Malawi News Online (17) - 10/04/96

Malawi News Online (17) - 10/04/96


A fortnightly update of news from Malawi

Edition No: 17 4 October 1996

MALAWI NEWS ONLINE is written by Malawian journalists in Malawi and brings you the news from their point of view. It is assembled and edited in Denmark by South Africa Contact, the former anti-apartheid movement, publishers of i'Afrika, a quarterly magazine on Southern Africa.

The fortnightly news updates from Malawi are provided by our established network of journalists in Southern Africa. They will be followed, in the not too distant future, by individual news updates covering other Southern African countries, ZAMBIA NEWS ONLINE being the latest.

MALAWI NEWS ONLINE is brought to you by a co-operation between South Africa Contact and Inform, the leading alternative information network in Denmark.


In this edition:












Hannover is the name of a city in a Germany. But next time you are in Blantyre, Malawi's commercial city and hear about the Hannover trade, do not be mistaken into thinking that Malawi has notched a trade agreement with any country.

They are talking about women who hang out along Hannover Street in Blantyre at night and indeed enter into trade agreements in which the commodities are nothing but their bodies. They are referring to the world's oldest profession which some young girls in Blantyre make no secret about as their source of bread and butter - prostitution.

Malawi has for ages been trade marked 'The warm heart of Africa' and indeed, many a visitor to this tropical-weathered, but poverty stricken country has gone back home nursing a holiday-hangover due to the memorable time spent on holiday in the warm heart of Africa. Ask any of these visitors what qualifies Malawi to be so appraised, apart from the magical waters of Lake Malawi, and they will talk of the friendly smiles and hospitality of Malawians.

The hospitality, however, has nothing to do with the commercial sex offered by the woman who stands in dark corners, in the middle of the road and under the roofs of corridors along Hannover Street plying her trade. The warm heart of these girls is of a different kind. This type of trade is the pure trade of lust and risks. Ironically, those involved in it claim that it has benefited many in this poverty stricken country.

Ask Hawa Mbewe for example. She has all the answers to questions you can ask her about Hannover and what goes on along the street - the good and the bad part of it. At 22, Hawa has done what the majority of university graduates in Malawi cannot do after working for five years. She has built herself a semi-executive house valued at over K80,000 (US$5,340) in the sprawling shanty, Mbayani, a stone's-throw away from the hustle and bustle of Blantyre from trading her body to various clients who cannot resist her looks upon seeing her on Hannover Street.

Occasionally, Hawa changes her trading posts to other entertainment joints in the country. "entertaining clients is a special art. If you do it right, the customer will come back, as memories of the good times will haunt him even after flying thousands of kilometres overseas to Europe or America," says Hawa.

She says that although she prefers the 'up-market' class of foreigners and expatriates as her special clients, sometimes she gets hooked by some locals just for the fun of it to alleviate what she calls "worries of some disgruntled husbands with their family problems." But she says locals are a problem in that they like abusing the women by sometimes just using them without paying for the services they render.

To prevent falling prey to such "scoundrels of customers", Hawa says - and most of her friends - they engage the services of personal body guards. These range from thugs in the shanties around Blantyre to security watchmen guarding the premises and offices along Hannover Street and the other streets nearby.

Stella Banda,18, who has been a prostitute for over five years says apart from providing protection in times of need, security guards also provide rooms in and around premises they guard where the prostitutes can take their "short time" customers, for a small fee. "The watchmen are usually bribed, amounts ranging from K10 upwards, for providing us with shelter to entertain customers who cannot afford our full-time rate at a rest house or hotel, or are in a hurry to spend a long time with us."

Stella considers herself one of the reasonable prostitutes, charging K200 for short time service and any amount over K350 for the whole night, excluding the costs of beer and accommodation. She says some trustworthy watchmen, who find it easy to provide accommodation and protection, are given an allowance of K200 as retainers every month. Several watchmen confirmed they are hired by night raiders to do some errands for them ranging from protection, hiding the more discrete customers and alarming them of any impending danger, more especially when rogue and vagabond patrol police are approaching.

"Ndi pa tauni pano amwene ndingatani? (This is town my brother, what else can I do to supplement my meagre salary apart from playing to the tunes of these prostitutes?)" said one security guard. He says the scenes they see at night are very nasty and they only accept to give room just because of poverty. Another watchman lamented that when the going gets tough for the prostitutes, for instance when they are running away from police and other angry clients, they are compelled to hide them until they are of danger.

