UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA - AFRICAN STUDIES CENTER
MALAWI NEWS ONLINE/MALAWI NEWS ONLINE/MALAWI NEWS ONLINE
Edition #39 11 January 1998
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THE DEATH PENALTY: STILL NO CONSENSUS
When representatives of a cross section of Malawians met during a national constitutional conference in 1994, one of the issues that they vehemently rejected was the abolition of the death penalty. Most of those who supported its retention argued that in a country where murder cases were on the increase, scrapping the punishment would be a sure recipe for murder.
Although there is no consensus yet on abolishing the death penalty, there is now a growing chorus to scrap it by law. The religious community is one group that has recently thrown its full weight behind calls for the abolition of capital punishment in the country.
Leaders from the religious community say the death penalty is a violation of a person's right to life. At a recent workshop organised by the country's Prison Reform Committee, a priest, Father Gamba, said the life of every person was important and needed to be respected. He argued that people should learn to reconcile and forgive one another.
"Even the life of a murderer in prison needs to be protected," he said. Gamba claimed some people who are currently on death row could be innocent and forced to suffer because they are suspected of murder. He also argued that might have been convicted because they did not have access to a good lawyer to defend them in a court of law.
Pastor Alick Thindwa of the Revival Life Churches called for more civic education among members of the general public on the merits of scrapping the death penalty. He said capital punishment cannot be used as a tool for reducing the rate of crime in the country. He urged government to find alternative methods other than hanging for dealing with convicted murderers.
One alternative, according to Thindwa, was to sentence them to life imprisonment. While in prison, government could make full use of their labour by using them in various development projects, he said. Bishop Bvumbwe, a member of the Prison Reform Fellowship said prisons were not places for executing people but for reforming their behaviour.
Sheikh Mustahab Ayani, representing the Moslem community, said even in Islam, which advocates an eye for an eye, there was an alternative to the death sentence. "Islam demands an eye for eye, woman for woman, but after being proved guilty in court, relatives of the murdered person can seek for damages as an alternative punishment," he said.
Other churches that spoke in support of abolishing the death penalty were the Charismatic Church in Malawi and the Church of Central African Presbyterian.
According to Amnesty International, as at July 1997, 99 countries worldwide had abolished the death penalty. Out of the 99 countries that have abolished the death penalty, 58 countries have abolished the death penalty for all crimes, with 15 countries having scrapped the death penalty for all but exceptional crimes.
Twenty six countries retain the death penalty in law but have not carried out any executions for the past 10 years or more.
A lawyer for the Danish Centre for Human Rights, Desmond Kaunda, speaking for other human rights bodies in the country, said although Malawi has not carried out any execution during the past three years the government should abolish the death sentence by law. He said Malawi should follow the example of Angola, Mauritius, Mozambique and South Africa which have scrapped the death penalty.
In spite of these calls to do away with capital punishment, politicians and some members of the general public feel the time is not yet ripe for the government to abolish the death penalty.
Dan Msowoya, publicity secretary for the opposition Alliance for Democracy says that with the increasing crime rate in the country, government should not be lenient with murderers. "Convicted murderers should be hanged. In order for the government to check increasing crime rate, there is a need to use the law as it stands now so that others can learn from it," Msowoya said, speaking in his individual capacity in an interview.
Also speaking in his personal capacity, Lovemore Munlo, legal advisor for the opposition Malawi Congress Party said that before changing the law there is need for careful consideration on the issue through collective decision. "We should not just change the law for the sake of changing," he said. He said people from both urban and rural areas ought to be given a voice on the subject since they were the victims of murder. He also said that Malawians should not be dragged into scrapping the penalty by an outside force.
Brian Mungomo, MCP administrative secretary, in agreement with Munlo said that people all over the country need to be consulted before changing the law. He stressed, however, that before anyone is sent to the gallows, it needs to be fully proved that they committed murder.
Businessmen who are the target of most armed robberies are also of the view that the law should be left as its stands now. Gilbert Mlambalala, a Blantyre-based businessman said the use of an alternative method for punishing convicted murderers would only serve to increase crime in the country.
He said that before any changing of the law there was the need for a referendum to be carried out to show people's views on the subject.
