Thursday, August 30, 2012

British Government Awards Chevening Scholarships

Acting British High Commissioner, Mr Kirk Hollingsworth, today announced that three outstanding Malawians have been awarded the prestigious Chevening Scholarships by the British Government.
The three, who include an agriculturalist, a media manager and a human rights practitioner, will pursue one year postgraduate studies at three leading British universities from September 2012.
Speaking on Wednesday when he held an audience with the scholars, Hollingsworth congratulated the three on their selection. Hollingsworth said the Chevening Scholarships are highly sought after across the globe and Malawi is particularly fortunate to have won three of them this year.
“The Chevening scholarship is a highly competitive brand that is moulding future leaders across the world. I congratulate you for joining this prestigious club of Chevening scholars,” Hollingsworth said.
One of the awardees, George Kasakula, was all praises for the British Government for making it possible for him and his colleagues to realise their long standing academic ambitions.
“I am grateful to the British Government for this prestigious award. Higher education is very expensive and many people are struggling to get funding, so it is a great privilege for us to get this opportunity for free.
“I’m also grateful to my employers, Nation Publications Limited, for allowing me time off to pursue my studies in the UK,” he said.

  1. Chevening is Britain’s flagship scholarship scheme funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). The Chevening Scholarship Programme is offered in 150 countries worldwide to over 2,300 candidates annually. 
  2. The aim of the programme is to bring young leaders, decision-makers and opinion-formers to the UK for a period of postgraduate study at a formative stage in their careers who in future can play a leading role in effecting change at all policy making levels in the public and private sectors of society.  
  3. The 2012/13 Chevening Scholars are as follows: George Kasakula, who will study for an MA in International Journalism at the University of Leeds; Lusako Munyenyembe, who will study for an MA in Applied Human Rights at University of York; and Micter Chaola who will study for an MSC in International Rural Development at the Royal Agricultural College.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Update on Malawi, People's Republic of China Relations

The late Malawi President Bingu wa Mutharika, was a man of strange foreign policy tastes!
This, Zachimalawi believes, is evident in the way he dumped Taiwan for Mainland China.
Then, there is this diplomatic 'scandal' Mutharika 'just dived' into: The expulsion of British High Commissioner to Malawi, Fergus Cochraine Dyet.
The two 'giant' steps paved the way for two schools of thought among the academia and political science students. The gist of their take was that: Mutharika either had no foreign policy objectives (at all), or had a foreign policy, albeit ambiguous and lop-sided!
All these 'debates' point to one thing: There is a commodity in Malawi- a silent commodity- and this commodity is in demand. This commodity has a name: It is called foreign policy!
Zachimalawi would, therefore, like to make a commitment. Zachimalawi wants to provide a wide range of foreign policy information through academic research. This will have something- perhaps a great deal, as expected- to do with Malawi.
This will be done through research. Wide-ranging research on Malawi's foreign policy overtures.
It will be academic research. Well-carried out. Thoroughly conducted.
That is the commitment.
The first project in this regard is research on how Malawi has benefited from her diplomatic ties with China, whether the 'benefits' are benefits at all, the 'hidden' costs and payments for Malawi, the ideal win-win situation, how Mainland China has benefited and/or exploited other African countries, China's real interests in Malawi, among others issues.
The research findings will be out in six months' time.

Let Neil Armstrong, that first man to step on the moon who has died at 82, go well

