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Chikondi Chimala

Chikondi Chimala

 

Lilongwe, June 15: President Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika on Friday advised Universities across the country to prioritize research activities if they are to play a part in the development of the country.

Addressing the congregation during the graduation ceremony of Mzuzu University students at the Bingu Convention Centre (BICC) in Lilongwe, Mutharika who is also the Chancellor of the University of Malawi said government was committed to supporting all research activities that would bring about new innovations.

“For universities to compete at international level they need to be innovative enough to bring something new on the table and that is what the country is looking for,” he said.

He said this year’s budget allocation to education is a demonstration of government’s commitment to uplifting the country’s education system.
“The allocation for student’s loan facility has been raised from K4billion to K8billion which reflects 100 percent increase so that needier students should access education,” assured Mutharika.

Mutharika therefore called upon the graduates to repay their loans for other students to benefit.

He said government is committed to ensuring that Malawians access high quality and relevant education, adding that government would establish new public universities to increase university intake.

He revealed that Mombera university in Mzimba is making good progress as government is finalising efforts to identify a contractor for the project and construction work for the road that will lead to the university has commenced.

Aside from the research issue Mutharika advised the graduates to apply what they learned practically observing that education without its supporting actions was vain.

“We need educated people that not only rest on their knowledge but people who will be bold enough to change things in the country and help in its development,” Mutharika said.

He added: “The University is the highest place of learning and you will always be expected to be the best. Therefore, go and be the best in whatever you choose to do.”

He said Malawi needs labour force that is educated and the country’s education system must be good enough to instil relevant skills.

Chairman of Council for Mzuzu University, Dr. Fred Harawa commended government’s effort in developing tertiary education in the country.

He said so far government with its development partners is constructing different structures at Mzuzu University that will help enhance the education system.

Harawa however, lobbied for the speedy construction of the library at the university saying the one that they had was gutted down by fire in 2017.

“The University currently operates without a formal library and this has a negative impact on the academic life of the students,” he said.

On the graduation day Mzuzu University graduated 1,185 students and the President awarded K100,000 each to 15 students who graduated with first class degrees.

Mzuzu University opened its doors in 1999 with only 60 students currently the University enrols 5264 students in 37 programmes, which highlights a 900 percent increase.

Lilongwe, June 14: Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) has expressed satisfaction with the goodwill shown by the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology (MoICT) in ensuring that implementation of Access to Information Act comes soon.

MHRC Commissioner, Benedicto Kondowe on Tuesday made the remarks on the sidelines of the orientation workshop for the media and Nongovernmental Organizations on ATI at Crossroads Hotel in Lilongwe.

“Our desire as a commission is that perhaps by July, the minister should appoint the commencement date because the law specifically reserves the appointment of the commencement date into the hands of the minister.

“And we are pleased that there is a lot of goodwill from the MoICT in ensuring that this act should be rolled out.

And we hope that if we are to comply with our roadmap; we should be able to ensure the commencement date from the minister as soon as possible,” said Kondowe.

Commissioner Kondowe said the workshop is one of the few preparatory activities that need to be conducted towards the commencement of the law. He said these preparatory activities, which need to be concluded by end of June 2018; are crucial as they will orient different stakeholders involved in the law before its actual implementation.

“In this case, we have this orientation for members representing targeted media houses and heads of nongovernmental organizations.

“The whole idea is to orient them on what the law entails and the various responsibilities and obligations which have been placed on each one of them,” said Kondowe.

In the ATI, the HRCM has been granted the powers to enforce and provide oversight function while the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology has been given the powers to provide policy direction.

In case of any impediments in beating the July target; Kondowe said the HRCM would continue working hand in hand with the MoICT in order to build a common understanding for the betterment of Malawians.

Director of Information, Gedion Munthali said government would have preferred to start implementing the ATI immediately after its enactment but room was given to cater for some other equally important technicalities.

These, he said include mapping; which requires bringing in all stakeholders involved in the implementation of the ATI, identifying Information holders in all the institutions, validation of the communication strategy by all stakeholders and raising awareness.

“This law intends to benefit everyone including government, the general public, organizations and even the media. As such, every concerned party needs to understand the ATI and what is happening.

“But as of now, works are progressing on very well and we are happy that we are now approaching the end of this work,” said Munthali.

Parliament enacted the ATI law in 2016 and was assented to by the Head of State Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika in February, 2017.

Lilongwe, June 13: District Commissioner (DC) for Lilongwe, Lawford Palani has cautioned members of District Elections Supervisory Team (DEST) to be non-partisan and avoid promoting any political party ahead of 2019 tripartite elections.

He said this on Tuesday during a meeting for DEST members which was conducted as part of preparations for voter registration exercise which Malawi Electoral commission (MEC) is expected to roll out in Lilongwe in July.