Stories: 1. KADZAMIRA GETS THE LION'S SHARE
Cecilia Kadzamira, the late former president Kamuzu Banda's long-time confidante, is the principal benefeciary of Banda's wealth. Banda died on November 25,at Garden City in South Africa after a a weeklong battle against high blood pressure and pneumonia.
According to Banda's will read by the late former president's UK based lawyer, James Radcliffe on January 3 to Banda's relatives, the late former president's wealth will be distributed as follows:
Kadzamira and the National Bank of Malawi will be executors for all Banda's businesses and investments. These include filling stations, ranches and several tobacco estates located throughout Malawi. Profits that these entities generate will be shared between Kadzamira and some of Banda's relatives. Proportions not mentioned.
Banda's flagship, Blantyre Print and Packaging, the seven storey Chayamba Building and Chibisa House in Blantyre will be administered by Chayamba Trust. Profits from these businesses will be used for running Kamuzu Academy - the grammar school Banda built in his district, Kasungu. Other beneficiaries from the trust fund are Malawi Congress Party, the party Banda led for 31 years and Banda's relatives. Exact figures of how much each will be getting, in percentages, have not been given.
The will also said that on Banda's death, his grandnieces Chendawaka and Kupingani were to be given Lilongwe State House and Mudi House. The UDF government has already repossessed the two houses and Chikoko Bay state lodge which was given to Edwin Banda, a grand nephew and Mrs Dzanjalimodzi. This suggests that the will was written before the 1994 general elections.
Nguru ya Nawambe (lodge he built in his home town - Kasungu) will be sold and the money will be shared as follows: Kadzamira - 40%, Kupingani and Chendawaka - each 30% .On one of Banda's nephew, Fred Kazombo, the former leader said in his will that he had built three houses for him in his life and had also supported him in his farming businesses in various ways. 'I therefore do not think he needs any kind of support from me again' it was stated in the will.
A number of relatives and his employees who had worked for him for more than 12 years at the time of his death or those who died five years before him will receive amounts ranging from K5,000 to K40,000.
The address of the will was given as 25, Dalmore Road, Dulwich, London SE21 8HD. Blantyre-based lawyer Farook Sacraine and Professor Jack Wilima, who also comes from Kasungu, were witnesses when the will was being signed. It was only changed once, in 1995, when when Banda decided that Nguru ya Nawambe lodge in Kasungu, which he earlier gave to the Museums of Malawi, should be sold and the money shared between Kadzamira and some of his relatives.
Fred Kadzombo, meanwhile, is very bitter with the distribution of the wealth and has asked government to intervene. When the will was being read at Nguru ya Nawambe lodge he stormed out of the house in anger after he learned that he had been left out in the cold. He said he thinks the will was fake.
2.RULING PARTY KEEPS ITS SEAT
The ruling United Democratic Front has retained the Mwanza North seat following polls that were held on December 27. However, the Electoral Commission has withheld the results following allegations from the two main opposition parties MCP and Aford of rampant irregularities during voting.
Commission chair, Justice Anastazia Msosa said on December 29 that after thorough investigations into the alleged malpractices, her organisation had found that there were no major irregularities in the polling as had been alleged by the two parties and declared Henry Zembere, the UDF candidate, winner of the election.
Zembere scooped 2,321 votes out of the 15,000 registered votes against 906 of MCP's Symon Mphidza and 176 for the Aford candidate, Nicodemus Kachale. Heavy rains on the voting day is believed to be one of the contributory factors that led to the low turn out of voters.
The Mwanza north seat fell vacant in 1995 when the speaker of the national assembly declared that the incumbent, Fred Nseula, then of UDF, had crossed the floor to the opposition MCP.
The High Court of Malawi upheld the speaker's ruling on Nseula in October 1997 after a protracted court battle by Nseula to repossess the seat.
3.AFORD SUE THREAT TO MBC FOR DEFAMATION
The opposition Alliance for Democracy has threatened to sue the Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) if it does not retract a report critical to opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) which it aired on December 29, 1997.
The report alleged that Aford's president Chakufwa Chihana told his party's convention on December 29 that MCP was a party of killers.
''We have written to them telling them to retract the false statement so that the mistake is corrected in the same manner it was reported,'' Aford publicity chief, Dan Msowoya, said.
The report is said to have come as a shock to Chihana who learnt of what he is alleged to have said from his colleagues. Msowoya added that the party chairman immediately called MBC for an explanation.
