Malawi’s Environmental Management Act imposes a number of penalties on those who, deliberately or otherwise, litter in and around urban centers or settlements.
Authorities in town and district assemblies have ratified byelaws in compliances with the environmental affairs department order to observe proper management of refuse in all urban areas.
The law stipulates that one can pay a minimum fine of K20, 000 and maximum fine of K1 million or spend a period of 10 years in jail if found guilty of environmental pollution which include disorderly disposition of refuse.
The biggest challenge faced by City Assemblies, is to deal with Malawi’s 65% urban poverty, which exceeds the 60% share of rural poverty. The result is that most of the urban poor, live in unplanned and un-serviced squatter settlements that are facing serious environmental degradation problems due to increased pressure on resources, human habitat and social and economical infrastructure.
Other problems range from lack of knowledge on ownership of towns by dwellers leading to too much laxity on their involvement in managing refuse, to City Authorities’ economic restrictions, which is aggravated by their lack of commitment on their part. Consequently the trend leads to failure to even properly manage household refuse.
There is very little done to rid homes and towns of rubbish and usually waste disposal of improperly becomes a health hazard and provide a breeding ground for vectors of diseases and it is virtually unsightly.
Most Malawian households especially in peri urban centers use rubbish pits, which are usually dug at background of houses and are turned into the last destination of, refuse collected within the household.
The biggest problem is that the pits become breeding ground for flies and cockroaches, which constantly trouble the homestead. When the situation becomes unbearable the rubbish in the pit is burnt or buried with soil before a fresh one is dug to restart the cycle.
Maxwell Zimphondo, a resident of Blantyre City who shuttles with a tax around the city says he has little trouble managing refuse in his home.
Zimphondo, who has a wife and three children and lives in a two bed roomed house in Chilomoni township says they have a wastebasket in the kitchen where they dump all the litter within the house.
“When the wastebasket is full the dirty is emptied into a dust bin placed just outside the backdoor where any litter accumulated outside the house is also dumped,” he says.
“When full, the bin is carried to any footpaths within the location where we deposit the rubbish. We usually do this during the night,” said Zimphondo.
He says this is an on going practice and that all his neighbors within the location do likewise because the city has placed its refuse kips near market places only and it is usually far from residential areas. He says running water carry the refuse to nearby water bodies during the rainy season.
This is not the only refuse that contaminate water, in some instances, human excreta, another good example of household waste, if not properly disposed of, especially in homes where toilet facilities are not available get carried by the running water during rainy season.
Sometimes even wastewater from washing sinks and bathrooms that do no have soak away pits, end up into nearby water bodies and by this means impart harmful upshot on the biological value of water bodies thus menacing to spread diseases to people using water flowing downstream.
According to the 2001 state of environment report prepared by the environmental affairs department, collection of solid waste in 1995 was the highest at 30% in Lilongwe, the Capital City, compared to the country’s other three major urban centers. Environmental experts observe that the situation has not changed much.
Blantyre was just at 28%, the northern Mzuzu City and the old capital city – Zomba, now relegated to a municipality, were both at 8%.
Malawi’s Capital City Lilongwe launched a World Bank funded K10.5 million waste management equipment meant to help the City Assembly (Council) to provide clean and health environment for all city residents. The assembly bought Mercedes Benz trucks, an excavator, skips and scraper with the World Bank loan.
The skips, large containers capable of taking up nine tonnes of refuse are placed in different areas through out the city for residents to deposit all refuse except live ashes. The refuse is later collected by garbage trucks called skips loaders.
Most market squares where city authority place the 9m³ refuse skips is littered by refuse which vendors attribute to its inconvenient height, which they say, give them problems to use.
Lilongwe City Assembly, covering over three quarters of the City’s 340 square Kilometres, brought smaller skips of 6m³, which it placed throughout the Town and residential areas.
The City’s Director of Cleansing Services Josephie Chilemba says some of the skips are collected on a daily basis while others after a day, two days or a week. He said a skip loader truck carry an average of six skips a day and with adequate number of trucks the assembly should be able to collect many refuse skips a day.
“The 100 skips scattered around the city are serviced by only five trucks which can collect an average of 30 skips per day, assuming all are operational at all times,” he says.
Currently the City has two operational refuse trucks after one was impounded by sheriffs while the two are grounded but usually for the operation to be smooth a minimum of 4 trucks are required.
What is disturbing the City officials is that even with the skips all over the city and refuse trucks operational, some residents even in low-density areas continue dirtening the city by dumping refuse just anyhow.
Refuse collection in Cities is free of charge although residents argue that they pay city rates which they claim cover for waste management operations carried out by the city Assemblies.
Chilemba insists that it is a free social service because there is no refuse collection bill coming at the end of the month and urges residents to make phone calls if refuse has accumulated to the skips’ capacity.
The other problem of uncontrolled refuse dumping is contributed by street vending, which assembly byelaws outlaw, but Lilongwe City Assembly Chief Executive Dr Donton Mkandawire says there is no action from the city because he sympathizes with vendors.
But Mkandawire still vows, “I am trying to make the City Clean and I will do it.”
In some instances assemblies and some shop owners neglect the area of refuse management, prompting the Director of Environmental Affairs to continuously send communications to assemblies demanding of them to fulfill the requirement or face the law.
Communication from the environmental boss keep requesting its recipients to provide disposal facilities such as dust bins, skips etc wherever possible and always warning that non-compliance will result to penalties being imposed on them in accordance with the said act.
The director, also constantly request the assemblies to provide sign posts in strategic places informing the public that littering is not allowed and that such an act attract penalties and that should any resident see anyone littering they should report to the nearest Assembly office or Environmental Affairs Office.
Most of the warning has, however, been a tiger paper. Uncontrollable pilferations of all kind of wastes like food stuffs especially Irish potato peels, bottles, papers, toxic chemical cleaners solvents, and worn-out clothes on the streets and markets places remain a major blemish but the cities fail to enforce any law or byelaws.
The Public Health Act, part ix, section 62 talks about any nuisance against the law as anything injurious or so, situated or constructed as to be offensive or likely dangerous to health and it goes on stipulating penalties.
There are also guidelines at local government level. Byelaws as guidelines on sanitary and waste management have been ignored with impunity despite their presence.
In three major cities of Malawi, Lilongwe, Blantyre and Mzuzu presence of mounds of piling garbage in the streets and heaps of rubbish in the household or commercial backyards is still an eye sore despite all the effort to improve the situation.
Lack of action on proper refuse management has resulted into rampant outbreaks of diseases like Cholera and diarrhea usually during the rainy season.
A year ago Cholera scourge hit Blantyre city, Malawi’s Commercial Capital, health workers from the city and Health ministry went around the city’s townships spraying chemicals in soak-ways, bathing places, pit latrines and rubbish pits and distributed chlorine for household use in an effort to check the spread of cholera and all opportunistic water-borne diseases.
Blantyre City Assembly Head of Health Department Dr Lycester Bandawe said the city has been working with the District Health Office on how they can prevent the disease.
He said the city carries out a civic education campaign sensitizing residents whom it works closely with to ensure that household wastes are properly disposed of.
He however, blames the irresponsible residents who throw their wastes anywhere even in areas where there are skips he says such a people are not doing enough to improve the refuse situation.
A study by one University of Malawi lecturer noted that some institutions follow no guidelines at all in addressing issues of sanitation. In the guidelines waste is classified as domestic and non-hazardous wastes, sweepings, garden refuse and construction debris.
The researcher George Jabu in his paper ‘sanitation and Waste Institutional Review’ encouraged recycling and incineration of waste some best ways of getting rid of waste.
“No distinction is made in the method of collecting waste, whether it be from shops, streets, industry or domestic properties,” observed Jabu.
A case study on waste accumulation in the Blantyre City in particular discovered that in 1994 alone, a total of 5, 268 truckloads of refuse were deposited at one site. It was estimated that by 2015 depositing of solid waste in the city from industrial, commercial, civic and permanent domestic housing stock would increase to 48,000 tonnes per annum.
There have been running battles between residents and City authorities in all the cities over their choice of the final dumping sites here residents say is usually close to residential areas or people’s gardens.
Jabu observes that the city is now making an effort to recycle some its solid wastes. Refuse scavengers collect most of metal waste and sell it to a South African company, which takes it back home for recycle purposes.
A few years back a local company, which has since gone under, Malawi Iron and steel Corporation (Miscor) used to buy its raw materials from refuse scavengers where it was recycling cast iron to make nose rings which it was then selling to Portland Cement Factory.
The Cement factory was using the nose rings for making clinker, which was later being turned into cement.
Ever since the process stopped there has never been any institutionalized activity on recycling technologies to process and return waste products to society as a useful material apart from one paper recycling a donor funded Institution, Paper Making Education Trust (PAMET) which recycles papers at a small scale.

