Saturday, April 18, 2015

CENTRE FOR SOCIAL CONCERN SAYS: UNPRIDICTABLE RAINS AND FLOODS POSE FOOD INSECURITY THREAT

It is well known that maize is the strategic grain crop in Malawi and grown in all the parts of the country. It accounts for more than 60 percent of the total national food production and over half (54 percent) of the caloricintake of households (FAO, 2009).

Maize is also known for its versatility as it suits wide range of agro-ecological zones. Nevertheless, it is a sensitive crop to moisture stress especially around the period oftasseling and cob formation. Furthermore, it needs optimum moisture conditions at the time of planting.

Therefore, maize is tricky crop to produce in the face of prevailing climate change conditions.Although there have been various initiatives to help households diversify their food production to other crops such as cassava, millet and potato as a means to hedge against food insecurity, little has been achieved and most Malawians still allocate the largest share of their land to maize production.

To make matters worse, most farmers are still cultivating unimproved varieties that are less productive and resilient to climate change. The recent floods that have hit half of the countries’ districts, have been a wakeup call to farminghouseholds and indeed all the stakeholders in the country to rethink the heavy reliance on maize for staplefood needs.

In its February Food Security Outlook, FEWSNET estimated that one million households have been affected by the floods and approximately 105000 Metric Tons of cropped maize has been washed away across the country due to the floods. Further, the maize prices in the hit areas were reported to have increased to as much as K130 – K140/kg in January and February especially in the southern part of Malawi.

Corroborating these findings, Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee (MVAC) indicated that anestimated 615,837 people will need assistance in flood affected areas for 2 to 5 months from March 2015onwards, requiring an equivalent of 23,750tons of maize. With 2014/ 2015 national crop estimates recentlyreleased by Civil Society Agriculture Network (CISANET) indicating that maize production will drop by at least 30 percent this year, tougher times lie ahead for Malawians.

As the urban population mostly relies on the rural maize production for its daily consumption, the impacts of these floods will be equally felt in urban areas. The CfSC Urban Basic Needs Basket survey which is conducted on monthly basis in Karonga, Mzuzu, Lilongwe, Blantyre, Zomba and Mangochi indicated that the average maize prices in these towns increased from K91/Kg in December, 2014 to K96/Kg in January, 2015, representing a 5.5 percent increase.

The price changes between January and February were marginal and insignificant. However, the recent findings in the month of March for the four major cities of Lilongwe, Zomba, Blantyre and Mzuzu show that the average prices have soared to K126/Kg from K99/kg in January, 2015 signifying an increase of 27 percent.

This is in sharp contrast to last year during the same period for the four cities when prices declined by 22.5 percent. In particular, maize is most expensive in Mzuzu City as it has skyrocketed to an average of K152/kg in March from K108/kg in January.

Considering that we are approaching the harvest season very soon and prices are rising by this high margin instead of declining as normally expected, this is unusual and indeed heralds serious hunger for Malawians in few months to come.To safeguard the livelihoods of Malawians from economic wide effects of the floods and erratic rains, CfSCbelieves that there is need for collaborative efforts by all stakeholders to institute and implement pragmaticshort, medium and long term strategies that will ameliorate peoples’ suffering and ensure food security at allthe times.

Efforts to provide farmers in the flood affected areas with early maturing maize seeds, cassava cuttings and sweet potato vines already undertaken by various stakeholders should be stepped up so that farmers can make use of residual moisture and also engage in winter cropping.

However, there is need that government take up a leading role in this task and ensure that necessary extension advisory services are available since in most areas government extension workers are virtually none existent.Furthermore, the government should also consider introducing Income Generating Activates (IGAs) in the flood affected areas so that the people are empowered to recover their livelihoods and be weaned off from the handouts which they are relying on currently.

Another short term measure that ought to be seriously considered by government is to contract the Illovo Sugar Group to produce maize that can cover part of the deficit instead of using much of the already scarce forex for maize importation. Serious investment in food crop diversification and irrigation farming should also be highly encouraged such that the Green Belt Initiative be prioritized by government as it is one of the key strategies that promise to solve Malawi’s perennial food insecurity issues.

Currently it is just a slogan used by the politicians but nothing concrete has taken shape on the ground.The launch of National Disaster Risk Management Policy and Disaster Risk Management and Communication Strategy is a step in the right direction; nonetheless, government should ensure that the policy is implemented to its entirety.Currently, most private traders are still withholding their maize stocks waiting for maize to be exhausted from the market so as to sell theirs at exorbitant prices.

