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Showing posts from 2008

Mary Kaphwereza Banda RIP (1954-2008)

I last met the Late Mary Kaphwereza Banda, my teacher for years on November 23 at Johannesburg's O.R Tambo. She was coming from graduation of one of her daughters. She proudly told me "aliyonse akumalizga masters mwana wane." She was very proud of her daugthers, her achievements and as Bakili Muluzi put it rightly at her role in the history of Malawi.
In September before primaries for Lilongwe City Central, she told me she was yet to make a decision to contest though there was pressure for her return. I dismissed her jokingly that that was a politicians white lie. She invited to me to a tour of her properties.
I had attended Walani brefiely in the 90's and my niece is at Peter Pan. I have some distant cousins at Mount Sinai. We ended our tour at her office at Mount Sinai it was lunch hour. She had a meal prepared at the school, an ordinary nsima with some green vegetables and meat. She refused me to have it and offered to buy me lunch at a "proper resturant".…

Malawi sacrifices 7,000 to save tobacco

First published in Nation on Sunday 21 Dec. 2008
Malawi sacrifices
7,000 to save tobacco
..DDT can eradicate Malaria-WHO

by Kondwani Munthali

Top civil servant in the Ministry of Health Chris Kang’ombe on Wednesday admitted that the country’s reliance on tobacco has affected the fights against malaria as there are resistance to the adoption of use of Dichloro-Diphenyl-Trichloroethane (DDT) spraying which is proven to eradicate the fatal disease.

DDT was banned due to environmental and toxic effects, but the World Health Organisation has recognised that spraying the insecticide can eradicate malaria, as since the ban there has been increase in the incidents of malaria in South America and Africa.

“I would say yes it is a difficult choice, either we forgo all the foreign exchange that the country depends on tobacco or we accept to continue sacrificing 7,000 lives that we lose due to malaria,” Kang’ombe said.

He said the Ministry had started the process of consultations and it was still optimist…

Of Somali pirates, Mumbai and Zimbabwe cholera

Somali pirates are fast becoming what Captain Jack Sparrow of Pirates of the Carribean would admire. Instead of chasing a deadmans chest for a heart of someone, they are real in chasing money. And its hard currency. Earnings from the pirates business are said to be heading towards US$35 million and it is becoming more attractive. The capture of the Saudi sirus with US$100 million worth of crude oil is just the beginning of things. At one point I wrote a proposal to all G7 Governments and celebrities who have shown interest in Africa, it was about inspiring young Africans to do more for themselves. I still enjoy reading the no so but we regret letters from Tony Blairs office, Angel Markel and even George Bush. The African 2000 Generation could not have solved many of the challenges African youth face, but it could have touched where young people get shaped and have their ideals born. But it was not of strategic importance to the European and Western nations to develop a vibrant youth soci…

My prayer, The Bible and Our Politicians

I conclude my holiday series today with a revisit to the Holy Bible and what it says about Politics and Leadership. I had had time in Durban and Port Elizabeth to read widely, relax and listen and watch news on South African, Zimbabwe and follow abit on Malawi politics. The truth is that amazingly, almost leaders in the countries that I have had focus on all go to Church and Mosque to pray. Today in conclusion I offer my prayers to God to reach out to the hearts of our leaders, let greed and lust for power be replaced by the will to serve and save humanity. I pray for the elections in South Africa, Malawi, Mozambique and the safe return to democracy for the people of Zimbabwe. I pray for the victims of cholera who can not get even safe water in Harare, Beitbridge and now Gweru. I pray that Robert Mugabe will have the power of Holy Spirit in him to realise that the suffering and the cries of people of Zimbabwe is the cry of God. He needs to soul search his decisions and honestly evaluate i…

Where are Rich men of Africa, the black Americans who lie?