Msowoya said his party suspects the report was the work of United Democratic Front cheap propaganda to derail Aford's alliance with the MCP. He also said the distorted radio report had already been settled between MCP and Aford. He said Aford officials had met MCP's president and treasurer general, Gwanda Chakuamba and Hetherwick Ntaba, respectively.
4.MUTHARIKA UNVEILS PARTY EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE
Former secretary general of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, Dr Bingu Wa Mutharika, has unveiled his party's (United Party) executive committee.
Among the notable politicians in the executive is former deputy finance minister Fred Nseula who recently lost a court battle to repossess his parliamentary seat in Mwanza North. The seat was declared vacant by the speaker of the national assembly in 1995 when it was revealed that he had crossed the floor from the United Democratic Front to the Malawi Congress Party. Nseula is UP's secretary general.
Mutharika,who appealed to the donor community to continue giving aid to Malawi to sustain democracy, lashed out at the UDF government for failing to deliver. He vowed that his party would form the next government in 1999. ''Our slogan is building Malawi together,'' he said.
Among those attending the inauguration ceremony were the Chinese Ambassador to Malawi, Robert Shih, Zambian High Commissioner to Malawi, Colonel Lawrence Hamaandu and the UHNCR resident representative, Godfrey Sabiti.
His party, formed in August l997, has appealed for the dissolution of the present Electoral Commission in order that the 1999 elections can be free and fair, saying the present commission was full of UDF supporters.
Mutharika asked the government to form a truth and reconciliation commission to probe past atrocities and act as a therapy with which to heal the wounds suffered by thousands of Malawiansduring the past three decades.
5. GOVERNMENT LAUNCHES 'CRACK DOWN ON CRIMINALS'
The army and police have teamed up to flush out criminals in the country's urban areas.
The government said in an announcement that Operation Chotsa Mbava (crack down on robbers) was aimed at rounding up criminals and those people keeping unlicensed firearms suspected to be behind the increasing murders and robberies in the city. Defence minister Robert Kubwalo said the role of his ministry in the operation would be to reinforce police efforts to seize dangerous weapons.
The move comes in the wake of the death of an Asian businessman, shot dead by armed robbers in his shop in Blantyre on December 19. His death incensed members of the Asian business community who threatened to close their shops until government took steps to crack down on the increasing lack of security in the country.
Kubwalo said the operation would remain in force until further notice. Government launched similar operations in 1995 when it seized truck loads of sophisticated weaponry from unlicensed people.
In a similar development, the National Bank of Malawi has announced that it would soon resume its services in the rural areas suspended some three weeks ago. The suspension followed an increase of attacks on its staff and property. Central bank governor, Matthews Chikaonda, said this would happen because the government had taken steps to get the deteriorating security situation under control.
6.SECRETARY OF STATE 'FAR FROM IMPRESSED' AT POLICE PERFORMANCE
British secretary of state for international development Clare Short said on January 5 she was far from being impressed with the performance of the Malawi police.
Short, who arrived on January 3 for a five-day visit, said although she was impressed with the progress made so far in the implementation of the police reform programme, she was far from being impressed with the performance of the police.
The British government has been funding a police reform programme since 1995. Short did say, however, said it was very difficult to change a police system that is emerging from a dictatorship and transform it into one that could be acceptable in a democratic system of government.
She said she had noticed a lot of enthusiasm in the police service for change and said although a lot had been achieved, more needed to be done. Short also said there was the need to strengthen the legal system in general as a prerequisite to strengthening the security system in the country.
7.MALAWI TO GET US$30 MILLION FROM NORWAY The ministry of agriculture will this year receive more than K630 million (US$30m) from Norway to finance various development projects.
This was said by the director for the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (Icrisat), Professor Lewis Mughogho, who is based in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, said on January 6 in Lilongwe at the official opening of the Tentative Programme for Project Proposal write-up for the ministry of agriculture.
He said a Norwegian delegation which was in the country late last year expressed surprise that Malawi had not asked for money to fund agriculture projects when K630 million had been reserved for the country.
8.THIRTY YEARS IN THE AIR:AIR MALAWI ANNIVERSARY
Air Malawi, the nation's flag carrier, is celebrating its 30th anniversary this month amid excitement that its successful commercialisation programme is well on course.