Therefore, the government should not release its stocks in large quantities to the market now but rather wait for private traders to exhaust their supplies and release it when the maize will become scarcer and farming households should be encouraged to keep their maize harvest and not sell it to the vendors immediately after harvesting.

Additionally, the government should consider setting up maize price floors and ceilings this year so that the poor and vulnerable households will be protected from prices shocks due to the impending food shortage.

Finally, ADMARC which has well-established market structures across all the parts of the country including the most remote rural areas deemed inaccessible by private traders, should be strengthened to ensure that it has enough capacity to distribute food to all the parts of the country during the period of maize scarcity.

UPDATE ON THE REPATRIATION OF MALAWIANS FROM THEREPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA

Government, through the Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DoDMA)would like to inform the general public that the Malawi Mission and Consulate inSouth Africa says, about 1000 Malawians are now reported to be affected byXenophobic attacks, and are now seeking shelter in designated camps and policestations.

Four buses are now ready to start transporting the returnees back home. The buseswill depart Johannesburg once clearance formalities are finalised by the SouthAfrican Ministry of Home Affairs.

Paul Chiunguzeni, Secretary and Commissioner for Disaster

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Flashback: Beware of Fraudsters!



 It has come to the attention of State House that there are some unscrupulous people with criminal minds who are going around posing as top State House aides duping and defrauding members of the public in the name of either arranging meetings with The State President His Excellency Prof. Arthur Peter Mutharika or that they have been sent on errands by The Head of State.

Several distinguished members of our society including government officials, have fallen victim to these criminals, losing thousands of kwacha in the process and some of them have been left stranded. The latest incident involved, Rev. Matiya Nkhoma of the Livingstonia Synod of the Church of Central African Presbyterian (CCAP) who was duped by an unknown man pretending to be a Special Assistant to The President that he has arranged an audience with President Mutharika for him and Paramount Chief Mbelwa VI at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe.

Later the criminals, now posing as Chief Mbelwa tricked Rev. Matiya Nkhoma through a phone call, into transferring cash amounting K100 000 (One Hundred Thousand Kwacha) through mobile money transfer for him (Chief Mbelwa) to buy fuel to travel to Lilongwe for the meeting with The President. Several other similar incidences have been reported involving some District Commissioners, Principal Secretaries, Civil Society leaders among others.

State House strongly condemns these unfortunate incidences as pure criminal acts and would like to disassociate State House, most importantly The Head of State from these incidences. State House with the assistance of the Police and other law enforcement agencies is taking seriously these reports and will investigate the incidences as they have the potential to bring into disrepute the name of State House and The President.

Anyone who will be caught in connection with these acts will be prosecuted accordingly. State House wishes to put on the record that its officials or The President’s Aide do not, will not and will never communicate through the phone to arrange a meeting with The President. There are well established channels of communication and procedures to be followed by anyone wishing or asked to meet The Head of State.

We, therefore, appeal to all government officials and all members of the Public to follow these normal channels and to always verify any communication purported to be coming from or related to State House. We urge the public to demand relevant identification documents from anyone claiming to be from State House and to verify with relevant authorities at State House before setting off for State House to meet the President or releasing any valuable materials including cash to unknown people.

Chikondi Juma, Presidential Press Officer
 Kamuzu Palace, Lilongwe

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Malawi Postpones Ivory-burning Ceremony

    Republic of Malawi

                                  PRESS STATEMENT

For Immediate ReleaseApril 1, 2015Ministry of Information, Tourism and CultureLilongweMalawi


The Government of  Malawi planned to burn  the 4 tonnes of seized ivory as part of this year’s commemoration of the World Wildlife Day as indicated in an earlier  press release that went in the media informing the general public about this event.

Government regrets to advise that there is a slight change in the programme of the event as a consequence of new information that has emerged. The commemorations will proceed as planned.

But the burning of the ivory has been postponed because Government has been advised that another 2.6 tonnes of ivory is still in the system as exhibits awaiting conclusion of cases which are pending in the courts.

Once   these cases are concluded, all 6.6 tonnes of the ivory will be destroyed all together at a time and date to be announced in future.

While Government remains committed to fight wildlife crime, including protection of iconic species of elephants and rhinos, which are key for tourism promotion in Malawi, it is important that the entire stockpile of ivory is destroyed once and for all.


