Thursday, December 23, 2010

Stop ill-advising Mutharika - Youths

YPU Secretary, Isaac Mkandawire
The Young Politicians Union (YPU) has added its input to the Joyce-Bingu impasse debate by condemning Mutharika, his advisers, MBC and his ruling DP party for focusing on Peter Mutharika campaign and ignoring development a move YPU blamed for the delaying of the disbursement of the much touted YEDEF youth loans.
The Mzuzu chapter of the YPU said this at a press conference that they staged at Mzuzu Youth Centre on Thursday.
"It all started with Peter Mutharika endorsement by the Southern Region DPP committee, as much as it's their right but we fault the timing, 2014 is too far and already in Malawi it's as if elections are to be held tomorrow," said YPU Director, Tiyezge Kacheche.
Kacheche bemoaned what he called "Mutharika's mistreatment" of Joyce Banda and hailed Banda for not answering back Mutharika's rants and called her silence is golden.
Another member on the panel, Isaac Mkandawire, Mzuzu Young Politicians Union Secretary, called on MBC, the state broadcaster to produce programs that will build the nation instead of programs like "Mkutinji" and "Road to 2014," which he called "unfortunate."
Asked why the union was using the media instead of contact and dialogue and why they were commenting on DPP's internal issues, Mkandawire said the union has no other channels but the media because it can remove the need for gate-keepers.
He also said that firing Banda from the party will not go well with the country's need for development because Mutharika and Banda will not be working well together and the nation will suffer.
The issue of false and hypocritical advisers was also raised with Hetherwick Ntaba chiefly in the spotlight. YPU said a few people are ill advising the president for personal gains a move the union said was counter-developmental.
YPU also called on government to learn to separate government functions from political ones citing last Wednesday rally at Manolo in Mzimba where DPP was more on the agenda than the Function which was the launch on the national tree planting season.

YPU Director, Tiyegze Kacheche

"We want government to concentrate on development not politicking, they should fight Aids, hunger, illiteracy not one another," said Kacheche.
Bulukutu Mkandawire, one of the founders of the union in the Northern Region said that Malawi is sliding back to the one party era with a culture of fear slowly taking over Malawians.
"People will stop opposing because of fear and all we will hear is about Peter...who is Peter anyway?" Bulukutu said.
The union denied being aligned to any party and said they represent all the youths in the country.
"What we want is development not politics, where is the YEDEF loan, for example?" asked Kacheche.


Monday, December 20, 2010

'JB wanted Bingu dead'

Malawians are now bored with the Joyce Banda (JB) firing story.... but wait; they are in for a surprising twist, Goodal Gondwe on Saturday added two more reasons to the ones the ruling party earlier listed for the firing, one of which was the allegation that JB wanted Bingu dead.
Mphepo organised the meet

Goodal was speaking at press briefing at Mary Mount Secondary School Hall in Mzuzu where the Northern DPP faithfulls gathered to issue a communiqué to notify the nation that the party was still strong even without JB and Khumbo Kachali.

“Joyce wanted Bingu dead and Kachali was electing own shadow MP’s a thing that made the party fire them. The party is now new without them,” said Gondwe, who is the Director of Economic for DPP.

Etta Banda - lashed out at JB
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is quoted in the Weekend Nation Newspaper saying that
JB was fired for sabotaging the Nsanje port progress, and refusing to endorse Peter Mutharika which is a deviation from Goodal’s claims.

Minister of Health; David Mphande accused JB of financing anti-government propaganda via Nyasa Times.

“Nyasa Times is Bingu’s greatest enemy, and I am angry at Nyasa Times for alleging that my constituency was not represented at Manolo on Wednesday when the president was launching the tree planting season, on the contrary, there was a lorry full of people from Nkhata-bay south East, this is Joyce’s propaganda,” said Mphande.

Other DPP members also took turns to castigate JB; among those who spoke hard against here were Bessie Chirambo, Etta Banda, Vuwa Kaunda and Gotani Hara.

Gotani Hara said Joyce Banda does not like Northerners and said her hatred manifested with the absence of Northerners while she was Minister of Foreign affairs.

Akim Mwanza, MP for Mzimba Solola, who had once been fired from DPP for criticising Quota System of selecting students to university as discriminatory, said that after what he experienced nobody should dare blunder.

The party also took time to endorse Peter Mutharika’s 2014 presidential bid with the party’s deputy publicity secretary Wyson Mkochi claiming that it was the North’s idea that Peter succeed Bingu because he was the only one they saw as educated and experienced.

Another Mzimba MP, Bofomo Nyirenda, said he supported Peter Mutharika because he has records that Peter was instrumental in Malawi’s fight against Kamuzu Banda’s dictatorial rule.