"We do this but are risking our jobs. What if our bosses decide to come at night and find out we entertain these acts taking place around premises that look decent during day time?" he questioned. The guard, however, "questioned the sense of other respectably looking gentlemen who leave the comfort of their homes and their wives to come to Hannover Street and indulge in adultery around stinking alleys".

He also expressed concern that contrary to the numerous warnings, bill boards, radio and press advertisements on the dangers of AIDS, people, both local and foreign, still preferred to have sex with high risk groups such as these 'Hannover girls'. Authorities, of course do not condone prostitution and neither do tourism officials who clearly state that tourists do not come to come to this country for sex. The tourism ministry abhors the tendency of some owners of rest houses and motels who use their facilities as brothels.

Willie Chingaru, police spokesman on the issue of girls hanging around entertainment joints and public places at night says: "The police have the power and the authority to arrest any woman found loitering at night and they can lock them up any time." Others feel that the starting point would be for the police to curb this increasing trend in prostitution by rounding up the watchmen and security guards.

Recent statistics show that Malawi and Zimbabwe remain in the lead in HIV/AIDS occurrences in the SADC region.


A reconciliatory meeting of Malawi's leading parties scheduled for October 7 , to be brokered by a human rights body, Malawi Institute of Democratic and Economic Affairs (MIDEA), remains the only hope to break the impasse between government and the opposition over the latter's boycott of parliament.

Leader of the Opposition in parliament and MCP vice president Gwanda Chakuamba, whose party - along with Aford - has been boycotting parliamentary sessions, said one of the main items lined up for discussion during the meeting was the issue of appointing cabinet ministers from the opposition. President Bakili Muluzi's retention and appointment of cabinet ministers from Aford after the break-up of the coalition was the main reason for the walkout from parliament.

All parties boycotted a Public Affairs Committee offer last week to bring them to the negotiating table over several pressing issues that have caused a rift between government and opposition.

The opposition has maintained its stand on, saying on 26 September that PAC had lost credibility to broker such an Indaba because its chairman, Lutheren pastor Joseph Bvumbwe was pro-UDF. Bvumbwe is trustee chairman of the disputed reconstructed Press Trust, a position he accepted from the UDF government and which the opposition says compromised his neutrality.

Both Aford and the MCP have vowed they would not return to parliament until Muluzi stopped "poaching" members of parliament without the consent of the parties on whose ticket they are MPs, or until the ministers from the opposition were declared to have crossed the floor to the ruling UDF.


Malawi risks losing British aid if over-expenditure is not checked, British High Commissioner to Malawi, John Martin warned September 26.

He said his government was concerned that in the first quarter of the 1996/97 fiscal year the Malawi government overspent by almost K300 million (US$20 million). "We make quite a substantial contribution to the 40% of the recurrent budget and we have interest in over 60% of the development budget," Martin said.

His remarks came at a time when Britain is considering giving Malawi K480 million (20 million pounds sterling). The High Commissioner said the decision on this will depend to a certain extent on whether the Malawi government will get expenditure under control in the second quarter. He said his government is concerned that Malawi is losing a lot of revenue through corruption, citing the Customs and Excise Department where he said government is unable to collect 20 to 50% of its revenue. He welcomed the establishment of the anti-corruption bureau, saying Britain is ready to provide technical advice.


The Seventh Day Adventist Church has added its weight to complaints about rising insecurity in the country. Representatives told President Muluzi that people lived in fear and uncertainty, expecting the worst to happen to them or their property at any time.

"While we appreciate government's efforts in trying to enforce law and order, we as a church believe there must be total law and order," said Pastor Wenson Masoka, leader of a nine-member Malawi Union of the SDA delegation that called on the president.

Masoka complained to the President that some employers and school institutions were forcing his SDA Christians to work or take part in sporting activities on the Sabbath Day, Saturday, which he said was contrary to SDA teachings. "Some of our Christians have been threatened with dismissal for simply following the church's teachings as portrayed in the Bible," he said.

Muluzi said in response to the concerns and requests for assistance from the church that the government would consider how to assist in renovating some of its schools and health institutions which he said were important to the welfare of Malawians, adding that the church and state were partners in progress. Muluzi said the government was equally concerned about security and that this was one of his government's priorities.


Malawi's tourism industry received a boost September 24 with the signing of a contract by a Malaysian company and Malawi Development Corporation to build a K300m (US$20m) 150-bed hotel - the biggest in the country - in Blantyre. Dato Leong, Chief Executive of the Malaysian company involved, G-Two Holdings, investing in Africa for the first time, said he was impressed with Malawi, adding that he thought the country had a lot of potential for upmarket tourism investment. He also announced his intention to build a modern holiday resort in the lake shore district of Mangochi.

