Malawi News Online (35) - 10/9/97

Malawi News Online (35) - 10/9/97


Edition #35 9 October 1997

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The question of who should benefit from or will inherit the property of former state president Kamuzu Banda has always raised emotions among his relatives who strongly suspect they are or might be treated to a raw deal by other interested parties. This fear has never caused so much consternation as now to the extent that the relatives, the Chendawaka family of Kasungu, have engaged a legal firm to look after the investments and assets that the retired president amassed during his 31 year rule.

"The family has responsibility both under custom and legislative law to look after Kamuzu's property and they cannot leave these obligations entirely to employees," said Khuze Kapeta, a partner in the law firm Benhard and Harris.

The Chendawaka family, Kamuzu's paternal relatives, suspect that the Kadzamira family and the Dedza clique which has always been very close to Banda, now aged 100, have been ripping him off for millions of kwacha for quite a long time. The Dedza clique includes Cecilia Kadzamira, who was Banda's official hostess, companion and confidante during the entire 31 years of Banda's rule, and opposition Malawi Congress Party vice president, John Tembo, who is an uncle to Kadzamira. Banda is not married.

The other interested party in Banda's property is MCP, the political party that Banda helped found and run after he returned from exile in 1959 and is believed to be funded by Banda's vast investments and assets. Even after losing his shareholding in the Press Trust, the profit fund for Press Corporation Limited, Banda is still the richest man in Malawi. His investment portfolio covers such diverse areas as estate farming throughout the country, real estate, printing and publishing (he owns the biggest printing press in the country). Like most African presidents of the older generation, he also has substantial investments and bank accounts overseas.

The move by the Chendawaka family to engage a lawyer has been prompted by the recent mortgaging of the Chayamba Building, Banda's office complex in Blantyre, to the amount of K25.5 million (US$ 1.5 million) from the Commercial Bank of Malawi. Kapeta said that the family is worried about the deal and questions the manner in which it may have been struck. However, he declined to comment on the mortgage but said action would be taken against the bank if it was discovered that the deal was not above board.

"The family has also questioned the management of some of Bandaís real estate property such as Chibisa House also in Blantyre and other assets situated in Malawi as well as overseas. The family has taken cognizance of these public concerns as it is part of our instructions to examine all these purported actions," he said.

Another interested party in Banda's investments and assets is the government. It has said that it has a responsibility to protect himand his property due to his position as a former head of state. However, government's interest in the property is double-edged and mainly aimed at weakening the opposition MCP which is alleged to be receiving funding from Banda without his consent. The government of Bakili Muluzi wants to block this funding. Kapeta said the family has had access to some memoranda which had been couched in language seemingly to influence Banda to make decisions on matters too complex for him to understand given his advanced age.

He also said government has responsibility under the law to protect Banda's property. When dealing with Dr Banda, one cannot ignore the role of government because he is the retired president of this country, he said, and under act number 24 (presidents, salaries andbenefits act), various responsibilities are spelt out governing the retirement of a former head of state.He said the government could, therefore, not be expected to ignore the need to support the Chendawaka family in its efforts to protect Banda.

Due to his old age, senility and poor health, the High Court earlier this year discharged Banda from what the government's chief prosecutor, Kamudoni Nyasulu, described as a master fraud charge. In the case,Banda, Kadzamira, Tembo and another MCP official, Louis Chimango, who were all trustees of the Press Trust in 1985 when the fraud is alleged to have been committed were accused of defrauding the trust of US$10 million. This was on the pretext of using the money for running Kamuzu Academy, the grammar school Banda built in his home district, Kasungu, central Malawi, modelled on British grammar schools.

Medical experts also certified Banda unfit to stand trial in person in 1995 in another case, in which he was charged with murdering four politicians in 1983 together with Kadzamira, Tembo and a number of policemen. The two incidents have put Banda's poor health in the limelight and rekindled people's curiosity as to what will happen to his property. This has in the process pitted his relatives and other interested parties against each other in a war of words. Banda's relatives recently accused Mudi Residence (where Banda stays), of trying to block their efforts to pay a visit to the old man, a charge which the Mudi administration denies.

For the time being, the verbal war rages on. However, as long as Banda is alive, all the interested parties will have to hold their breath. This is because nobody knows what lies in Banda's will and, unfortunately, this will not be known until he dies. And that is really when a do or die battle will start.



At long last, there is a ray of hope that Malawians wishing to establish independent radio stations may see their dreams become a reality. This follows the establishment of a task force to look into issues pertaining to licensing and the allocation of frequencies by the government.

Principal secretary for Information, Beaton Munthali, said the inter-ministerial task force which is already meeting will eventually turn into an independent regulatory authority that will cover all communication sectors in Malawi.

He said the six-man task force is comprised of the law commissioner, an official from each of the ministries of justice, information, finance, the privatization commission and the Malawi Posts and Telecommunications corporation. The group has already toured Ghana, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and South Africa to learn how such bodies have been instituted and how they function.

