That Malawi has over the past couple of years experienced one of the worst fuel crises is not rocket science. No motorist can claim that they have never spent hours on the queue waiting to refuel, unless they are well connected.
- 02 January 2013
- Taonga Sabola
- 31 December 2012
- Akwete Sande
The problems affecting the youths take centre-stage in most public forums involving traditional leaders, non-governmental organisations and government officials. These problems include lack of access to education; poor parenting, early marriages and sexual abuse for girls, child labour and domestic violence which make many children in the country fail to enjoy their childhood.
- 17 December 2012
- Elishah Phiri
Mary Muhariwa 38, a widow and subsistence farmer from Katima Village T/A Kapichi,in Thyolo, has seven mouths to feed, besides her own, and she has no idea how she will sustain her family over the next 12 months.
- 12 December 2012
- Simeon Maganga
She had endured walking the nine plus one months of pain and hope. Delivering a healthy and bouncing baby was what she yearned for.
- 01 December 2012
- Sellina Nkowani
"When I was 15 years old, my sister fell sick and we took her to Thekerani Hospital. The queue was long and there was only one clinician.
- 27 November 2012
- Sellina Nkowani
Tumalisye Budalla (not real name) from Traditional Authority Bwananyambi in Mangochi is just 14 years old and on meeting her, one would expect that the conversation will centre on issues of education, adolescence, and her life am-bitions career-wise when she grows up.
- 21 November 2012
- Gabriel Kamlomo
Yet again, the rains are here. The Malawian peasant farmer is back in the field tilling the land with bare hands. Later he will plant, weed and, eventually, harvest.
This is the vicious cycle smallholder farmers have to dance to. They are involuntarily glued to their pieces of land handed over to them by genetic ancestors, forefathers. It is their only source of survival.
But, while for twelve years government has demonstrated strong political will, by consistently making accessible farm inputs such as seed and fertilisers to resource constrained peasant farmers, there is also evident demonstration of increased government negligence in the farmers' interest in land ownership.
Three cases, one in Nkhata Bay, one in Chikhwawa and another in Ntcheu could be the fresh ones today.In six villages of Kasinje, Kamwetsa, Phale, Mtambalika, Kamwetsa II and Kapulura in Ntcheu district, families are at a loss for what to do as a church organization now owns what used to be their land.For the past three years, a group of 1,500 peasant farmers from Kasinje area in Ntcheu district, have well been beneficiaries of the Farm Input Subsidy Programme but may have been selling this due to their situation as their only valuable property, a cumulative 110 hectares land was snatched away.
The farmhands also strongly feel let down by the justice system in the country which, three years after being presented with the complaint about the land dispute, is yet to make public its determination.Now, the rains are here.
The villagers have the coupons for the cheap farm inputs but again, like the past three years, their land is with someone else.
"Every time we have tried to access it, gun totting police officers are invited and we are either forced out or get arrested. We are not looking for handouts, all we want is our land back so that we can continue our farming activities and live our lives," Juliana Chiwale told a gathering of the villagers and rights activists who have agreed to see the matter concluded logically together.
Their predicament makes them mad. What makes the villagers madder though is that their children stopped going to school because they can no longer provide for their needs. They are destitute in their own land because someone decided to be selfish, they loath.
The rights activists; academician Dr. Jessie Kabwila-Kapasula and Centre for the Development of People-CEDEP-Executive Director Gift Trapence were in Ntcheu on November 11 for a debriefing of what has been happening on the ground at Kasinje and saw for themselves the dire situation of the peasants.
Chiwale said the feeling among the 1, 500 farmers involved is that "it is because we are poor that no one wants to listen to us" observing that on trying to make their plight known, the gun totting police officers were invited to the area and pounced on them in November last year arresting 16 women and 32 men.
The desperate villagers from Kasinje wrote inviting the activists because of frustration that their attempts to have their concerns addressed by the office of the president and the ministry of lands have been futile as none of the two is coming forward showing concern and to show them proper direction.
