Saturday, March 29, 2014

SPEECH BY HER EXCELLENCY DR. JOYCE BANDA PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF MALAWI, and THE PEOPLE’S PARTY ON THE OFFICIAL LAUNCH OF THE PEOPLE’S PARTY 2014 TRIPARTITE ELECTIONS CAMPAIGN ON SATURDAY, 29TH MARCH, 2014 CIVO STADIUM, LILONGWE


SPEECH BY HER EXCELLENCY DR. JOYCE BANDA PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF MALAWI, and THE PEOPLE’S PARTY ON THE OFFICIAL LAUNCH OF THE PEOPLE’S PARTY 2014 TRIPARTITE ELECTIONS CAMPAIGN ON SATURDAY, 29TH MARCH, 2014 CIVO STADIUM, LILONGWE

.Your Excellency Chief Justice Richard Banda, SC, (Retired);

. Rt. Hon. Sosten Gwengwe, Peoples Party Presidential Running mate and Minister of Industry and Trade;

. The Rt Honourable Khumbo Hastings Kachali, Vice President of the Republic of Malawi, and Vice President of the People’s Party, North;

.Hon. Uladi Mussa, Vice President of the People’s Party, Centre and Minister of Home Affairs;


. Hon. Brown Mpinganjira, Vice President of the People’s Party, South AND Minister of Information and Civic Education;

. Hon. Paul Maulidi, Acting Secretary General;


. Hon.Irene Chikuni, Chairperson of the Campaign Launch Organising Committee;

. Members of the National Executive Committee of the People’s Party;


. Members of the Diplomatic Corps here present;


. Distinguished Delegates,Ladies and Gentlemen.





Today is a great day for me as I stand before you all to preside over the official launch of the People’s Party Campaign for
the May 2014 Tripartite Elections.


Two years ago, we began a journey to eradicate poverty through economic growth and wealth creation. We sought to see Malawians enjoy their freedom, dignity and sense of pride; and maximise their capacity to realise their social, political and economic empowerment.


Over the past two years, the Peoples Party Government has worked together with all Malawians to fight poverty and unemployment and reduce inequality.


Despite the negative global economic situation and emerging challenges that we faced, we have been able to heal our country from pain and despair. Today we have a population driven by hope.


We inherited an economy that was in crisis. Today we have turned around that economy. Indeed, in the short time I have been President, we have taken decisive action to heal the country, recover the economy, and build a strong foundation for growth.


With confidence, we can say with joy that:


It has been two years since our people spent hours on queues looking for fuel;

It has been two years since our people and businesses struggled to access foreign exchange;

It has been two years since bad laws were repealed and since then our people started enjoying their freedoms and civil liberties;

It has been two years since the media started operating freely without Government harassment; and since our people started exercising their rights and enjoy their freedoms including demonstrations without Government killing them;


It has been two years since punitive tax measures on private sector were removed and businesses started increasing their
production capacity from 30 per cent to over 75 percent;

It has been two years since tobacco buyers returned to the Auction Floors and our tobacco farmers started enjoying good production and prices;


It has been two years since we are witnessing the increase from 281 megawatts to 352 megawatts of electricity generated and the rolling out of Malawi Rural Electrification Programme (MAREP 7) to 81 Trading Centres across the country;


It has been two years since we have seen availability of maize in ADMARC (Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation) markets across the country at reasonable prices and our people no longer fight for madeya (maize husks);


It has been two years after devaluation of the Kwacha and now we are witnessing inflation rates coming down; and the Kwacha regaining strength;


Indeed it has been two years since God placed me in the transit lounge to prepare Malawi to receive the blessings of the
next 50 years. To God be the glory.




My fellow Malawians

Our country has once again become a better place to live and do business in.

We have made tremendous progress in the past 2 years.


The journey to recover our economy has been difficulty but rewarding. All of us have sacrificed and endured for this progress.

And today what is it that we see?


Today, we see the economy is looking good.


Today, the crops in the field are looking good.


Today, our currency is stabilising.


Today, our foreign exchange reserves are looking good at 3 months import cover.


Today, inflation and interest rates are going down.


Today, efforts to stop corruption have been like never before. We have taken very far reaching measures in dealing with fraud and corruption in Government including engaging foreign forensic auditors. This audit will cover the period from 2005 up to 2013.
These successes we have registered represent the foundation of a transformation agenda that the People’s Party is proposing to implement in the next five years.


We cannot have a better time to take off than now. Today, we seek to mobilise and unite all Malawians around this common vision of a Transformation Agenda. The agenda that seeks to improve the lives of all Malawians through economic growth,
wealth creation and political empowerment.


It is unacceptable to me as the President of Malawi, as it should be to all Malawians, that we have children continuing to suffer from malnutrition.


Or that they yearn to learn, but have to sit under trees rather than proper classrooms. It is unacceptable that a mother should die while giving birth because the nearest health center is far away. Or that thousands die of diseases that we have answers for.


It is unacceptable that the youth who represent the future of our world have few opportunities to realize their potential. Or that they are not guaranteed a society where they can mobilise themselves into financial citizens. It is unacceptable that farmers and other workers continue to toil to make the best of what they have but do not get the fruits of their labour due to lack of modernization, a supportive policy environment and access to markets; and that they are buried under global tariffs
and taxes.


For decades, I have fought these issues in Malawi and in the world as an activist and through my work at the grassroots.
I have experienced the struggles of the poor and the suffering of our people. I have championed the advancement of
the oppressed and marginalized, fought for the rights of women, youth and children, campaigned for the betterment of the rural and urban poor.


My fellow Malawians The Peoples Party Manifesto contains our plans for addressing the challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality.


We have, therefore, put Integrated Rural Transformation as the central focus of our plans for the next five years.
Our priorities during this term remain rural development, agriculture and food security, education, health, infrastructure
development, women empowerment,youth and vocational training, the creation of more jobs, decent work and sustainable livelihoods, reforming public service and the fight against crime and corruption.


We are also continuing to expand access to housing and basic services and building integrated human settlements.


The Peoples Party is decided to continue deepening a democratic governance and building a capable state and create conditions for
the promotion of patriotism, social solidarity and social mobilisation.


The Integrated Rural Transformation will be anchored by Mudzi Transformation Initiative as the flagship programme to
modernize rural areas and fight poverty.


We recognize that unless the majority of our citizens become active economic citizens, as a nation we will not easily
overcome poverty. In this regard, the main focus of the Peoples Party Government is to transform Malawi’s rural communities into vibrant hubs of agri-business and industrial activities and translate the country’s youth into a demographic dividend. In this regard, we seek to:


.Continue building decent houses for our people particularly those in rural areas and the urban poor.

. Distribute more cows to more than one million families in five years;

. Provide more fertilizer and seeds to our people through the Fertilizer Subsidy Programme

. Provide more fertilizer to our people through the Farm input Loan Programme;

. Provide potable clean water across the country;


. Build assets of households;

. Support rural farmers, farming clubs and cooperatives to access loans, grow cash crops, and access to markets;

. Support roads, health and education infrastructure development in rural communities;

. Support the development of cottage industries;

. Provide special housing schemes for serving low grade civil servants, for example, health workers, teachers, community and extension workers, police men and women; and

. Implement the Malawi Social Action Fund.


My fellow Malawians
The Peoples Party is offering a transformation that expands access to social services that meet minimum standards of quality of life regardless of location; that reduces inequality; and that accelerates progress towards an all inclusive community and
national development.


Therefore this is a transformation agenda that will get rid of a hoe as an implement of choice;

that will get rid of grass thatched house;

that will get rid of drinking contaminated water.



Through this transformation, we seek to Increase agricultural production and food security though:

.Reorganising the Ministry of Agriculture;


. Creating a Malawi Agriculture Transformation Authority to drive change in the agriculture sector;

. Establishing Agriculture Investment Bank to provide more loans to farmers;

. Establishing new co-operatives and farming clubs;

. Increasing livestock production;

. Expanding irrigation farming and intensify two crops a year;

. Supporting and improve tobacco farming;

. Building more silos in Blantyre, Lilongwe, Zomba and Mzuzu.


Indeed, this agenda seeks to decentralize tobacco marketing and licensing systems to districts in order to ensure broad-based
participation by our rural tobacco farmers.


My fellow Malawians
This is a transformational agenda that prioritises animal and fish farming through innovative programmes like Malawi Fish for All
Initiative.


Yes, through this Manifesto, the People’s Party has embraced a holistic approach to improving quality of and access to education.
The People’s Party Government is committed to improving education facilities and infrastructure, teacher’s development, provision of adequate teaching and learning materials, improving conditions of services for teachers among others.


To demonstrate this commitment, the People’s Party promises to:

 Transform the University of Malawi Colleges into fully fledged Universities as one of the strategies to expand access and improving efficiency of operations;


 Construct six Teacher Training Colleges and convert Domasi College of Education into a fully fledged Domasi University of
Education to address the supply of teachers;

 Strengthen the school inspectorate at primary and secondary levels to ensure that education standards and quality match the overall transformation agenda;


 Build 4 vocational and technical colleges to expand access to skills development for our youth.

 The People’s Party is proposing trans-formative strategies in reforming our health sector, and our economy in general.