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Managing household refuse.


By Gregory Gondwe.
Malawi’s Environmental Management Act imposes a number of penalties on those who, deliberately or otherwise, litter in and around urban centers or settlements.
Authorities in town and district assemblies have ratified byelaws in compliances with the environmental affairs department order to observe proper management of refuse in all urban areas.
The law stipulates that one can pay a minimum fine of K20, 000 and maximum fine of K1 million or spend a period of 10 years in jail if found guilty of environmental pollution which include disorderly disposition of refuse.
The biggest challenge faced by City Assemblies, is to deal with Malawi’s 65% urban poverty, which exceeds the 60% share of rural poverty. The result is that most of the urban poor, live in unplanned and un-serviced squatter settlements that are facing serious environmental degradation problems due to increased pressure on resources, human habitat and social and economical infrastructure.
Other problems range from lack of knowledge on ownership of towns by dwellers leading to too much laxity on their involvement in managing refuse, to City Authorities’ economic restrictions, which is aggravated by their lack of commitment on their part. Consequently the trend leads to failure to even properly manage household refuse.
There is very little done to rid homes and towns of rubbish and usually waste disposal of improperly becomes a health hazard and provide a breeding ground for vectors of diseases and it is virtually unsightly.
Most Malawian households especially in peri urban centers use rubbish pits, which are usually dug at background of houses and are turned into the last destination of, refuse collected within the household.
The biggest problem is that the pits become breeding ground for flies and cockroaches, which constantly trouble the homestead. When the situation becomes unbearable the rubbish in the pit is burnt or buried with soil before a fresh one is dug to restart the cycle.
Maxwell Zimphondo, a resident of Blantyre City who shuttles with a tax around the city says he has little trouble managing refuse in his home.
Zimphondo, who has a wife and three children and lives in a two bed roomed house in Chilomoni township says they have a wastebasket in the kitchen where they dump all the litter within the house.
“When the wastebasket is full the dirty is emptied into a dust bin placed just outside the backdoor where any litter accumulated outside the house is also dumped,” he says.
“When full, the bin is carried to any footpaths within the location where we deposit the rubbish. We usually do this during the night,” said Zimphondo.
He says this is an on going practice and that all his neighbors within the location do likewise because the city has placed its refuse kips near market places only and it is usually far from residential areas. He says running water carry the refuse to nearby water bodies during the rainy season.
This is not the only refuse that contaminate water, in some instances, human excreta, another good example of household waste, if not properly disposed of, especially in homes where toilet facilities are not available get carried by the running water during rainy season.
Sometimes even wastewater from washing sinks and bathrooms that do no have soak away pits, end up into nearby water bodies and by this means impart harmful upshot on the biological value of water bodies thus menacing to spread diseases to people using water flowing downstream.
According to the 2001 state of environment report prepared by the environmental affairs department, collection of solid waste in 1995 was the highest at 30% in Lilongwe, the Capital City, compared to the country’s other three major urban centers. Environmental experts observe that the situation has not changed much.
Blantyre was just at 28%, the northern Mzuzu City and the old capital city – Zomba, now relegated to a municipality, were both at 8%.
Malawi’s Capital City Lilongwe launched a World Bank funded K10.5 million waste management equipment meant to help the City Assembly (Council) to provide clean and health environment for all city residents. The assembly bought Mercedes Benz trucks, an excavator, skips and scraper with the World Bank loan.
The skips, large containers capable of taking up nine tonnes of refuse are placed in different areas through out the city for residents to deposit all refuse except live ashes. The refuse is later collected by garbage trucks called skips loaders.
Most market squares where city authority place the 9m³ refuse skips is littered by refuse which vendors attribute to its inconvenient height, which they say, give them problems to use.
Lilongwe City Assembly, covering over three quarters of the City’s 340 square Kilometres, brought smaller skips of 6m³, which it placed throughout the Town and residential areas.
The City’s Director of Cleansing Services Josephie Chilemba says some of the skips are collected on a daily basis while others after a day, two days or a week. He said a skip loader truck carry an average of six skips a day and with adequate number of trucks the assembly should be able to collect many refuse skips a day.
“The 100 skips scattered around the city are serviced by only five trucks which can collect an average of 30 skips per day, assuming all are operational at all times,” he says.
Currently the City has two operational refuse trucks after one was impounded by sheriffs while the two are grounded but usually for the operation to be smooth a minimum of 4 trucks are required.
