UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA - AFRICAN STUDIES CENTER
MALAWI NEWS ONLINE/MALAWI NEWS ONLINE/MALAWI NEWS ONLINE
Edition #38 11 December 1997
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A fortnightly update of news from Malawi!
In this edition:
MALNUTRITION PLAGUES CHILDREN OF MALAWI
1. MULUZI ORDER ADMARC TO LEAVE MAIZE PRICE ALONE
2. FIFTY SOLDIERS DETAINED AFTER THREATS
3. ROBBERIES CLOSE MALAWI'S BANK AGENCIES
4. CONTROVERSIAL BIOGRAPHY: BANDA 'AN AMERICAN IMPOSTER'
5. BANDA FAMILY REFUSE TO TALK ON FORMER PRESIDENTS ASSETS
6. TWO ESCOM DIVERS DROWN IN SOUTH AFRICA
7. ARMED GUNMEN KILL RESTAURANT OWNER
MALNUTRITION PLAGUES CHILDREN OF MALAWI
During the first quarter of last year, Malawi developed a national plan of action on nutrition (NPAN), with its goal to reduce malnutrition by the year 2000. Almost two years later, the NPAN document is still gathering dust on someone's shelf and there is no hope in the foreseeable future that it will see the light of day.
Meanwhile, nearly 50 in every 100 children in Malawi are chronically malnourished. Malawi is ranked number five among countries in sub-Saharan Africa with the highest levels of malnutrition.
Nutritionists say the main problems are not just the lack of food, but the underlying causes of malnutrition in Malawi. "If the problem were only the lack of food in households, we could provide it and improve the situation," commented senior nutritionist in the health and population ministry, Theresa Banda.
She said that in more than 60 per cent of malnourished children in Malawi, the situation is aggravated by poor or incorrect child feeding practices, aggravated by maternal illiteracy. Poor feeding practices include cases where mothers introduce their children to solid food too early, before the age of six months, according to Banda. "These foods are bulky, watery and have low energy and nutrition content," she says, adding that due to poor spacing between pregnancies, mothers often devote very little time to feeding their children thereby increasing malnutrition.
Due to wrong priorities, there is no commitment to reducing malnutrition at family level. For example, says Banda, even when a man has enough money to care for the nutritional needs of his family, many men would rather buy a new bicycle or take another wife.
A survey conducted by the ministry of health and population in the central Malawi districts of Kasungu, Lilongwe and Mchinji - areas regarded as the country's bread basket - showed that these districts had the highest levels of malnutrition. And this in spite of the fact that these areas are well-off economically because of the large amounts of tobacco grown there.
Coordinator of NPAN, Ruth Butao Ayoade, says that people in the rural areas also need to be aware as to how they can improve their nutritional status. The everyday food in rural areas is 'nsima' with boiled vegetables, while they feed their children with plain porridge, yet they grow soya beans and groundnuts which have high protein levels.Another factor, she said, was that the cheap but nutritionally rich traditional dishes of nsima (maize-meal), combined with beans is becoming less popular.
"People need to be taught different ways of preparing food to boost their nutrition," she said.
There are, of course, the usual problems of funding for nutritional projects. Malawi's national budget provides less than 0.0001 percent to nutritional projects and 99 out of 100 projects on improving nutrition are donor-funded. Ayoade says NPAN, which tackles underlying causes of malnutrition such as improving household food security, caring for the nutritionally vulnerable, preventing and monitoring infection and monitoring nutrition status, was developed as a referral point in dealing with malnutrition. But, as she said, the plan of action is just ad hoc and needs money to implement and monitor the programmes.
She said that a few years ago, the Food and Agriculture Organisation funded a programme aimed at improving soya bean production and consumption at household level. But, as with so many other programmes in Malawi, government intervention was needed to expand it. This has not been forthcoming thus far.
1.MULUZI ORDER ADMARC TO LEAVE MAIZE PRICE ALONE
President Bakili Muluzi has ordered the country's main crop marketing body, Admarc, not to increase the price of maize until the next harvest season.