Palani said he would not tolerate members of DEST favoring any political party or candidate ahead of the 2019 polls saying the practice may lead to conflicts between parties and dent the image of the council.

“My duty as DC is to make sure that we help MEC conduct a free and fair election without any political party accusing anyone of favoritism".

"Let me urge each one of you to be non-partisan so that we contribute to a free and fair election and build our nation together,” the DC pointed out.

He urged collaboration between government sectors and the civil society to ensure a smooth electoral process.

“I will soon meet with the multiparty liaison committee and all civil society organizations who will be involved in the electoral processes to remind them that as a council we expect them to be professional and leave aside their personal interests ahead of the tripartite elections,” Palani stated.

Assistant District Registrar (ADR) for Lilongwe, Patricia Zindaba said her office is working hand in hand with MEC to provide all the information needed in the registration process.

“We will make sure that even those in the remotest areas are provided with the information needed so that every Malawian registers,” she said.

Zindaba explained that said her office is still registering people for National IDs at the DC’s office giving a chance to all those that did not register months ago.

Lilongwe has 19 Traditional Authorities and a total of 470 registration centres hence attracting so much attention from politicians and political parties.

Lilongwe, June 13: In a bid to take the word of God far and wide through singing, the Chimbalame CCAP Church choir last Sunday launched ‘Mundilengere Mtima’ CD album at a function which took place at its main Station in Mtandire, Lilongwe.

Chimbalame Church choir is a group of 30 CCAP members formed some time back in 2008 with the purpose of uplifting the word of God. Meanwhile, the choir is launching its 3rd album after five years which they described as a long break.

The current CD album has been composed by the choir members themselves, all songs carrying messages of hope, love and salvation among others. Speaking in an interview with the Malawi News Agency (Mana), Chairperson for the Choir, Shenard Chizu Banda said the purpose of the current CD is to intensify the spread of the word of God to all levels of people through singing regardless of their denominations.

“We want to reach as many people as we can, despite their religious affiliation. We are concerned that nowadays a lot of people are going astray through immoral activities and we want to bring them closer to God through our songs,” Banda said.

Banda deplored the tendency by most people whom he said are doing wayward things forgetting that they were created in the image of God hence the songs to act as a reminder that they are images of God.

“Look nowadays people are misusing the image of God by doing immoral things; Christians have lost the right path and there is need to bring them back to Gods covenant because God is ready to forgive their sins,” he said.

The current album has ten songs that include Lero lino m’bale wanga, Manyano,Yona Mulungu, Ndabwera, Mwatenga mphatso zotani, Linali pangano and Mundilengele mtima as the title track among other songs.

Banda described the current CD as very substantial saying it has been produced by very talented people who are professional in the production circles.

“There is maturity in terms of production because it has been produced by Joseph Tembo who is an expert in the production field and no wonder people will be interested to listen to the songs,” Banda assured.

Fyson Zaliya a member of the church who also attended the launch said he was very inspired with the way how the choir possessed the songs saying there is maturity in terms of composition and production.

“I don’t regret spending my time listening to these songs, I have observed that there is talent and I am looking forward to having its DVD which they say will be out by September this year, so that I can keep on enjoying the songs,” Zaliya said.

Despite going through challenges during the process of releasing the album, the choir managed to source MK700 thousand to aid the production of the CD from among themselves and from well- wishers saying it wasn’t an easy job as most of the members are jobless while some are school going youngsters.

The choir has plans of shooting a DVD album come next September this year and invites support from all people who are willing to uplift their choir

Lilongwe, June 13: Minister of Health and Population, Atupele Muluzi said his Ministry will not extend Christian Health Association of Malawi (CHAM) services to non-communicable diseases due to limited resources.

Muluzi made the sentiments on Tuesday in the ongoing 47th 2nd meeting of Parliament.

He said currently services that are offered free of charge at CHAM facilities include maternal and neonatal services, He was responding to a question posed at him by Member of Parliament for Mchinji North East Alex Chitete, who wanted to find out whether the Service Level Agreement (SLA) which is there between the Government and CHAM hospitals could be extended to non-communicable diseases which he said are common among the population.

Muluzi said due to limited resources, the Ministry is only covering a few interventions in the Essential Health Plan (EHP).

The Health Sector Strategic Plan II (2017-2022) states that there is an intention to increase coverage of the EHP by gradually expanding the scope of SLAs with CHAM with the aim of achieving universal coverage of health services.

“Due to limited resources the Ministry is only covering a few interventions in the EHP. A study that was carried out in 2015, showed that to fully finance the essential health package in all eligible CHAM health facilities, it will require 14 million USD (over MK10 billion annually),” he said.