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Malawi at the Miss World

A story of nowhere near the paying ranks it has been.
In 2001, when Malawi sent Elizabeth Pullu to represent its beauty, the hopes were so high. But Pullu came back home empty-handed.
Then, in 2002, when the nation was hoping and counting, Miss Malawi organisers were too broke to fly the country's beauty queen to the Miss World.
2002 went. No participation. Just like that.
Then, came 2003. No participation.
Just like that.
2004? Nothing.
No participation.
Just like that.
Of course, even without sending the country's beauty queen to participate at the world event, Malawi continued to exist. In fact, the country continued to occupy the position it has always held on the world map.
Then, it was the turn of 2005. Malawians thought it would be business as usual. That business of new year-no participation-just like that!
But 2005 had no 'just like that'. 2005 had no 'no participation'. 2005 had no 'business as usual'.
Against all odds and traditions, the country sent that daughter of the soil- Rachel Landson- to represent it.
She boarded a plane. She left, first, through Chileka International Airport in Blantyre and, secondly, through Kamuzu International Airport in Malawi's capital, Lilongwe.
Do not mind the two 'throughs'. Of course, it was one trip. One long trip that started through two local airports. Chileka International Airport and Lilongwe International Airport.
If Landson wanted, she would have gulped all the wine she wanted in the plane. If she wanted, she would have read all the magazines in that plane. If she wanted, she would have eaten all the delicious foods in that plane!
But we do not know what she did- in terms of food and drink; in terms, perhaps, of the times she slept - in that plane. All we know is that whatever she did in that plane is part of a package they call 'travel'. So, she traveled.
But, of course, we know one thing that a plane is like a coffin. Just that, in this coffin, people lock themselves in willingly. Of course, we may blame it on distance. The long distances traveled in this world makes it difficult for us to avoid the plane- the coffin.
The wise, while in this coffin, eat and drink to the brim. They just don't know if tomorrow will ever come.
It tomorrow ends today, they just want to live the full meaning of 'living'.
That must have been Landson's bidding. As she flew on that long journey to represent tiny Malawi.
As fate would have it, Landson brought nothing home.
What? Nothing? No, she brought experience. First hand experience. Just that others have failed to tap from that experience. That is why Malawi is yet to win the Miss World.
Oh, by the way, you could think that Malawians learn. They do not. Because...
In 2006, they did not bother to send a representative. Old habits die hard, we may say.
This world of no-participation, just-like-that is not a productive orb. Malawi must have realised that, and tried to beat that. Because...
In 2007, the, then, Miss Malawi Perth Msiska was chosen to represent Malawi.
So happy was the nation, then.
Only for Malawi to withdraw from the race.
This was followed by that predictable pattern in 2008 and 2009: No participation.
However, as is the country's habit of learning and, then, unlearning again, Ella Kabambe got that opportunity denied to Msiska, and participated at the world stage in 2010.
Of course, she brought nothing but good memories. No prize. No award. No 'well-tried'.
The world is a stingy place to Malawi queens (not the successful Queens; the Malawi National Netball Team. No, those- the Queens of the netball team- are conquerors. Ask the Proteas of South Africa. They have been weeping and gnashing their teeth for decades.If the Proteas win, you know they have cheated. The way they cheated last week Saturday. Poor thieves; Proteas!!!) Surely, the Netball Queens are conquerors! They are the Number One netball team in Africa and fifth in the world. By the way, has this paragraph confused you? If 'Yes', go get a shower right now!!!
Ok, let us look a that business-as-usual business again. Malawi had no representative in 2011. That is no news, others ma say. It is habitual. Granted. But...wait a minute!
In 2012, Malawi sent Susan Mtegha. The Mtegha who will arrive home tomorrow, having missed her flight because she fainted at the airport in China. The days must have been hard on her. Perhaps she has recouped her energies at the Malawi Embassy in China, where is is 'recuperating'..
Of course, Mtegha has not brought the 'Miss World' tittle home.
But, at least, she has managed to win a contest against Miss New Zealand.
Just go and read the New Zealand Herald and you will discover that not all is lost for Mtegha. Ask Miss World New Zealand Director, Desmond Foulger. You will get he story. Foulger's untrue stoty.
Foulger ma as well shout into your ear: Wrestling is calling her (meaning, Mtegha)!!!
Do not take heed of what Foulger will tell you.

Facing Pastoralism in Africa

Lest we forget.On 21 August this month, The African Union Commission (AUC) meeting on the Policy Framework for Pastoralism, opened on 21 August in Ethiopia with a focus on validating the institutional arrangements and resource mobilization strategies proposed for the implementation of the AUC Policy Framework on pastoralism.

Officially opening the meeting, Department of Rural Economy and Agriculture (DREA), Head of Division for Rural Economy, Dr. Janet Edeme, representing the AUC DREA Commissioner, Mrs. Rhoda Peace Tumusiime, said pastoralists make crucial but often undervalued contributions to national and regional economies in Africa.

She pointed out that human development and food security indicators for many pastoral areas in Africa were among the lowest in Africa, and it was for that reason that the AU Heads of State and Government in 2011 adopted the Policy Framework for Pastoralism as the Continental Framework for addressing the complex challenges facing pastoral communities in Africa.

“The AUC was tasked to put in place appropriate measures for mobilization of financial resources and partnerships in support of pastoral policy development and implementation,” Mrs. Tumusiime said. “The AUC was also requested to establish the mechanisms for progress tracking and Member States reporting on progress achieved in implementing this framework.”

She noted that the meeting was critical in the AUC’s continued efforts to develop pastoralism in Africa and thanked the stakeholders for their continued support and active participation.

Taking the floor during the official opening, Head of the Centre for Agricultural and Rural Technical Cooperation (CTA), Ms. Isolina Boto, said pastoralism was not seen as an economic driver for most regions and hence more work needed to be done to strengthen the sector.

She commended the AUC for the development of the framework and pledged CTA’s support for its implementation.