What is disturbing the City officials is that even with the skips all over the city and refuse trucks operational, some residents even in low-density areas continue dirtening the city by dumping refuse just anyhow.
Refuse collection in Cities is free of charge although residents argue that they pay city rates which they claim cover for waste management operations carried out by the city Assemblies.
Chilemba insists that it is a free social service because there is no refuse collection bill coming at the end of the month and urges residents to make phone calls if refuse has accumulated to the skips’ capacity.
The other problem of uncontrolled refuse dumping is contributed by street vending, which assembly byelaws outlaw, but Lilongwe City Assembly Chief Executive Dr Donton Mkandawire says there is no action from the city because he sympathizes with vendors.
But Mkandawire still vows, “I am trying to make the City Clean and I will do it.”
In some instances assemblies and some shop owners neglect the area of refuse management, prompting the Director of Environmental Affairs to continuously send communications to assemblies demanding of them to fulfill the requirement or face the law.
Communication from the environmental boss keep requesting its recipients to provide disposal facilities such as dust bins, skips etc wherever possible and always warning that non-compliance will result to penalties being imposed on them in accordance with the said act.
The director, also constantly request the assemblies to provide sign posts in strategic places informing the public that littering is not allowed and that such an act attract penalties and that should any resident see anyone littering they should report to the nearest Assembly office or Environmental Affairs Office.
Most of the warning has, however, been a tiger paper. Uncontrollable pilferations of all kind of wastes like food stuffs especially Irish potato peels, bottles, papers, toxic chemical cleaners solvents, and worn-out clothes on the streets and markets places remain a major blemish but the cities fail to enforce any law or byelaws.
The Public Health Act, part ix, section 62 talks about any nuisance against the law as anything injurious or so, situated or constructed as to be offensive or likely dangerous to health and it goes on stipulating penalties.
There are also guidelines at local government level. Byelaws as guidelines on sanitary and waste management have been ignored with impunity despite their presence.
In three major cities of Malawi, Lilongwe, Blantyre and Mzuzu presence of mounds of piling garbage in the streets and heaps of rubbish in the household or commercial backyards is still an eye sore despite all the effort to improve the situation.
Lack of action on proper refuse management has resulted into rampant outbreaks of diseases like Cholera and diarrhea usually during the rainy season.
A year ago Cholera scourge hit Blantyre city, Malawi’s Commercial Capital, health workers from the city and Health ministry went around the city’s townships spraying chemicals in soak-ways, bathing places, pit latrines and rubbish pits and distributed chlorine for household use in an effort to check the spread of cholera and all opportunistic water-borne diseases.
Blantyre City Assembly Head of Health Department Dr Lycester Bandawe said the city has been working with the District Health Office on how they can prevent the disease.
He said the city carries out a civic education campaign sensitizing residents whom it works closely with to ensure that household wastes are properly disposed of.
He however, blames the irresponsible residents who throw their wastes anywhere even in areas where there are skips he says such a people are not doing enough to improve the refuse situation.
A study by one University of Malawi lecturer noted that some institutions follow no guidelines at all in addressing issues of sanitation. In the guidelines waste is classified as domestic and non-hazardous wastes, sweepings, garden refuse and construction debris.
The researcher George Jabu in his paper ‘sanitation and Waste Institutional Review’ encouraged recycling and incineration of waste some best ways of getting rid of waste.
“No distinction is made in the method of collecting waste, whether it be from shops, streets, industry or domestic properties,” observed Jabu.
A case study on waste accumulation in the Blantyre City in particular discovered that in 1994 alone, a total of 5, 268 truckloads of refuse were deposited at one site. It was estimated that by 2015 depositing of solid waste in the city from industrial, commercial, civic and permanent domestic housing stock would increase to 48,000 tonnes per annum.
There have been running battles between residents and City authorities in all the cities over their choice of the final dumping sites here residents say is usually close to residential areas or people’s gardens.
Jabu observes that the city is now making an effort to recycle some its solid wastes. Refuse scavengers collect most of metal waste and sell it to a South African company, which takes it back home for recycle purposes.
A few years back a local company, which has since gone under, Malawi Iron and steel Corporation (Miscor) used to buy its raw materials from refuse scavengers where it was recycling cast iron to make nose rings which it was then selling to Portland Cement Factory.
The Cement factory was using the nose rings for making clinker, which was later being turned into cement.
Ever since the process stopped there has never been any institutionalized activity on recycling technologies to process and return waste products to society as a useful material apart from one paper recycling a donor funded Institution, Paper Making Education Trust (PAMET) which recycles papers at a small scale.