As old as the matter is, Ntcheu District Commissioner Hamis Twaibu is ignorant about it. He says he has enjoyed two office terms with a break in between in the district but has never handled the matter.
"This is a strange story to me. I have never heard about it even though this is my second time in office as Ntcheu DC. I would anticipate that the people concerned bring the matter to me because even my predecessor did not hand over to me any such matter. It is news to me," says Twaibu.
The dispute over this piece of land dates back to when The Good Samaritan Church, also running an orphanage in the area, begged for the provision of a piece of land for the said purpose way back in 2008.
Initially, the 210 hectare piece of land had been offered to Liver Brothers who were unable to start developing it in line with the contractual lease agreement it had signed with government resulting in its seizure and reassignment to the people of Kasinje who shared it using their traditional leadership.
Later on discussing the offer by The Good Samaritan, officials from the ministry of Lands and the Ntcheu District Council got the villagers to accept that the orphanage be given 10 hactares of the land whereas the 1,500 farmers share the 200 hactares which was remaining. And paper work todate attests to this.
"We are literally being pushed out of our land. We are being arrested for demanding back that which is ours. We are trying in vain to get people who matter to listen to our cries. What we are saying is that instead of being satisfied with the 10 hectares we gave them, the church is claiming a further 100 hectares. This is not what we agreed when the ministry came here."Three years now, we can't use our land because we are waiting for a High Court determination. The rains are coming yet we don't have land," says Group Village headman Kasinje Zenasi Zamajaya.
The stalemate is visibly creating a movement of a bitter people with a common purpose as witnessed by the rebellious song, dance and chants of wapalamula chitedze chidzamuyabwa when activist Dr. Jessie Kabwila-Kapasula was given the floor to address them after they presented their grievances on Sunday.
And reacting to sentiments of the villagers, Kabwila Kapasula observed that land issues remained rights issues to the citizenry of Malawi who should not lose it arbitrarily "as appears to have been the case"."For us to have Malawi, it is actually on the basis of having land. But what we see happening here is indicative of the serious problems that Malawians are facing on the issue of land grabbing. We see faces of rural Malawians who are losing land to multinationals."In fact these people contacted me personally with documentation showing that they had written the president, they had written ministry of lands, they have contacted different kinds of people.
The first step I took alongside Cedep today was to hear them out."What is clear from what they say is that they would like to have a place for them to be able to grow their food. We will try to help them get someplace to grow their crops because as you can see, the rains are on their way," Kabwila-Kapasula said observing that there appears to be increasing poor communication issues between local people in the country and public service authorities.
She said while government was able to respond promptly to queries from international governments on a variety of issues, the same government was failing to respond to things citizens want cleared on. She said the situation in Ntcheu is similar to the one she had just experienced in October in Chikhwawa.
"How come they can't respond to the very people who got them into government? The people whose vote they depend on? I can't get it. I think there is also an issue of the ruling elite conniving with multinationals and organized religion groups who are coming to get land."These people seem to suggest that Malawians can be pushed around as long as they are rural Malawians, illiterate it doesn't matter. There is very little citizen empowerment," she said adding "land to me is a birth right. If Malawians are not going to own land, where else will they go to get land? That is the central question to this all," said Kabwila-Kapasula.
She said the people involved in Kasinje are actually facing a crisis, an observation Cedep head Gift Trapence agreed saying there is need to move in quickly and help the peasants access the land."People are desperate for access to justice. This is a rural community, the people do not have access to finances.
So they would want to have an avenue where they can access justice for them to own their land. They are asking for protection."On their part, the villagers have done almost all they were supposed to. This matter has been there for over a decade.
From the MCP through the UDF and the DPP until now this is another government. This community has been trying contact government but they have not been helped in terms of response to their request.
They have tried to get government help them but we have not seen the support," he said.Other than write president Bingu wa Mutharika in December 2011 and president Joyce Banda this year, the farmers led by former diplomat Ashan Smile Gome, the matter has also been handled by the Ministry of Lands as evidenced by correspondence of October 3, 2008 signed for A.F Kalima for secretary.
