Thursday, October 23, 2008

Journalist assaulted

Malawi Police, on October 22, 2008 assaulted a Zodiak Broadcasting Station (ZBS) journalist Emmanuel Chibwana. Chibwana, in the company of a colleague, met his fate after Police overheard him saying why they were busy arresting and assaulting people found wearing camouflage gear and doing nothing on shop owners who publicly sell the outfits.

The comment irked the police who accused his of obstructive police officer on duty and detained a Chilomoni resident. However the matter was changed and Chibwana was later charged of putting on military apparel.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

UNDP withholds MEC’s K10m

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is yet to release about K10 million to Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) which the commission borrowed from government to purchase registration materials, Malawi News has established.

The UN agency is said to be asking for receipts for purchases made during the procurement of the registration materials and also mode of selecting the suppliers, a thing--according to sources within MEC and UNDP, has said the Commission is failing to provide the needed information.

UNDP set aside about K5 billion (US$ 28.9 million) under Democratic Governance Support for Electoral Reforms and Elections in Malawi which among other things included the provision of funding to the MEC for the procurement of electoral materials and implementation of activities.

A source at UNDP said MEC went ahead to source money from government to purchase the registration when the Commission thought UNDP was taking time to effect the identification of the suppliers.

“There was an understanding that UNDP will pay back the money which MEC got from government. We are committed to pay back the money to Malawi government through MEC and what we are asking them are receipts and procedures followed for us to effect payment,” said the source.

In October 2007 UNDP advertised for interested companies to supply materials for the registration exercise but the advert did not attract the intended response and due to the time limit MEC went ahead to identify suppliers and procure materials using government money.

In April 2008 Malawi Electoral Commission, through Malawi government, made a payment of about K10 million to an Australian company which won the supply tender on understanding that UNDP would reimburse the money to Malawi Government.

But Malawi News source at MEC said UNDP has expressed reluctance to pay the money to MEC in the absence of receipts and also is asking the Commission to outline the procedures followed to identify the contractors if they are in line with UNDP procurement procedures.

MEC Chairperson Anastasia Msosa admitted there were some delays of payment because of things to do with procurement but said discussions were underway and she was optimistic that the UN agency will pay the money.

“There are issues regarding procurement but I am sure they are going to be resolved and money will be paid. UNDP has already given us part of the money for other activities and this issue will be resolved,” she said.

The UNDP provides financial support to MEC for planning and implementing a focused programme across the country which among them includes implementing the civic and voter education activities with the support from accredited civil society organizations.

UNDP is also expected to provide support for actual conduct of elections.
When contacted for comment Sam Alfandika Project Coordinator for the UNDP Support to electoral reforms and elections in Malawi programme said he was at Mec in Blantyre and offered provide Malawi News with necessary information a thing he never did. Alfandika could not pick his phone as we went to press.

Msosa fate known in 2 weeks time

The future of Malawi Electoral Commission chairperson Anastasia Msosa would be known in two weeks time as the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has finally made its recommendations to the president.
Secretary of the Commission George Mandiwa said there was no rush to announce the JSC recommendations since the current MEC chairperson still has days in her contract.

“We will announce in two weeks time the recommendations made to the president.
We should appreciate that the current chairperson contract is still in place,” he said.
Mandiwa was tightlipped on the recommendations saying it would affect the outcome from the appointing authority.

JSC was expected to make a recommendation as to who would replace or renew Msosa’s contract at the MEC.

Responding to the question of her future at Mec Msosa said issues of contract were personal and that she still has days in her contract refusing to speculate about her future.

“Lets discuss the issues at hand about registration,” she said.

However former president Bakili Muluzi recently said he would preferred Msosa’s contract to be renewed citing time limit as the reason for his preference to maintain Msosa at the helm of the Commission.

But one political analyst Rafik Hajat was recently quoted in the media as saying it was important that a new person should be appointed to the position saying there were other judges who can ably handle elections like Msosa.

