemba Gondwe carried out in the wee hours of Monday.

Six boys, under the ages of 10, have since been retrieved from the initiation camp and referred to the hospital for treatment.

Prior to the arrest, the police received a complaint about a 30-year-old man who was forcibly circumcised along with his little son.

The father, Nickson Lamposi, was rescuing his son who had fallen into the hands of initiators.

However, he was detained and circumcised before being set free after a ransom was settled.

The suspects have been identified as Blessings Chikutu, 26, Wilfred Chafudzila, 18, Khumbo Mafunga, 13, and Frank Medson, 19.

A charge of act intending to cause grievous harm has since been pressed against them.

They are expected to appear in court soon.

The four suspects are from Mologeni Village, Traditional Authority (T.A) Katunga in Chikwawa District.

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Of quota system evil into Malawi’s public university intake; 2017/2018 analysis

By Nenenje Mlangeni

My own analysis of harmonised Malawi public university intake for 2017-2018 has shown that 4772 candidates made it into the public universities (LUANAR, MZUNI, MUST &UNIMA) representing 32% of 14,843 candidates eligible.

This is an increase over last year’s intake of 4647 and 4037 for 2015-2016. Further analysis shows that equity selection policy was used, which saw top 10 candidates from each district selected first and the rest selected based on both merit and size of population of district of origin.

Consequently, no district has been discriminated from selection into public universities contrary to critics. Analysis of variance between declared spaces and those selected per district shows a +- 2 as common variance although some few districts had higher variances.

Due to high population size the following were the top most allocated: 1. Lilongwe (526); 2. Blantyre (347); 3. Mzimba(304); 4. Mangochi(281); 5.Kasungu(244) and Ntcheu (244). On the other hand the folowing districts were least allocated but with a variance of -1 to +3 : 28. Likoma (14); 27. Mwanza (42); 26. Neno(49); 25.Rumphi(69); and 24.Chitipa (71). Males represented 59.8% of the intake while females represented 40.2%, an improvement of 10 percentage points over less than 30% seen before 2010.

Interestingly, under the current selection regime the Vice President’s home district of Ntcheu had 28 more students selected than the President’s district of Thyolo that had 216 students.

Although the rest of students not selected could find their way into private universities, therefore is need for government to expand public university infrastructures in order to increase the space by at least 3 times and ensure that at least 20,000 eligible candidates can be selected automatically.

Copied

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Malawi’s health platform for President Muthalika’s Global Fund role appointment

LILONGWE-(MaraviPost)-The Malawi Civil Society under the banner Joint Platform on Health has backed the appointment of President Peter Muthalika as champion of the Global Fund 6th Replenishment Campaign.

This disputes the other letter two Human Rights Defenders Coalition, Timothy Mtambo and his vice Gift Trapence, wrote the Executive Director of Global Fund in Geneva, Switzerland to ask them reverse a decision of President Muthalika’s appointment.

The due argued that Mutharika lacks the requisite moral standing to assume that role as it will require him to lead efforts in soliciting funding pledges.
In their letter dated July 27 2018,Mtambo and Trapence  observed that the Malawi leader  presides over an administration rocked by corruption hence no need for him to carry such task.

This did not go well with Muthalika upon arrival on Sunday from South Africa’s Brics Summit that it is sad to note that Malawians have reached high levels of “hatefulness on all levels.

Backing Malawi leader’s appointment, the  Joint Civil Society Platform on health’s press statement released on Thursday, August 2, made available to the Maravi Post, has welcomed the role wishing Muthalika to discharge his responsibility with the expected highest level of integrity and diligence.

The platform therefore said does not subscribe to the notion that Global Fund should reverse the decision following Mtambo and Trapence letter.

The grouping argues that the duo’s position  is not representative of CSOs in Malawi and neither does it represent collective CSOs position on the matter.

Below is the full Health Platform’s statement;

 

APPOINTMENT OF HIS EXCELLENCY THE STATE PRESIDENT PROF. PETER
ARTHUR MUTHARIKA AS A CHAMPION OF THE GLOBAL FUND 6TH
REPLENISHMENT CAMPIAGN

 

We the undersigned Civil Society Organization in Malawi, wish to thank the Global Fund for
appointing His Excellency the State President Arthur Peter Arthur Mutharika as a Champion of
the Global Fund 6th Replenishment Campaign. The appointment by the Global fund on President
Mutharika is a great honour on Malawi and augurs well with other accolades which have been
presented on the President before, attesting to his commitment towards health sector especially on
issues of HIV/AIDS.

 

We also thank His Excellency President Arthur Peter Mutharika for accepting the appointment
with humility and his commitment to discharge his responsibility with the expected highest level
of integrity and diligence as he has already demonstrated in the fight against HIV/AIDS,
Tuberculosis and Malaria epidemics in Malawi.

 

The acceptance by the President is a translation of the high-level political will by the Government of Malawi to combat HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria in the country.

 

As Civil Society Organization in Malawi, the appointment give us an opportunity to bring more
awareness to the President and the Government of Malawi on the need to sustaining the gains
Malawi has achieved with the support from Global Fund and many other development partners
and address the remaining gaps.

 

As CSO who value highly the need for adequate resources towards all activities around HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria, we will support the initiative by mobilizing our network across the world and appeal to donors to support the campaign.

 

We are aware that from within our circles, there was communication to effect that the decision to
appoint President Mutharika be rescinded.