United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) representative Ms. Choice Okoro, commended the AUC for developing a comprehensive policy that took into account the views of all stakeholders.

Ms. Okoro stressed that the policy framework was cardinal because food insecurity in Africa could not be addressed without addressing pastoralist challenges as well.
At the end of the two day meeting, the following will be achieved:

Ø  Validation of the policy framework implementation action plan;

Ø  Validation and endorsement of the institutional and Resource Mobilization Strategy Frameworks;

Ø  Clarification of roles and responsibilities of the stakeholders in the pastoralism policy framework implementation process;

Ø  Validation of pastoralist’s stakeholders in the policy framework implementation process.

The meeting is being attended by representatives from national governments/Member States, regional pastoralist groups, continental agricultural programs, NGOs with an interest in pastoralism, pastoral parliamentary groups, representatives from local pastoral youths and women’s groups, universities, international development partners, civil society and pastoral rights’ groups, private sector partners, environmental authorities, pastoral communities representatives and indigenous institutions.

First Africa-China Media Cooperation Forum: AUC Chairperson Dr. Jean Ping acknowledges the important role of media and press freedom in changing the socio-political landscape in Africa.

Beijing, China, 23 August 2012 – The Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC), Dr. Jean Ping, addressed some African Ministers in charge of information high level media representatives from radio and TV channels at the First Africa-China Media Cooperation Forum holding on 23 August 2012 in Beijing, China, under the theme "exchange, cooperation and development." Dr. Ping underlined the important role of the Media in influencing several socio-political changes in Africa.  He pointed out the struggle for democracy and governance that led to the popular uprisings in the Maghreb region leading to what was later considered as the Arab spring in most parts the continent in 2011.

Addressing the ministers of information in the presence of Mr. Cai Fuchao, Minister of the SARF, State Administration of Radio, Film and Television and Mr. Zhai Jun, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chairperson Ping indicated that media independence and freedom of expression are in line with the urge for Africa to focus on the development of the media sector in order to make its voice heard beyond the continental level. "Africa should have the technical and political means to be able to tell its story by informing the world on events happening on the continent”, he underscored.

Dr. Ping highlighted the Pan-African Media Network (PAMNET) and the Pan African Media Portal, which are projects currently being implemented by the African Union Commission in a bid to strengthen and render the media sector in Africa more efficient. He said these projects are platforms to share and exchange experiences through dialogue and open debate on issues related to the Media in Africa. It will also improve the understanding of the media landscape in Africa while facilitating decision-making on media related issues.

Chairperson Ping further indicated that, the AUC has actively supported the launch of the Journalists Network for Peace and Security in Africa dubbed (NetPeace), in a bid to enhance the culture of peace through a credible and independent media (See the complete speech of the AUC Chairperson on the African Union website:

Worth recalling that, the Sino-Africa Media Forum is part of the implementation of the Beijing 2007-2009 Plan of Action adopted on 5 November 2006 that spells out the cooperation ties between Africa and China and their commitment to encourage "their respective media play a determining role in deepening mutual understanding and friendship between both parties. Following the partnership, China has resolved to assist African countries to train the radio and television staff to improve their skills. This will be done through exchange programs where the journalists will benefit from some professional training in China.

The African Court and its Key Partners Agree to Strengthen Partnership in Promoting the Court

Addis Ababa: 24 August 2012. The African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights organized, a Regional Sensitization Seminar on the Promotion of the Court for the Eastern and Northern Region of the African Continent, in Addis Ababa, Federal Republic of Ethiopia, from 22 to 24 August 2012. The main objective of the Seminar was to raise awareness about the Court in all its dimensions to a wide spectrum of partners of the human rights system from East and North African States, encourage more ratifications of the Protocol establishing the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights and encourage more deposits of the declaration allowing individuals and NGOs direct access to the Court as well as strengthen the partnership with those partners in promoting the Court.

During the three-day seminar the Court and its key partners discussed the ways and means of making the Court more visible throughout the African continent as well as ways of helping the Court effectively achieve its mandate that confers to it a two-fold jurisdiction: the contentious jurisdiction dealing with the interpretation and application of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and any other relevant International Human Rights Instruments ratified by African States, and the advisory jurisdiction under which the Court may proffer opinion on any legal matter relating to human rights at the request of an interested State.

In fact, for more than six years of its operation, the Court has been under-utilized for both of its two jurisdictions because, to date, it has received only 24 petitions relating to contentious matters and three requests for advisory opinion. This situation of under-utilization of the Court stems from two main factors.  The first one is the fact that the Court is relatively new. In other words, the Court is yet to be well-known to African populations and the various entities entitled to bring cases before it. The second factor is that a few States have ratified the Protocol establishing it. As a matter of fact, out of the 54 Member States of the African Union, only 26 have ratified the Protocol; and in particular, out of the 26 States, only 5 have so far authorized individuals and NGOs to institute cases directly before the African Court. 