In the Infrastructure sector, the People’s Party Government aims at implementing programmes for developing a modern and
effective roads network:


• Connect every district headquarters and regulated border post to a bituminized road Network;

• Accelerate and improve routine road maintenance and upgrading by building technical and institutional capacity at all levels
and providing graders in all districts;

• Design a master roadwork plan that should serve the country for the next 50 years;

• Expand the city road network by building more dual carriage highways including the road from Mchinji Round-about to Airport
Turn off;

• Upgrade all major bridges and construct new ones to replace those that have outlived their lifespan;

• Install street lights in all the major cities and district headquarters and ensure that they are functional;

• Provide other modes of transport including city buses, especially to Capital Hill and rural areas, to ensure a comprehensive and coordinated public transport system.


The Peoples Party is offering new hope to our youth; to our women; to our people with disabilities and to our elderly. The Peoples Party is saying that you are the people and therefore the owners of the Party. You are the backbone of the Party’s existence and success.


The PEOPLE’S PARTY Government is committed to improving the plight of most vulnerable members of our communities. In
this regard, through our manifesto we seek to:

Scale up Public Works Programme, School Feeding, Bursary Programmes and Food Aid;


Fast track the finalization of the social support policy to provide the framework for innovation in the provision of social
protection interventions;

• Enhance and promote regular transfers to the most vulnerable and the ultra-poor households;

• Promote longer term, skills oriented and asset enhancing social protection interventions;

• Implement coherent and progressive social support interventions to maximize synergies;

• Improve and scale up the Social Cash Transfer programmes to all 28 districts;

• Support people affected by natural disasters or shocks so that they do not descend into destitution.


My fellow Malawians
This vision requires us to agree on what we must do to realize our destiny.

Most of all, we want a Government that is of the people; respects the people; and serves the people. We want a Government that
guarantees the freedom, dignity, and pride of every Malawian.


We want a Government that is motivated, efficient and able to deliver on its mandate.



My fellow Malawians

I am committed to continue to champion the cause of the rural and urban poor.

I am committed to continue champion the cause of women and youth.

I am committed to continue champion the cause of the workers, the people with disability and the elderly. I am committed
to continue champion the cause of the business community. Yes, I am committed to continue champion the cause of students.


Indeed, I am committed to rural transformation as the centre-piece of our transformational agenda.


This is in response to the fact that life in rural Malawi is a continuous struggle and the rural folks are looking for a leadership and a government that can change their life circumstances forever.


I want to call upon all our people: men and women, young and old; rich and poor to see what I see because I am indeed seeing prosperity upon our land. Now it demands of us to make a better Malawi possible.



A Malawi that becomes the hope of our people and the continent. A Malawi that is a centre of excellence for doing
business. A Malawi that participates in leadership of global affairs.


A Malawi that is efficient and skilful. Yes, a healthy Malawi. In this regard, the choices we make today are critical in
determining the future we desire to have.


I have full confidence in the people of Malawi. We all share the same dream of a better future for our country, our
families, and our children. This Manifesto says what the People’s Party Government, under my leadership, intends to do in order to achieve that objective. I ask of you for your support.


It is Possible to transform Malawi. Nzotheka!


It is possible for the People’s Party to win this
election! Nzotheka!


A better Malawi is possible. Nzotheka!


With these remarks, I declare the People’s Party Campaign for the May 2014 Tripartite Elections launched.

I thank you

Friday, March 28, 2014

HIV as a chronic disease: Dealing with Lifelong Treatment in Africa

Press release Institute of Tropical Medicine in Antwerp – for immediate release (ook beschikbaar in het Nederlands, aussi disponible en Fran├žais)





(ANTWERP, 27/3/2014) Since 2004, the number of patients on antiretroviral drugs increased 24-fold in Sub-Saharan Africa to 6.9 million*. HIV has become a chronic disease which demands lifelong strict adherence to treatment. However, health systems in Southern Africa are not equipped to keep an unprecedented large number of patients in lifelong treatment. Alternatives are therefore urgently needed. Freya Rasschaert, researcher at the Institute of Tropical Medicine (ITM) in Antwerp, explored innovative solutions that take into account the needs of patients and the local reality. Rasschaert will receive a doctorate on Friday (March 28) at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel for her research in Ethiopia, Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.




In these countries, HIV care services were decentralised to peripheral health centres to facilitate access to lifelong antiretroviral therapy (ART). However, these peripheral centres are usually not equipped or adapted to deal with the additional work pressure and the number of additional patients. Malawi and Ethiopia are two examples of how this problem can be addressed delegating tasks to lower health cadres and creating new functions dedicated to HIV care, without compromising the quality of the care. However, strengthening health systems only is not enough to improve access to ART and retention in care: "As long as a patient is sick, a health centre remains the most indicated place for treatment. However, you can't expect a fit HIV patient on ART to travel for two to three hours ever month just to fetch his or her pills. Furthermore, all peripheral health centres will be overcrowded and saturated within a short amount of time,” says Rasschaert.




According to Rasschaert, treatment models of other chronic diseases, with the emphasis on 'self-management', can be applied to HIV care. Health care providers then no longer carry the main responsibility, but are essentially involved in teaching the necessary skills and knowledge to help patients cope with their disease themselves and to accompany them during this process. "This way people with HIV actively participate in the care of their chronic illness. At the same time, it reduces the work pressure in the health centres, providing more time for the health staff to care for the acutely ill."




Most of the chronic care models in developed countries can count on the support of strong health systems and multidisciplinary teams, which is rarely the case in countries with limited resources. That is why other support mechanisms, such as ‘peer support’ and social engagement, are so important. The community-based treatment model in Tete, Mozambique, is a good example of how patients can play an active role in their own care and the care of fellow patients. Groups formed by patients stable on ART ensure monthly access to antiretroviral drugs through a rotating drug collection system. They also offer support in therapy adherence and provide a protected environment in which patients can freely discuss their daily problems and challenges.




"HIV patients and their communities can play an important role in keeping people in treatment, but that's no excuse not to tackle the health system’s problems. Stronger health systems and innovative patient-centered care should go hand in hand in lifelong HIV care," concludes Rasschaert.



Rasschaert made use of literature studies, analysis of routine data, retrospective cohort analyses and qualitative research methods to come to her conclusions.



END

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Malawi’s Missed Opportunity For Electoral Reforms Threatens To Undermine 2014 polls- Report

MEDIA RELEASE





Blantyre, March 27 2014- As Malawi gears up to go to what many are calling the closest electoral race in its history, a new report entitled: “Malawi- Political Participation and Democracy,” has pointed to the missed opportunity for electoral reforms in the country.



It states that the First Past The Post (FPTP) electoral system does not appear to be serving Malawi well. And ‘losers’ have ended up being crowned ‘winners’ in general elections. Currently Malawi’s electoral rules states that any person vying for political office is deemed the winner based on a simple majority.




In essence, one can be a winner of an election without a mandate, as was the case in 1994 with former president Mulizi, who received only 47% of the vote. Ten years later this trend was repeated by late Bingu wa Mutharika, who garnered only 36% of the vote, yet still went on to be president, (although in 2009 Mutharika had 66% of the vote). In essence 64% of electorates rejected him, but because of the FPTP system, he ended up being at the helm of government.



“The people of Malawi spoke up in 2006, during the constitutional conference, and decided that an overhaul of its electoral systems was needed. Almost seven years and two elections later, their wishes have not come to pass. Priority must now be placed on reforms and whoever ends up at the helm after May 20th elections, must commit to fulfilling these aspirations and focus on meaningful reform of the electoral system so that good governance and democracy can be consolidated,” said Ozias Tungwarara, manager in the Africa Regional Office of the Open Society Foundation.



Participants at the constitutional conference had stated specifically that there has to be a 50 plus one majority for any candidate to be declared winner. This meant that if any candidate could not amass the required more 50% of the votes then a second round of balloting would be held. This recommendation was never been implemented, and was ignored by most politicians because it served their interests.



The report also warns of the lack of public confidence in the Malawi Electoral Commission, due to the dominance of the executive, which controls the appointments and dismissals of the Commissioners. MEC’s track record of managing elections is also highlighted, whereby irregularities and logistical problems continue to undermine its credibility.



The debate for an overhaul of the voters’ roll remains unresolved, which could magnify the current perception that the MEC is unable to provide a level political playing field for opposition candidates. The report calls for all candidates to focus on calling for the creation of a new voters’ roll as a priority for future elections in Malawi. It also asks the MEC to work closely with the National Registration Bureau in its future projections on registration and confirmation of the voters’ roll, once reforms have been enacted.



The report also raises concern over the politics of ethnicity and regionalism, which it states are glaring realities in Malawi. As far back as 1994, the three dominant parties: AFORD; MCP and UDF have retained sizable and consistent margins in North, Central and Southern areas of the country, respectively. And it calls for a code of conduct established by law for political parties, which should be enforced by the MEC.





The 323 page study also praises Malawi’s democratic credentials, and urges law makers to focus on far reaching reforms and harmonize laws that relate to local government and local government elections, the constitutional amendment act of 2012 and the national Decentralization Policy, with a view to creating a clear legal and policy framework for local governance in Malawi. The study authored by Wiseman Chirwa, focuses on nine thematic areas: Malawi’s constitutional framework; equal citizenship; policy processes; elections; political parties; the legislature; local government; traditional authorities; and development assistance. It makes recommendations for urgent reforms in all thematic areas, and states that another opportunity for demonstration of political will for political transformation in Malawi should not be lost after the general elections in May.