KONDWANI NANKHUMWA MP
MINISTER OF INFORMATION, TOURISM AND CULTURE
GOVERNMENT SPOKESPERSON
Page of 2

Thursday, March 19, 2015

CATHOLIC COMMISSION FOR JUSTICE AND PEACE OF THE EPISCOPAL CONFERENCE OF MALAWI TIME TO TAKE ACTION TO STOP THE KILLINGS OF ALBINOS IN MALAWI


“Media statement in solidarity with our fellow Malawian brothers and sisters with albinism” 
  1. PREAMBLE
The Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) as a social justice and advocacy arm of the Catholic Church in Malawi is appalled with the current abductions and killings of albinos being fuelled by an eschewed desire for wealth and riches. CCJP is saddened and at pains to note that some people, be they Malawians or not, believe albinos have, due to their status, mystical or magical powers in their body parts, that would make someone rich, and in some cases that would make someone cleanse him/herself from HIV and AIDs. Whilst CCJP acknowledges the efforts being made by various stakeholders, especially the media, local leaders and local security personnel, CCJP is worried and unsatisfied with the deafening silence and passivity from other key stakeholders, who in our considered view, seem not to see the contemporary problems faced by albinos as genuine problems to cause much national worry and coordinated interventions and responses. Therefore, CCJP is calling upon government and its relevant ministries (Home Affairs and  Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare), FBOs, CSOs, CBOs, local leaders and communities to take up various actions to stop this public menace and defend the plight of our albino brothers and sisters.


  1. CCJP WORRIES
  1. CCJP is worried that the Human Dignity of albinos is being denied as they are being reduced to an exploitative functional value of being a source of wealth for some people. Yet regardless of their albino status, which has clear biological explanations, just like many other physiological disorders or disabilities, they are normal human beings and need to have their human dignity upheld and respected by all.
  1. CCJP is similarly worried that the belief in sanctity of human life for all people is being denied from albinos with the belief that their body parts can be a source of wealth or healing powers.
  2. CCJP is further worried that in the contemporary world where science and biology have already given us many positive strides, we are failing to see that there is no difference between the body parts of an albino and non-albino. This is so even if we claim in many spheres of life that due to these, we are better civilized than our preceding civilizations. The emerging belief that albinos, due to their status, have inherent mystical or magical powers to make somebody rich or get healed is very surprising and inconsistent with our general hopeful and civilized outlook.
  3. CCJP has painfully noted that closer relatives and communities of albinos are also abusing the albinos by not providing proper care and in some cases are accomplices inthe abduction cases. We, in CCJP, wonder where our umunthu, our sense of community life and our sense of concern are gone.
  4. CCJP is extremely worried that in some strategic leadership quarters of this country, there is deafening silence on the ritual killing of albinos. This commission of silence and omission of action is morally wrong and sinful as it is contributing to the escalation of the human rights abuse of albinos who are no longer feeling safe and are lacking protection from the relatives, communities and the state.
  5. CCJP observes that the unshaken foundations of lethargy among loud Faith Based Organizations, Civil Society Organizations and International NGOs that tackle Human Rights issues for citizens is hypocritical and to a large and surprising  extent lacks solidarity with our fellow Malawians of albino status.
  6. CCJP realizes that poverty and the struggle to get out of it  is claimed to be leading to  a passive sponge approach of adopting every foreign belief that people hear. CCJP whilst recognizing the debilitating and dehumanizing capacity of poverty, does not, however, believe that ritual killing of albinos is a get way to riches and success. Rather, CCJP places this squarely on the human choice towards insatiable appetite for quick riches, hence the adoption of beliefs like ritual killings of the albinos. Therefore, it is a personal choice and not due to poverty that a human being takes an immoral and sinful decision to kill another in the name of seeking riches. It is a zealous and blind desire and worshipping of riches that is the source of these albino killings.

