"It's shameful that the UDF party wants to take us back to the dark days,"

Mr Gwanda Chakuamba (2003)

search antimuluzi.blogspot.com

Thursday, June 11, 2009

K6.7 billion for city roads


Roads Authority (RA) has set aside K6.7 billion for the rehabilitation and resealing of roads in the cities of Lilongwe, Blantyre and Zomba.

Briefing the press in Lilongwe Wednesday, RA Chief Executive Officer Paul Kulemeka said the funds would be realised from the fuel levy.

“The rehabilitation works will include re-cycling of the existing base, shoulder reconditioning, repair and lining of road side drains, road markings and installation of traffic lights,” Kulemeka said.

He said in an interview that the K6.7 billion budget was a projection of money to be realised from the fuel levy between February this year and September next year when the road works are expected to be completed.

Kulemeka said the rehabilitation works are expected to last 15 months from June 15 this year to September 15 next year and would cover 128km of road.

He said several contractors had been engaged for the works.

In Lilongwe, Kulemeka said, the works will be done by three contractors, Mota Engil, Cilcon/SR Nicholas JV and Master Construction.

Bua Consulting Engineers have been contracted to supervise the works in Lilongwe.

The works in Zomba will be done by Mkaka Construction and Fargo Limited with EMC Jatula Associates supervising the works.

Mota Engil, Fargo Limited and Cilcon/SR Nicholas JV will also handle the work in Blantyre with Mphizi Consulting Engineers supervising them.

The road maintenance will not be restricted to town roads in the cities but will even go in the residential areas, according to Kulemeka.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Malawi sees bumper maize harvest

Malawi expects its biggest maize crop in more
than a decade. An official said the country could harvest 3.4 million
tonnes of maize in 2008/09 versus 3.2 million tonnes in the previous

The crop would be the country's third consecutive surplus since the
fertiliser and seed subsidy programme started in the poor yet
fast-growing economy in 2005. The national maize consumption is 2.2
million tonnes.

"We have recorded a surplus of 1.2 million tonnes this year and we
plan to double this next year because Malawi has good soils and the
subsidy programme will be more targeted," Mr Andrew Daudi, principal
secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture told Reuters.

The estimate for the 2008/09 season was based on the second round crop estimate.

The final maize harvest is due in about two months, he said.
Malawi's previous highest maize harvest was in the 2007/08 season. The
maize season runs from November to April.

Malawi is a net food exporter and has seen three years of growth above 7 percent in the country of 13 million.

The Economist Intelligence Unit forecast Malawi will have the
world's fastest growing economy after Qatar this year, but annual gross
domestic product is estimated at only $313 per capita.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Malawi President seeks reconciliation with opposition party

Malawi President Bingu Wa Mutharika has
extended a hand of reconciliation to former president Bakili Muluzi and
opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) leader John Tembo on condition
that the two apologize for what he calls violation of his integrity
during and before the recent election campaign, Xinhua reported.

    Speaking to Malawians through a special program aired Sunday on
state radio and television, Mutharika emphasized that politics of
vengeance should be a thing of the past and that he would want Muluzi
and Tembo to be part of rebuilding of a new Malawi.

    Mutharika said he has power through his majority government to do
whatever he wants but he was now looking at mature politics.

    The president said Tembo warned that if he won the State House
race, he would deal with Mutharika. He alleged that some people were
given instructions to arrest him once Tembo was inaugurated as State

    "Should I deal with Tembo now? Is that the way we want to run government?" he asked.

    "Muluzi used to say he can deflate the tyre he inflated, he had no
development agenda but just to remove me. So that's why I say look, let
us have reconciliation but it does not mean that those people who
violated the law will go scot-free..but in terms of political bickering
and the kind of things we were doing, I say let's forget it," Mutharika

    The president added that he was now looking at mature politics because he was a leader not a ruler.

    On his part, Muluzi said he quickly congratulated Mutharika on his
re-election because he was peace to prevail and not bloodshed adding he
believes in democracy and welcomed Mutharika's statement that the
nation should move on and that there would be no vengeance.