Muluzi issued the order when he made a surprise visit to Admarc's main depot in Blantyre amid media reports that the Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation intends to raise maize price from the current K195 (US$10.8) per 50 kg bag to K230. The price of the maize, the staple crop, went up from K125 per 50 kg bag to its current price in September this year.
Muluzi also ordered the corporation to ensure that maize was available throughout the country. Admarcs's general manager, Peter Kalilombe, assured the president that the corporation had enough maize in its grain reserves. He disputed media reports on the matter and said that Admarc had no intention of raising maize price.
2.FIFTY SOLDIERS DETAINED AFTER THREATS
Fifty soldiers of the Malawi Armed Forces have been detained to avert a possible mutiny following a dispute over allowances. The Daily Times said the soldiers also threatened to kill the army commander, General Kelvin Simwaka, for ignoring their grievances over the allowances.
"What they planned to do was unethical. It is unacceptable. At any workplace, people need to be disciplined," Army Chief of Staff Mark Chidzako told the newspaper in confirming the arrests.
The soldiers were among a group of 70 undergoing US-sponsored peacekeeping training by 60 US troops, in Salima, 93 kms east of Lilongwe, the Malawi capital. The dispute apparently started when an unnamed individual in the training camp told the soldiers that they were entitled to a daily allowance of five US dollars (about 90 kwacha) instead of the five kwacha they were receiving.
They made a request to see Simwaka, it was reported, which failed allegedly because the army commander did not turn up at the agreed venue. Instead, he sent his deputy to listen to the soldiers grievances, which was held in the company of the American instructors, the newspaper said. Allegedly at this point, the Malawi soldiers became unruly and they were rounded up for detention.
3.ROBBERIES CLOSE MALAWI'S BANK AGENCIES
Malawi's biggest commercial bank has closed 17 agencies countrywide due to increasing incidences of armed robbery. "The National Bank of Malawi regrets to announce the immediate closure of the agencies," the bank said in a statement on Wednesday 3 December.
The bank has closed seven agencies in central Malawi (Dedza, Kanengo, Mponela, Mtunthama, Nkhoma and Ntchisi), another seven in north Malawi (Chitipa, Chintheche, Mzimba, Nkhata-Bay, Rumphi and Uliwa) and four in the south (Balaka, Luchenza, Nchalo and Thyolo).
The bank said it has recently lost large sums of money, the most recent being approximately Kw 3 million (about US$ 650,000) at its Thyolo agency last week. "Incidences of armed robberies on banks and agencies which transport a lot of cash for wages etc. are serious causes for concern. The action taken by National Bank will no doubt result in a huge outcry from the public," remarked Stockbrokers Malawi Limited chief executive Rob Stangroom.
Stangroom said in an interview the impact will be felt most by clients in the rural areas like PTC, McConnells, Import and Export, Sugar Corporation of Malawi, and the numerous estates that use the agencies network to deposit cash and draw wages, among other things. "This is an unhealthy development for the business community and for investment in Malawi generally as some potential investors may be put off," Stangroom said .
4.CONTROVERSIAL BIOGRAPHY: BANDA 'AN AMERICAN IMPOSTER'
Kamuzu Banda, the man who ruled Malawi for 30 years, may not have been Malawian after all.
A controversial biography alleges Banda was actually an American impostor who spent his life punishing anyone who questioned his roots, according to South African newspaper, The Mail & Guardian. The allegation is contained in Post Colonial Identities in Africa, edited by Richard Werner and Terence Ranger.
In a chapter entitled Between God and Kamuzu, the book says Banda died young while a medical student in the United States. American Richard Armstrong, whom Banda had befriended, took his place. The book says Armstrong and Banda met as medical students and spent hours talking and sharing stories of their lives. Banda became seriously ill and died before completing his studies.
Armstrong left the United States for Africa and spent some time in Ghana, his mother's ancestral home, before travelling to Nyasaland, as Malawi was then known. The book says that in order to succeed, Banda had to reveal his identity to a small band of collaborators. With their help, he 'bought' relatives in Kasungu District.