Munthali said all along the responsibility of issuing licenses lay in the hands of MPTC, but that the corporation was a concerned party as it also runs other subsidiary companies, including Malawi Television and an internet firm. He said the body to be established would deal with all aspects of communication on a professional level in view of the fact that the sector is becoming increasingly competitive globally.

ìThere is stiff competition in the sector internationally and our systems have to meet international standards,î he said. Presently, MPTC is both an operator and regulator which is not an ideal situation.

Asked if the task force would see the surfacing of independent radio stations in the country, he said this would be a reality if Malawi takes a leaf from the Ghana experience, whose task force, which is now a commission, started issuing licenses even before it became a commission. ìThe airwaves were regularized before a regulatory body was put in place,î he said. He added that this was why the task force would use study tours to learn from the experiences of other countries.Munthali said the body set up would be transparent.

The formation of a body to look into issues of radio licensing was first announced by former information and broadcasting minister, Brown Mpinganjira, during the commissioning of Malawiís second radio channel following an outcry from disappointed persons whose applications for licenses had been rejected.


Amid finger-pointing between state president Bakili Muluzi and Malawi Congress Party president Gwanda Chakuamba, as to who should apologise for the atrocities linked to the MCP during its 31 year rule, Chakuamba has taken a swipe at Muluzi and demanded an apology from him for allegedly influencing his imprisonment in 1980.

Chakuamba said on September 25 that Muluzi should first apologise to him and the MCP for influencing his arrest and imprisonment in 1980, as a result of which he languished in jail for 10 years. This was also repeated by two senior MCP officials, administrative secretary, Brian Mungomo, and publicity secretary, James Chimera, at a press conference in Blantyre.

Both Mungomo and Chimera have said that if Muluzi ëwants to take us for political gains we will lay him bareí. They said that records indicated that when some individuals in the MCP wanted to solve the issue that got Chakuamba arrested, Muluzi, then secretary general of the MCP, opposed them and insisted that ëhe must be dealt withí.

The two MCP officials also claimed that Muluzi was on record as having welcomed the arrest in Zambia in 1983 of long time Kamuzu Banda critic, the late Orton Chirwa, together with his wife and their son, which incident they alleged Muluzi described as Malawi's Christmas gift. The Chirwas were arrested in December.

The two MCP officials said Muluzi should stop asking the MCP to apologise because his government had also been proved to be prosecuting the wrong people.

Muluzi opened a pandora's box recently when he asked the MCP to apologise to the nation and families of three former cabinet ministers, Aaron Gadama, Dick Matenje and Twaibu Sangala and an MP David Chiwanga, who were killed in 1983.

The government told the nation that the four had died in a road accident, but a commission of inquiry instituted by the new government proved in 1994 that the four men were actually murdered. The results of the inquiry led to the arrest and prosecution in 1995 of former president Banda, his confidante, Cecilia Kadzamira, MCP vice president John Tembo, former police chief, the late MacWilliams Lunguzi, and two other policemen, on murder charges. However, both the High and Supreme Court of Appeal acquitted them.


Malawi's biggest river, the Shire, is likely to dry up following a drop in the level of its main water supply, Lake Malawi. The Shire is Malawi's main source of hydroelectric power and the major water supplier to the industrial city of Blantyre.

A water expert at the University of Malawi, Richard Watts, says there is evidence the water level on the lake will go down by one metre by the end of next month. He said that unless pumps are installed to move water into the river, or a strip between the river and the lake is dredged to increase depth, future hydroelectric power schemes will be seriously affected. Malawi, which experiences frequent power cuts due to its aged electrical equipment, received plenty of rain this year, but most of it was lost through run away.

The chief executive of Malawi's Electricity Supply Commission has said his company is discussing with Mozambique to import power from its giant Cabora Bassa Dam. Mr. Raynold Duncan said this was one way to avoid power shortage in Malawi. Only four percent of the country's 10 million people have access to electricity.


Chitonga has become the seventh language to go on radio with news broadcasts on the Malawi Broadcasting Corporation.

The move follows a directive from President Bakili Muluzi at a rally he addressed recently in Nkhata-Bay, northern Malawi, where the language is spoken. The district is an opposition stronghold and the move to introduce the language is seen as a ploy by the government to woo voters in the 1999 elections.

Other new languages on air apart from Chichewa are Chiyao, Chilomwe, Chitumbuka and Chisena.Meanwhile, there is a growing chorus from Karonga and Chitipa, in north Malawi,where Chinkhonde and Chilambya are spoken, to also introduce them on MBC.


Former Malawi ambassador to France, Augustine Nthambala, onetime Alliance for Democracy vice president, has been appointed Malawi's new envoy to Namibia.

Secretary to the president and cabinet Alfred Upindi said Nthambala has replaced Kapote Mwakasungula, former United Front for Multiparty Democracy secretary General, who has now gone to Tanzania in the lower position of deputy high commissioner.