    MCP spokesperson Nancy Tembo said the party's president did not say
anything derogatory against the president but just criticized his
various policies like the agricultural subsidy program.

    "It is the wish of MCP to see positive coexistence and respect for
each other. We might differ on some issues but we don't get personal,"
she said.

    Meanwhile, a legal expert told Xinhua that members of Parliament
have the powers to remove Tembo as leader of opposition group in
Parliament by amending the House's Standing Orders since the position
is not constitutional.

    Tembo has been leader of opposition group for the past five years,
Justin Dzonzi said, adding that "strictly speaking, the position of
leader of opposition just like the position of leader of the House, is
not a constitutional position or a legal position as such. The position
is an administrative one governed by Standing Orders."

    He said if need arises legislators can amend the Standing Orders without problems.

    However, a political analyst from the University of Malawi, Mustafa
Hussein, has warned that removing Tembo from position of leader of
opposition will weaken further the already frail opposition, which lost
its supremacy during the elections after the ruling Democratic
Progressive Party took a total of 114 seats against opposition's 44.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

African Leaders Pursue “Malawi Miracle”

Ben Block
May 28, 2009 2:53 PM

Five years ago, the rains disappeared for a month across much of
Malawi, just as the country's corn crop reached a critical growth
period. As a result, the 2005 harvest was the worst in a decade. Yet
again, millions of farmers were in need of food aid.

President Bingu wa Mutharika decided the next year would be
different. Despite World Bank disapproval and intense government
debate, Malawi's National Assembly distributed 3.4 million coupons to
farmers to subsidize purchases of inorganic fertilizer and improved
seeds. To ensure that the US$58 million program would support small
producers rather than large commercial estates, households were limited
to receiving two 50-kilogram fertilizer bags each.

With the help of heavy rains, the 2005-2006 season resulted in a
twofold increase in corn production. The program was repeated the next
year. By late 2007, Malawi began exporting its surplus corn to

"For four years in a row, a starving country is no longer a starving
country," said Pedro Sanchez, an advisor to the Malawian government who
directs the Tropical Agriculture and the Rural Environment Program at Columbia University's Earth Institute.

A dozen countries throughout Africa may soon replicate the "Malawi Miracle," as the program is now called, Sanchez said during a speech at the American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS) annual conference in Arlington, Virginia, last week.

"This is Green Revolution stuff - India, Pakistan in the ‘60s," said
Sanchez, the 2002 recipient of the internationally recognized World Food Prize. "I don't know any other options that are working."

Zambia, Ghana, Senegal, and Kenya have recently announced plans for similar subsidy programs.
Still, such top-down reforms may fail, experts warn, without
improvements in the countries' commodity markets and transportation
infrastructure. Environmentalists are also concerned that the programs
may lead to farmer dependencies on synthetic fertilizer and genetically
modified seeds.

International donors such as the World Bank and U.S. Agency for
International Development originally opposed direct subsidy programs,
arguing instead for long-term solutions that rely on the private

"Donors want to see their funding going into investments on roads or research, not paying for income or salaries," said Samuel Benin, a research fellow with the Washington, D.C.-based International Food Policy Research Institute.

But since Malawi's agricultural reforms, the World Bank and other
international financial institutions have increased investments in
agriculture, including public spending initiatives.

"The private sector cannot do it all. It cannot reach farmers
everywhere because [private companies] are looking to make a profit,"
Benin said. "Donors have always known that supporting farmers is a good
thing. It's just the channel of how to do it that has been difficult."

Support for direct subsidies in countries such as Malawi and
Mozambique is also driven by concern that fertilizer prices will rise
in the future. During last summer's jump in energy prices, urea, the
world's most common nitrogen fertilizer, doubled in cost. Diammonium
phosphate (DAP), often produced using natural gas, increased by nearly
five times, according to the International Center for Soil Fertility and Agricultural Development (IFDC).

