UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA - AFRICAN STUDIES CENTER
MALAWI NEWS ONLINE / MALAWI NEWS ONLINE / MALAWI NEWS ONLINE
This is an EDITED VERSION of Malawi News
Online of 22 March 1996
and includes a feature on conservation.
MALAWI CONSERVATIONISTS UP IN ARMS
Wildlife officials, environmentalists and other concerned groups in Malawi are seemingly ready to block any major foreign or local investment programmes that are set out without a comprehensive assessment of the impact on the environment. Most recently, conservationists shot down a proposal for a multi-million dollar hotel along one of the most historic and protected areas of Lake Malawi, at Cape Maclear. Malawi's conservationists are not easily enticed by high volume investments that do not meticulously detail plans to nurture and promote the existence of the country's beautiful, and often unique, natural resources.
A vigorous campaign aimed at local as well as foreign investers tempts business tycoons who eye the country's underdeveloped tourism industry. Tax exemptions and a market driven economy, the new democracy and reversal of draconian laws such as the Forfeiture Act, and liberalisation of Malawi's former strict code of dress, are all there to help kickstart the dormant tourism sector.
Hoteliers in the country are gearing up for the expected boom in tourism with the setting up of a regional tourism network. South African Protea Hotels, who operate in the cities as well as alongside Lake Malawi and on top of Zomba Mountain, have already embarked on a multi million US dollar expansion programme and there are expectations that by the year 2000, tourism will be the next best foreign exchange earner after tobacco.
Lake Malawi is one of the country's many beautiful and unspoilt attractions. Over 550 kilometres long, 80 kilometres wide, and home to more than 500 species of fish. Already, wildlife officials and other concerned groups are worried about the depletion of fish stocks in the lake due to overfishing.
Government researcher, Dennis Tweddle, says several fish species face extinction due to overfishing. Tilapia, the country's most famous fish species - known locally as Chambo - is on the verge of extinction with stocks in Lake Malome already collapsed. Another, Mpuna, a species of Chicledes, is suffering the fate of being smuggled out of the country by tourists.
However, according to Francis Epulani, Wildlife Programme Officer in the Wildlife Society of Malawi, the biggest problem is uncontrolled fishing during breeding times and the killing of immature fish through indiscriminate fishing. He said fishing is banned during breeding times in November and December, but there is always a ready market for fish, for both local consumption and among hoteliers.
Chief Fisheries Officer, Boniface Mkoko has said that one way the government intends to check over fishing is by working closely with the local communities. His department has established "beach village committees" made up of local people in the fishing areas of Lake Malawi monitoring the fishing activities in their areas, and The Wildlife Society of Malawi has started a campaign to raise awareness about sustainable fishing. The greatest problem, however, is the needs of fishermen to earn to survive.
Another recent problem is the growth in the number of resorts along Lake Malawi using soakaway sewage systems. Chemicals used to treat sewage filter through to breeding areas killing the fish. Chemicals used to kill insects in vegetable gardens in backyards of hotels and resorts along the lake also take their toll.
The deal that was most recently shot down by Malawi's conservationists was a proposal for a luxury 150-room hotel at Cape Maclair, one of the most historic and protected areas of Lake Malawi. It was also to provide water sports and a golf course. Such a large hotel would obviously attract a lot of boating and such activities would spill oil and give off fumes, polluting the lake and further reducing the numbers of fish.
Leonard Sefu, Regional Parks and Wildlife officer for southern Malawi has said that it was a good development of national importance, but in the wrong place. He said that the policy in the national parks is to develop a low tourist infrastructure consisting of simple facilities but offering high quality services. Other areas along the lake were suggested and rejected by the Cyriot investor.
About Lake Malawi he said "The place is a national park, Lake Malawi National Park. If an area is a national park, then all other development must be neglected so that nature prevails in the area." GOVERNMENT TO ACQUIRE 30,000 HECTARES FOR LANDLESS
The government is to acquire 30,000 hectares of land from the Kasungu Flue Cured Tobacco Authority (KFCTA) and distribute it to the landless.
Lands and Valuation Minister, Alhaji Itimu, said 19 March that KFCTA owns 50,000 hectares of land in the district of Kasungu, but only uses 20,000. "Land should be put to economic use and from the authority's records, this has not been the case". He said the District Commissioner in Kasungu is consulting with chiefs in the district to ensure only deserving people are given priority in the resettlement programme.
10,000 DISPLACED BY FLOODWATERS
Many people in Phalombe area in Mulanje district and in Machinga district - both in south Malawi - have been displaced by flood waters that swept away their houses and destroyed crops. Many roads were also washed away.
It is estimated that about 10,000 people have been displaced by the floods but no deaths have been reported. Torrential rains have been falling in the area since 14 March.
The government used helicopters to get food to victims of the floods in the areas worst hit.
MULUZI APPOINTS COMMITTEE TO PROBE PARTY CRISIS
For the first time, the ruling United Democratic Front has admitted there is an internal crisis in the party, prompting President Muluzi to appoint a committee to investigate. Party Secretary, Harry Thomson said 17 March that the committee was to establish "if the recent allegations circulating about the so-called internal
crisis have a basis".
At a meeting with Muluzi in February, district and regional leaders demanded a complete overhaul of the regional committee alleging the committee was dormant. This angered External Affairs Minister, Edward Bwanali, who threatened to expel the district leaders from the party if they continued agitating for the removal of the party's regional governor, millionaire James Makhumula.
LARGE SCALE LAY OFFS TO GO AHEAD IN 1997
The government will go ahead with its retrenchment programme to improve efficiency in the civil service and cut government expenditure.
At the opening session of the 1996/97 budget meeting of parliament President Muluzi said: "The civil service reform programme is an integral element of the country's new political environment under which the government has to respond to the needs of the people and use tax-payers' money wisely and with restraint. Contrary to what is often asserted, civil service reform does not equate with indiscriminate and massive retrenchment." Unofficial sources say some 21,000 civil servants will be laid off starting in 1997
Muluzi said the reforms aim at creating a compact civil service, providing effective service at justifiable costs.
For more Info.
From: AfricaNN@inform-bbs.dk (Africa_news Network) Subject: Malawi News Date: 02 Apr 1996 14:48:56 GMT Message-Id: <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar
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