  1. OUR APPEAL
  1. CCJP recognizes and acknowledges the already existing roles of various stakeholders to stop this menace in our society. CCJP further realizes that it is not a responsibility of one person or institution but rather we need a collective and national action to completely root out this problem in our midst. We further contend that riches and wealth are only acquired through hard working, financial management discipline and investing and there are no proven linkages between the beliefs in magic or mystical powers to income generation. As such, no one should be fooled to take another person's life for the intention of getting rich. As our Social Teachings of the Church attest, a basic moral test of society is how it treats its most vulnerable members and that the poor have the most urgent moral claim on the conscience of the nation; in this case, our albino brothers and sisters have an urgent moral claim on our conscience to take action. Therefore CCJP is appealing to the following stakeholders for their prompt and immediate active engagement:
  1. Relatives to albinos:  As direct relations, your primary duty is to protect albinos who are becoming more vulnerable than before and must report of any strange developments to authorities in your area. You must desist from succumbing to this belief that your albino brother or sister has any source of mystical or magical powers for quick riches.
  2. Traditional doctors, Healers and Herbalists: You must go beyond condemning the ritual killings of albinos in Malawi by stopping cheating desperate people of ways to get rich quickly. Killing people has never and will never be a way of getting rich quickly as proven by your failure to get rich quickly whilst you continue to ply as traditional doctors.
  3. The Judiciary- From Traditional Courts, Magistrate Courts to the Higher Courts: You are requested to offer stiffer punishments to those caught in this inhuman act of abducting and killing albinos. Stiffer penalties will send lessons that will deter would be law breakers.
  4. The Police: You have been told time and again that there are a lot of Traffic Police Officers than General Duties Police Officerthat could help to combat crime. This misplacement of human resources is, among other things, contributing to the security lapses that are currently taken advantage of by criminals. We appeal to you to redeploy more personnel into crime combating and prevention from the road. We appeal to you to work with communities to build effective alliances for community security and in this case, the protection of albinos whose lives are in danger now than before.
  5. The State: We appeal to the Executive from the Office of the President, the Ministry of Gender, Child Welfare, Elderly and Disabilities and the Ministry of Home Affairs to categorically condemn these killings and make a public appeal that mobilizes the nation and various stakeholders to take action on the killings of albinos. Our government must give us the sense of direction and the commitment to deal with this menace once for all, as we in CCJP strongly believe it has capacity to do so. Our appeal to the state is emanating from our understanding of the Social Teachings of the Church on the role of the state that " Because we are social beings, the state is natural to the person. Therefore, the state has a positive moral function. It is an instrument to promote human dignity, protect human rights and build the common good".

  1. CSOs/FBOs/CBOs: Whilst committed to other interventions, our voice on this problem affecting albinos, our communities and country cannot be left to clean itself up. We need to be proactive, act in solidarity and raise the alarm, the voice, and the actions that will contribute to the national efforts of stopping this menace. As platforms for citizens voices and promoters of Human Rights, we CSOs, FBOs and CBOs cannot close our eyes and ears on this problem as that will smack hypocrisy of the highest order as in what we claim to fight for in our wider society; if not for the marginalized, the abused and those afflicted. Action now is needed.
  1. CONCLUSION
CCJP has issued this media statement in support of the good work that the media and other stakeholders have already embarked on in highlighting the plight of the albinos.  In solidarity with the rest, CCJP seeks to go beyond these mere reporting into activism. CCJP, however, realizes that for the killings of our albino brothers and sisters to stop, the nation needs multi-sectoral collaboration, effective criminal and justice systems as well as tightened security in our communities and our borders.  All these efforts need to be inspired by the love of humanity, the respect of human dignity, the respect of human rights and the acknowledgement of the sanctity of life in all human beings. CCJP firmly believes this can be seen and taken as an emergency to a very important part of our society therefore actions now than later are needed from all of us.

Chris Chisoni- 18th March 2015

On behalf the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

ZITHEKA! UK LAUNCHES A NEW INITIATIVE TO CHAMPION ENTREPRENEURSHIP AMONGST YOUNG PEOPLE IN MALAWI



Lilongwe, 16th March 2015:

Entrepreneurship and its role in supporting the growth of the economy is a topic of much debate in Malawi. As unemployment continues to be a major challenge for many Malawians especially young people, the British Council in conjunction with the British High Commission is working with Malawian organisations active in the area of entrepreneurship to raise more awareness of it amongst young Malawians and help them to recognise the potential entrepreneurship holds as a viable and attractive alternative to seeking formal employment by others. Through Zitheka! they are offering a free workshop on Thursday 19 March in Lilongwe where young people with an interest can learn from the experience of others and pick up new business skills to support their aspirations. The one-day programme will also feature a panel discussion, featuring distinguished guest speakers to discuss the question: Entrepreneurship in Malawi: Challenges and Opportunities – How can we make it happen?

Reena Johl, Director of the British Council in Malawi, says youth employability is critical to the success of the economy and overall wellbeing of society in Malawi and many other countries. “We are all aware of the challenges young people face in seeking gainful employment and want to help highlight how entrepreneurship can harness the potential and talent evident in young Malawians. There are undoubtedly challenges, but also there are many organisations already working hard to overcome these.” She says. “Through the Zitheka (Make it happen) project, we will be bringing together young people and organisations working in entrepreneurship to examine the existing challenges and look at possible solutions. We all have to encourage young people in Malawi to look at self-employment as a credible way to earn a living for themselves and in time to provide employment to others.  Ultimately, working with our partners we hope to strengthen and support long-term job creation in the Malawian economy and Entrepreneurship among the youth is one of the best ways to achieve this” Says Reena Johl.