Vuwa Kaunda - JB is not from the North
The meeting was organised by DPP’s Organising Secretary, Francis Mphepo and had many big wigs of the party in attendance in addition to about 80 faithfuls that had been ferried from across the Northern Region.

The meeting was never short of drama as the reporters that were called to the press conference were never allowed to ask questions a move that saw some respectable reporters like Edwin Nyirongo of The Nation Newspaper walk out in disappointment.

JB wished Bingu dead: Gondwe
Te meeting also come in the wake of mass resignation of DPP member with over 30 people including DPP’s Northern region organising secretary Frazer Chunga, district campaign director Bitton Nyirenda and Phato Theu, the Deputy District treasurer resigning in Mzimba on Thursday.

The 33 said they knew DPP through JB and KK and thus saw no reason of staying in the party now that the two were fired. They however said that they were not forming or joining any parties soon.

Iodine quantities in Malawi salt still worrying-MoH

The Malawi Government through the Principal Environmental Health Officer in the Ministry of Health (MoH), Hannah Hausi, says the levels of Iodine in the salt being used in Malawi still remains a concern despite some improvements from the past years.

She said this on Monday on the sidelines of a UNICEF funded workshop held at Mzuzu Hotel, where the ministry was reviewing the progress it has made on the monitoring of Iodine in salt sold ands used in Malawi.
"We have found that most salt, about 90%, has iodine and the monitoring is going well at grassroots levels but the issue is that the quantities of iodine in the available salt is still low," said Hausi.

Iodine is an element which is required by humans for the synthesis of thyroid hormones and its deficiency can lead to goitre, various neurologic, gastrointestinal, and skin abnormalities. Iodine deficiency in pregnant or nursing mothers can lead to significant neurocognitive deficits such as Cretinism in their infants.

The workshop drew District Environmental health Officers and Safety and hygiene health officers from the ministry of health from the Northern and part of Central region. Similar review workshops are slated for the South.
Malawi does not produce salt and relies on Botswana, Kenya and Mozambique and this presents a challenge as some merchants smuggle in uniodised salt.
A visit to Mzuzu Market says it all, Lucius Mayaka sells salt but is not sure who manufactures it and says his salt has iodine because he shield it from the sun.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Bingu is being blasphemous – Harry Mkandawire

Outspoken politician and business man, Harry Mkandawire has taken a swipe at Malawi's president Mutharika and his cabinet member, Billy Kaunda calling them blasphemous and paranoid respectively for the comments they made yesterday at Manolo in Mzimba while launching the National Tree Planting Season.

Mkandawire was reacting to the comments aired by Bingu in defence of his party's firing of Joyce Banda and Khumbo Kachali in which he wondered why he shouldn't fire infidels when God expelled Satan for the same crime.

"Bingu was being blasphemous when he compared himself to God because God was not elected by people and is not answerable to his creatures," said Mkandawire in a phone interview.

On Billy Kaunda's comments on Northerners in which Kaunda said the hype on Kachali's firing was unjustified because the president still has many Northerners in his government, Mkandawire said Billy was just being paranoid.

"First of all, in the Ngoni culture an MP cannot request for a chief's promotion, secondly Kaunda was just being paranoid when he attacked northerners, it shows that he is just a visitor no wonder he cannot even speak ChiTumbuka," said Mkandawire.

Kaunda however wondered why his comments are being taken as if they are not fact. He refused to defend them because he said they were blameless and general such that Goodal Gondwe was not his target.

"What I said was that when Me, Dausi and Mwamondwe were fired from DPP nobody talked why should they talk now? And Goodal Gondwe has never been fired from the party," said Kaunda.

Some Northerners over the cyber-sphere expressed anger at Kaunda's comments which some labelled offensive and directed at Goodal Gondwe whose firing from cabinet drew cries of foul from some quarters in the North.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Imposing leaders causes intra-party strife-Young Politicians

The young Politicians Union (YPU) on Wednesday organised an anti-violence training for the country's parties' youngsters ahead of the local government elections, who among other issues, identified imposition of leaders as the cause of wrangles and violence in political parties.

The issues were discussed at a workshop held at Livingstonia Synod's Conference Hall in Mzuzu. The workshop was facilitated by National Initiative for Civic Education (NICE).

"We discussed and found that among other causes, intra-party strife is caused by lack of statesmanship among losing candidates, abusive language, lack of civic education and imposition of leaders," said Elena Mpata, who is YPU's Documentation and Research officer.

She bemoaned candidates who fail to bear with loss at primary election level and go on to stand as independents, a move she said causes parties to brawl in wrangle as loyalists get confused.

Asked what YPU discussed on Joyce Banda's alleged mistreatment by the Mutharika regime, YPU's Director, Peter Mumba said that they see the issue as an internal one but called on DPP to put its house together because the party's issues are starting to affect the whole nation.