"The decision was that the conveyance of land from Lever Brothers to Good Samaritan Church did not follow the law because the land was not developed. The people were asked not to tamper with the 10 hectares of land apportioned to Good Samaritan Church.Group Village Headman Kasinje and his counselors were asked to distribute the 200 hectares of land to the landless with fairness and without friction and malice," reads the letter ref. Number LNR/C/1/96.
The Center for Development of the People alongside Dr. Kabwila-Kapasula are now consulting on the possibility of obtaining a court order to allow the 1,500 peasants access to the land this rain season.
Presidential press secretary Steve Nhlane is yet to respond to our inquiry on how President Joyce Banda plans to react to the communication said to have been sent to her by the landless people of Kasinje.However, in her state of the nation address on May 18, 2012, President Joyce Banda set out her dream for Malawi. She said "...I have a dream:...I see young children in rural areas playing on computers.
Government is determined to eliminate hunger and to ensure that no child in Malawi goes to bed on an empty stomach, let alone dies of starvation..."But mai Namadesa Mdaka at Kasinje in Ntcheu and her daughter Dailesi will not agree with this."We have no food, we can't send children to school.
- 19 November 2012
- Thom Khanje
If you don't believe that the Internet can help train you and master a skill, then go to Machinga Community Day Secondary School. That is how "Machinga Queens", the nick-name for Machinga Community Day Secondary School netball team was born.
- 19 November 2012
- Richard Chirombo
The scene, Mileme Primary School in Phalombe district, is a strange place this hot, Wednesday morning. Scores of children, tightly holding on to their mothers' backs, neither laugh nor cry. It is so hard to read their minds through those empty eyes.
- 14 November 2012
- Simeon Maganga
"You don't use an umbrella when you are already wearing a rain coat," most sex workers and circumcised males in Mangochi say.
- 10 November 2012
- Otuli Munlo
Two weeks ago 1,654 young Malawians saw the road to success carefully paved for them as they graduated from University of Malawi at College of Medicine complex.
- 07 November 2012
- Theresa Chapulapula
There is no doubt that water is life. But the same substance man uses everyday can, in large and uncontrolled measures such as heavy rainfall or flash floods, leave unforgettable scar on one's life.
- 06 November 2012
- Temwani Mgunda
Not very long ago, The Daily Times carried a heartrending story that 43 villagers from Mulanje district got stranded at Wenela Bus Depot in Blantyre for close to four days while on their way to the northern region to labour in tobacco estates.
- 05 November 2012
- Gospel Mwalwanda
When President Joyce Banda was being derided as a mandasi woman before she became the country's First Citizen, one woman totally disagreed.
- 03 November 2012
- Wezzie Nkhoma-Somba
Life for Marita Damson and her five children was normal and full of promise. Her dream was that the children would grow into healthy teens and attain higher education.
- 01 November 2012
- Francis-Tayanjah Phiri
A guard Commander stands by a traditional mud and grass thatched hut that is circular in shape. He stands in an attention position, not moving an inch and his eyes unblinking – just like a statue. Near him is another man, bearing a trumpet.
- 22 October 2012
- Macdonald Thom
Call it sun-baking children, but this is how pupils at one primary school in Kasungu attend classes come rain come sunshine.
- 17 October 2012
- Taonga Sabola
Late last month, I was previledged to be among 12 journalists from across Africa who met in Arusha, Tanzania for a poverty reporting training programme organised by the International Fund for Agriculture Development (Ifad).
- 16 October 2012
- Brenda Nkosi*
It was a bright day, full of promise for young Chikhulupiliro Junior Ngombe, who was aged eight then.
- 03 October 2012
- Gabriel Kamlomo
It is not for nothing that Hamburg in Germany is referred to as the cruise capital of Europe.
- 03 October 2012
- Joseph Scott
The largely unpredictable weather patterns prevailing in the country have hit hard on small holder farmers driving many out of the once lucrative farming business.