 

We the undersigned being part of the health sector JOINT CIVIL SOCIETY PLATFORM ON HEALTH
CSOs do not subscribe to the notion and may we take this opportunity to clarify that the communicated position is not representative of CSOs in Malawi and neither does it represent collective CSOs position on the matter.

We therefore wish to take this opportunity to highlight that when it comes to issues of dealing with HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria, local politics must not be at play and we believe the communication was  made to drag the Global Fund into Malawi local politics which has no relation to the task that
President Mutharika has been appointed for. We commit to remain positive to the vice hence our
writing in order to help your high office to focus on real issues and not local politics.

We are very grateful.
Signed by,  Lucky Crown Mbewe (Executive Director Youth Empowerment and Civic Education (YECE),
Maxwell Matewere, (Executive Director Eye of the Child), Ms. Emily Banda  (National Coordinator Professional Women’s Network),  Michael Kalima (Programme’s Director Counseling of the Adolescent and Youth Org), Peter Mumba (Executive Director Youth Appause Organization), Fryson Chodzi (National Coordinator Forum for National Development), Ms. Carol Mvalo (Executive Director Centre for Conflict Management and Women Development Affairs), Charles Gama  (Acting Coordinator Ufulu Wanga), Mervin Ng’umayo (National Coordinator Mzuzu Youth Association), Kinear Mlowoka (Programme Manager Phunzirani Youth Organization), Habil Kalumo (Ntchisi Organization for Youth and Development)

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Where will Chilima get the votes without structures and institution to lean? Road to 2019

By Nenenji Mlangeni
I am looking at the voting tendency of the past general elections and I am asking myself, where will Vice President Saulosi Chilima’s United Transformation Movement (UTM ) get the votes?
This is the political grouping just being launched just ten months before Malawi’s general elections in 2019 which has come with the bang particularly in cities.
See in 1994, the year we ushered in multiparty democracy in Malawi, Muluzi, (the winner) had 1,404,75447.15 (lets round it up to 1.5 million votes) and Kamuzu had 996,35333.44 (lets round it up to 1 million votes). Now look; this was after the pastoral letter.
After the Roman Catholic bishops had successfully tarnished the image of Kamuzu and Malawi Congress Party (MCP). After Muluzi and Chihana and all the pressure groups had painted MCP and Kamuzu as evil.  Yet he managed to come second with almost a million votes. What does that mean?
The people who voted for Kamuzu were party diehards, people who loved MCP to the bone, people who would never change their allegiance despite the political terrain.
In short, in 1994, (which was the toughest year for MCP) the MCP still had about a million unwavering voters.
In 1999 Muluzi had 2,442,68552.34, (2.5 million votes) Gwanda Chakuamba had 2,106,79045.21 (2.1 million votes)
In 2004 Bingu had 1,195,586, (1.2 million votes) John Tembo had 937,965 (lets round it up to 1 million votes) Gwanda had 836,118 (Eight hundred thousand votes).
Now you know that in 2004, MCP had two camps. That of Tembo, representing the MCP and that of Gwanda in the Mgwirizano coalition. But even in this scenario, you can see that MCP had its loyalists intact, about a million votes.
And you can easily tell and even speculate that were it not for the division in the party, Gwanda’s votes and Tembo’s votes, would have been one and the same and that their votes would have surpassed that of Bingu.
In other words, their division, in turn, divided the votes. Still MCP, maintained the number of its diehards.
In 2009 Bingu had 2,963,820 and John Tembo had 1,365,672.  Remember that this was the time when DPP was at its helm because of Bingu’s development agenda, which had seen him constructing roads in Ntchisi, Mchinji and other areas considered strongholds of MCP. Yet, at this crucial time in history, had over a million votes.
In 2014 Peter had 1,904,399 and Lazarus had 1,455,880.
MCP has always come second. MCP has always maintained its loyalist. You may ask why? Here is the answer. MCP has been in existence longer than any party in Malawi. It has roots. Roots which are based on 1. Culture, 2. Party structures. 3. Leadership. 4. Religion.  The same could be said about Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and United Democratic Front (UDF) by the way.
From our general election mathematics, we can be assured that MCP has maintained the number of say a million voters from when we started voting. It has stood the test of time and has now gained its grounds.
Each time we vote, the winner does not go far above 2 million votes.
Now look.  DPP is still a force to reckon. It will not be wrong to assume that they will get more than eight hundred thousand votes in 2019.
The former Malawi leader Joyce Banda’s  People’s Party (PP) is still a force to reckon, and is UDF.
Question is, where will UTM get the votes? Without structures and an institution to lean on?
What UTM will do is to divide the DPP votes. The scenario will be much the same like the Gwanda and John Tembo scenario in 2004.  This gives MCP an opportunity to make the best use of its unwavering supporters, which are over a million. Plus those who are generally disgruntled with DPP and those associated with it.
What UTM will also do is to vindicate Chakwera and MCP who was the first party president, in a sense, to talk without fear about corruption, nepotism, and the economical oppression of the masses.
This is not to say that Chilima will not have votes. He will. But based on our voting trends, it will be difficult for him to surpass both MCP and DPP.
He comes to weaken DPP and to validate the people fear and disgust with the economic oppression which has partly been engineered by the past rulers, and more so by the current government.
Where will Chilima get the votes from? it’s  a question that has been bothering me.

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