Food safety: Regulatory frameworks and enforcement mechanisms.


By Gregory Gondwe.
Malawi has a wooly food regulatory framework that makes establishment of enforcement mechanisms a tall order. The framework is disjointed, with bits and pieces of the law on food control vested in the ministries of Health, and Agriculture as well as the Malawi Bureau of Standards (MBS) and local government assemblies.
Acting Director General for MBS Charles Malata Chirwa says they are battling to have a comprehensive and an encompassing law that is going to empower one institution, like Food Regulatory Authority, to regulate and enforce food safety measures.
Established in December 1972 by an Act of Parliament with a mandate to promote standardization of commodities and of the manufacturer, production, processing or treatment thereof, MBS says although local products are submitted for food checks not all the process is not done on all the food found on the market.
Some restrictions and enforcement of the law on food are under the penal code and it is the Malawi Police Service, which enforces it. The said ministries also enforce some food regulations as empowered by the law.
For instance, Agriculture ministry can impose ban on beef if it discovers an outbreak of cow disease in the particular area it is produced, while the Health ministry can restrict any kind of food within an area, which it believes has caused an outbreak of a particular disease.
For different reasons, Local assemblies also enact byelaws that project a food regulatory framework and most of these byelaws for example can be those that outlaw the selling of green maize during farming period to control theft, which becomes rampant during this period and affect the country’s food security as a result of poor harvest.
MBS has, however, a big chunk of percentage as it regulates over 80% of local and imported foodstuffs, which include chicken and pork as well as drinks and beverages, but it observes that there are huge problems faced to put the process into effect.
“Locally the challenge is to know who is doing what and where,” said Chirwa, “ With the trade liberalization we are always caught up in a cat and mouse chase trying to corner producers who put their mediocre and uncertified products on the market.”
He says unlike in the past where products would only come on the market after the Bureau’s consent, today government’s adoption of a wholesale liberalization policy killed the link. Consequently, untraceable products and sometimes with deliberate misleading labels continue to litter the markets, albeit its mysterious producer whom the Bureau can not even trace.
MBS says the liberalization problem extend to imported food stuffs as well, since a lot of imports coming in the country are choking the entire system that many local companies are failing to compete.
“Problem of counterfeit is also rampant with the imported food products. We have difficulties to identify a right product from a fake one because genuine manufacturers have not registered,” says Malata.
Although problematic that the process is, MBS still conduct tests. Chirwa says they collect samples of any food imports at the border as they come in or at the next entry point. He says they deny entry of any food import into the country upon the discovery that it has some failing.
MBS, which is correspondent member and Africa’s Regional Liaison Office – which excludes Arab Countries- for the International Standardization Organization (ISO) has a quality policy that aims at spearheading the promotion of effective and efficient standardization and quality. It is also the contact and enquiry point for the codex alimentation.
The Bureau established a National Standardization Programme in 1972 and since then over 400 standards have been published for various products and services and these includes codes of practice in different areas for instance, MBS 18 for carbonated soft drinks.
The bureau has 38 technical committees that represent all national interests, 3 divisional committees responsible for food and agriculture; The Standards Policy Advisory Committee and The Malawi Standards Board all set up to improve and prop up standards development and information through six operating schemes.
One of the main objects in the MBS Act was to deal with issuance and control of standardization marks also known as the ‘Certification Marks’ but through a specifically designated regulation by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry it was extended to food processes such as hotel catering and became known as Permit and Designation Scheme (P&DCS).
The P&DCS operation is that a manufacturer wishing to use the ‘Quality Mark’ on his products applies to the Bureau, whose appointed inspectors conduct an initial assessment of the factory and the product(s), in conformity with international practices for compliance to the relevant Malawi standards.
The assessment report is then submitted to the Standards Policy Advisory Committee (SPAC) for approval on behalf of the bureau. If approved, the manufacturer is issued with a permit certificate that allows the use of the Quality Mark on the product(s).
In a similar manner, foods processing units or factories apply for Designation Certificates that can be displayed prominently at their places to manifest their compliance to national standards.
MBS observes that other traders have, however, taken advantage of the local market’s sensitivity to prices and under the guise of liberalization, they trash the market with food products that are non-complaint to standardization requirements.
“The low awareness on consumer rights by most of the people makes it very hard for us to penetrate some of these unscrupulous dealers trying to make a kill out of this pathetic situation by bringing low quality products,” says Bureau boss Chirwa.
According to the bureau despite the gluttony displayed by the said dealers, the scheme has, since 1979 gained wide acceptance by both the public and the users themselves as evidenced by the rising number of issued certificates, from only 4 issued to one company in 1979 to 220 certificates issued to 300 companies by 1998.
To make sure that quality and standards set on consumables is followed by the word, the Bureau was responsible and instrumental in the establishment of The Consumer Association of Malawi (CAMA), which acts like a consumers’ watchdog.
The bureau extends its tentacles to imported products into Malawi in order to protect the consumer and the economy and in turn provide a level playing field for similar products made in Malawi, which it observed, has been stymied by liberalization.
To achieve this, in 1993 the Bureau initiated the putting in place of an Import Quality Monitoring Scheme (IQMS) modified to operate in collaboration with the then Department of Customs and Excise (DCE), now commissioned as the Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA).
Importers of products, thus food inclusive, designated on a scheduled published in an order issued by the Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry are required to register with the bureau on the scheme.
The designated list is based on published Malawi standards that are in turn gazetted. Consignments of products for registered importers are then quickly checked at the customs point before they are cleared for compliance to the specifications of the relevant standard.
A letter is then issued to the DCE indicating compliance or non-compliance of the consignment for clearance purposes where tests and examination on the imported products are conducted both on site or bonded warehouse and in MBS Central Laboratories.
For consignments that do not satisfy the Malawi Standards the DCE requests the importer to remove the goods from Malawi and re-export them or return them to supplier. The bureau then, through its regional liaison programmes, notifies its cooperating national standard bodies in the SADC and COMESA countries of such non-complying goods.
“We link up quite often with our foreign colleagues so that we are not dealing with something that was done by our friends, say in neighboring Mozambique and occasionally we may not have a test facility and we can ask our outside friends for it,” explains Chirwa.
The Bureau says in its imitative to promote standard, it has also done a lot on quality assurance services, from one certified company and four certificates issued soon after its inception, it now boasts 106 product quality certificates holders and 66 process quality certificate holders covering over 300 different products and processes country wide.
From one quality inspector it now boasts twenty inspectors and in addition, the Bureau has 3 qualified Auditors that meet the requirements of the Institute of Quality Assurance (IQA) two of whom have been registered by the UK based international register of Certified Auditors for auditing to MBS-ISO 9000 Quality Management Standards.
CODEX ALIMENTARIUS.
MBS says it has a voice at International and continental or regional rank on codex alimentation where at a codex level a request would come to standardize the quality of food products and it would be part of the deliberating process.
“Usually such a request goes to a forum and stakeholders make their interventions and inputs based on their nation’s situation, like technical requirement and its capability to meet certain food requirements, it is an exhaustive process which goes through several standards before passing as a codex standard,” explained Chirwa.
He added that the process give countries enough time to adjust and improve to situation in order to satisfy the codex requirements.
Malawi use these same standards for food contaminants and intoxicants although in some cases the country has to observe local standard on one hand and international standard on the other, Chirwa says in any case contaminants are not tolerated.
Says Chirwa: “On toxicants some are natural toxins, which depending on its effect we can not control much but for manufactured toxins this out of our hands as some could be treated as drugs which must be looked into by other authorities for appropriate actions.”
FOOD LABELLING.
MBS has the entire mandate to oversee the upholding of the regulatory and enforcement mechanisms on food labeling. According to the bureau, all the standards on food require food labels where six basic requirements are considered.
Chirwa says, “The principle is that the label should be authentic and not one that mislead the consumer. The other requirements are that the name of the product and the manufacturer must be indicated. The product’s batch number, the list of ingredients and expiry date are other must shown when food labelling.
To approve the food label MBS gets some samples and conduct some cultures and prove that what is indicated is really what it is.
Other organizations the Bureau has initiated its formation are The Industrial Research and Technology Development Centre (MIRTDC), The Quality Association of Malawi (QUAM) and The National Codex Commite (NCC).
Among other things NCC regulates Street vended foods to make sure that it complies with the standard set by the committee, which has its secretariat at MBS headquarters so that it is free of health hazards.

Drivers of Malawi’s Media Vehicle.