Totally a different front. I have been reflecting on some of social issues tha engulf Africa and the role of different people that claim that they love Africa. I will not today talk of the snail pace of trying to establish the African Healthcare Journalists network though it seems the tobacco control activist promise more support than what we have tried to get from other health sectors in the past one year. Today is the story of our own rich men and women in all Africa. Philanthropists from USA, UK and others in the name of Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and Hunter are driving many causes to the global agenda using their self made wealth not the ones stolen from Governments. Africa has had 206 Presidents, Kings and Rulers, yet very few than 10 schools, hospitals or any other public causes bears their signature and pocket money label as having come from them. The richest people on the continent are mainly Presidents who led bandits masquedering as politicians looting the already poor state cof…

Bakili Muluzi's long walk to Democracy

The former President of Malawi Bakili Muluzi has generated a stir that no other African leader has in the recent past. While in Durban and Johannesburg, I met a Journalist from Kenya, another from Zambia and another from South Africa all asked me exactly what is wrong with Bakili Muluzi and Malawians. I have told them that there is nothing wrong with Malawians, they are honest and hard working people who normally leave politicians to make a fool out of themselves if they want to. However on Muluzi I had no answer since I can not with my public health knowledge claim to have reached the levels of a qualified physciatrist. Reading through Muluzi's speeches during his first term of office (1994-1999) one hears of a democrat that repented the MCP atrocities and that one who would want to give power back to the people. The speeches change radically, when towards 1999 general elections, when he claims to have only 'laid foundation' for the development projects that the country ha…

Reading between Letters: Bingu and Muluzi

I had the privilage of reading the letters between President Bingu wa Mutharika and his predecessor Bakili Muluzi from a very unlikely source. Both letters to my simple conclusion were unnecessary and the leakage rightly pointed to the left or right was gross breach of ethics and degradation of the Office of the President in Malawi, whoever the occupant is. However I have lived to see more that individual and selfish interest overides most of decisions made by our political leaders, that politics of survival define more our approaches than those of trying to understand what a Malawian want. Both Muluzi and Bingu are filthy rich, yes, they can within 15 years of our multiparty system donate millions in competition. Refer to the Ndirande saga, which was started by a well meaning donation by Mark Katsonga Phiri. In real terms Katsonga Phiri is supposed to be a rich Malawian having built Candlex to compete at its climax with multinational Unlever, later AGMA corporation before replacing Shir…

Obama, Ntaba and the long walk towards Tobacco control

Today, a heart rendering and touching ceremony was heard at the Durban Convetion centre in South Africa, 40 million people have died since 1999 from tobacco smoking deaths. The diseases are many so it denial.
The Framework Convention Alliance and many Civil Society organisations, are working tirelessly to inform the public on the dangers of smoking. I felt ashamed as a Malawian to hear Malawi mentioned now and then as a country which has not signed the FCTC a World Heath organisation treaty that advocates regulation of tobacco smoking.
I am not sure what Bakili Muluzi was thinking, but I am sure my President Bingu wa Mutharika is intelligent enough to read the treaty and realise that in anyway regulating smoking does it kill our tobacco sector.
After all as Yussuf Saloojee and Alison Cox say, the crop has not helped Malawians much in their 100 years of growing. I see poverty, we cry poverty and for years we continue to be among the poorest despite not having wars or any sort of conflict.

Malawi Police, Joy Radio and Sewer boys

I have very good freinds in Police service, though by being a Journalist some of them try to keep their jobs by not coming to my office or home since they do handle sensitive information. Others even call me from outside duty points and we generally talk of things that we have spoken in the past-minus politics. Strange as it may sound, I rarely make political debates part of my past time, I have enough of them in newsrooms and with appropriate stakeholders.
So when I read or get one more story on Police brutality, I always call my freinds, and thank God even the Mchesi killings, they were never part of it. But it us getting scary. Just last Friday, my colleague in profession Emmanual Chibwana met some Chilomoni Police officers who at a pub were busy tossing someone who was wearing a camouflage attire- in what my PRO Police freind Chingwalu claim to be a "lok alike."
Being a Journalist like me, definately he asked the Police officers what the hell they were doing and why didnt …

For Bingu, Markets and some thoughts on many things!

My car horn got damaged the other Saturday-you know the reason the flames won and I was mad from Dowa where I had gone for some political party primaries all the way to Lilongwe's upper Biwi. My kid brother Osman was mad he literaly was out of the window of my car and shaking passers by. But we manage to wake up the following day and attend Church and praise God for the wonderful day Saturday was. Come last Friday the 17th, it was my birthday-I got mad, Roy Commsy, My sisters and good freinds were responsible for the madness that started at home all the way to Star Light. Thank God there was no breatherlsyer-my Zambian and South African guests cool have spent time in a cooler for the Malawi Gin they had. But I have not written much, congrats to President Bingu wa Mutharika for the global leadership award recieved during the UN General Assembly and so many others in between that I cannot recall all of them. Awards are a reminder of how far we have come and having covered the food cris…