This project is part of the ‘Entrepreneurial Africa’ campaign being launched by the British Council to further  support entrepreneurialism  in Sub-Saharan Africa where a quarter of all young people are out of work and not in education. This number is set to grow as populations grow if the problem is not addressed through collective action.

On 19 March 2015, Zitheka! Will host a workshop in Lilongwe at Gateway Mall for 200 young people who will attend ‘Master classes’ in subjects essential to starting a new business. These are business planning, resource mobilisation, product marketing and self-management and people skills.  Interested individuals between the ages of 18 and 35 years old may register by texting their name, age and gender to 0997 99 29 04. 

Through the panel discussion and ample networking opportunities the Zitheka! Programme provides, the 200 registered participants, access to a number of experienced entrepreneurs and experts who will share their knowledge as to how they can overcome business start-up challenges including financing, which is one of the problems young entrepreneurs face in Malawi.

The British Government is committed to supporting efforts in Malawi to increase youth employability and promoting economic growth, says British High Commissioner to Malawi Michael Nevin.  “A high level of unemployment amongst young people is a global problem which we all face. Working with young Malawians to improve skills, encourage entrepreneurship and promote social enterprise, we believe can help enable them to realise their potential and become active and effective agents of change in strengthening the country’s economy and society’s well-being” Says Nevin.

About Zitheka! Project

Zitheka! Is a new initiative to raise awareness of entrepreneurship amongst young Malawians and to encourage them to consider entrepreneurship as a viable route to employment for them and others.  Zitheka! Seeks to provide a forum to explore ideas, learn business skills, network with those who can provide support and above all motivate people to taking action!

Led by the British Council and British High Commission this first event will be delivered in partnership with Small and Medium Enterprise Development Institute (SMEDI) and the Jubilee Trust and supported by FDH Bank. 

About the British Council:

  • The British Council is the UKs international organisation for educational opportunities and cultural relations. We create international opportunities for the people of the UK and other countries and build trust between them worldwide.

  • We work in more than 100 countries and our 7,000 staff  including 2,000 teachers  work with thousands of professionals and policy makers and millions of young people every year teaching English, sharing the Arts and in education and society programmes.

  • We are a UK charity governed by Royal Charter. A publically-funded grant-in-aid provides less than a quarter of our turnover which last year was £781m.  The rest we earn from English teaching, UK exams and services which customers around the world pay for, through education and development contracts and from partnerships with other institutions, brands and companies.  All our work is in pursuit of our charitable purpose and creates prosperity and security for the UK and the countries we work in all around the world.

For more information, please visit: www.britishcouncil.mw . You can also keep in touch with the British Council through https://www.facebook.com/britishcouncil.malawi 

For media enquiries: please email info@britishcouncil.org.mw

Sunday, March 15, 2015

For Edward Chitsulo

...From the heart of Richard Chirombo

His counsel was interesting because it often was accompanied by a good cut of jokes.
A joke here. A lesson there. His journey in life thrived on these stepping-blocks.

No wonder, then, that his name never disappeared from the list of influential journalism teachers and mentors in the country, except, of course, when people were talking of bad teachers and misguided mentors.

Additionally, while we all have weaknesses that, sometimes, burden others like a memento of dead flowers, it is wise to remember that the manuscript of Atate Chitsulo did not type itself through imposition: Only through good works, professionalism, dedication, and an undying love for anything good did Atate Chitsulo manuscript of quality get deposited into our hearts and minds. And there it shall remain, especially now that he will no longer grace us with his physical presence, forever.

Those of us who were trained by him will forever feel like guests who arrived for his dinner party in time: So lucky in the sense that we got the dish of his wisdom while it was being served hot. It is up to us to keep the dish hot for those so unfortunate that they have arrived when the cooker of hot dishes is fleshly-gone.


No doubt, Atate Chitsulo was an interactive, interesting, even laudable character who, when compared to the other professionals of his ilk- the majority of whom are too selfish to share their knowledge with others-  or columnists- most of whom yap common sense without adding value to discourse- he was the closest thing to a perfect being.

Yes.

In the course of teaching a gullible individual like me (I am talking about the Advanced News Writing Course for which he was my lecturer), he was the only one capable of- when teaching about brevity; keeping it short, that is- telling us who he was, and what he wanted from us, and how he wanted us to do what he wanted us to do, and how we could get it right, and what it would mean to him as a mentor once we got things right, and what it would mean when we got, or did not get, what he wanted IN A MINUTE! Yes, he could say all this in a MINUTE.

Oh, what lessons in brevity!

Lessons in brevity were lessons in life, too.