By Gregory Gondwe.
Malawi’s media journey must have started the day the first Nyasaland Times was published and slowly and surely dragged its way into the new Malawi. At least a state of fixity was established and a media journey had began.
When Malawi adopted a one party state, it had to design a kind of media that would advance the single party ideologies that would also be a mundane voice that would only report the known.
Part of making sure that this was achieved was not to have any media related subject (like journalism or mass communication) taught in the University of Malawi. Establishment of any serious private school was inconceivable and those that had a chance to have ago at the subject did so outside the country and upon completion were to practice it elsewhere or worked in different jobs.
Journalists like the late Mkwapatira Mhango decided to practice in Zambia. Al Ausman went to Botswana where he established one of most successful newspaper, The Botswana Guardian. He was later to be joined in Botswana by the late Horace Somanje.
Those that served at the existing media institutions were mostly graduates in other academic spheres whom nature had endowed the art to articulate on issues and managed to produce chewy news items.
When the country adopted multiparty democracy the media was supposed to take a different role in order to help in the democratisation process and this is the time that the professional deficiency of the country’s media players was exposed.
People calling themselves journalists crazed with the democratic euphoria trying the newly acquired freedom of the press, defamed, slandered, plagiarised and etched a production devoid of quality, which evidently arrayed the profession’s lethargy since the profession was rearing from a long de-horned status.
This write-up seek to pay tribute to different drivers who have managed to keep the wheels of our media running and though not so detailed above, our media journey started with big jerks and there was a big danger for its survival owing to the nature within which it was procreated by the ‘omnipotent’ democratic principles.
The idea of the media practitioners that sprouted during the multiparty transitional period coveted for a vibrant media industry but the take-off always reminds me of a Greek Mythology where Deianira a Greek myth sister of Meleager, wife to Hercules unintentionally killed her husband by dipping his tunic in the poisonous blood of the Centaur Nessus, thinking it to be a love charm.
The danger laid in the adopted trend where any garbage would start calling itself a newspaper and embark on a political propaganda quarry of denigrating political opponents, planned and executed by paid school leavers calling themselves journalists at the behest of politicians whose identities would be deliberately hidden.
But Aleke Banda a man whose name must never disappear from the list of our media pioneers- take to mind, he was first Editor for Malawi News- came in the scene and established The Nation Newspaper without which the poisonous influence people thought was journalism would have spread and nourished the mind of the already deprived masses.
Al Ausman came to the scene with The Financial Post long before the referendum. It was disappointing though that the paper never survived, as did the paper he left in Botswana, to set precedence that would have ignited the engine of the democratic media vehicle for a multiparty media journey.
At that time, late Dr Mapopa Chipeta and Frank Mayinga Mkandawire were publishing The Malawi Democrat in Zambia and together with its influential columnist Anderson Fumulani, conveniently spread the positive energies towards the growth of our media industry.
In later days it would become the champion of the street shortened as The Democrat and boast an editorial chemistry that worked by the rules of diligence and bench mark of perfection. The able hands of Charles Simango, Hardy Nyirenda, and ofcourse the all time great, Dingi Chirwa seemed to have set the primacy of what the local press was to follow.
Rob Jamieson’s The Chronicles was already on as it is still persisting, but not before Willie Zingani’s The New Express, Kalonga Stambuli’s The Monitor, Lucious Chikuni’s The Enquirer, Grey Mang’anda and Edward Chitsulo’s The Michiru Sun and Janet Karim’s The Independent.
Then there was Lance Ngulube managing The Star. Akwete Ligongo Sande and Dean Balakasi The Tribute and Chimwemwe Mputahelo The Malawian. Dr Denis Nkhwazi’s The New Voice was a northern voice that would later be accompanied by The Freedom Newspaper before Mandeba Lungu’s The Kommando Newspaper.
Political parties never left the field but thought of championing their ideologies by establishing their Newspapers, The UDF News and Aford’s The New Voice. Despite being overshadowed by political prejudices, Dingi at New Voice was something and it must be said here, Elson Kasinja and his UDF team are virtuosic writers that have helped steer the media vehicle too.
In later years Brown Mpinganjira will come on the scene with The Mirror, Sande will reappear with Malawi Today which will have the diminutive Frank Phiri. Dr Jerry Jana with Business Telegraph, Peter Chinthuli with Your Market and Jolly Osaweta Kalelo with Business Mail, Lilongwe journalists will group to publish The Statesman, before the emergence of Martines Naminga’s The Dispatch. The second deputy speaker John Vincent Chingola had also what he called The Binoculars.
Many publications for one reason or the other came and went. Having re-drafted the role of the media in a democratic set-up, survival was difficult and if other journalist managed to persist then it is necessary that they be mentioned. If the media history is to be retold it must include heroes and heroines who must remain chalked in the annals.
Right from the minute the country entered her second republic it must be said without fear or favour that The Nation Publications Limited (NPL) has more than excelled. Its success story would ofcourse include Hon Ken Lipenga who, if my memory serves me correctly, was its first Editor-in-Chief.
A lot of growth at The Nation has taken place during the reign of Alfred Mtonga and at the time of his appointment his Editor was the current Blantyre Newspaper Limited (BNL) General Manager Jika Nkolokosa and it still flourished under him and two Editors in Edward Chisambo and Steve Nhlane who have lately been joined by Edward Chitsulo.
It is never known whose name should be chanted the most in songs of praise for the publication’s success story: Mtonga or the big head at the helm Mrs Mbumba Achutan?
A lot started and blundered about along the way as the country charged off without any drafted road map which only meant the drivers would easily lead the vehicle into dangerous terrain and while some came back others never saw the light of the day again. But NPL did not only persevere but it kept growing bigger and bigger.
This has always been a plus to the local media growth. The other players were and are our locally bred international stringers; Angels Mtukulo, Felix Mponda, Raphael Tenthani, Aubrey Sumbuleta, Hobbs Gama and some using pseudo names for one reason or the other.
The collective task also involved training of journalists to acquire the much needed quality. Seeing how the professional was badly in need of well trained practitioners Tito Banda, established Pen-point School of Journalism and Gresha Mwandira followed with Grefa Communications.
Then Malawi institute of Journalism (MIJ) was established before The University of Malawi introduced a journalism course.
We can not, therefore, dispute the fact that the quality of news, though still developing, is of high quality.
Nkolokosa has necessitated the launch of the country’s first Sunday Newspaper and this has only fortified BNL’s pioneer role.
The numerous training seems to have finally taken the media vehicle close to the desired destination. Youthful inclusion in the Fredrick Ndala-led-editorial of the Malawi News of Emmanuel Luciano, Limbani Nsapato and Mc Donald Bamusi to the already top notch team, completely spruced up the old face of the old guy not to mention change of a groomed face of its sister paper the Daily Times.
Just to let the point sink home, the trend is on the right track to an improved media industry, names of three young journalists whose feature writing finesse have prompted comments from friends abroad, should not be taken for granted by both the media fraternity and the readership at large.
NPL and BNL must encourage the works of the said three; Mzati Nkolokosa, Idrissa Ali Nassah and Limbani Davis Nsapato.
The electronic media’s bestowal to the industry can never be over emphasised. The name of Ausman and the Capital Radio need some mentioning. Rodrick Mulonya has also done a commendable job at TVM than his predecessor, despite every reason that has put him in trouble with the law.
John Saini’s Pride Magazine has set standards of what the country need. Fr P. Gamba, Brother Jos Kuppens, Luigi Gritti, and many more names worthy mentioning have made the country’s media glimmer with the introduction of The Lamp and Together Magazines into circulation.
Prof. Steve Chimombo’s, Mike Kamwendo’s the defunct WASI and Quest respectively, Moses Dossi and Late George Kaiya’s Free-Kick and struggling but lingering Exclusive Magazines by Isaac Masingati were and are amongst the rank and file of media players revving hard on gas pedal to propel the media vehicle forward.
Media practitioners might not appear anywhere in the Hall of fame but the contribution to our present political status should give us clout enough to blow our own horn.
Driving the vehicle to where it is now has not been easy. Those who first started engaging the gears might have had a torrid time since the apparatus inside the machine was utterly pretentious and through trial and error the vehicle coughed the first exhaust of smoke.
The drivers have acquired enough knowledge on when and how to keep the vehicle gliding but there still is no roadmap to chart the way forward. While names of those that have driven, it in the past must never leave our lips in order to inspire those just jumping in, much more than just mere mention must be done. A little bit of reconnaissance on how apt the media can move on would best be the convenient way to get to the Holy Grail. This must be done after organising some medals.