He added: “In the meantime, the Ministry is unable to cover the current SLA package and finances are being sourced from development partners as the Ministry has accrued a lot of debts with CHAM due to unpaid dues.

Therefore, it will be hard for the ministry to start covering for non-communicable diseases at CHAM facilities without the aid of donors.” Muluzi said CHAM health facilities form an important part of the health sector in Malawi.

He said they help the Ministry achieve its Health Sector Strategic Plan objectives (HSSP) of increasing health service coverage and ensuring greater access to services across the country.

Muluzi said this is so because CHAM facilities are often based in remote, rural areas not covered by any other health facility.

Mzuzu, June 13: Rumphi First Grade Magistrate Court Monday sentenced four men to two-and-a-half years’ Imprisonment with Hard Labour (IHL) for poaching in Nyika National Park.

Rumphi Police Publicist Tupeliwe Kabwilo told Malawi News Agency (Mana) that the four were charged with entering, conveying a weapon (two locally-made shotguns) and hunting in a protected area without a permit.

Wildlife rangers at Chilinda Camp spotted the four men armed with guns inside the park and managed to arrest and hand them to Rumphi Police Station on June 3,2018.

Kabwilo said special prosecutor on game related cases Charles John Mabethi, who is an Assistant Parks and Wildlife Officer, asked the court to offer stiff punishment.

“Mabethi argued that the four men planned the offence as they mobilised two guns and four live ammunition they were caught with.

“He added that the men mobilised themselves into a strong team of seven including the three that escaped which shows that if they were not stopped they could have killed many animals,” Kabwilo said.

In mitigation, the four convicts pleaded with the court to exercise leniency citing family responsibility as they all have wives and children to fend for and pay school fees for.

First Grade Magistrate Cuthbert Phiri concurred with the State and slapped them with 18 months for entering, 24 months for conveying a weapon and 30 months IHL for hunting in a protected area without permit.

The sentences for all the three counts will run concurrently.

The four convicts include a Zambian Stadwin Nyirongo, 69, of Kapilintunza Village in Traditional Authority (TA) Miyombe’s area in the neighbouring Zambia and others are Daniel Kaonga, 31, of Tchayasimbi Village Denis Kaonga, 58, and Jackson Kaonga, 53, of Kajikiti Village in TA Nthalire’s in Chitipa District.

Lilongwe, May 11, 2018: Member of Parliament for Machinga East, Esther Jolobala on Thursday bemoaned the increase of cases of abduction of persons with albinism (PWA) in Machinga District.

The MP was speaking at parliament in Lilongwe during the 47th session, saying 22 cases of abduction of persons with albinism have been reported this year in the district, including the incident of the death of a 22- year- old Macdonald Masambuka who was living with albinism.

“I am very concerned with how abductions of persons with albinism are increasing in Machinga. Currently, 22 cases have been reported this year, including the case of Macdonald Masambuka,” said Jolobala. 

She also bemoaned what she described as corrupt practices among police officers in handling the cases, alleging that among the 22 cases, not even a single case has been handled and that 15 files for the cases are missing.

Jolobala, therefore, urged government to put in place effective measures for handling such cases, saying currently, the cases take a long time to be handled.

“There is need to bring in effective strategies that will help in handling cases of abductions of persons with albinism,” she said and wondered why the cases were still increasing in the country.

In her response, Minister of Home Affairs and Internal Security, Cecilia Chazama said it was not true that 15 files of cases of abductions of persons with albinism were missing in Machinga as alleged by the MP from the district.

She said there was need for the legislator to bring facts to bear out the matter.

“I am not aware that 15 files concerning abductions of persons with albinism in Machinga are missing as MP for Machinga East said in this august house, and I really need the evidence from her in order to prove the matter,” said Chazama.

Lilongwe, April 20, 2018: Minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining Aggrey Masi has emphasised on the need to adopt technologies such as the use of drones in the surveillance of protected areas.

He made the remarks in Lilongwe on Friday during a joint commemoration of the 2018 World Wildlife Day and World Wetlands Day at Chigoneka Community Day Secondary School.

Chinese Ambassador to Malawi, Shi Ting Wang donated two high pack drones to Malawi government to help in the fight against wildlife crime.

Masi received the donation on behalf of Malawi government.

The Minister said he appreciates the donation saying it has come at a right time when the country is facing challenges in fighting wildlife crimes.

“The donation is timely and it couldn’t come at a better time than this. For this reason, we need to use technology if we are to effectively win the fight against wildlife,” he said.

The Minister made a commitment to protecting wildlife and preserving wetlands for the benefit of all.
The two events were held under the themes ‘Wetlands for a Sustainable Urban future’ and ‘Protecting Bi cats to Have the Big Five.’

