Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Court set May 4 for Madonna adoption hearing

Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal in the capital city Lilongwe will sit on May 4, 2009 to hear the appeal case which Madonna’s lawyers launched following Judge Esme Chombo’s ruling rejecting Madonna’s adoption bid.

Madonna, on April 3 got the shock of her life when Chombo denied her to adopt a three year old Mercy Chifundo James after she had already stayed with the girl for four days. Madonna left the country after failing to get Mercy but said instructed her lawyer Allan Chinula to appeal the judgement.

High court registrar Joseph Chigona confirmed the new dates.

But Chigona refused to disclose Chinula’s grounds for appeal saying that it could be pre-empting the case itself.

In her ruling Chombo said Madonna could not adopt Mercy because [Madonna] did not fulfil the requirement in the Adoptions of Children Act of 18 months residence and foster care.

Having said all this then, at the end of the day I must decline to grant the application for the adoption of the infant CJ,” read part of Chombo’s judgement made in chambers this 3rd day of April 2009

NGO’s in Malawi have been fighting the adoption bid and hailed Chombo’s judgement.

Mess in voter registration threatens election in Malawi

With only 27 days to go to elections, most Malawians are yet to know whether they are going to cast their votes as their particulars, in the voters’ registration book, are mixed up.

Electoral Commission (EC) suspended the voter verification exercise when it was discovered that most names and photographs of the would-be-voters in the computer could not match with those on the voting cards.

This is the first time Malawi has compiled names of the voters in a computer.

In a country that have no national identity cards and with only less than 500,000 owning passports it would be difficult to identify or verify the identity of the would-be voters. Malawi has got a population of over 3 million.

But EC assured Malawians that the mess in the registration will be sorted out and people will be able to vote in the May 19 elections and have since employed 500 teachers to verify the names before taking them to the public again.

All political parties urged EC to suspend the voter verification exercise and sort out the mess in the registration book because it could disfranchise some people.

EC is yet to announce a new date for voter verification exercise. About 5.9 million Malawians are expected to cast their votes in the forth coming election.

Over 1000 people from political parties and independent are aspiring for 193 seats in parliament and seven people are contesting for the presidency.

Millions of people are likely to fail to cast their votes if the mess could not be sorted out in time.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Malawi divided over Madonna adoption failure

Madonna adoption failure has divided the country with common people accusing the courts and Non Governmental Organisations of sabotaging chances of good living for three year old Mercy Chifundo James, however the NGOs have put their foot down that they could not allow Madonna to bend the laws of the country.

Madonna left the country a day after Judge Esme Chombo threw out her application to adopt Mercy Chifundo James, she however instructed her lawyer Allan Chinula to appeal against the ruling. The court is yet to set the new date for the fresh hearing.

However ordinary Malawians believed that the courts could have used the ruling in 2006 that allowed Madonna to adopt another Malawian boy David Banda to facilitate the adoption of Mercy Chifundo James.

In 2006 Madonna controversially succeeded in adopting David Banda amid court fights and objects from NGOs over the adoption laws.

“Malawians would take advantage of Madonna’s generosity to allow her to adopt more orphans who would lead a good life elsewhere. We can not afford to take care of all these orphans,” said James Taulo, a concerned citizen.

In Malawi a foreigner is allowed to adopt a Malawian child after staying in the country for 18 months. However the laws were bent when the high court allowed Madonna to adopt David Banda before staying 18 months in the country.

Government then appointed personnel from Ministry of Gender, women and Children development to be monitoring Madonna for 18 months before the court made an adoption ruling which formally recognised Madonna as the mother to little David.

But Madonna second attempt to adopt another child in Malawi met resistance as NGOs accused Madonna of taking advantage of the laws of Malawi to whisk children out of the country. The NGOs called for orphans to be raised in their own communities.

Human Rights Conservative Committee (HRCC) described Madonna’s second attempt to adopt another child in the country as ‘kidnapping’.

Chairperson of HRCC Mabvuto Bamusi said adopting two children would not solve the orphan problems in the country.

“Children have to grow in the family set up. The country has over 2 million orphans. Will all of them going to be adopted? Let us be serious,” he said.

Plan International, a child development organisation, welcomed Judge Chombo for the landmark of declining Madonna’s adoption of a second African child saying the organisation endorses the keeping of children within their community.

A Plan spokesman said: “While Madonna’s intentions were no doubt well-meant and while we feel for her in this case, whisking a single child off to a ‘fairytale’ lifestyle in Hollywood is not something we condone. We endorse keeping children within their community wherever possible, where there is often extended family nearby.

“We believe a better way for her to help would be to act as a champion of change and use her celebrity status and profile to influence government and businesses to ensure a better life for the country’s children. That way all Malawi’s children would benefit and not just one or two.”

But government, through its spokesperson Patricia Kaliati, expressed sadness on the turn of events saying it was supporting Madonna’s efforts to adopt a second Malawi child.