Botswana and Malawi: Mixture of Fortunes and Misfortunes of their economies.


31-08-2004.
MOGODITSHANE, GABORONE, BOTSWANA.

By Gregory Gondwe.

When Malawi and Botswana managed to break the shackles of the English colonial servitude in 1964 and 1966 respectively and attained self rule, there was a heart throbbing feat on the part of the ‘new leaders’, considered to posses zero experience by the colonialists.
The ‘inexperienced’ leaders had to positively respond to the call of improving their people’s economical and social welfare through prudent and competent economic management thereby proving a point about their credibility to the colonialists.
At independence, Botswana’s population of around 340,000 people was experiencing a particularly severe drought that left one person in six dependent on food aid handouts.
World scale showed Botswana as one of the twenty poorest countries, which had minimal infrastructural growth. Foreign aid and remittance of Batswana males employed in SA, was critically the lifeline of the government revenues hence Botswana had a predominantly subsistence economy.
However, the fortune deities were all at Malawi mercy. Malawi adopted an agro-based economy — soundy, for the time being, for an infant Independence state — which, managed to cater for her 3 million people.
At that time, the two countries had some common factors that would influence their socio-economic growth: i.e.; they were both landlocked and they both set agriculture as the centrepiece of their economic programmes.
Three decades down the road, both counties’ state of economy is of an ironic, if less dramatic twist. Malawi whose success prospects looked bright, while that of Botswana was grimy is now faced with mixed misfortunes while the tale for Botswana is complete romantic, beginning from just outside the periphery of the colonial rule.
Malawi, one of the world’s six poorest countries at the time of independence, devoted its meagre treasury and considerable energies to its one natural resource; farmland. Few years following it did not need to import food and instead it exported, which was rarity in Africa.
The evident fact is that the fortune gods did not stay long for the Malawian State. Its economic growth slowed in 1970s as wars in Southern Africa limited its access to seaports, which affected, among other things, its export oriented growth.
It seems Botswana was the destination of the fortune gods while the country was struggling to improve its beef industry- as commercial livestock sector turned out to be its largest contributor to GDP and export earnings — it stumbled on the fortune of diamond exploits in Opara towards the end of the 60s. Although it was in the early 70s large scale mining exploitation began.
It was at this particular time that the common agrobased economies of the two countries diverged. The Middleton Encyclopaedia of Africa— South of Sahara, notes that Botswana’s rise in the mineral sector was reflected in changes in its economic structure after 1966.
In its analysis of Botswana’s economy, the book said the contribution of agriculture of GDP fell dramatically, from almost 40% of the total at independence at an average of 4.3% between 1990/91 and 1994/95.
The mining, however, increased from 0% at independence to an average of 35.0% during the same period having reached an exceptional of 49.8% in 1988/89.
It is also indicated that a similar situation prevailed in exports, with beef sales falling from over 90% of merchandise earnings in 1966 to an estimated 4.4% in 1993 while visible export earnings from diamond rose from 0% in 1966 to an estimated 67.2% of the total in 1995.
In frustrated effort Malawi’s leader at Independence Dr Hastings Banda — the sole and principal player in the country’s economic reform, having expelled the people who assisted to gain political, social, economic independence — defiantly staged full diplomatic ties with the white ruled apartheid South Africa what he believed would improve the country’s economic status.
The self styled dictator Banda, a capitalist who would later plunge into kleptocracy, vehemently refused to push what he termed ‘unrealistic’ economic policies onto the country. He managed to a point of paying Malawi’s debt on time, organised his small civil service into efficient and relatively honest machinery.
But the ties with South Africa and his policies still failed to bail the country from the eminent economic disaster, which threatened the country’s tentative economic structure.
Banda was forced to turn to the World Bank and IMF for help.
Owing to the efficiency of Malawi’s civil service, it quickly became a star pupil of free-market reform. But this was short-lived, in the full glare of problems ranging from subsistence agriculture, low educational levels, shortage of skilled personnel lack of mineral resources, inadequate infrastructure to import-dependent industries, compounded by land locked position and small domestic market.
Malawi’s already poor economic performance got a severe blow when it was beset by drought during 1979-81, resulting into a decline in her agricultural output which adversely affected export earnings.
The Middleton encyclopaedia, states that this drought necessitated the import of food while associated industries began to experience severe reduction in revenue with virtually no sector of the economy unaffected.
The book says GDP growth in the real terms declined to 3.1% per year during the period of 1980-91 and in an effort to restore growth; the government supported by the Bretton wood institutions initiated a programme of reform in 1981.
The book notes that Malawi’s terms of trade continued to worsen during the period especially when another lethal blow was stricken when there was complete closure in 1984 of the country’s Mari- time access routes through war-torn Mozambique which resulted to raised export freight costs.
A further reform programme, the book says was began in 1986. Although a number of anticipated measures-which included a reduction in subsidies and organisation of major parastatal bodies- were implemented the economy began to falter again with GDP growth falling the 2.8% compared with the target of 4.2% and win the budget deficit amounting to 11% of GDP, compared with a target of 3.5%.
Malawi cancelled its 3-year extended facility with IMF in August 1996, two months before its expiry month of October because of the economy’s disappointing performance.
The adage, ‘it never rains but pours’ was synonymous with Malawi’s economic woes. Contrary to its late 70s projections that things will change for the good towards the new millennium, Malawi’s economic performance was adversely affected again by severe drought conditions in 1992.
And the situation deteriorated with the suspension of non-humanitarian donor aid, as since the collapse of cold war, a number of counties were brought under spotlight, and Malawi’s Dr Banda was found to be flagrantly violating human rights with impunity.
So, the donors’- otherwise known as neo-colonialists in other cycles pressed for a democratic change which would respect human rights and observe the rule of law if Malawi- very dependent on donor aid- was to get anything.
Malawi government figures indicated that because of this, GDP tumbled in real terms, by 7.3% in 1992 while the yearly inflation averaged 23.2% compared with 8.2% in 1991. This was caused by the two pulls of devaluation of its currency.
An unprecedented level of industrial unrest, which forced Dr Banda to call for a referendum that resulted into the first multiparty general elections after thirty years, followed this.
When elections were held in 1994, the new government inherited an unstable fiscal and monetary situation, as they were unable to adopt the despotic policies of Dr Banda whose government had subsidies in all necessities.
Instead, they introduced what was termed as a liberalised economy, which did not help as real GDP fell by 10.2 % the same year.
While Malawi’s tales of woe was painstaking to unveil, Botswana romantic tale was a pleasant to unfold. During the 1980s, Botswana’s economic performance exceeded that of all other non-petroleum producing countries in Africa.
GDP in real terms pushed up by a yearly average of 10.3% in 1980-90 giving Botswana one of the world highest economy growth rates.
For Botswana, Middleton encyclopaedia states that a higher than anticipated diamond production and price levels rendered projections in its 6th National Development Plan 1984/85-1989/90 too pessimistic.
Botswana feared that growth based on such narrow foundation (beef production and mining) was vulnerable and difficult to sustain in the long term-hence the 6th NDP which was predicted on substantial diminution in growth rates, to an average of 4.8% per year, through stabilisation of diamond and beef out put.
Contrary to these fears GDP increased in real terms, by an annual average of 12% in 1985/86-1987/88 period, before slowing in 1989/90-1991-92 to an average annual rate of 7.5% owing to rapid increase in government expenditure.
During the 90s, Middleton says Botswana’s economic performance was adversely affected due to easy 90’s international economic recession and GDP which declined by 0.1% in 1992/93, dropped below the rate of population growth for the first time since independence.
It further says in 1995/96 upturn in the mining sector lifted GDP growth of 7.0%.
The economy’s social impact
While the cost of living for a Malawian Joe public is nightmare, for a Tswana it is the opposite. While the presence of street beggars comprising juveniles, orphans and people with disabilities especially those with vision impairments is a constant eyesore in Botswana it’s the opposite.
Malawi has only moved from the group of the world’s six poorest countries to the one of the world’s 12 poorest countries with $367.7 million (1998) as its international reserves.
While Botswana rose to become an ‘upper middle income’ country, under World Bank definitions, which acknowledged that it was unusual for an African country,