“Msosa is a capable woman and has handled elections well, but it would be imperative if a new person is appointed to the position,” he said.

Msosa was the chairperson who oversaw the first multiparty general election in 1994 she was however reappointed 10 years later to lead the commission for the second time.

Divorcing the orphanage centre syndrome

At every corner, at every junction in most districts in the country there is an orphanage centre. It is said that the country has over 1 million children orphaned at different ages mostly of them due to the HIV and Aids pandemic which has ravaged the country’s citizens the past 23 years.

As a quick response to the emerging problem of orphans orphanage centres sprouted almost everywhere in the country. It is fashionable for every church, every Jim and Jack opening an orphanage centre with a sounding number of its occupants as a sign of good will.

Good will it is, however the intervention has its own shortfalls surpassing the strength. Apart from some unscrupulous benefactors cashing on the less fortunate children’s misery, there are other disadvantages surrounding the orphanage centre system.

However, a Blantyre based Safe Hope has come up with a greenhorn way of addressing or looking at the problem of orphans and orphanages. The Safe House is a family of nine people with a mother and eight children.

The children of ages between nine and 15 are not of the same mother neither they are of the same father but nevertheless they are brothers since they now share the mother.

Located in the suburb area of CI in Blantyre eight children, the first entrant to the home, reside with a woman they call a mother and of course the motherly love they get from the woman they call mother.

The woman claims the children, all of them graduating from the streets of Blantyre mastering begging, she loves them like her own children. The woman, Lefa Mahonga said it was not easy to keep children under one roof who have spent their life living in the street.

“During the first weeks, they have been fighting among themselves, these children had harsh life in the street and two of them were practising witchcraft, but with patience and motherly love they have changed to become good children,” she said.
Mahonga said she is partially blind following the spell the two witches casted on her in their earlier days at the Safe Home when they were still practising witchcraft.

“I have forgiven them,” she said.

She said she managed to transform the children from delinquency, which they were to school going God fearing children.

One of the children, now attaining secondary education at one of the private schools in Blantyre Boniface Chitsulo, 17, described life in the street as harsh and abusive.
Chitsulo said street life is a dangerous world as children, male and female, are sexually molested, forced to participate in dangerous activities like stealing by either the watchmen guarding shops or gangs that terrorise people, all these in the name of protection.

“Young boys are being molested homosexually. I am glad that I left the street. I look at my new home as a real home with my mother and brothers,” he said.

The Safe Home system would be described as a perfect intervention on rehabilitating children who have been in the street as it gives them the needed family love, sense of belonging and values, according to the Social Welfare Officer Judith Zulu.

Zulu said most of the orphanage centres spouted, purportedly, trying to assist orphans or less fortunate children have missing vital components in their quest to rehabilitate the children.

“Orphanage Centres are more like boarding schools where children are just bundled together in one place; there are specific attentions to particular children’s needs, no family love and values. This does not help much in terms of making the children good citizens,” she said.

Most of the time, Zulu said many orphanage centres concentrate on the physical needs of the children than their spiritual, moral and emotional needs.

“The safe home is best model because children are given a home not a house for shelter.

The Safe Home was founded four years ago with the aim of giving street children and orphans a normal home and proper education.

The Founder Audrey Mwala said the Home is run by a board which source money from the well wishers and money which she realise leasing her house for wedding photo sessions.

She said she decided to establish a home not an orphanage with the aim of giving children a real family values and encourage them to be able to create relationships with other people.

“We face two challenges feeding the children as well as modelling them to become good citizens. These children, while looking innocent when begging in the street, are very angry and in dire need of behaviour change,” she said.

Mwala said so far she is satisfied with what the children are turning to be, now that all of them are at school with two doing their secondary education.

“We look forward to open a village with each home having not more than eight children, the idea is to encourage them to realise and understand brotherhood,” she said.