In an effort to remedy to these challenges that have been hindering its functions, the Court decided since 2010 to undertake a series of promotional activities comprising sensitization seminars like the present one to get both State and non-State players operating in the area of Human Rights to ensure that the States that have not yet to ratified the Protocol do so; and those which have ratified the Protocol authorize individuals and NGOs to institute cases directly before the Court.

The stakeholders and participants to the Seminar in Addis Ababa showed their commitment to help the Court and discussed the role each one would play for the effective promotion of the Court. In this regard, participants adopted important recommendations for each category of stakeholders to help ensure an effective African Court. The media was encouraged to, among other things, consistently popularize the Court among the different stakeholders, using all the means at their disposal; the National Human Rights Institutions  to use the broad powers they are endowed with and their closeness to the authorities to repeatedly sensitize Governments about the Court; Civil society organizations and NGOs to continue to sensitize their members and the public in the different areas in which they operate, and work in a concerted manner with the Court to ensure that it is well known by the people; and Academic institutions to continue, through research, training and teaching, to engage relevant stakeholders.

The Seminar was attended by, amongst others, five Judges of the Court, representatives of AU Organs (Pan African Parliament, African Union Commission, African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare on the Child, the African Union Advisory Board on Corruption, African Union Commission on International Law), the President of the East African Court of Justice, the Registrar of the SADC Tribunal, and representatives of other human rights stakeholders from the two regions, including, Bar Associations, National Human Rights Institutions, the Academia, the Media and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs). The countries represented at the Seminar were: Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mauritania, Mauritius, Rwanda, Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, South Sudan, Uganda and Tanzania.

First African Leadership on ICT: First Knowledge Society graduates gather in Addis for African Union award ceremony

WHEN:                      27 - 29 August 2012

Activities to be carried out during this event will include are:

27 August 2012 –    Opening ceremony of workshop on leadership and institutional capacity building in technology in education, science, technology and innovation in Africa.

29 August 2012 at 16.00 - Awards ceremony,

WHERE:                    African Union Headquarters, New AU Conference Center, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

WHO:                         Organised by the Department of Infrastructure and Energy of the African Union Commission, in collaboration with GESCI and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland

WHY:                         The first of its kind in Africa, the African leadership in ICT course was developed in consultation with African and international experts.  This seven month course combines theory with applied learning, and challenges participants to discover new leadership qualities within themselves and to become transformational leaders.

Strategic objective:           The workshop will enable participants to produce comprehensive policy coherence roadmaps towards knowledge society development in their respective countries and the region.
Specific Objectives:

·         Provide opportunities for participant sharing of country report KS status and policy recommendations. 
·         Engage participants with leadership, knowledge society and futures thinking tools for building policy coherence roadmaps & action plans.
·         Verify the leadership development model in ICT and the Knowledge Society that has been defined through the ALICT course. 

Participants:            over 160 people are expected to attend the Award ceremony from the African Union Commission; GESCI; candidates and laureates of the courses as well as invited guest.

·         Strengthened career- advancement opportunities through relevant professional development;
·          Acquired 21st Century skills for the development of the Knowledge Society ;
·         Membership to a continent-wide Professional Network of ALICT alumni ;
·         Expected accumulated credits for post-graduate qualifications ;
·         Working knowledge of web 2.0 tools (social media, tagging, blogging, podcasting, social bookmarking, vodcasting etc.) ;
·         Working knowledge of Futures Thinking Tools (Horizon Scanning; Scenario Development; Delphi Method and Trend Impact Analysis);
·          Appreciation for the importance of innovation and creativity in strategy formulation;
·         Improved Communication Skills;
·         Improved project management, policy planning and implementation skills;
·         Mastery of Leadership Toolkit for the Knowledge Society
Background :

During the final workshop, participants will use the country reports as a basis for development of policy coherence roadmaps towards knowledge societies for their countries and for the Africa region. Participants will have the opportunity to explore the use of Leadership, Knowledge Society and Futures Thinking toolkits and frameworks introduced through-out the coursework. They will use these tools to bring together the policy coherence roadmaps for implementing their report policy recommendations.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Hullo Good People

Somehow, I lost control over this blog and my gmail e-mail address some weeks ago. That made it difficult to recover the blog, as any new password from Blogger kept coming to my compromised gmail account.
Good thing is: Zachimalawi is here again, and will make sure to use advanced sign in options.
Sure. I  even wanted to change the e-mail and start using another one. But that aint gonna happen, too.
Fata viam invenient.
Thanks for your support during that strange 'darkness'.