Former Malawi Tea Company general manager, John Chikago, is Malawi's new high commissioner to South Africa and has replaced Willie Khoza.If approved by the parliamentary committee on public appointments, former minister of health, Ziliro Chibambo, who recently underwent a spine operation and was reported to have opted out of cabinet, will become Malawi's new ambassador to France.


Ngoni paramount chief M'Mbelwa of Mzimba, speaking from the citadel of his throne at Mzimba on September 22, went to town in castigating opposition parties for their ëimpatience to ascend to powerí.

M'mbelwa, who was welcoming state president Bakili Muluzi to Mzimba where he toured a number of development projects, stated in what could best pass as a highly charged political speech, that the opposition should not interfere with the administration of Muluzi's government.

Talking more like a politician than a custodian of traditional values, M'Mmbelwa, who in village affairs is supposed to wield immense influence over his subjects, gave a public discourse on the need for the opposition to respect the constitution which stipulates that a winner in a general election shall rule the country for five years.The UDF leadership has sounded the warning time and again against traditional values chiefs who indulge in politics saying they risked losing their positions.

During the tour, Muluzi went to Edingeni, the chief's seat where he promised to build a new secondary school, hospital, post office and primary school. Muluzi lambasted and ridiculed the opposition who he said can not do any good without first turning to him.


Veteran politician, Charles Ballion Kamphulusa, died September 21 in a car accident that took place in Machinga, south. Seven other people, including six UDF officials who were in the same vehicle, were injured.

Kamphulusa, who until his death was UDF executive member for the southern region, was once former president Bandaís chauffeur and long time Blantyre district chairman for the opposition MCP.

He gained notoriety for his censure of former justice minister Friday Makuta for sitting idle while members of the MCP, then in government, were losing court cases. He joined the UDF in September last year accusing the MCP of failing to accommodate opposing views.


Social Democratic Party president Eston Kakhome has supported the government's call for the MCP to apologise for atrocities committed during the 30 years it was in power, saying there can be no reconciliation without the apology.

"The MCP should be humble enough to repent and apologise to the nation," he said. "If they are still arrogant, government would be justified to prosecute the people involved and the MCP as a party."

Kakhome's call comes after the MCP rejected Muluzi's recent call for an apology for the death in 1983 of former ministers Aaron Gadama, Dick Matenje, Twaibu Sangala and MP David Chiwanga. Muluzi said that now that it has been established the four had been murdered as opposed to the former government's claim that they died in a road accident, the MCP as the party in government at the time ought to apologise so that there could be reconciliation.

MCP administrative secretary Brian Mungomo described Kakhome as being 'extremely naive' in throwing his weight behind the ruling party. "We should be talking about the pre-1994 period to which the state president was party," said Mungomo. "If he [Muluzi] can come out to apologise for the nine dark years he was MCP secretary general, it will be a good start."He also said that Mr. Kakhome 'runs a briefcase party and we cannot take him seriously'.

Kakhome said the MCP should apologise not only for the four political leaders who died in Mwanza but also for the many other Malawians who suffered under its dictatorial rule. "Thousands of Malawians died that time. People lost property. So the nation should not centre on the four as they are not as important as the unknown thousands that we know suffered a lot," he said.


Food security experts have been taken aback by the shortage of maize throughout the country. This is contrary to their estimations, which indicated a small shortfall, Commissioner for Disaster, Preparedness, Relief and Rehabilitation Lucious Chikuni said on September 20. "It surprises us when we hear that there is no maize throughout the country,î said Chikuni.

Chikuni said crop estimates for the last growing season showed that there would be a harvest of 1.5 million metric tonnes of maize, 1.3 million from smallholder farmers and 200,000 from the estates. The country's requirement according to Chikuni is 1.8 million metric tonnes which meant a shortfall of only about 300,000 metric tonnes.

Chikuni said that this should have meant that only one certain part of the country would be badly hit. "But it appears the whole country suddenly has no maize," said Chikuni. Chief of Agricultural Services, Ellard Malindi, said last week that people might be exaggerating the need for relief maize. "It might be genuine that there is no maize but it is exaggerated because they want to get it for free," said Malindi.


The Anglican Diocese of Southern Malawi has a new bishop. He is Reverend Dr James Amanzi who replaces Bishop Benson Nathaniel Aipa who resigned from the position earlier this year.

Rev. Amanzi, currently at the University of Botswana, was elected in absentia by an elective assembly comprised of members from the Province of Central Africa under the chairmanship of Archbishop Khotso Makhulu of Botswana. Reverend Constanine Kaswaya, who is Vicar General of the Southern Malawi diocese could not say when Amanzi, 52, would take up his new appointment.

Amanzi, who heads the Religious Department at the University of Botswana comes from Zomba in southern Malawi. *******************************************

From: (Africa_news Network) Date: Thu, 09 Oct 1997 11:06:06 +0200 Subject: MALAWI NEWS ONLINE #35 Message-ID: <>

Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar

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