MDC's, General Manager Elvas Kadzako said the two firms had also discussed other joint ventures such as the establishment of a mortgage bank, a commercial bank and a low cost housing project.


President Bakili Muluzi on September 24 accused his predecessor, Hastings Banda of having swindled the government out of K82 m (US$5.6m ) for personal use, just before the general elections that ousted him in 1994. Muluzi said he had an audit report on the alleged fraud which he said he would submit to the newly established anti-corruption bureau.

Addressing a rally in his home district, Machinga, some 120 kilometres east of Blantyre, in a live broadcast on MBC, Muluzi also described Banda as "the most corrupt leader in Africa".

Muluzi at the same time launched a barrage of attacks on print journalists, whom he accused of receiving money from former cabinet minister Rolf Patel, who has launched his own political party, to write malicious stories against his government.

Reacting to the accusations, MCP Secretary General L. Munlo lashed out at Muluzi for abusing the state run radio to make what he termed baseless allegations against people who cannot answer back using the same forum. Munlo wondered why the president had kept quiet on an audit report of this nature, only to disclose its contents at a public rally when he was angry and shaken by the wave of criticisms against his government.

Munlo said Muluzi was just out to take revenge on Banda because the former leader sacked him when he was secretary general of the MCP. Munlo called on the president to probe other corruption malpractice's, among others the FieldYork notebook scam involving the present UDF Secretary General Sam Mpasu.


Sporadic cases of measles have been reported in the central and southern regions of Malawi. Health officials say they have mounted a vaccination campaign that is expected to prevent the outbreak from reaching epidemic levels.

Rhoda Kammwamba, assistant maternal child health officer in Blantyre said 34 cases from Blantyre city south had been reported. Most of the patients found with the disease were more than five years old, while others were up to 15 years old. By September 24, some 53 cases had been treated at one health centre in Zingwngwa township alone. Most of the patients were treated as outpatients.

Health officials in the central region said there were reports of sporadic cases in Mchinji, Salima, Dowa and some parts of Dedza.


A founding member of the opposition Alliance for Democracy (Aford) and a member of parliament Dr Dennis Nkhwazi died in a South African hospital on Saturday after a long illness. Nkhwazi, 57, who languished in detention from 1972 to 1977 under the one party state, was one of the prominent opposition figures who spoke out against the one party dictatorship when the wind of change started blowing across Malawi.

He was earlier hospitalised in Germany and South Africa for six months and returned home last July. In 1992, along with Aford president, Chakufwa Chihana, and with the support of few other people in exile, they launched Aford as an underground pressure group which was later to become a fully-fledged political party.

He became the MP for Rumphi East, north Malawi, where Aford commands biggest support, in 1994 during the country's first multi-party elections. He was appointed minister of Transport and Civil Aviation when Aford went into a coalition with the ruling United Democratic government. He was later dropped in a cabinet reshuffle, but continued to command a strong influence not only in his party but also in parliament. During the last sitting of parliament, he tried to sell the idea of a federal system of government which was yet to be accepted.

He was also a founding director of Phwezi Foundation for Education of which he was general secretary until his death. Dennis Greyshan Simphawaka Nkhwazi is survived by a wife and five children.


Outgoing European Commission head of delegation, Peter Christiansen has warned politicians not to destroy democracy by avoiding give-and-take on important issues. "If you are to make democracy work, you have to compromise. There is no winner, nor loser," Christiansen said at a press briefing at the end of his three year tour of duty in Malawi. He said although democracy is not the best system it is much better than dictatorship, adding that it was the politicians who destroy it.

He commended the judicial system in the country which he said has made a very good contribution but said politicians should stop commenting on judgements and accept them.

On corruption, Christiansen said it is still a major danger in any country and said everybody must provide information rather than accuse government of not doing anything on rumours about corruption. "I'm get a little upset when some ex-ministers talk about it without coming up with evidence," said Christiansen, adding that the Anti-Corruption Bureau must be given time.

He expressed disappointment with the Malawi Broadcasting Corporation saying it was a pity the broadcasting act, which gives overriding powers to the minister responsible for the radio, is still in force well into the multiparty era.


From: (Africa_news Network) Subject: MALAWI NEWS ONLINE - 17 Date: 30 Oct 1996 10:10:36 GMT Message-Id: <>

Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar

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