YPU says this is the first in a series of similar trainings that will target youthful politicians ahead of the oncoming local government elections.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

GEN takes activism to Dancehall level

"Dance for yours rights," is this year's 16 Days of Activism theme for the Girls Empowerment Network (GEN) and it is not just theory, as the organisation has engaged dancing groups to vigorously dance as the message is disseminated to the public; and it works.

The dance-based activism started in Blantyre a week ago and every district that is en-route to Mzuzu has experienced the dancing advocates. In Mzuzu, GEN engaged dancers from around the city and there was a dance clash at Katoto Freedom Park where secondary school students vigorously joined the jive while wielding placards bearing messages against gender violence.

"As you know we are in the 16 Days of Activism and our message is to bring in more action and not just words," said GEN's Project Officer, Yamikani Banda, "after we dance we stop to sensitise the masses against gender based violence."

The network has since slated a girl's conference for the 8th of December in Mzuzu and another in Blantyre on the 10th, to mark the end of the 16 days of activism.

Monday, December 6, 2010

St. John of Malawi? one institution is managing to keep Mzuzu free from/of street kids

Thirteen year old John Banda’s (not real name) world turned topsy turvy when he was accused of being a witch. His parents labelled him persona non grata and teachers shunned him. Ching’ambo Township had failed him so he moved to the streets of Mzuzu.

Umoza Dance Troupe, captured at a rehearsal

St. John of God (SJOG) Community Services spotted John and he was soon transformed into a responsible boy his community and parents never thought he would ever be.

Many children of John’s fate are not as lucky but in the middle of it all is the Umoza outreach project by SJOG which has so far managed to keep kids away from Mzuzu‘s streets, I went to find out more about Umoza Project.

Aidan Clohessy, SJOG Director said his institution saw the problem as early as 1996 and only commissioned Umoza after the stakeholders initially drafted in the community response team lost steam and enthusiasm.

Under Umoza scouts from SJOG patrol the streets for any signs of children. Once identified the kids are invited to the institution’s drop in centre where they are either repatriated or rehabilitated.

Part of SJOG
“If they are from around Mzuzu, we contact their parents or guardians to try to validate their story before we can start rehabilitating the child,” said Clohessy, “If they are from outside Mzuzu we arrange for repatriation of the kids.”

The problem

Clohessy believes the problem of street kids stems from poverty as exacerbated by HIV, alcohol abuse, gender violence and cultural practices with some kids being accused of witchcraft.

ALex Nkosi, SJOG Umoza Cordinator

“Here [North] in the patrilineal system, the problem comes when a father remarries. He is likely to chase and ignore the step-children who then go onto the street,” he said, “In the street, they can be raped, exploited by businessmen and they are likely to take up crime.”

Clohessy said the problem gets compounded when society rejects the kids as vermin chasing them and calling them names as if it [society] wasn’t responsible for the children’s plight.

Said Clohessy, “They say ‘sweeping kids off the street,’ what impression does that give? Are the kids dirt?”

Intervention and Restoration

The kids once coaxed into SJOG are encouraged to go back to school, this after undergoing counselling in behaviour change. Religious and psychological counselling is also conducted apart from the medical care that they kids get.

With 95 percent of the children wanting to go back to school, SJOG prepares them for integration into conventional schools around Mzuzu and provides basics such as uniform and fees as the children advance in their education. The programme boasts of 65 and 16 children in primary and secondary schools respectively.

A special need teacher is always on standby to follow up their progress in terms of academics and behaviour and to provide remedial lessons and counselling.

For those that cannot go back school, SJOG instils vocational skills into them. They can take up carpentry, horticulture, brick-laying or homemaking (tailoring). Vocational skills are also taught to the rest during holidays to cultivate an earning culture to kill the dependency that might have set up camp in the children when they roamed the streets.

The project also furthers personal talent in the children. Various sports disciplines are available for the children to indulge in, in fact, the 2010 Champion of the under-15 Bingu Table Tennis Cup is from Umoza. A cultural dance troupe also sees the children raise their esteem and vent their energy by performing at high level functions.

Everybody is taught how to cook and personal hygiene emphasized, the result of which is neat looking children that make kids that stayed at home want to go into the streets just to join Umoza.

The project has seen a steep decline in the number of street kids on the streets of Mzuzu - actually there are no street kids in Mzuzu. Umoza currently has 95 students on the register but has rehabilitated about a thousand since the project’s initiation in 2003.

Looking ahead

Alex Nkosi, Project Coordinator of the Umoza Children’s Program said it is difficult to win cooperation of the parents and to change the attitudes of the community towards street children. He also bemoaned lack of support from government.

“The City Assembly can do more by regulating alcohol and video shows. The Social Services department should also try to help us more, we are strained,” Nkosi said, “The community should also do something and not expect SJOG to do everything for them.”

Nkosi further said that teachers in schools that absorb Umoza children should stop stereotyping the children as troublesome just because SJOG mainly focuses on mental health.