###END##






Background:


The studies on Political Participation and Democracy have been conducted and launched in Benin, DRC, Ghana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Senegal Sierra Leone Swaziland, South Africa and Zambia. Kenya is soon to be published. This forms part of a series of reports that also assesses governance in the Justice Sector and Public Service Delivery in Education in the respective countries.



Who:




AfriMAP, the Africa Governance Monitoring and Advocacy Project, is an initiative of the Open Society Foundations, and works with national civil society organizations to conduct systematic audits of government performance in three areas: the justice sector and the rule of law; political participation and democracy; and effective delivery of public services. The project also assesses the African Peer Review Mechanism and roles of Public broadcasters in Africa.

www.afrimap.org




OSISA, the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) is a regional Foundation that is part of a global network of the Open Society Foundations. Established in 1997, and based in Johannesburg, OSISA’s vision is the realization of a vibrant Southern African society in which people, free from material and other deprivation, understand their rights and responsibilities and participate democratically in all spheres of life. In pursuit of this vision, OSISA’s mission is to initiate and undertake advocacy work (and support initiatives by others) that seek to establish the ideals of open society in the region.

www.osisa.org




MHRRC, Malawi Human Rights Resource Centre works with civil society organizations to effectively support the developing democracy in the country. MHRRC contributes towards the consolidation of channels of free expression and other rights for the citizens by working with and building the capacity of NGOs and CSOs working on human rights.

http://www.humanrights.mw



For more Information please contact:



In Malawi:

Ozias Tungwarara

Email: oziast@osisa.org

Mobile: +265 998 792 312




In South Africa:

Jeggan Grey-Johnson

Email: jeggangj@osisa.org

Tel: +27836200578

MOZAMBIQUE GENERAL ELECTIONS VOTER REGISTRATION IN MALAWI

PRESS RELEASE






The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation would like to inform the General Public that the Government of the Republic of Mozambique through its High Commission in Lilongwe sought the approval of the Malawi Government to conduct a voter registration exercise in the country from 16th March to 14th April, 2014 targeting Mozambican nationals. The exercise is being undertaken in respect of the General Elections scheduled to take place in October, 2014. The targeted areas for the exercise are Lilongwe, Blantyre, Salima, Dedza, Nkhotakota, Nsanje, Mzuzu and Chikwawa districts.



The General Public is further informed that the voter registration exercise for Mozambican citizens in the diaspora is a normal practice taking place in many countries where Mozambique has diplomatic representation.



Any inquiries regarding the voter registration of the Mozambican nationals should be made to Mozambique High Commission, Lilongwe or alternatively Mozambique Consulate, Blantyre or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Lilongwe.











Issued by:

Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation,

Capital Hill,

P.O. Box 30315,

LILONGWE 3.



Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Suspension of Voters Roll Inspection


PRESS RELEASE



The Malawi Electoral Commission sincerely regrets to advise that due to logistical challenges and inadequacies in the preliminary voters’roll, it has decided to suspend the voters’ roll inspection exercise.


This means all centres that had been opened will be closed. The Commission will soon announce when the exercise will resume.


All stakeholders are being assured of the highest commitment by the Commission to hold a credible Tripartite Election on 20th May 2014.


Signed this 25th day of March, 2014 at Blantyre.


Willie Kalonga
Chief Elections Officer

Monday, March 24, 2014

Malawi Law Society Says: Political Violence Threatens The People of Malawi’s Right to Rule





The Malawi Law Society (MLS) has noted with great concern and outrage the senseless violence that occurred at Goliati Trading centre in Thyolo that claimed the lives of a civilian and a Police Officer and the other incidences of political violence that have occurred and the continued blame game which is raging on which is not only exacerbating the situation but also threatens the holding of free and fair elections in this country. MLS condemns in no uncertain terms those involved in perpetuating this political violence, such barbaric behaviour cannot be tolerated in a democratic dispensation such as ours. When we opted to become a democracy we gave the right to rule to the people of Malawi and they exercise this right by electing their preferred political leaders .The people’s right to govern themselves is therefore being threatened and challenged by this barbaric political violence.



Our politicians should not underestimate the effect of political violence on the development of our country. Political violence breeds political instability and this in turn affect a number of developmental issues including investor confidence and respect for human rights, we only need to look at some of our neighbours to realise the impact of political instability on the citizenry.



The MLS calls upon leaders of different political parties to take responsibility for their supporters and make sure that whoever instigates violence should face disciplinary action or even expulsion from the party. We also urge the different political leaders to come up with various means to create employment and business opportunities for our youths and desist from using them as tools for political violence. We also call upon the Malawi Police Service to vigorously investigate the incidents and bring to book all culprits involved regardless of party affiliation.


Felisah Kilembe,
MLS General Secretary



Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Shadows

Yesterday, it was them chasing the shadows; now, the shadows have fled. There is nothing to chase anymore. The wind, may be. The wind that blows after five years. How things change!

Death Announcement of Fr. Mattias Chiwanda




18th March 2014



Death Announcement


The Catholic Secretariat of the Episcopal Conference of Malawi regrets to announce the death of Fr. Mattias George Chiwanda a priest of the Catholic Diocese of Chikwawa. Fr. Chiwanda passed on at Kalemba Hospital in Nsanje District in the evening having been sick for a short time.


Fr. Mattias George Chiwanda
was born on 12th July 1969 and hailed from Sorgin Village, T/A Mbenje in Bangula Parish in Chikwawa District. He was ordained priest on 16th July 1995 at Chikwawa Cathedral and served in the following parishes and institutions: Nsanje Parish, Misomali Parish, Nsanje Spirituality Centre, Mzimu Woyera Seminary and Ngabu Parish.


Burial Mass will be on, 20th March 2014, at Chikwawa Cathedral Cemetery starting from 9.30am. Right Reverend Peter Musikuwa will preside over the Requiem Mass.


May the Soul of Reverend. Fr. Mattias George Chiwanda Rest in Eternal Peace.



Rev. Fr. George Buleya
SECRETARY GENERAL


“AN OUTRIGHT CONDEMNATION”

MALAWI CATHOLIC COMMISSION FOR JUSTICE AND PEACE (CCJP)

MEDIA STATEMENT

ON EMERGING POLITICAL VIOLENCE - 18TH MARCH 2014.



“AN OUTRIGHT CONDEMNATION”




PREAMBLE


The Justice and Peace Commission of the Episcopal Conference of Malawi, an institution mandated by the Catholic bishops to ensure works for and promotion of a just and peace Malawian society is hereby condemning categorically the acts of violence that have resurfaced in this immediate past as evidenced by the fracas and subsequent loss of life in Thyolo-Goliati over the weekend and the beating in a private hotel (but on an open place) of an opposition politician in Blantyre on Monday night, due to apparently politically motivated reasons. CCJP emphatically states that no one must lose his or her life or get disfigured due to violence emanating from political rallies. The right to life and safety supersedes the right to political association and assembly as such; no amount of political differences and verbal provocation should lead to any acts of violence and sudden deaths or wounding of any person.


OUR SERIOUS CALL TO ALL


We, the Justice and Peace Commission, therefore, call upon all political leaders, their supporters, the state security functionaries, traditional leaders and the general citizenry to remember always to work for peace and calm at all times; and that during these hyped- elections times, all must ensure safety and security of all that come to listen to campaign issues that seek to ensure an informed citizenry that will make its choice of leaders on May 20, 2014 based on their assessment of the leaders that have successfully won their hearts not by intimidation, nor coercion. We also call on the youths to refuse to be abused by political leaders to perpetrate violence.



ISSUES THAT MALAWIANS MUST REMEMBER

With this important basis, we therefore remind fellow Malawians the following:

The laws of Malawi allow for plural politics meaning different political parties will always exist and operate in Malawi. The same laws do not allow political parties’ ownership of some geographical zones or territories. Freedom of assembly is agreed and acknowledged for all without political discrimination.


The laws of Malawi allow political parties to conduct political meetings anywhere and anytime as far as notices to right authorities are given so that they do not book more than one party at a given venue.



The Malawi Electoral Commission has encouraged Malawians- just like CSOs and FBOs including the academia have an issue-based campaign- so that political players do not exploit people’s ignorance by telling them non-essential issues like name calling, bad-mouthing, there will be no inflammatory vocabulary; how good or bad another leader is looking, who is appropriate or inappropriate to be or not to be a leader in Malawi.


But that political campaigns should offer alternative views on policy and developmental issues; as such, there will be no Malawian youths must not be used by political leaders to incite political violence. The youths have a role in Malawi and this is in development and leadership strides of our country. The current violence reminds us of the nasty situation in 1999 when Alick Makina died during fracas between NDA AND UDF, in 2004, innocent Epifania Bonjesi IN 1999, on 20th July, 2011 20 lives were lost. We regret that the youths whore are being used in these acts are ending up being victims of their own acts.



In view of this, we call upon the youths to desist from being used by barbaric politicians. We are a nation that maintains social values of respect for others, peaceful co-existence, settlement of our differences, communal dialogue and our social cohesion as the warm heart of Africa should not be sacrificed by political bigotry and sycophancy. We need to love our political parties, yes, but we need not be zealots and blind loyalists even at the expense of our brothers or sisters’ life.