Public spending initiatives have not always found success in Africa.
In Ethiopia, government subsidies for fertilizers and improved seeds
helped increase corn production dramatically in 2001, but the country
lacked the infrastructure to distribute the harvest to remote
communities, leading to a crop surplus and a crash in prices.

"Without investing in complementary services, [the program] actually
did not help by investing in fertilizer and seeds," Benin said. "You
need good agricultural systems to move foods to less-developed areas
and connect with other markets. By not investing in other areas, that
was a failure."

Replicating the "Malawi Miracle" may bring additional problems that
have become associated with agricultural success in both developing and
developed countries. Agricultural subsidies have resulted in greater
crop yields, but farms have often become reliant on fossil fuel-based fertilizers, chemical pesticides, and irrigation in areas often prone to drought, critics say.

Reliance on genetically modified seeds can also threaten the
availability of locally adapted seed varieties for future generations.
About 700 local crops were once cultivated worldwide, enabling
communities to turn to drought-resistant crops during droughts or other
seed varities that can withstand severe weather conditions. Yet 15
crops now supply an estimated 90 percent of the world's food, said
Louise Jackson, a soil scientist at the University of California at Davis and a co-chair of the DIVERSITAS network on agro-biodiversity.

"The reality is that in many places of the world, local people are
no longer reliant on local [crop] varieties," Jackson said at last
week's AIBS conference.

Organizations such as the United Nations and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa
are attempting to increase agricultural yields through systems that do
not rely entirely on synthetic fertilizers and pesticides.

Sanchez said that Malawi is attempting to use nitrogen-fixing trees or other organic methods, but the financing of organic or ecosystem-based agriculture alternatives simply do not exist in much of sub-Saharan Africa.

"We know very well that continuing to use mineral fertilizers
without organic fertilizers is wrong," Sanchez said. "I would hope to
see that in 10 years or so, a lot of fertilizers are organically fixed
through cover crops or other means."

Resource-depletion is a main reason why soils across sub-Saharan
Africa yield an average of 1 ton per hectare, compared to 3 tons per
hectare in Latin America, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East.

Beyond Malawi, a handful of other African countries have also found
recent agricultural success. The goal of 6 percent annual agricultural
growth by 2015, set by the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), has been achieved by Ethiopia, Mali, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal, and The Gambia in recent years.

Related posts in the Worldchanging archive:

GMO Crops and the Developing World

Conservation Agriculture and Global Warming

Worldchanging Interview: Wangari Maathai

A Truly African Green Revolution

Ben Block is a staff writer with the Worldwatch Institute. He can be reached at bblock@worldwatch.org.

Resuscitating Malawi

Written by Owei Lakemfa

Friday, 29 May 2009

MALAWI had been on the boil and its general elections had the
potentials of either increasing or lowering its temperature.  These
were not to be ordinary elections.  They were elections in which an
angry godfather and immediate past President, Bakili Muluzi, who had
imposed incumbent President Bingu Wa Mutharika, wanted his protégé out
of office.

Mutharika, accused his godfather of corruption and had him dragged 
to court for allegedly siphoning $10 million from donor countries.

the charges were political, Muluzi had used his control of the ruling
United Democratic Front (UDF) to checkmate the President on a number of
fronts. Using their majority in parliament, UDF legislators accused the
President of crossing carpeting, and attempted to impeach him.  Hanging
on to power for four years without the backing of parliament, Mutharika
hoped that the the new elections in which parliamentary votes were also
up for grabs, would give him the needed control of the National

The intense power struggles between the President and
his godfather paralyzed the country. Riots broke out and there were
claims of coup plots to oust the government.

There were also
constitutional matters to settle.  Former President Muluzi who had
spent the mandatory two terms in office decided to personally challenge
Mutharika for the presidency.  He insisted that after five years out of
office, he was again eligible to contest. 