Then, he could look up at us (you know he was short; like Albert Sharra or Ephraim Nyondo) from his desk and clear his throat. "Listen..." We lean forward, hungry to hear. Now it will be said, now we will hear the thing we long for.

“We do it this way…” he would start. He was not a negative person; he was unlike those amateurs who start with, “We don’t do it that way…” No. Atate Chitsulo always started from somewhere to nowhere; from something to nothing. Just like that.

That’s what great teachers do. They start from something. They start from somewhere. There is always somewhere. For example (this is what a certain teacher-friend of mine told me the other day), a Standard One Mathematics teacher starts from 1, 2, 3, 4…(maybe up to 9) before introducing 0 (zero) because zero is a negative number. And because Zero is needed when introducing TEN (10). 

Otherwise, Zero is a negative number. When you want to teach people something for the first time, you start from something- and Atate Chitsulo always started from something.

So, without him, how do we start from NOTHING? How do we start from Zero?
No. We can’t understand this.

He was too good a man. He, somehow, seemed to have the power to make dance the dullest minds!
Using this power- is it expertise?- he could make dull minds such as me shine and become part of the gravity of knowledge. He could revolutionalise a simple idea by sharpening the details, adding colour and momentum, and telling those who were willing to listen how to do things the proper way. He could ponder over an issue before colouring it with his knowledge. He could colour everything in its own different way.

Need I say something about his writing style? No. It spoke for itself. It speaks for itself.

Death might have ‘thought’ that it would pull a fast one on us by exiling Atate Chitsulo to eternal rest, never on earth to be seen again. It was wrong. His philosophy. His way of doing things. His (author’s) voice. They all have remained. With us.

As we plan to escort him to his last home in Chiradzulu (is it Chiradzulo?), let us not allow his motivational spirit to go with him, or get lost in time. Instead, let the lessons served from his hot dish stand pure and unsoiled by unethical journalism.

In celebrating his life, and remembering the good things he did, we shall have no grounds for shrinking under the shadow of death. We shall not let the shadow of this painful death colour our countenances.

No.

That will be akin to starting from nowhere.

Atate Chitsulo always started from somewhere.

The last time I met Atate Chitsulo in person, he said three words. “Go to school”.
That’s the teacher in him, not so?
And these were the last words.
And I go to school.
Living those words!


He may be a cadaver today (in body, that is); his words live on, though. And I can’t differentiate words from the spirit. Because both live after us. As we go to school, for example.

STATEMENT ON THE DEATH OF EDWARD CHITSULO

For immediate release, March 15, 2015
 

 
The Media Institute of Southern Africa – Malawi Chapter (MISA-Malawi) has learned with shock and sadness the death of veteran and renowned journalist Edward Chitsulo. Chitsulo died at Blantyre Adventist Hospital in Blantyre this morning, Sunday March 15, 2015 after a short illness.
 
MISA-Malawi sincerely condoles Chitsulo’s wife, children and family, his employers Nation Publications Limited, where he was Managing Editor until his death and the entire media fraternity, and joins them in mourning the loss of this inspirational and monumental professional.
 
To most media practitioners, he was not only a senior and respectable colleague but also a mentor, trainer and father figure.
 
Chitsulo will be remembered by journalists and Malawians in general as one of the champions of media freedom, freedom of expression and democracy as he led the media fraternity in its transformation to liberalisation between 1991 and 1994 as the country transitioned to multi-party system of government. 
 
Chitsulo was one of the pioneers of newspaper publishing during the transition period when he, alongside another journalist Grey Mang’anda, established GE Publications Limited which produced popular newspaper titles in the name of Michiru Sun and The Star which were key in the fight for multi-party democracy, constitutionalism, respect for human rights and liberalism in Malawi.
 
Chitsulo was one of the founding figures of MISA at regional level and contributed to its establishment in Malawi way back in 1997. He also played a leading role in the establishment of other key media institutions such as the Journalists Association of Malawi (JAMA), the Malawi Institute of Journalism (MIJ) and the Media Council of Malawi (MCM).
 
He had unwavering standards of professionalism and was a furnace that shaped the media profession in Malawi. 
 
In Chitsulo’s death, Malawi’s media has lost a pillar of strength, an icon of media freedom, a model of professional journalism, a fountain of wisdom and a caring senior colleague.
 
May the soul of Edward Chitsulo rest in eternal peace.
 
THOM KHANJE
CHAIRPERSON

 

CONDOLENCE MESSAGE ON DEATH OF MR. EDWARD CHITSULO

PRESS RELEASE


His Excellency the State President Prof. Arthur Peter Mutharika has learnt with deep shock the untimely death of Mr. Edward Chitsulo, who until his death on Sunday, 15th March 2015 at Blantyre Adventist Hospital was Managing Editor for the Nation Publications Limited (NPL).