Masi said the themes are befitting for Malawi saying wetlands and wildlife have economic value for Malawi through attracting tourists and agricultural production among other things.

He said the social economic value of wildlife is immeasurable hence the need to protect them.

Despite the economic value, the minister advised communities to desist from building in wetlands due to the fragile nature of such places.

“We are reminded that wetlands are fragile areas that easily get degraded. Last year some places in Lilongwe City were subjected to flooding due to encroachment of wetlands,” he said.

Masi observed that the country is facing challenges in wildlife and environment conservation hence the donation.

He said the world is a global village hence the need for countries to work together and adopt technologies that are widely used by other countries.

The Minister said it is for this reason that his government has made the donation which he said will be used in the fight against wildlife crime.

“The drones will go a long way in assisting Malawi protect wildlife and environment through aerial surveillance,” he said.

World Wetlands Day and World Wildlife Day are commemorated on February 2 and March 3, respectively.

Malawi commemorated the events on Friday because of other commitments while   March 3 is designated in the country’s Martyrs day.

On December 20, 2013 at its 68th session the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) proclaimed March 3, as the UN World Wildlife Day to celebrate and raise awareness of the World’s Wild Animals and Plants.

On the other hand, World Wetlands Day was adopted in 1971 to raise awareness about the value of wetlands for humanity and planet.

Karonga, 4 April 2018: Ministry of Health and Population says it will soon conduct a re-assessment survey on the prevalence of River blindness (Onchocerciasis) in Karonga District amid fears of spill-over of the disease from Tanzania.

Program Manager for Onchocerciasis Control at the Ministry, Laston Sitima, said on Tuesday the ministry will assess if Karonga has cases of River blindness after the disease was recently registered in Tanzania.

“We would like to conduct a survey to check on the prevalence of River blindness in the district. Tanzania had the disease and it is feared that there might be spill-over to Malawi due to cross-border relations and activities,” said Sitima.

Sitima said the ministry has so far embarked on community sensitization on the disease before it commences testing people of the same in targeted communities.

“We are conducting awareness meetings to ensure that communities are well informed of the up-coming survey and to clear out misconceptions about the survey which some people may have,” he said.

Karonga District Health Officer, Dr Phinius Mfune, commended the ministry for the survey, saying results of the exercise will be used for planning in the event that there are cases of River blindness in the district.

River blindness is a vector borne disease caused by black flies, locally known as Zipwiti and Chinyiriri.
The disease leads to total blindness and an infected person’s skin turns like that of a lizard and leopard as a result of scratching if it remains untreated for a long period of time.

The survey will be conducted in 34 villages, targeting learners aged between 10 to 14 years in 30 primary schools. It will also target persons from five years above in the villages.

The last survey was conducted in 1997 and eight districts, including Karonga were put under mass drug administration against River blindness.

Mangochi, March 22, 2018: Mangochi First Grade Magistrate Court on Tuesday convicted and sentenced 23-year-old man, Akidu John, to 8 years imprisonment with hard labour (IHL) for defiling a five-year-old minor.

The court heard through Police Prosecutor Sub-lnspector Maxwell Mwaluka, that the minor’s family and the accused person lived in the same compound and that the offence was committed on the night of January 20, 2018.

Mwaluka said on the day, the mother had left her two daughters, the minor and her 12-year-old sister when she went to Greenland Bottle Store to give her husband food where he was working as a barman.

According to the prosecutor, back home, the older sister left her little sister asleep and went to their neighbour’s house nearby. John, the accused, took advantage of the situation and sneaked into the house to defile the girl.

“He used a piece of cloth to cover the girl's mouth so that she should not scream and when he was done, he fled the scene leaving the minor gagged and traumatized,” explained Mwaluka.

He added: “When the mother returned, she found her little daughter groaning with pain, pointing at her genital area and upon close observation, the mother found semen around the minor’s genital area.”

The court further heard that the little girl explained that John had sneaked into the house and that he had defiled her.

The news shocked the mother and called her landlord and neighbours to witness what had happened.

The matter was reported to Mangochi Police Station who acted on it and took the girl to Mangochi District Hospital where it was proved that she had indeed been defiled and that led to the arrest of John.

The accused pleaded not guilty before the court but the state paraded four witnesses who testified against him.

The court found John guilty and the state prosecutor asked for a stiff custodial sentence to isolate the accused from the society.

The presiding First Grade Magistrate, Ronald M'bwana, concurred with the state and sentenced John to eight years IHL in order to deter other would-be offenders.

John hails from Mtalimanja Village, Traditional Authority Mponda in Mangochi District and his offence was contrary to Section 138 of the Penal Code.  

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