The state-owned airline, which has two Boeing 737-300, an ATR 42, a Dornier and a Cessna Caravan, has recently been flying mostly in the Southern Africa Region and to Dubai as part of its programme to cut costs and realise "operational profits."
Air Malawi started in 1967 with a single aircraft and was once of the most visible airlines on the African continent and in Europe.By the early 1970s it had acquired nine aircraft, flying to Zimbabwe, Zambia, Kenya, Mozambique, Seychelles, Mauritius, Holland and the United Kingdom before the oil crisis forced the company to drop its jet-fuel guzzlers for more fuel-efficient aircraft.
The commercialisation programme started in 1990 and it is on track, according to General Manager, Wisdom Mchungula.As a first step to this vision, the Malawi government has stopped subsiding the operational expenses of the airline and staff positions have been restructured as part of the privatisation process.
9.FIFTY SOLDIERS RELEASED FROM DETENTION
Fifty Malawian soldiers detained in November following a dispute over allowances have been released. The dispute erupted during a peace-keeping training exercise by U.S. troops when news reached the soldiers that they were receiving a grossly underpaid training allowance.
In the course of the dispute, the soldiers made death threats against Malawi Army Commander Kelvin Simwaka. Disgruntled they demanded an explanation from their superiors, including General Simwaka which they never received.They were arrested and held in custody at Salima Military Barracks, 90 kms east of Lilongwe.
Colonel Matthews Zongolo, the army's public relations officer said that everybody was now out of detention and that the issue was in the process of being sorted out by a board of inquiry instituted to work on the issue.
10.SCHOOL CERTIFICATE RESULTS DESCRIBED AS DISASTER
More than 50 per cent of candidates who sat for the Malawi School Certificate Examinations (MSCE) this year have failed, the examinations board has announced.
Malawi National Examinations Board (MANEB) said out of the 14,000 candidates who wrote the examinations in secondary schools, only 5,000 have qualified for the award of a certificate. The board also said that out of almost the same amount who sat for the examinations from the Malawi Distant Education Centres, only 1,600 had qualified.
The board has also announced that a 6,000 candidates had been disqualified for malpractices which included cheating during examinations.
11.ZAMBIAN DEPORTEE DIES AND IS BURIED IN MALAWI
John Chinula, a politician and one of two Zambians deported from their country in September 1994 on false allegations that they were Malawians,died on January 7 at Lilongwe Central Hospital after a short illness. He was buried in Lilongwe on January 9, the Zambian authorities having refused permission for his remains to be returned home. The Zambian High Commissioner, Colonel Lawrence Hamaandu said on January 8 that his government knew the late politician as a Malawian adding that the Malawi government had accepted them as its nationals.
Executive director of the Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation, Ollen Mwalubunju said Chinula, first admitted for TB treatment on December 24 at Likuni, in Lilongwe, was later taken to the Lilongwe Central Hospital following an attack of asthma. The Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation has condemned the Malawi government saying the death of Chinula was a disgrace to the nation especially after accepting that anon-Malawian citizen stay in the country without any legal status.
"For the past two years, the late John Chinula and William Banda have lived in a pathetic situation with no assistance from the Malawi government which has been unwilling to repatriate them," the centre's director Ollen Mwalubunju stated.
The Malawi High Court ruled in March 1995 that Chinula and William Banda be returned to Zambia because they were not Malawians. Justice Minister Cassim Chilumpha said in an interview last month that the two had not been repatriated because the human rights group Amnesty International had demanded that the government of Malawi guarantee that the two would not be arrested on their return and they could not do this.
12. HARDCORE CRIMINAL SHOT DEAD BY POLICE
Police in Blantyre have shot dead one of their long sought after criminals: Philip Lemani, commonly known as English. Police spokesman, Oliver Soko, said police had been looking for Lemani since last year in connection with a spate of criminal activities including bank armed robberies, car thefts, highway robberies and intimidations in various parts of the country.
Soko, however, said when police opened fire at him on Friday at Mount Soche Hotel in Blantyre, their intention was not too kill him but only to shoot at his legs to disable him. ''We have been looking for him day and night. He was a notorious, dangerous and merciless man,'' said Soko.