The President joins all Malawians in expressing his condolences to the bereaved family, the NPL, the Media Institute of Sothern Africa – Malawi Chapter, the entire media fraternity and the Malawi nation for the loss of a journalist par excellence.

Mr. Chitsulo was not an ordinary media practitioner. He was a patriot who, through his writings, fought for and shaped democracy in Malawi. As a media trainer, he helped in the growth of the industry not only in Malawi but in the entire region. As an editor, he helped in the development of Malawi by sensitising our people regarding their rights and responsibilities.

He will be missed for his charm, his courage, his zeal, his skills and his willingness to share his ideas with all.

May the Almighty Lord sustain the bereaved family during this difficult time, and may his soul rest in eternal peace.


KONDWANI NANKHUMWA, MP
MINISTER OF INFORMATION, TOURISM & CULTURE
GOVERNMENT SPOKESPERSON
15TH JANUARY 2015

NYIKA MEDIA CLUB SADDENED WITH CHITSULO'S PASSING

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE



The Nyika Media Club joins the media fraternity in expressing shock and sadness at the passing on of Mr Edward Chitsulo, who until his death was Editor-In-Chief for Nation Publications Limited (NPL).

Nyika Media Club reckons how instrumental Mr Chitsulo was in shaping up the media landscape in Malawi through various contributions.

Mr Chitsulo was at some point a publisher championing pruralism and diversity in the media landscape, providing an opportunity for a number of the current leading practitioners to enter the journalism fray.

For years, Mr Chitsulo was also in media training transferring his unparallelled journalistic knowledge to a team that is not only the current shining light of the media landscape but also the future and institutional memory of the same.

As editor, Mr Chitsulo is remembered not only for mentoring and provoking thoughtfulness in the
journalists both young and old, but also in fearlessly campaigning for an independent media landscape, regardless of the political diversity, through authoring columns.

Nyika Media Club, with several members being those that drunk from Mr Chitsulo's fountain of knowledge, reckons that death has robbed it of someone whose acumen is obviously hard to replace.

We grieve with the family and the media fraternity generally and NPL in particular.

Signed:

Karen Iron Msiska - General Secretary

Chimbizga Msimbuko -President

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Blantyre City Council Arrests Three People for Littering


13th March, 2015
For immediate release

Blantyre City Council is informing members of the public and Blantyre residents in particular that it has arrested three suspects and handed them over to Police for littering as one way of enforcing bylaws governing the City.

On Thursday, Council security officers arrested two suspects for emptying garbage bin along the road in Limbe while another suspect was arrested on Friday for dumping waste at Chitawira Cemetery.

The suspects are Haji Yusufu Yakiti, 28 from Machemba Village, T/A Chowe in Mangochi, Issa Osten, 22 from Nsuwo Village, T/A Kalembo in Mangochi and Dickson Linyenga, 42, from Mlomba Village, T/A Machinjiri in Blantyre.

The three suspects are in custody at Limbe Police Station and will appear in court soon to answer a charge of littering.

Meanwhile, the Council is appealing to all residents and people in Blantyre to avoid littering anyhow and make proper use of the bins placed around the City.

The Council warns that it shall take action against any person who litters or being an owner or occupier of premises that accumulate waste on their premises or dumps the same on places not designated as dumpsites.

Take note that no waste or refuse shall be collected by the Council’s collection service unless it is deposited in an approved receptacle.
A clean Blantyre is Possible. It starts with you.

Signed

Anthony Kasunda
PUBLIC RELATIONS MANAGER

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Malawian Poets Struggle to Earn What is Theirs



For the Malawian artist, the completion of an art project - be it a mural, painting, portrait, or a poetry and music album - marks the onset of challenges - like a journey travelled half-way through.  This is because, in most cases, instead of jubilation, it is anger and longing for justice that follow, forming a gritty residue of frustration and helplessness. Not to mention a labyrinth of regrets, of course.  Take the issue of poets, for instance. For all their marshaling of words, their masterly at crinkling their lips into a smile or mourn after a masterful performance, and the tedious task of fixing their monocle-bare eyes onto the faces of the expectant members of the audience in the course of a live performance, they find it difficult to let their unified voice penetrate the concrete walls of the Copyright Society of Malawi (Cosoma)'s mind, an institution that was supposed to play hen-mother to them.  
 