Ours therefore is a call to Malawi Electoral Commission to make sure that measures are put in place and reinforced to allow parties to comply with best standards of conducting their political rallies. We also appeal for justice in all such cases since we believe in the saying “where there is no justice, there is no peace”


OUR APPEAL



We call upon all leaders of political parties to condemn any acts of violence and to continue encouraging their supporters to remain peaceful.
We call upon Malawi Electoral Commission to find ways of disciplining parties in a very tangible way including disqualifying potential candidates, if indeed proven to having perpetrated political violence.


As our Catholic Bishops reminded us in “Strengthening the Vision of Our Destiny” December 1st, 2013 pastoral letter that “The forthcoming tripartite elections provide us with the best opportunity for strengthening the vision of our destiny. Essentially this entails conducting elections that are free, fair and credible and electing leaders that have the desire, commitment and capability of turning our country around. It also entails that the electorate can get out of chronic object poverty by electing leaders who can enable them to do so”.


Furthermore, our Bishops recently reminded us that “When we began the journey towards our independence, we dreamt of ushering in a new era…we envisioned a country emancipated politically and economically. Peace is one of the values we envisioned as clearly expressed in the National Anthem: ‘O God bless our land of Malawi, keep it a land of peace’…” (Strengthening our destiny, 1st December 2013, p. 3)


We conclude by emphatically saying that we need an environment of peace, calm and freedom to campaign, articulate real issues, to participate in these campaigns without fear, favour and prejudices.


God Bless Malawi.




SIGNED ON BEHALF OF CCJP BY: Chris Chisoni- National Secretary, today: 18th March 2014.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

CONDEMNATION OF VIOLENCE AT PRESIDENT JOYCE BANDA’S RALLY IN THYOLO

PRESS STATEMENT

18TH March 2014





Malawi Electoral Support Network (MESN) has learnt with great shock about the violence that erupted at President Joyce Banda’s mass rally in Thyolo on Sunday, March 16 2014. The political violence resulted in the death of two people, a civilian and a police officer. This is uncalled for and very unfortunate. MESN sends its sympathies to the bereaved families.



MESN condemns violence in the run up to the May 20 tripartite elections as that has the potential of scaring away voters to participate in the electoral processes that would help them make informed choices of their leaders. MESN asks political party leaders to urge their supporters to avoid violence at any cost. MESN urges political parties to advance issue based campaign. Malawi is known to be a peaceful nation and as such MESN condemns any leader or party that would want to turn it into a battle-ground . MESN calls upon leaders of all political parties to desist from using the youth to attack their opponents in the name of political campaign.



We also urge leaders of political parties to desist from using hate speech when addressing their supporters. Hate speech is a recipe for violence. Malawians are tired of political leaders who promote hate speech. Malawians want clean politicians who will bring hope to their suffering and pain. At 50 now, the country has not benefitted anything from hate speech and violence; instead, innocent lives have been lost. MESN asks law enforcers to do their work professionally and bring to justice perpetrators of violence without fear or bias.



MESN calls upon all electoral stakeholders to ensure that the playing field is leveled so that Malawians are given the opportunity to freely participate in the forthcoming elections.



Steve Duwa

Chairperson

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Court Finds One Guilty for Corruption



In September, 2010, the Anti-Corruption Bureau received a complaint alleging that Mr. Peter Mtamula from Chalemera Village an off shoot of Dzikolatha village bribed STA Ndakwera in Chikwawa district with K6,500.00 so that STA Ndakwera should rule in favour of him in a land dispute with Mrs. Melesita Lawrence Notesi.


The Anti-Corruption Bureau instituted an investigation where it was established that Mr. Mtamula Bribed the Chief who in turn reported the matter to Nchalo Police Station. Nchalo Police referred the matter to the Bureau.


The Anti-Corruption Bureau took Peter Mtamula to Nchalo Magistrate’s Court. He was charged with one count of corrupt transaction with public officers contrary to Section 24 (2) of the Corrupt Practices Act.


On 12th March, 2014, the Nchalo Magistrate’s Court found Peter Mtamula guilty of the count convicted him accordingly. He was sentenced to twenty four months imprisonment with hard labour. The sentence was suspended to twelve months on mitigation that the convict is old (70 years) and not in good health most of the times.


The Bureau commends STA Ndakwera for ensuring that justice is not prevented by corruption and calls upon all to follow the good example shown by STA Ndakwera by reporting the corrupt to Police or the Anti-Corruption Bureau.




EGRITA M. NDALA
SENIOR PUBLIC RELATIONS OFFICER
FOR: DIRECTOR GENERAL


Friday, March 14, 2014

Mining in Malawi: From A Curse to Development Tool


To count, or not to count, That is the issue.


And Paramount Chief Kyungu often opts not to count the awards community members have received as a token of appreciation from miners there.


“I strongly feel that thee is more that mining companies can do to neighbouring communities than is currently the case. Things like promoting quality education and access to good health,” says Kyungu.


This disappointment means he fights the nudge to count the benefits, afraid that, if he does (count), he may not be able to psych himself into the anxiety that will fall over him.


And Kyungu is not the only one affected. His subjects have often teamed up with civil society organisations to call for more benefits from mining activities taking place in Karonga, arguing that good corporate citizenship cannot be limited to the construction of a health centre.


“Of course, we know that mining companies are not the government but, at least, they should go beyond employing people from neighbouring villages, constructing tarred roads or health centres; I know of countries where community members around mines get scholarships and other things,” says Michael Nseteka, a Karonga-based businessman.




Doing more
As if buying into the community members’ line of thinking, a coalition of civil society organisations in the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) has ganged up against mining companies in a bid to end what it calls “inequalities” between worth accumulated by the companies and the poverty prevalent in areas surrounding mines.


The coalition, trading under the banner The Sadc Basic Income Grant Coalition (Sadc Big), argues that Sadc countries including Malawi can afford to give their citizens a monthly financial package and calls for the institution of a cash transfer system based on universal coverage.


It says the Malawi Government can afford to give every citizen US$15 (K6, 255) monthly, but points out that “inconsiderate” decisions to give incentives to mining.
“The Sadc Big campaign believes that due to desired secondary multiplier potentials, the amount of the Basic Income Grant is important and should be no less than US$15 (K6,255) per person per month. The delivery mechanism would go through public institutions, supporting financial inclusion,” reads part of the document.


Apart from imploring governments to provide funds to individual citizens, the coalition is also fighting for the establishment of a Sadc-wide Basic Income Grant in a move it says is aimed at reducing “severe destitution”.


It says a Basic Income Grant would help restore human dignity, decrease poverty and reduce inequality, and urges leaders not to politicize the initiative.


At a meeting held in South Africa on November 19, and attended by 19 organisations working in the Sadc region, civil society leaders said governments should hasten the process to stem wide-spread poverty in the region.


Malawi was represented by The Africa Network for the Prevention and Protection against Child Abuse and Neglect (Anppcan-Malawi) and the Centre for Social Concern. Other organisations included the Southern African Trade Union and Coordination Council, Studies in Poverty and Inequality Institute, World Vision South Africa , Mozambique Platform for Social Protection, Southern Africa Green Revolutionary Council, Lesotho Platform for Social Protection, Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa, LifeLine Southern Africa, among others.


Anppcan-Malawi Chapter country director, Kenwilliams Mhango, said the coalition was of the consensus that the Malawi Government could afford to give its citizens US$15 (K6, 255) a month, citing the proliferation of mining companies in the country.


“It was discussed at the Johannesburg meeting in November that Malawi has been losing out in terms of financial resources from the mining sector. One of the reasons was that the Government of Malawi grants so many concessions and people’s economic well-being suffers,” says Mhango said, adding:


“We conducted a survey in three districts in the Northern Region, and discovered that there are over 45 mining companies that operate there. The national cake is, surely, not being shared equally. With the sharp, worsening and disproportional distribution of the national cake come problems such as unemployment, very low income, corruption, collapse of confidence in the political system and the economy at large.”


Mhango says Malawi can learn from countries that have social protection programmes and save its citizens from severe poverty. Some African countries already implement social protection programmes.


For example, Botswana runs a universal old-age pension, Lesotho implements a non-contributory old-age scheme, Liberia offers old-age assistance, Mauritius has a universal old-age pension, Namibia has old-age pension, South Africa has old-age pension child support grant and child support grant, care dependency grant and disability grant.


The other countries include Mozambique, which has a minimum income for school attendance, among others.




Creating a win-win situation

Mining Minister John Bande says Malawi was on a learning curve, and has since learned from experience and would ensure mining agreements signed with foreign and local prospectus create a win-win situation in a bid to increase the sector’s contribution towards economic development.


Responding to a questionnaire on why the government is taking time to finalise discussions with Globe Metals of Australia, Mining Minister John Bande said discussions between the government and the investor were at an advanced stage.


“We want to safeguard the interest of Malawians now by making sure that agreements we make create a win-win situation,” says Bande, adding:


“The mineral resources belong to Malawians and we, the Joyce Banda administration, are just custodians with a responsibility to ensure that Malawians understand and benefit from mining deals.”


Bande says, in a bid to ensure that Malawians benefit from the mineral resources, the government had instituted a nationwide geo-physical exploration exercise, with such companies as Nu-energy had already joined government by starting airborne geophysical exploration in selected areas of the Southern Region.