Health and Democracy: Africa's long journey to realistic development

For the past year, I have been working on the Aids billions that Malawi has recieved since 1992. The figure is astronomical and the impact can only be translated by those that are in offices unfortunately. I am amazed by statements such as 'we have made disignificant progress' in mitigating HIV and Aids in Malawi. Whilst in Zambia, I found a centre where ARV access was 13 days away from the nearest village in the Western province, strange enough it meant this person who was already sick spent most of his time travelling to collect the essential drugs. The total expenditure versus emoluments of people working in the sector, the consultancies and salaries are too huge for one to comprehend. For almost each 1 billion kwacha spent in Malawi only 5 percent or 10 percent reaches the real HIV positive person or those affected by it. The full story wil be published very soon in my paper, once I get someone senior to comment on my findings. Unfortunately it has taken more than three month…

Aleke Banda- he came, he conquered and his new quest against Cancer

When late Kate Kainja Kaluluma passed on to glory, I said the day was so remarkable as she was buried the birth day of late First Lady Ethel Mutharika. But I said the two could be well remembered if we did something against cancer. Aleke Banda or AKB as many prefer to call him is not an ordinary Malawian. He is also a rare African. He has just announced his retirement from politics and that he will be engaged in raising cancer awareness. AKB was offered a Havard Scholarship and it was late Kamuzu Banda who denied him such an opportunity as the country needed him more. There is his biography coming out, very soon it should be worthy reading it. It can easily be said to be the History of Malawi with one of the very few politicians that have stood the test of times. He was detained for 12 years without trial, he was jailed and expelled by the federation. He however was a distinction in whatever task he set to achieve. I pray that the country will find the right place for him to tap his energy…

A snake from UDF

I have never laughed so hard and felt sad the next moment. Politics can turn anybody into a caricature or simply a cartoon. I have had a chat with Dr. George Chaponda about many things, the worst I expected this seasoned Internationalist is to dramatise the alleged biting of Village Headman Sosola whom MBC has found a new story in him to demonise the UDF.

I have been doing research on ethics and other forms of Journalism but I deliberately ignored MBC because there is nothing there to analyse. Everyday the station sinks to its worst form of what used to be the pride of the nation.

Working for MBC was a pride, everywhere people knew you, announcers such as late Mwala Moyo and my teacher Davies Mussa made their own names and were household celebrities. I happened to live in Nkolokosa when Mussa and Mwala were in the township. I still cherish the waves we got from them every time they knocked off.

I can recall their programmes and words uttered some 27 years ago. Mussa used ‘kumeta maliro’ …

DPP, Cabinet Reshuffle and Southern Africa Politics

Definately a day in politics can be a year. Thabo Mbeki was being praised the other day for brockering the yet to be announced Zimbabwe deal and the following day he was back in South African papers after a judge in his former deputy and now political rival Jacob Zuma's case named his office as having intefered in the National Prosecutions Office decision to prosecute Zuma. Of course Zuma is a living example to many of those that believe they can abuse their offices to deter people's will. That reminds me of Comrade Robert Mugabe, a man whose legacy as a liberator is now lies in ruins of history and many will choose to remember his role in the Zimbabwe destruction. Only the few smile in the great Zimbabwe. We pray that Monday 15th September Simba Makoni's prophecy of a new Zimbabwe dawn will come to reality. One common attribute is how Governments decide to work out on denying opposition chances to exist in a multi-party democracy. Elsewhere, Africa is the only continent fo…

Celebrating povery? The moral story of Swaziland

There was 40-40 celebration in Swaziland this week. My President attended the celebration in Mbabane together with Mugabe, Museveni and even Namibia's Pohamba. I think an American Assistant Secretary for African Affairs was there too. The good side of the commemoration was over shadowed by a demonstration by an estimated 2,000 people in Mbabane. Now I do love Swaziland, it will be my honeymoon destination and also probably my home when I start big investments of my life time. I have to Swaziland for more than four times and I have good freinds, fortunately I only have to say Dhlamini for the surname, one Ntokozo Nzabulewako and a few other with different surnames. But the first names are either Sizwe, Melusi and Clement. The other time while driving from WHY NOT? a must for anyone who loves dating the world at night, we engaged into a serious discussion with a colleague who is a lawyer for Truworths or something else in Mbabane. They gave me some traditional brew-Malula if I remembe…