“Cosoma, which is supposed to protect all artists, has been refusing  to protect us. We have even been told that Cosoma can only protect the interests of musicians, and we feel this is not on,” says Felix  Njonjonjo Katsoka, Poetry Association of Malawi's president.   Katsoka says poets' call for consideration has not borne the desired fruits, merely passing over Cosoma officials' heads into the windy distance of nowhere.   Poets, he says, now feel that the institution that is key to protecting and safeguarding their works has become a  master of delivering poetic justice.   They also feel that they have been left at the mercy of unknown  devices. This, he says, has not impressed the poets because Cosoma, despite being armed to the tooth by the laws of the land, and despite having a vast fund of experience in planning and carrying out anti-piracy programmes, has been up to its, sometimes, snap judgments.   “We have tried to talk and reason with them on the need to protect our works to no avail. This is one of the reasons we have been calling for the institution of a Culture Policy. We, really, need a culture policy because, apart from looking at issues like these, artists in the country will benefit from government's funding, as is the case with sports associations under the Malawi National Council of Sports,” Katsoka says.  Katsoka says the poets cannot understand Cosoma's current stand as, by forming their own association instead of working in isolation, they had hoped that life through one voice was less constrictive than that of isolated minds.   Cosoma's offensiveness has, therefore, troubled the poets, he says. 

Given a chance, he enthuses, they would have liked to be behind the steering wheel in safeguarding the intellectual property rights of poets, goading the fight against those who reap where they did not sow. As it is, they can only sit stiffly, and fume.   For the time being, however, now that their belief that Cosoma was there to protect musicians, poets and all the other categories of artists have been defeated; the poets will have to fend for themselves.   As reality would have it, however, Cosoma is not without reasons.  Responding to the concern in a written response, Cosoma's senior licensing officer, Rosario Kamanga, says, “It's difficult for me to understand what is meant by Cosoma ('s) refusal to offer royalties to poets” as protection hinges on proof of exploitation.   Said Kamanga: “What seems not to be appreciated is what royalties are. Royalties are, by their nature, given to individuals or rights holder associations whose works have been exploited and in their case their works need to be reproduced through photocopying, downloads or similar reproductions.   “Currently, the (poetry) association is already benefitting from a grant provided by the Royal Norwegian embassy through the cultural support Scheme and, should it be established that their works are being exploited through some of the means outlined above, then, the association is bound to benefit from royalties corresponding to the degree of exploitation.”   Film Association of Malawi vice-president, Ezaius Mkandawire, says his association also has problems with Cosoma, especially when it comes to getting intellectual property owners paid.   Mkandawire says, while Cosoma has been providing holograms on DVD films, protecting the owner of the art work goes beyond the provision of protection on DVD sales.   “We are looking at protecting the interest of all filmmakers including  those that make development films purposes for instance. These films get used on television however MBC asks for exorbitant fees before telecast. The correct way was that MBC needed to be paying for such uses,” Mkandawire says, adding:   “Cosoma has not done anything in making sure that owners of the work get paid their dues. The film Association of Malawi is, however, planning a stakeholders' meeting where, among other things, there should be a discussion to map the way forward regarding such issues. I am sure it is only here in Malawi where products on television which is run on tax-payers money get to be used for free by the nation while production houses pay tax in creating the works.”   Mkandawire says there is need to put in place strategies aimed at protecting the interests of all filmmakers, including those that make development films purposes for instance.   “These films get used on television. However, MBC charges exorbitant fees before telecast. The correct way was that MBC needed to be paying for such uses (but it doesn't),” Mkandawire says.   Book Publishers Association of Malawi executive director, Andrew Chisamba, says all original works were, “in principle”, entitled to protection.   However, Chisamba adds that, for such protection to be extended to works of art, art work owners are obliged to fulfill some obligations.   “For example, the originator of the work is supposed to deposit an original copy with Cosoma so that you may be protected. Cosoma also provides security features such as holograms on DVDs, music  (products); so, may be the poets don't buy holograms,” Chisamba says.   Adds Chisamba: “But, in principle, Cosoma has no limitations when it comes to protecting intellectual property and I don't see the reason why they would not want to protect the poets when they produce original work.”   In the end, however, looking at the poets and Cosoma's responses, it is clear that Cosoma and poets are merely swapping punches in the presence of the enemy - violators of intellectual property rights - to the advantage of the common enemy, but without working out any plan that is visionary.   While poets want Cosoma to state what its plans - and not views - are, when it comes to protection issues, it's only views that are coming out.   The warped logic of it all makes Katsoka laugh. The forced laughter of a man struggling to be impressed and happy!  The laughter fashioned by a sad mind. It is all because, for the time being, seeking Cosoma's protective hand is like looking for a needle in a haystack!