The Geo-physical Mapping exercise is a World Bank-supported initiative, and is part of the Mining Governance and Growth Support Project.



He says the government is in a drive to generate more income through mining, adding that efforts are being made to create an enabling environment. He cites the launch of the Mines and Minerals Policy in April last year, and review of the Mines and Minerals.



“We realise that, in the past, about 30 percent of our income used to come from precious stones but, somehow, the dynamics changed somewhere along the way. However, we have seen that the mining sector is now contributing 10 percent to the national economy, up from 3 percent before Paladin Africa Limited started uranium mining operations at Kayerekera in Karonga district,” says Bande.


Information sourced from the World Bank website indicates that bank’s Board of Directors approved a $25million (K10.450, 000, 000) credit to support the Malawi Government improve management and governance of its nascent mining sector on March 31, 2011.


“In the next few years, minerals would become one of Malawi’s main sources of foreign direct investment and generate up to 25 percent of export earnings, hence the need for efficiency and transparency in this sector,” the website quotes Sandra Bloemenkamp, World Bank Country Manager for Malawi, as saying.


In her ‘State of the Nation’ address, President Joyce Banda indicated that the mining sector continued to grow steadily and its contribution to the GDP grew from 3 percent in 2009 to 10 percent in 2012, resulting in a substantial increase in exports.


She also said the government had launched an airborne geophysical mineral exploration programme to be carried out by Nu-energy Gas of Australia in the districts of Chikhwawa and Nsanje.


"Government will continue to implement the Mining Growth and Governance Support Project with financial support from the World Bank and European Union; introduce training courses in mining in our institutions of higher learning,” says Banda her address.


While is clear, though, is that, as the sector grows, so will the community frustrations.







Wednesday, March 12, 2014

MISA MALAWI STATEMENT ON THE DEATH OF MEDIA LEGEND TITO BANDA



12th March, 2014

For Immediate Release


The Malawi Chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) and the entire media fraternity in the country is shocked with the untimely death of veteran writer and media trainer, Mr Tito Banda.


Banda, who hailed from Chigude Village, T.A. Kampingo Sibande, Mzimba, passed on at Mwaiwathu Private Hospital in Blantyre on Tuesday, March 11, 2014.


He was until his death a lecturer in language and literature at Mzuzu University.


Tito, as he is fondly called in the media fraternity, will be remembered as a man who trained and mentored many media practitioners in Malawi and a man who emphasised on the need for journalists to adhere to ethics and professionalism.


It is undisputable that Tito helped in shaping the media in Malawi through initiatives such as KZT school of Journalism and Pen Point School of Journalism.


MISA Malawi Chapter will miss Tito for his contribution towards the establishment of the chapter. The deceased will also be remembered as a great resource person who was until his death active in steering MISA Malawi as an organization that promotes media freedom and freedom of expression.


Tito's life remains a source of inspiration to many journalists. His death, only reminds us to carry on his good work in promoting media freedom.


His legacy in Malawian media development and literature will remain memorable as an ethno-writer; a lecturer; award winner; a founder of Pen Point School of Journalism; and a mentor.


MISA Malawi Chapter joins the media fraternity, Mzuzu University and the rest of Malawians in mourning the demise of this great son of Malawi and extends the most heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family and friends.


However, MISA Malawi and the entire media fraternity will continue to celebrate Tito's life through his achievements in media development in Malawi which include:

Authoring of many Malawian literature including his three novels:
Sekani's Solution in 1980, Bitter Disapproval in 1987 The Luke Charm in 2011;

Lecturing at Malawi School of Journalism (MIJ) and until his lecture at Mzuzu University - department of languages and literature;

2012 First Merchant Bank/ Malawi Writers Union Short story award winner;

Founder and lecture of Pen Point school of Journalism - One of the earliest journalism schools;

A mentor of many upcoming and excellent journalists in Malawi Tito also authored Overlooked and Sublime: An introductory poetic genre escapes political incorporation; and Old nyaviyuyu performance: Seven Tales from northern Malawi as told by master performer of oral narrative in 2008 later translated to Tumbuka as Vidokoni vya Nyaviyuyu in 2001.

May the soul of our beloved mentor, teacher and source of inspiration, Tito Banda, rest in eternal peace.


Signed
Anthony Kasunda
MISA MALAWI CHAIRPERSON

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

'Rev. Lazarus Chakwera's Childish’ Rant Unacceptable'


STATE HOUSE PRESS STATEMENT



Malawi Congress Party (MCP) President, Dr. Lazarus Chakwera, recently went to town on Dr. Joyce Banda's Government, describing it as ‘CHILDISH’ for the manner in which it has allegedly handled several issues of national interest.


State House believes that Dr. Chakwera’s sentiments are motivated by an apparent outrage at the prospect of losing the Presidential Elections, which are only two months away. Faced with an atrocious past during its 30-year reign, Dr. Chakwera’s MCP has a lot of work to do to convince the Malawian voter that the days of ‘DEATH AND DARKNESS’ shall never return to haunt Malawians anymore.


State House would like to state that Dr. Chakwera’s assertions are unacceptable, to say the least. His description of this administration is rude and that he is being disrespectful not only to the Head of State and Government but also to the people of Malawi.


State House would like to state without any fear of contradiction that at no time has the Dr. Joyce Banda administration ran away from the issues rocking the nation today, including the ‘infamous’ Cashgate Scandal (sic).


Her Excellency the President, Dr. Joyce Banda, has made it clear, from the outset, that these are our problems, as a nation, and that the solutions to these challenges ought to be home-grown. She has, however, invited cooperating partners, including friendly foreign governments, to assist the country in dealing with these challenges.


Dr. Chakwera ought to be reminded that among the many bold decisions that Her Excellency Dr. Banda has taken in the light of these unfortunate events, was to invite to State House all influential groups, including Civil Society, Private Sector and Political Party leaders to ‘brainstorm’ on how the country can effectively confront these challenges.


State House believes that Dr. Chakwera's approach to these issues lacks political etiquette. It is absolutely unfortunate that this is coming from a man who only one year ago was leading people to spiritual awareness and moral uprightness. It is unbelievable that such careless talk can originate from a man who seeks to lead the entire nation as Head of State.


In his wildest imagination, Dr. Chakwera suggests that the Government of Malawi is deliberately conniving with the British Government to hide the names of individuals and companies mentioned in the ‘Cashgate’ Forensic Audit Report.


State House does not wish to overstress that this matter has legal implications. It is therefore only fair and imperative to leave the matter to the relevant experts to handle.


However, suffice to reiterate that the decision NOT TO RELEASE the names for “legal, ethical and professional reasons” was solely made by the British Government, who ironically funded the forensic auditing exercise. As a leader who aspires to become Head of State, Dr. Chakwera must understand that legal matters cannot be handled as village operations.


Finally, State House believes that it is only when Dr. Chakwera chooses to be sober about these issues that he is going to see the merit of some of the decisions surrounding them. State House wishes to educate Dr. Chakwera that a ‘Childish Government’ does not operate by consensus; a ‘Childish Government’ hides behind curtains when problems arise.


Her Excellency the President, the Ministers of Finance and Information and other Government officials have held numerous press briefings to explain all matters of national importance. You do not consider that “CHILDISH”.


SIGNED

Elias Wakuda Kamanda

SPECIAL ADVISOR TO THE PRESIDENT OF POLITICAL & COMMUNICATION AFFAIRS
March 11, 2014

Strengthening the Vision of Our Destiny Preparing for 2014 Tripartite Elections During Lent and Easter

Strengthening the Vision of Our Destiny Preparing for 2014 Tripartite Elections During Lent and Easter









Episcopal Conference of Malawi

Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP)





LENTEN PERIOD OF 40 DAYS



The Church chose 40 days because in the Bible, 40 is a period of preparation:

(a) The flood during the time of Noah took 40 days:


God was preparing to recreate the earth and humanity.



(b) The Israelites were in the desert for 40 years:


God was preparing them for entry into the Promised Land.



(c) Moses stayed for 40 days on Mount Sinai


God was preparing him to deliver the commandments.


(d) Elijah journeyed to Mount Sinai for 40 days

He was preparing for an encounter with God.


(e) The Ninevites fasted for 40 days:


They were preparing for God’s forgiveness.



(f) Jesus stayed in the wilderness for 40 days


He was preparing for the proclamation of the Good News of salvation.


Similarly lent is 40 days:


We prepare to receive the salvation of paschal mystery.




THE CENTRALITY OF EASTER


(a) To the Israelites the Passover marked their transformation from slavery to freedom


(b) To Jesus, the Passover marked the transition from this sinful world to the Kingdom of his Father


(c) For Christians, the Passover marks our transformation from sin and death to eternal life












Preamble




The forthcoming Tripartite Elections will be conducted at the threshold of both the fiftieth anniversary (Golden Jubilee) of our country’s independence and the twentieth anniversary of the reintroduction of multiparty democracy in 1993. Right now, we are living in one of the most momentous times of this year both as Catholics and as citizens of our beautiful country Malawi. As Catholics, from Ash Wednesday (5th March, 2014) we enter a privileged time of 40 days (quadragesima) of intense prayer, fasting and alms giving. This period will culminate into the Holy Week – a special week of commemoration of the Sufferings, Death and Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Lent will lead into Easter when we commemorate that our Lord Jesus Christ triumphed over sin and death. As citizens of our beautiful country – Malawi – we will shortly be going to the polls in a General Election on 20 May, 2014 to elect our leaders for the next five years. We are on the threshold of an important juncture in which an extraordinary opportunity to participate in determining the direction of our country is suddenly in our hands again.