A free media strategy for the DPP

As I said it before, I find ti difficult sometimes to comment on some current affairs because of the perceptions it sometimes generate. Especially the political side. With seven months of returning to print media, I have been labelled all sorts of parties from the DPP, UDF and MCP and even PPM. One thing that keeps me going, is hope and the sense that I have done better as a Journalists. I write without flinching an eye on whose toe I will be stepping. I have been offered funny jobs within the same months, I have had threats, suspicious break-in and more importantly some body went to town to threaten me that I will be arrested. Harrassment has been more visible in services I cant mention here and I know with elections, it will be a real and great time for Journalists. But of course, I have experience of two elections-1999 and 2004, so I have learnt that only professionals survive the ride and mantain their dignity. I can confidently say I have never exchanged a story for money, nor be…

From Mwanawasa, Mugabe and Malawian politics

In politics you have no permanent freinds and enemies-late Chakufwa Chihana once told a local paper in an interview justfying his return to Bakili Muluzi's administration after accusing of being "very corrupt that it cannot change."
The past months, unfortunately quite busy for me that I could not even write here, have been very interesting.
Of course we lost Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa, a lawyer par excellence who returned Zambia to the rule of Law and real democracy and observance of human rights and dignity. For the first time, Zambia experienced very few politically motivated arrests unlike the times when John Chinula and William Banda were deported to Malawi wrongly, Kenneth Kaunda was accused of being a Malawian.
Micheal Sata who changed tune on Mwanawasa after his medical treatment supported by late Mwanawasa, aslo has a story to tale of how the opposition was being managed under the other Presidents. However, leby's death is one of those important signals t…

R. Dzanjalimodzi (1953-2008)

One Hand-Danjalimodzi

New Blood in Politics
Words cannot describe you
Your works speaks volume
Of One hand of greatness

The Hand of Secretary to Treasury
A hand of a Politician
One Hand of Chair-Public Accounts Committee
A hand of great Parlaimentarian

Who will speak for your party
Who will chair the Public Accounts Committee
Who will be the voice of reason
The one hand that did it all is gone
Rest In Peace

At the time of publishing this, there are reports that his Mother had passed away when the body arrived in Malawi.

As a Journalist, I knew late Dzanjalimodzi when I was young, he introduced me to most of his constituency structures when I was following up a story on constituency development fund. We last spoke in July when he analysed the Public Finance Management Act and consequences of Finance Minister and Secretary to Treasury when drawing money from consolidated fund with Parliamentary approval.
He promised me a copy of approved final report of his committee whose proceedings I had covered bet…

Malawi can learn from Julius Nyerere ideologies

Title: Our Leadership and the Destiny of Tanzania
Author: Julius K. Nyirere
Year: 1995 first published in Kiswahili in 1994
Publisher: African Publishing Group, Harare, Zimbabwe
Reviewed by Kondwani Bell Munthali- The article was published in the Nation Newspaper of August 12, 2008

Tanzania though it does not make news frequently is a model of democracy. Unlike any other African country except for Botswana, it has now almost three-ex Presidents. Mwalimu Julius Nyerere who became the First African Head of State to voluntarily relinquish power and has been followed by Ali Hassan Mwinyi and Benjamin Mkapa.
Mwalimu however believed he owed Tanzanians and the World at large an explanation on how Tanzania which is union of Tanganyika mainland and Zanzibar Islands came about and survived even in the early 1990’s when there was a talk of a split between the two.
Nyerere touches the fundamentals of unity, which includes surrendering of sovereignty by the two States to the United Republic which happen…

2009 General Elections-Running Campaign- the Muluzi factor

Of course there is still much talk of the national porno scandal that has gripped the cities. The Police have moved in, though the only amazing silence is from the church. I am however back on my desk and looking foward to the National registration excercise in readness for the elections slated for 18th August. I have not seen any visible civic education except few running adverts in print and electronic media. I am sure that who ever is supposed to worry of this election, knows that civic education is a crucial component of any successful election. Having said that I believe both the Nation Publications and Blantyre Newspapers deserve a commendation by trying to keep the elections story covered, though there is very little on the ground to suggest that parties themselves take the elections seriously. I have only seen Bakili Muluzi move about here and there in the Southern Region, while I am yet to hear Bingu, apart from the Zomba rally that declared the manucipality into a city I am …