In the Nigerian
context, it is like former President Olusegun Obasanjo who after two
terms in office, imposed President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua on the
electorate wanting to run in the 2011 or 2014 presidential election. 
By the time the courts on May 16, 2009  ruled that constitutionally,
Muluzi is barred from contesting, it was too late for the UDF to float
a credible candidate.  So the former President sanctioned the candidate
of a rival party, John Tembo of the Malawi Congress Party (MCP).

support was ironic as the UDF was the same “Liberation”  party which
had put an end to the one-party rule of Malawi by the blood-thirsty MCP.

MCP had been founded in August 1959 by Malawian nationalist, Orton
Chirwa. When Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda was released from prison in
1960,  Chirwa had out of deference, vacated the party’s presidency for
him.  Banda immediately seized the party structures and got himself
elected its life President.  Malawi which was known as Nyasaland became
independent on June 6, 1964 and Banda made the MCP the sole party in
the country which he declared a one party state.

To complete his
dictatorship, Banda handpicked and appointed not just members of his
cabinet but also the National Assembly.  Banda, a medical doctor, then
proceeded to run one of the most archaic, brutal and uncultured
dictatorships in world history.  He empowered local courts to try cases
of witchcraft to which there were no appeals. 

He turned on
Jehovah Witnesses and after brutal attacks, thousands of them fled to
neigbouring Zambia and Mozambique.  Churches also had to be sanctioned
by government before they could operate.

Orton Chirwa who had
founded the ruling party, left, and established the Malawi Freedom
Movement (MAFREMO). He was arrested along with his wife and sentenced
to death.  Only an intensive international campaign saved them from the
hangman. Another opposition party was  the Socialist League Of Malawi
(LESOMA) led by Dr Attati Mpakati.

On March 16,1979, a letter
bomb sent to Mpakati in Mozambique where he was on exile, blew off his
hands. An estatic Banda celebrated this dastardly act right on the
National Assembly floor. Four years later Mpakati was assassinated in

Banda and the MCP also repressed press freedom; the
mass media including the radio was directly controlled by Banda.  Life
jail was the penalty for any journalist found guilty of “false
Banda as the father of the nation even prescribed
dress code for Malawian women.  Most oversea mails were opened and
telephone conversations monitored.

No criticism of President
Banda was allowed and those guilty were imprisoned or deported. His
huge wealth in a largely poor country could not be discussed.  He was
also a well known collaborator of the apartheid South African regime.

After he was deposed, Banda was put on trial, and on June 14, 1993, Malawians in a referendum voted for multi-party democracy.

post-dictatorship general elections of May 17, 1994 were won by the UDF
led by Muluzi.  The party won 82 of the 177 seats and went into
coalition with the Alliance for Democracy (AFORD). Five years later;
the AFORD went into alliance with the MCP against Muluzi who was

In the 2004 elections, John Tembo, perhaps Banda’s
main follower emerged strong winning 27.1 percent of the votes, but was
defeated by UDF’s Mutharika who had 35.9 percent. The latter had to
cobble together a number of opposition parties to form  government.

switching of sides by Muluzi to John Tembo is one of the surprises of
history.  Tembo was a man feared under Banda’s rule.  He was accused of
eliminating his rivals in the party, including then Ministers Dick
Matenje and Andrew Gandama.  In a little veiled reference to his past,
Tembo 77, said  this month, that the MCP is the party to vote for
because it had the experience to govern the country, arguing: “I belong
to the past, I belong to the present and I belong to the future”.

the electorate did not share his views; with 93 percent of the votes
counted, Tembo had 1.2 million votes and incumbent President Mutharika
2.7 million.  Tembo cried foul claiming that opposition poll agents had
been denied access to the vote counting centres.  However, his main
backer, Muluzi conceded defeat and congratulated his former protégé.

elections have settled a number of issues, including the control of the
National Assembly which is now firmly in the hands of President
Mutharika and his party.

The Malawian elections in which unlike
Nigeria, the votes counted, has demonstrated that once the electorate
is respected, many, if not most political differences can be settled
based on the overall interests of the people.