In their recent Pastoral Letter entitled “Strengthening the Vision of Our Destiny” the Bishops invited Catholics and all people of good will to make the best of the fortcoming Tripartite Elections as they provide a golden opportunity to rediscover our national destiny. Like Joshua and his compatriots, the Bishops see Malawi to be at a crossroad: “If you will not serve the Lord, choose today whom you wish to serve . . . As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15). We are urged to rediscover our national destiny and commit ourselves to it following the footprints of our founding fathers and not opt for self-destruction. We are called to rediscover and build the Malawi our forefathers envisioned and not continue creating a Malawi that betrays what our forefathers fought and died for.



The forthcoming Tripartite Elections provide us with the best opportunity for strengthening the vision of our destiny. Essentially this entails conducting elections that are free, fair and credible and electing leaders that have the desire, commitment and capability of turning our country around. It also entails that the electorate can get out of the chronic abject poverty by electing leaders who can enable them to do so. Not holding such kind of elections, not voting and not electing this kind of leaders is in our case similar to opting to choose death instead of life. This is the message of our letter which we present to our fellow Catholics and all people of good will. This is our appeal to all stakeholders in the forthcoming elections.





So, what a happy coincidence for us that the period running up to the Tripartite Elections runs alongside the liturgical period of Lent and Easter in which we commemorate the great mysteries of our salvation: Sufferings, Death and Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Is it perhaps more than a coincidence? The story of humanity cannot be considered purely secular and coincidental; it is always the unfolding story of God’s saving presence! This is a moment of God’s grace!


This document is an effort to allow the unfolding story of our country especially at this important juncture be guided by the unfolding story of God’s saving presence. It is a document that merges the Word of God in this Lenten and Easter period and the teachings of the Bishops into thematic points for prayer, reflection and action as we approach the Elections. It is a document for reflection and prayer emanating from Pastoral letters and Sunday Readings. This approach is in line with a longstanding conviction of the Church that “the joys and hopes, the grief and anguish of the people of our time, . . . are the joys and hopes, the grief and anguish of the followers of Christ as well” (Gaudium et spes 1).


While this is not a Pastoral letter of the Bishops to be read out on a particular Sunday; the idea of using the Pastoral letters in this engaging way in the period leading up to the elections has been endorsed by the Bishops. Inspired by resolutions from AMECEA, a regional grouping of Catholic Bishops’ Conferences, which, among other things, call for a more prophetic, vigilant and intrusive Catholic Church in matters of Reconciliation, Justice and Peace, this document has received the full support of the Bishops.


Bringing together key guidelines from the December, 1st, 2013 Pastoral Letter “Strengthening the Vision of our Destiny” anchored by some preceding pastoral letters that dealt with elections, the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace has, through this document, set the Church and indeed all people of good will on the right path towards Easter and towards the Tripartite Elections.


Specifically, the document has three objectives. Firstly, it acts as an inspiration to the clergy as they prepare to disseminate God’s Word during this period of Lent and the celebration of Easter. Secondly, it provides critical reflection notes and questions for discussion in such groups as the Small Christian Communities, Justice and Peace Meetings, Youth Groups, Lay movements, and various other Election discussion fora. Finally and above all, this document is intended to inspire people towards personal reflection, prayer and conversion in this Lenten and Easter Seasons. This is a pastoral initiative intended at motivating Christians during this period to think about their positive role and engagement in shaping the future of this nation.



This project would have remained on the level of the wish of the Bishops had it not been for the active participation and support of various people, groups and organizations. Thanks to their efforts and resources, we now have this document in our hands. Now, the stage is set for us as the liturgical period of Lent and Easter runs alongside the period towards the Tripartite Elections. It is not a coincidence. This is the period in which we are called to testify that the unfolding events in our country cannot be considered purely secular; they are indeed part of the unfolding story of God’s saving presence!






Rev. Fr. George Buleya

Secretary General – Episcopal Conference of Malawi
















INTRODUCTION


2014 is an Election Year and as such an important year for us as Malawians. The forthcoming Lenten and Easter period starting from Ash Wednesday, 5th March, 2014, is a privileged moment in which we are to pray for and ponder over the choice of leaders we want for our country.


Lent


Lent is a period of purification and enlightenment. It is a period of illumination. There are thre major areas we are asked to pay attention to:

1. Steadfastness in Prayer


Lent is the time to beg from God the courage to change our ways and believe in the Gospel. During this season of Lent, each one of us is called to begin and end the day with a prayer. Besides, we are called upon to pray before and after taking upon any task. Jesus Christ taught us to pray at all times and to pray without ceasing. Prayer is raising ourselves, heart and mind, to God; and prayer surpasses all other things. However, caution is given not to parade ourselves in the streets and to enter into temptation to recite long prayers when we pray. Our prayers should be said trusting that God is our Father who loves us at all times and is always ready to come to our aid. When we pray we, in actual fact, express our desire to do his will rather than forcing him to do what we want and wish.


In our Lenten prayers this year, we are called upon to pray for the forthcoming tripartite elections so that we may be enlightened by Him and vote for good, visionary and transformative leaders who will lead Malawi to development and prosperity.


2. Fasting


The Lenten season challenges each one of us to forego that which brings the pleasures of the body, controlling passions and selfishness. These would include food and drink. Scriptures indicate that Jesus himself fasted for forty days. This practice and observance is an attempt to discipline ourselves and to let our hearts and mind be united with God. This helps us in the struggle and fight against evil and Satan.


3. Charity

Finally, the money and all the resources that we have saved as we fast are meant to be used to assist the poor and needy which include orphans and widows. This teaches us self-sacrifice. Malawians are called upon this year to vote into power in the forthcoming tripartite elections leaders who will help bring unity, justice, peace and development in the country. Let us not bring this country into the hands of bad leaders who will have no concern over the poor especially the rural masses and leaders that are selfish and busy enriching and amassing wealth for themselves. Let us be alert and not to be fooled by leaders who are making false promises of bringing cheap wealth without working for it.



Easter



The Christian Easter derives from the Israelite Passover which commemorated and re-presented the exodus which liberated the Hebrews from Egyptian slavery. The Israelites celebrated the feast at night on the full moon of vernal equinox on the 14th of Abib (later Nisan). Originally, they offered to Yahweh a young male lamb or kid born that year and without blemish (Ex 12:3-6) and broken bone (Nm 9:12) to draw divine blessings upon their flocks. The blood of the lamb or kid was smeared on the doorpost as a sign of preservation. Its flesh together with unleavened bread was eaten during a rapid meal.



During Passover the Israelites remembered and made real the unforgettable event when the Angel of Yahweh passed over their houses while He struck the first-born of the Egyptians. They celebrated this feast not only to proclaim the mighty works wrought by God for them but to make present and real their liberation and national identity.



In the New Testament, Jesus celebrated the Passover before his passion and death. During the meal he took bread and changed it into his body. He also took a chalice of wine and turned the wine into his blood to be poured out for the salvation of many. Through this ritual Jesus became the new paschal lamb whose death marked a new exodus from this sinful world to the Kingdom of his Father (Jn 13:1).



The Christian Easter celebrates the Passover of Jesus from death to eternal life. Since Jesus Christ rose on the first day of the week, Christians commemorate and make present this event a day after the Jewish Sabbath. The Romans called this day “the Day of the Sun”. Christians turned it into “the Day of the Lord” (Tsiku La Mulungu) (Rev. 1:10).



Easter is the Feast par excellence for both Israelites and Christians. It challenges them to conform their lives to the events they commemorate and make present. By uniting with Christ in the Eucharist, Easter spurs Christians towards the hope of encountering him in his second coming (Parousia) (I Cor. 11:26). On Saturday prior to Easter, Christians hold a Vigil night to read the account of salvation history; baptize Catechumens as people of God; symbolise their death from sin and rising to new life; and celebrate the Eucharist. In this way, the Christian Passover stimulates each Christian to look forward to achieve the Paschal Mystery through encounter with the Lord in his passion, death and resurrection. Thus the Christian Passover marks the beginning of a journey toward the heavenly banquet.



The Forthcoming Tripartite Elections


In the forthcoming Tripartite Elections, the voter will have the opportunity to vote for a ward Councilor, a Member of Parliament and the President. In this case, it is important to articulate what the voter will have to consider before and in casting his or her vote.

Electing our candidates

The following are important factors to be considered when identifying a good candidate to represent a ward (as a Councilor), constituency (as Member of Parliament) and the country (as President).


· For Councillors, they must be known in your area, for MPs they must be known in their constituencies.


· For Councillors again, they must be familiar with your community needs.


· For the Councilors, they must be citizens of your ward, and MPs of your constituency and President of your country.

· They must have concern for the plight of the poor and the marginalized;


· They must not promise the moon but possible and achievable things within their right mandate and role as councilor, MP or President;


· They must demonstrate that they can be trusted and that they wish to serve the community and the masses;


· They demonstrate as they outline their policies and unveil their manifestos that they have a vision to transform your area and the country for the better.