Another policeman who witnessed the incident, but declined to be named, said Lemani was shot with five bullets to the chest. This took place behind the Sportsmans Bar at the hotel as he was trying to flee from police who had camped out within the hotel premises in a bid to apprehend him.
The policeman said Lemani was suspected of being behind a number of armed robberies including the ambush and robbery in broad daylight recently, on a Universal Industries Limited vehicle, on its way to bank cash. More than US$15,000 (MK300,000) worth of cash and cheques are said to have been stolen from the vehicle.
Soko also said police have recently netted a number of criminals who were presently in custody but he declined to reveal their names saying that doing so would make police efforts to apprehend their colleagues difficult.
13.3,000 CORRUPTION CASES STILL ON FILE IN MALAWI
Ten months after its establishment, Malawi's Anti-Corruption Bureau has yet to complete investigating its first case. The bureau's director, Gilton Chiwaula, said that of the 3,100 reported corruption cases, he had authorised the investigation of 139 for possible prosecution. Some 236 cases had been referred to other government institutions since they did not merit the bureau's attention, he said, while the rest were still being examined for possible action.
Set up by an act of parliament to stem the country's fast-growing and open corruption practices, the bureau is a new institution brought about by Malawi's new democratic government led by the United Democratic Front of President Bakili Muluzi. Corruption eradication was much featured in the party's political campaign preceding the 1994 general elections that led to the end of the late Kamuzu Banda's dictatorial rule.
The alarming rise of corruption in Malawi's public and private sectors has led observers to express fears the country could be next on the list after Nigeria and Kenya, if the situation is not checked.
Britain is helping Malawi steer the bureau in the right direction and has recruited Briton Pal Russell to help design legal documents and to review the country's corruption-related laws. Russell is a former director of operations with Zambia's Anti-Corruption Commission.
14. GOVERNMENT TO RETRENCH 17,000
Government is to retrench over 17,000 employees between March and June this year. Labour and manpower ministry officials said that following a world bank sponsored study which government instituted to retructure its work force last year, the project recommended that 17,000 people should be laid off by the ennd of June. Deputy secretary to the president and cabinet Kamphambe Nkhoma said the retrenchment will only start when the study is completed.
Government last year engaged a private consultancy firm to give it a picture of how many employees in the industrial class category are necessary. It was estimated that out of the 30,000 employees in this category, 75 percent will be redudant.
15. POLICEMEN ARRESTED ON SUSPICION OF ARMED ROBBERY
Malawi Home Affairs Minister Mervin Moyo has expressed shock at the arrest of four policemen recently on suspicion they were had been involved in armed robberies in the Lilongwe area.
In the first official comment the minister assured the nation that security in Malawi was under control.He said Malawians should appreciate that police have been doing a commendable work and that the public only notice their failures. Police successes in apprehending lawbreakers, the ministers said, had not received as much publicity.
Asked how he viewed the four policemen's arrests at a security roadblock by fellow policemen, Moyo said: "I was shocked, but they were acting as individuals," referring to those arrested
There is a public outcry over growing insecurity in Malawi due to frequent armed attacks on citizens and businesses in the last three years.
16. 35,000 NEW PHONE LINES
Malawi telephone subscribers will heave a sigh of relief in the near future if plans to spend 150 million U.S. dollars (MK3 billion) on the installation of 35,000 extra telephone lines become a reality, according to a senior telecoms official.
Postmaster General Mike Makawa of the Malawi Posts and Telecommunications Corporation said the project to increase lines from 65,000 to 100,000 by the year 2000 is meant to ease the current congestion on the country's telephones.Makawa, speaking at an investment forum, said of the 65,000 lines only 36,000 lines are available to customers due to low distribution capacity and congestion on the country's telephone exchanges.
With 0.3 telephone lines for every 100 people, Malawi has one of the lowest number of telephones in the world."Our project intends to increase the figure to at least one telephone line per 100 people," Makawa said.He also said the corporation has only limited funds to carry out this project and would need foreign donors to implement the plans.
In conclusion he said that funding has already been committed by Kuwait, Denmark and the African Development Bank.
From: AfricaNN@inform-bbs.dk (Africa_news Network) Date: Mon, 12 Jan 1998 08:00:49 +0100 Subject: MALAWI NEWS ONLINE #39 Message-ID: <email@example.com>
Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar
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