Malawi has been tremendously affected by Bretton woods institution imposed economic policies on Economic structural adjustment programme (SAP) adopted wholesale soon after change of political system in 1994 according to research conducted by the Non-governmental organisation in Malawi (Congoma).
The findings released in the month of July in 2004 reveals that the policies by IMF, and world bank in collaboration with the government has had negative impact because it was not well assessed and understood by the policy makers before its implementation.
The findings says ‘the programme was passed on to the people without proper analysis of its effects.’
Malawians were given false hopes by the programme, which have never come to fulfilment as ‘the people were made to understand that more jobs will be created and wealth generated for all’.
Contrary to the ‘milk and honey’ hopes, findings observed that ‘the situation has led to pauperisation’ as the experiences are that of a double blow. More people are instead being laid off because of the privatisation – a recipe for SAP, – coupled with the folding up of businesses and other alternatives are yet to be found.
The findings also observed that there is lack of strategic plans on how to cushion the impact of the economic reforms on the on the poor, despite the fact that Malawi is grappling with introducing private sector perspectives and approaches to take the place of government directed activities as a result of SAP.
In the same vein of misfortunes, the findings unveiled that among thirteen African countries assessed recently Malawi had the highest Gin co-efficient of 0.62, “meaning that it is of the countries in the world with most unequal distribution of wealth.
High ranking politicians have become millionaires in Malawi overnight, a concern that was raised by a ruling member of parliament, which earned him a wrath from all members of the ruling party including the president.
A local man in the village can longer afford a good meal made from well processed maize flour; instead, he has to settle for maize bran.
The government has continued to render a deaf ear and has instead chosen to back the implicated corruption culprits amidst its high ranking officials.
While Malawi’s cost of living is unrealistic, Botswana’s is reasonable. Although Malawi government boasts improvement of its economic stance, people live and yet to shift from it’s deep seated sorrow to some little happiness.
FINDING THE ALTERNATIVE ANCHORAGE OF THE ECONOMY.
In February 1997, Botswana introduced its eighth NDP (1997/98 — 2002/03) with the theme ‘sustainable economic diversification’ putting an emphasis on the growth of the private sector.
The main goal of Nap’s is to accelerate growth of non-mining GDP and concentrate in areas like manufacturing—like the recently identified aircraft manufacturing company, AVTEC— tourism and trade, hotels and restaurants, banking, insurance and business services.
Although mineral reserves for Botswana has span right into the 21st century the government is poised to identify what it calls additional engines growth.
Despite mining accounting for about a third of GDP as it is not ready to take risks is that growth based on a narrow mining foundations not only vulnerable but difficult to sustain in the long term.
Agriculture is the major sector of Malawi’s economy, which contributes more than a third of the GDP and generates more than 90% of the total export earnings. Tobacco contributed over 70% of Malawi’s export shares.
With such statistical standing, a campaign to ban tobacco by the international anti-smoking lobbyists who are branding it a life threatening health hazards and a dangerous drug has therefore dealt Malawi a death blow that the country is desperately looking for an alternative source to replace the once fondly called Malawi’s gold leaf.
Just this year, through a close share Malawi’s economy would have fallen to a disaster of unprecedented scale. The country’s traditional tobacco buyers offered laughable but piteously, threatening prices at her auction floors, in the first day of the exercise.
This sacred the living day lights out of Malawi’s economy. Thanks to the grower’s boycott, in protest against what analysts described as unrealistic prices.
Malawi badly in need of alternative commodities released a report which indicated that heavily dependence on a single commodity—tobacco—makes its foreign exchange earnings extremely vulnerable to change in the world market, hence the need for some diversification to increase the range of export commodities is highly desirable to reduce the inherent instability of its economy.
This discovery had forced Malawians to look beyond their noses in search for an alternative commodity, to such an extent that the search has landed other sectors to settle for a would be saviour crop which the world at negatively.
The first to suggest this crop in question was the country’s deputy ministry of agriculture, Joe Manduwa. In this year’s first sitting of parliament the minister suggested legalising the growing of non-narcotic hemp, which he alleged could easily take from the less favoured tobacco crop.
The tales of the two countries’ economies are a total manifestation of what type of leaders (both post independence and present) leaders proved and prove their credibility.
Today is the posterity of yesterday and let it judge them fairly for much as it involves a lot of facets to put countries’ economies on track the qualities of their leadership also plays a major role to the economies.
Ends.