Description of these three Offices


A Ward Councillor is a person elected to represent people in a council at the district or town or city level. A Councillor lives in the community and takes interest in the concerns of the people in the community or ward to do with service provision.


Roles and Responsibilities of a Councillor


To represent people in a community/ward in a council and to bring concerns that require council solutions;

To make development plans and present them to council for attention;

To lobby MPs to ensure that people in the ward receive adequate and quality national service such as electricity, security and relief;

To provide checks on council expenditure and service delivery in respect to the ward and to ensure that there is transparency and accountability in the operations of the council and give feedback to the people on council resolutions.



A Member of Parliament (M.P.) is an individual representing a territory called a constituency (an area covering two wards in rural areas or several wards in some urban areas). In Malawi we have 193 constituencies translating to 193 members of parliament.


Roles of a Member of Parliament include:


To represent people in a constituency by bringing to parliament (National Assembly) the concerns of people that require national solutions and to provide feedback to the constituency on parliamentary resolutions;

To represent local people’s interest at national level;

To oversee the functions of the state through parliamentary committees;

To debate and make national laws in the National Assembly.



A State President is an overall leader given executive powers to preside over state affairs. This is the highest leadership position in our country responsible for leading and governing the country.


Some roles of a President:


To represent all the people at national level;

To assent to bills dully passed by the National Assembly;

To provide national leadership;

To head the three arms of government namely, the Executive (the Cabinet

Ministers), Judiciary (the courts) and Legislature (the National Assembly);

To head the state and government.


Key issues for effective participation in tripartite elections.


How to cast your ballots

· There will be three ballot papers, namely, presidential, parliamentary and councilor.


· Tick three ballot papers but on each ballot tick one candidate of your choice.


· Ticking more than one candidate on a ballot paper will make the ballot paper null and void




Some important values


(a) Voters for councilors need to know clearly the boundaries of their ward for them to avoid casting their vote for a councilor in a different ward where their candidate is not available on the ballot paper.


(b) There are two wards in each of the rural constituencies except in specific urban areas.

(c) All registered voters must attend all political campaign rallies.


(d) Know the true roles of councilors, MPs and the President so as not to be confused with vain promises.


(e) It is important not to use religion, tribal and cultural identities when identifying an MP or a president whom we would like to vote for.


(f) It is not always the case that a candidate from our tribe, religion or region would be a best candidate and would have the interest of the people at heart.


(g) We are reminded to elect leaders that will transform our lives, our economy, our politics and our society.


(h) We must obey and trust God to guide us in our choice.


(i) We should elect leaders that want to bring Malawi and our areas to a new level of development and a new way of practicing politics.



9th March, 2014: FIRST SUNDAY OF LENT



1. THEME: USING WELL OUR GOD-GIVEN FREEDOM


INTRODUCTION: In his great love God created us with intellect and free will. In the first reading, we hear that our forefathers misused this God-given freedom, they disobeyed God and therefore sinned by partaking of the forbidden fruit in the garden of Eden. Where our forefathers failed, Jesus triumphed over sin and Satan’s temptations because Jesus’ food was to do the will of his father. It is important that we all submit ourselves to the will of God. True joy and peace emanate from hearing and doing the word of God. Disobedience results into what scripture terms “nakedness”, that is, demoting us from the dignity of a human person to the level of beasts. Autonomy has no place in the divine economy.



2. UNDERSTANDING TODAY’S SCRIPTURE




FIRST READING: Genesis 2:7-9; 3:1-7


(a) When God created human beings in his image, God meant to underline the sublime dignity proper to human beings than all other creatures;


(b) God intended that every person should be free and happy but that as a created being, his freedom is limited. God alone is the tree of life and tree of knowledge of good and evil. Knowing good and evil denotes omniscience; only God is omniscient;


(c) Temptations test our strengths not weaknesses. Could we say that the serpent approached the woman because she was more intelligent and quicker to learn?


(d) The serpent is considered subtle because:


(i) shedding its skin denotes its quest for immortality


(ii) it glides smoothly and strikes unexpectedly


(iii) it lays a lot of eggs.



(e) Sin consists of distorting God’s truth into falsehood. Ironically the only knowledge that Adam and Eve gained from eating the forbidden fruit was nakedness and shame.


PSALM: 50:3-6, 12-14, 17


All of us are sinners in need of God’s forgiveness. If we repent, God will readily forgive us because of his infinite mercy.


SECOND READING: Romans 5:12-19


Paul offers a vivid contrast between Adam and Jesus. Through obedience, Our Lord Jesus defeated sin and death brought about by the disobedience of Adam. Through Jesus, death has given way to life.


GOSPEL: Matthew 4:1-11


(a) Jesus is the new Moses founding a new Israel:


(i) Just as the Israelites entered the desert after crossing the Red Sea, Jesus goes to the desert after being baptized in the Jordan;


(ii) just as the Israelites spent 40 years in the desert before entering the promised land, Jesus will spend 40 days and nights in the desert before inaugurating his ministry of salvation;


(iii) just as the Israelites were tested in the desert, Jesus will experience temptations in the desert.



(b) FIRST TEMPTATION: Greed. Satan attempts to tempt Jesus to gain popularity by making food readily available for himself and as a campaign tool. Jesus did not succumb to the temptation and employed Deuteronomy 8:3, “it is not by bread alone that people live, but by all that comes forth from the mouth of the Lord”.


(c) SECOND TEMPTATION:
Miracles. Satan tempts Jesus to be ostentatious. Let Jesus throw himself from the pinnacle of the Temple since psalm 91:11 guarantees divine protection for him. If he gets unscathed, the multitude will acclaim him as Messiah. Using Deuteronomy 6:16, Jesus reminds Satan that Scripture says “you shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test”.

(d) THIRD TEMPTATION: Idolatry. Claiming to be the sovereign lord of the world, Satan suggests that Jesus kneel and worship him in order for Satan to relinquish governance of the world to Jesus. Using Deuteronomy 6:13 Jesus categorically states “the Lord your God you shall fear; him shall you serve”.


3. LESSONS:


(a) Obedience is the secret to inner happiness and tranquility. True obedience consists of hearing and doing God’s will.


(b) All human beings experience temptation with regard to self-indulgence, pride and greed for power. Let’s choose the path of love and service; Jesus is that path.


(c) Knowing Scriptures and doing God’s Word defeats temptations. Let’s be a God-fearing nation by anchoring our lives on hearing and doing God’s word.



4. TEACHINGS FROM BISHOPS’ PASTORAL LETTERS:



(a) True happiness is found in always acknowledging that we are created in the image of God and in acting as God’s children (“How to Build a Happy Nation”, 20th March, 1961);


(b) The vision of a new Malawi, expressed in the National Anthem, is “also clearly anchored on faith in God’s assistance. Our forefathers stressed that we are a God-fearing nation. Therefore our aspirations, ideals, dreams of the future and motivation for nationhood are all hinged on faith in God and inspired by the vision of God for a more humane society” (Strengthening the Vision of Our Destiny, 1st December, 2013, p. 3);



(c) There are worrisome tendencies amongst us that push for a worldview independent of and side-lining God and making human beings dependent on their own intellect and determining for themselves what is right and what is wrong (Strengthening the Vision of Our Destiny, 1st December, 2013, p. 9);


(d) It is imperative that at 50, every Malawian should be enjoying the conditions of social life that are brought about by the quest for the common good. The challenge before us is to see how much we have cooperated with God in realizing our dreams. We began with a dream of a politically and economically independent Malawi with God’s help, we should not attempt to realize this dream independently from God himself (Strengthening the Vision of Our Destiny, 1st December, 2013, p. 18).




5. POINTS FOR REFLECTION:

(a) What is the source of our unique worthiness setting us apart from the rest of creation?


(b) What lessons do we learn about the linkage between freedom and obedience to God from the Garden of Eden story?


(c) What was the vision of our forefathers regarding our country vis-a-vis our faith in God?


(d) Can you give examples in the areas of laws, policies and practices, that show that Malawians have lost the original vision and its linkage with our faith in God?


(e) In what areas could we say that the fifty years of freedom in Malawi have been of benefit to Malawians?


(f) What are the indications in the current debates on abortion, artificial contraception, homosexuality, secular humanism, that show that, like Adam, our society is craving for unlimited freedom?


(g) In the light of the original vision of the country, what kind of leaders should we choose in the forthcoming Tripartite Elections?


(h) As citizens, what roles can we play to ensure that Malawi retains a vision that is God-centred?




16th March, 2014: SECOND SUNDAY IN LENT




1. THEME: JOURNEY INTO THE FUTURE




Introduction: To achieve our goals, we need to interact with others. Abram’s adventurous journey to the land of Canaan was one that would benefit others. Through Abram, all the earth’s communities will find blessings. Similarly, Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem, the subject of discussion at the transfiguration, will bring salvation to the whole world.



2. UNDERSTANDING TODAY’S SCRIPTURES



FIRST READING: Genesis 12:1-4




(a) God called Abram to leave the security of his homeland and he ventured forth – from the familiar, secure and well-ordered life of his native place;


(b) Eventually, Abram’s faith and risk would be rewarded and would bring blessings for the nations of the world;


(c) Though difficult for him, Abram believed and obeyed God.



PSALM: 32:4-5, 18-20, 22




The Psalm is in praise of the faithfulness of God which underlies our hope in God’s promises and our confidence in God’s love.