However, Banda refused to eat nsima, Malawi's staple food, and persisted in speaking only English, with an interpreter translating his messages into the country's languages. Whoever ruled Malawi, Armstrong or Banda, the book says it was a brutal dictatorship, in which thousands of political opponents were arrested, tortured and killed.
5.BANDA FAMILY REFUSE TO TALK ON FORMER PRESIDENTS ASSETS
One of the late former president's lawyers, and central executive committee member of the Malawi Congress Party, Lovemore Munlo, has said Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda's assets might have been controlled by some of his UK-based lawyers.
Munlo, who is also the party's legal advisor, said Dr Banda as a leader and a private individual had two categories of lawyers. Those who dealt with his legal affairs and those who controlled his property. Munlo said he was one of those who fell into the former category.
He said, however, there had to be a lawyer appointed to look after Banda's property and its distribution to his relatives, but could not say who had been appointed for the task. "As one of Dr Banda's lawyers, I was only dealing with legal matters for him," said Munlo.
Recently there have been reports that some of the family had engaged a lawyer, Khuze Kapeta, to look into Dr Banda's property and investments.But Chief Kaomba of Kasungu, a member of Banda's family, said Kapeta was engaged by members of the late former president's family as their lawyer and not for Banda's property.
Chief Kaomba, however, refused to disclose who was responsible for Banda's assets or his will, saying the family was still mourning the demise of the former president. Hesaid that anything about the distribution of his assets to members of the bereaved family would be looked into later.
6.TWO ESCOM DIVERS DROWN IN SOUTH AFRICA
Two Escom employees sent to South Africa on a diving course drowned last Tuesday while undergoing training.
The deceased, Stanslous Nguluwe and someone believed to be a Wanyeriwa, both based at Nkula Hydro-electric Power station in Blantyre, drowned the sea off Cape Town, in what Escom officials described as an accident while undertaking their diving course.
Director of administration for the Electricity Supply Commission of Malawi, Gauton Kainja, said the two were in a group of five participants from different countries, but only the two from Malawi were drowned. Kainja could not say exactly what happened except that further details would be given as soon as they were available and that the bodies of the two would be arriving in Malawi today.
Kainja said the two were sent to South Africa on a three-month course to learn diving skills which they needed to help in the task of removing silt which accumulates at the water head of the generators at Nkula. At the time of the accident, they had already completed two months of the course, he said.
He also said that Escom has sent two people to help in the investigations into the cause of the death of the divers. He said that Escom was now waiting for information to be fed to them from the investigation. He said officials from the ministry of labour, the International Rescue Committee, immigration and police were probing the cause of the accident.
Sources said the body of Wanyeriwa was found floating in the Indian Ocean on Wednesday last week while that of Nguluwe was found on Friday. In a related development, the Malawi High Commission in South Africa on Monday expressed ignorance of the whole episode saying that they were not even aware that there had been a course attended by people from Malawi, in South Africa. According to a senior official who did not want to be named, under normal circumstances, whenever officials from Malawi's government or parastatal organisations visit South Africa they are supposed to inform the embassy.
7.ARMED GUNMEN KILL RESTAURANT OWNER A group of armed robbers on Sunday December 7,broke into the house of Stanley Langford, a restaurant owner and investor in the tourism industry, police have said. Stanley, a Briton, died of excessive bleeding a few hours after being shot in both thighs in his house in Kande, Nkhata-Bay, north Malawi where he had a restaurant.
Northern region police chief Thom Chikombole said after Stanley had refused to give them money, the robbers shot him in the thighs and demanded the keys to the safe and his Range Rover, parked outside his house. They stole K17,000 (about US$1,000). The Range Rover was found abandoned in Mzuzu, some 30 kilometres away.
From: AfricaNN@inform-bbs.dk (Africa_news Network) Date: Thu, 11 Dec 1997 15:36:51 +0100 Subject: MALAWI NEWS ONLINE #38 Message-ID: <email@example.com>
Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar
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