The Myth of the wife snatching Bridge


By Gregory Gondwe.
In the Greek myth, there is a Greek hero, Achilles, son to Peleus, and the sea godess Thetis and in the 700 BC Iliad, he is singled out as the foremost of the Greek warriors at the seige of Troy where no spear or an arrow could pierce through his body.
The reason behind his invincibility was that while he was a baby his mother plunged him into the river of Styx making his body invulnerable except for the heel by which she held him. After slaying Hector, he was killed by Paris who wounded him in the very heel.
This is but one of Greek’s many mythical tales the world has read about, more for the fact that most of it has been coalesced into the world’s reputable vocabularies.
Malawi has a huge share of her own mythology, which for one reason or the other remains hushed. More so because most of the tales started during the preliterate era, restricting it to oral version.
One of such tales surrounds the myth of a certain place across the Rukuru River in Rumphi called Chipoka-awoli. It is positioned between two gigantic mountains and makes it the only passage to some four kilometres away district headquarters.
Myth has it that this place derived its name from strange occurrences that used to take place at the spot.
Pregnant women, menstruating women, baby mothers who would ‘conceive another child before jumping back into the menstrual cycle’ while rearing the other child (Makhumbi), twins and any promiscuous person intending to cross to the other side would transfix on the spot until a certain sacrament had been performed.
It was only when a dove, a chicken or a silver coin had been thrown into the river while invokers would supplicate for clemency using a well prepared litany that a transfixed person would be released.
But since most of the victims that were being held rooted on the spot were women most of whom were accompanied by their husbands who would then leave them there to look for people to plead with the spirits, the act was seen like a wife seizure hence the Tumbuka name Chipoka-awoli, chipoka is something that seizes or takes, while a woli means wives.
As a precautionary measure any set of twins, triplets or any set of birth of any woman or male person with reasons explained above was, as a passport, supposed to wear a fetter of white beads and carry with them a silver coin (1 or 2 pence), a dove or a chicken, which would be thrown in the river
Fifty-four-years-old Senior Group Village Mlongoti in whose area the spot is situated said many strange things used to happen around the place.
In those days, when travelling towards the place, one could hear noises like people singing or like people grinding maize grains using a mortar and a pistil.
Visiting the place these days, one discovers stones gouged like a deliberate effort of a sculptor whose explanation is that the spirits were using them as mortars.
“Sometimes when passing across the spot in the morning, one would find white clothes displayed all over the stones found at the place but when returning back from where ever one had gone during the afternoon, nothing could be seen,” said SGVH Mlongoti.
Mlongoti said the place used to act like a moral screen as sometimes a person whom you thought was morally okey could stuck at the spot until he or she disclosed of his or her promiscuity adventures or any of their acts of moral turpitude, before being rescued from the hands of the spirits.
“People feared to be bad except if they had chosen never to pass across that spot,” he said before taking me to his elder brother, seventy-seven-year-old Sailas Zgambo a man who has spent the rest of his life at a village near the place.
The lanky grey beard Zgambo, whose appearance and posture defies his age, said Chipoka-awoli had a lot of wonders because it was a sacred place where his ancestors used to appease the spirits with beers, flour and traditional dances.
Zgambo who is a Catholic Christian still believes that the two mountains, where the river passes through, Njakwa and Mayembe, are still home to spirits of his people’s ancestors
“There is still a belief that there are two big snakes still living in the two mountains and there is a time when the one that lives in Mayembe mountain- a husband- which is to the left side as one goes towards Rumphi boma crosses to the Njakwa Mountain- a wife and in those years we used to experience a lot of rains,” explained Zgambo.
Zgambo says there are still harmless snakes in the river though they are now endangered of extinction because of a lot human activities taking place in the waters and along the Rukuru River.
“There used to be a lot of grey snakes which we could find sun bathing on the stones at the spot. The snakes were harmless sometimes one could be at the upper side of the river bathing and discover that some thing is smearing something on your body, only to discover that the snakes are playfully licking you,” explained Zgambo.
The experiences according Zgambo used to happen the time there was no bridge when people were crossing the river using stones at a nearby place called Nthantha, an onomatopoeic word derived from the act of jumping from one stone to the other, until a tentative one made from trees and its barks was looped across.
“Such experiences went on until the construction of the current bridge around 1935 and it only stopped lately with a lot of irreproachable behaviour of the current human race,” moans Zgambo.

HRCC REPORT FAULTS BINGU


President Bingu wa Mutharika should have resigned from Presidency and called for fresh elections the moment he decided to dump the United Democratic Front UDF, the party on his ticket he rode to power.
This came to the fore in Mzuzu recently when the Human Rights Consultative Committee HRCC launched its 2008 Independent Political Situation Report for the country.
Scores of people that came to witness the launch agreed with the report that Malawians do not act in time to solve political problems facing the country until things have reached a crisis stage.
HRCC Board Chairperson Undule Mwakasungura while presiding over the launch observed that the country has been dominated by politics ever since the multiparty dispensation.
He however said the report titled ‘The fight of the Elephants and the Suffering of the Grass’ will help the country to reflect in view of the forthcoming general elections.
The report established that Malawi’s political problems have emanated from its unwillingness to create a healing and reconciliation process and this is the reason that has even made the three arms of government to competing against each other instead of complementing each other.
Although the report looks at the political situation from 2004 when the incumbent State President Dr. Bingu wa Mutharika came to power, the report still traces the country’s political problems back to other two regimes.
Although everyone that came to witness the launch of the report talked highly about it, Mr. Mwakasungura said it was inconclusive and still in its draft form and therefore asked people to critique it so that it can be fine tuned.
Political analysts from the University of Mzuzu Noel Mbowera said HRCC has broken the tradition where international bodies come into the country and to tell the country about her situation when local institution can do it for the country as ably demonstrated by HRCC.
Veteran Politician Robson Chirwa who said the report was supposed to be celebrated said the political problems torturing Malawi has come about because leaders do not want to consult old statesman like him because they are bigheaded.
People that are aspiring to contest for the Mzuzu City Constituency took turns to outshine each other during the launch with one of them Ralph Kasambara describing the report as only attempting to deal with the symptoms instead of the disease.
He said President Mutharika constructively resigned from his position when he dumped the UDF the party that ushered him unto power.
Political Problems that have rocked Malawi are as a result of individuals trying to advance their political interests at the expense of the country.