SECOND READING: 2 Timothy 1:8-10



(a) Paul exhorts Timothy to accept all the unpleasant dimensions that comprise the Good News;


(b) God’s call is a gratuitous gift that reveals his eternal plan; the recipient of that gift ought to make an impact on others.



GOSPEL: Matthew 17:7-19




In Jerusalem, Jesus will meet the needs of the world through suffering and death on the cross. But his death will culminate in triumph and glory.


(a) Jesus’ appearance changes in front of Peter, James and John who will also see him in great agony in the garden of Gethsemane;


(b) The mountain is a place of encounter with God:



(i) The call of Moses and his receiving the ten commandments all happened in Mount Sinai;


(ii) Elijah after fleeing Jezebel’s plot to have him killed went to Mt. Sinai where he met God;


(iii) Jesus’ last temptation was in a mountain setting;


(iv) The Sermon on the Mount;


(v) Feeding of the five thousand;


(vi) Jesus bidding farewell to his disciples;




(c) Moses represents the Law; Elijah represents the prophets. The Law and Prophets is equivalent to the Old Testament. By speaking to Jesus, Moses and Elijah show that Jesus is fulfillment of the Old Testament;


(d) The voice from the cloud announces that Jesus is God’s beloved Son. We should listen to him. The past is gone. Let’s start anew.



3. LESSONS:


(a) Like Abram, venture into new areas trusting in God: stop old habits of thought, behavior and doing things; these include: hand-outs, multiplying parties empty of ideologies, leaders with no vision; greed, graft, lies, foul language, etc.


(b) Start anew, trust God and build a new Malawi. Seek the good of one another by developing a spirit of altruism. Venture into new areas; do not drop out of society, promote and foster the common good;


(c) Like Timothy, let’s preach and witness to the Gospel without fear or shame. Let’s aim at changing people’s mentality. Let’s enlighten people to stop looking at others as foils in their climb up the professional and political ladder.


(d) Just as Jesus’ countenance changed on the mountain, let’s transform our hearts, minds, and governance of our country. Let’s rid ourselves of leaders with no vision. Life is not an ego trip. Let all communities derive blessing through you. Endure pain and frustration for the benefit of others. Your primary focus should not be on your rights but responsibilities.


(e) The Church is God’s beloved child in our days. Let’s follow what our bishops have been teaching concerning democracy over the years. Let the Liturgy inspire our lives. We receive the Word and Eucharist not only to nourish us but to nourish others as well.


(f) Unlike Peter who did not comprehend what was happening but wished to prolong the experience, let’s move on.



TEACHINGS FROM BISHOPS’ PASTORAL LETTERS

(a) Like Abram’s call to leave his homeland and Jesus in the Transfiguration, the Bishops see the forthcoming Tripartite Elections as a critical moment: “Depending on our seriousness and the commitment of those to be elected, we will either miss the opportunity to rediscover and shape our destiny or we will make the most of it.” (Strengthening the Vision of Our Destiny, 1st December, 2013, p. 14);


(b) The forthcoming Tripartite Elections provide us with the best opportunity for strengthening the vision of our destiny. Essentially this entails conducting elections that are free, fair and credible and electing leaders that (like Abram and Jesus) have the desire, commitment, and capability of turning our country around.


(Strengthening the Vision of Our Destiny, 1st December, 2013, p. 1)



(c) It is not enough to have quality leadership if this is not inspired and anchored by a national development agenda. Some development initiatives and strategies are clearly national in form and transformative in nature and, therefore, need to be depoliticised and continued irrespective of whichever government is in place.


(Strengthening the Vision of Our Destiny, 1st December, 2013, p. 11)




POINTS FOR REFLECTION

(a) How can our faith help us transform our nation?


(b) Like Abram’s journey from Haran to Canaan and Jesus’ journey from Galilee to Jerusalem brought blessings to all nations, how can we ensure that we elect leaders who will bring blessings to Malawi?


(c) Just as the work of Moses and Elijah was fulfilled in Jesus, what should we do to enable that the good practices, policies and programmes meant for the national development agenda are sustained?


(d) Like Abram who was called to leave the security of his homeland, how can we identify leaders who are ready to make sacrifices for the good of our nation?





23rd March, 2014: THIRD SUNDAY OF LENT




1. THEME: FULL LIFE BY REDISCOVERING THE ORIGINAL MALAWI VISION




Introduction: Running waters denote life. Just as Jesus enlighted, helped to rediscover and transformed an immoral and outcast woman who came to draw water at a well into a witness and she in turn drew her neighbors to salvation, let us also draw people to Jesus by knowing, loving, following and imitating him.



2. UNDERSTANDING TODAY’S READINGS



FIRST READING: Exodus 17:3-7



When the Israelites experienced scarcity of water in the desert, they cried to God and He gave them water from the rock.



PSALM: 94:1-2, 6-9




Let us not harden our hearts; let us become obedient people. Blessed is the one who hears and does God’s word.



SECOND READING: Romans 5: 1, 5-8




Peace and hope quench our spiritual thirst. God gives us living waters through Jesus Chist whom we know through the Holy Spirit.



GOSPEL: John 4:5-42




(a) When Jesus requested a drink of water from a Samaritan woman, she was surprised because



(i) Jews and Samaritans were sworn enemies

(ii) No Rabbi ever talked to a woman in public.



(b) Enlightened that Jesus gives living waters, the woman begged for this water. She was helprd to rediscover herself when Jesus asked her to bring her husband. The woman was forced to own to her past life of sinfulness realized that Jesus was a prophet. She immediately shifted the discussion to a place of worship. When Jesus explained that authentic worship is in spirit and truth, the woman defensively said the Messiah would reveal all that.


(c) When Jesus revealed that he was the promised Messiah, the woman left her water jar and hurried to invite her fellow villagers to meet Jesus. After Jesus spent some days with them, the villagers confessed Jesus to be savior of the world.


3. LESSONS:


(a) Jesus came to reconcile human beings with God, all the people of the world as well as to improve relationships between men and women.


(b) Like the woman, we come to know Jesus gradually:


(i) a thirsty person asking for a drink


(ii) noble person


(iii) Prophet


(iv) Promised Messiah


(v) Savior of the world.



(c) Jesus’ follows the following modus operandi (manner of doing things):



(i) takes persons as they are


(ii) confronts them with their dignity


(iii) transforms them into new persons


(iv) elavates them into God’s children.



(d) Jesus helps us to rediscover ourselves and attain new vision


(e) We must become new people. To do so we need to


(i) drop our old mindset


(ii) stop the culture of dependence


(iii) share our secrets, joy and vision


(iv) invite people to true life, integral development, joy, peace and fullness of life.





4. TEACHINGS FROM BISHOPS’ PASTORAL LETTERS


When we began the journey towards our independence, we dreamt of ushering in an era of inclusive, human rights respecting, politically and legally enabling and economically developed society. (Strengthening the vision of our Destiny, 1 st Dec. 2013, p. 3)


Malawians envisioned a country emancipated politically and economically. This is the vision that found its way and is clearly expressed in the National Anthem. (Strengthening the vision of our Destiny, 1 st Dec. 2013, p. 3)


In a statement issued on 29th October 1960, the Episcopal Conference of Malawi said: Our obligation to make known to all laws of God upon which every society must be built and to safeguard the human rights that have been given to all by Godand which no ruler can take away from his peple (Quoted in Strengthening the vision of our Destiny, 1 st Dec. 2013, p. 3)


While sharing and echoing the vison and wishes of the people and encouraging Catholics to take part in politics without being partisan, we only prefer that which adheres to principles of charity and justice. (Strengthening the vision of our Destiny, 1 st Dec. 2013, p. 4)


The vision of our founding fathers is part of the story of the making of Malawi and will forcefully remain to challenge all of us to play our rightful roles (Strengthening the vision of our destiny 1st December, 2013 p. 5)




5. POINTS FOR REFLECTION


On 20th May 2014, Malawians will have a chance to elect leaders who will redefine the vision of this country.


(a) What lessons do we draw from the journey of rediscovery the Samaritan woman undertook?


(b) Just as Jesus challenged the woman to shift from concentrating on physical place of worship to worship in spirit and truth, how can we ensure that we internalize our piety?


(c) What is the original vision that we would like to rediscover Malawians?


(d) Are ordinary Malawians aware of this the vison?


(e) How do we ensure that we elect leaders who own this original vision of Malawi?


(f) What should all Malawians do to share the common vision of Malawi?


(g) In the forthcoming elections, how can we vote in spirit and truth?



30 March, 2014: FOURTH SUNDAY OF LENT


(AMECEA Collection Sunday)



1. THEME: CHOOSING VISIONARY LEADERS



INTRODUCTION: Often times we choose by looking at mere physical appearances. Today’s readings teach us to look at a person’s heart. The main cause of Malawi’s perpetual poverty is not merely ignorance but greed of leaders. Let’s choose leaders who are transparent, ones who do not merely enrich selves or their relatives, but are visionary.



2. UNDERSTANDING TODAY’S READINGS




FIRST READING: I Samuel 16: 1, 6, 10-13




David’s father, Jesse, went for his son Eliab and his other brothers because they looked strong, handsome, intelligent and skillful. However, God preferred the weak and despised David.



PSALM: 22




Good shepherds bring sheep to green pasture