Mchengautuba, Salisbury and Masasa being the main suppliers of street kids have been earmarked as targets of a community based approach that SJOG is rolling out early next year. Centres will be opened where kids will be tamed before they even think of the street and parents taught positive parenting.

One of the rehabilitating kid in a vegetable  field

SJOG was established in 1993 by Brothers of St. John of God from Ireland who were invited by Mzuzu Diocese to establish a community based mental health care service centre to service the North. It was initially working with the church’s Primary Health Care Department but has now grown into a formidable multi-faceted institution that can now produce graduates in mental health.

As John Banda finishes his plate of porridge and prepare to start hitting the drum for Umoza dance troupe, many enjoy the rhythm without a thought of what could have become of the kid if he was left on the street.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Protest Pictures

Student at Viphya Secondary school in Mzuzu, Malawi broke every window pane at their school in protest against the schools supspending of four boys. the school has since been closed and the damage is pegged at K2.5 million

Student at Viphya Secondary school in Mzuzu, Malawi broke every window pane at their school in protest against the schools supspending of four boys. the school has since been closed and the damage is pegged at K2.5 million

A University of Malawi student challenges the whole Chipembere Highway in Blantyre to stop while he poses for a photo...the highway passes through the campus and anything can happen to outsiders...curses, stone hurling and when the students strike the highway is targeted. when its blocked the students are soon live on air and their grievieances heard at the State House

the first youngman (in Grey Tshirt) has already got his "Gin" babtism, the one in yellow get his Babtism while he hides his Carlsberg beer bottle from the high priest
A student captured at Mzuzu University displays a shirt he made from combined cloth of  Malawi's rival party

Cross-Dressing is taboo in Malawi...not for they two young men

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Mutharika victimisation of VP may steer GBV

The Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) on Thursday said that the mistreatment being eked onto the country's vice president, Joyce Banda, by the Mutharika government is not exemplary and that it might serve as a license for men to abuse their wives.

The sentiment was aired by the MHRC's commissioner, Desmond Kaunda, at a press conference held at St. Andrews CCAP Church in Mzuzu which was organised to brief the press on the upcoming International Human Rights Day on the 10th
of December.

"When Joyce Banda was chosen, the nation endorsed that and I believe DPP won because of that pairing, in addition to that, government has been advocating for women empowerment and when it turns and victimises the vice president, the nation wonders," said Kaunda.

The civil society has been complaining about what it takes as victimisation of Joyce Banda with the state controlled broadcaster MBC giving the veep a blackout and Mutharika stripping her of some honours and endowing them on his wife, Calista.

Government has since denied the victimisation with its spokesperson, Hetherwick Ntaba, calling the alleged rift between president and vice "a myth." Ntaba argued that the vice president's office is fully funded and that she herself has not complained yet.

The International Human Rights Day this year will focus on the rights of the minorities and this year's theme is: "Speak Up...Stop Discrimination."

The commission, through a statement signed by MHRC's Executive, Aubrey Mvula, has listed the disabled, women, racial and ethnic groups, the diseased, religious groupings, indigenous people, linguistic groups and migrants as some of the minorities to get the focus.

Asked why the commission is silent on the linguistic oppression that is happening in Malawi where one tribal language which was forcibly institutionalised is still allowed to be dominant and taught in schools, one of the panellists, Noel Mbowela who is also a political analyst, said the problem was with the way it was chosen.

"The idea of one language is good for a nation but the way Chichewa was chosen is what is questionable," said Mbowela.

Other issues raised at the press conference include the silent culture among Malawians which columnist and human rights activist, Emily Mkamanga, said was deplorable. She gave an example of the near arrest and mauling of Blantyre Newspapers reporter, Mike Chipalasa and how other media houses never took up the issue.

Mkamanga also said that despite the many protests and advice that people give the government it seems government is not ready to listen and that it is "arrogant."

Mbowela laid the blame on recycled politicians where he said many politicians that take on the reins of power still believe in the Kamuzu Banda philosophies.

Kaunda also bemoaned the divide and rule culture in Malawi where government allegedly "palm oils" some judges, journalists and clergy to bring about confusion.

"In the Bible we know that pride and arrogance come before the fall," said Kaunda.

Friday, December 3, 2010

North-Centre alliance humiliates South in theatre elections

Controversy reigned at St Johns College of Nursing in Mzuzu one Saturday morning when the country's theatre heavyweights battled it out for positions in the National Theatre Association of Malawi (NTAM) executive.


The event, NTAM's annual general meeting, was nearly boycotted by members from the central and northern regions when the issue of allowances refused to be solved.


The south was being blasted for pocketing K21,000 each when the central and northern regions members got K8000 and K1000 respectively. In the end however the grieving regions agreed to carry on with the elections saying "change is bigger than money."


To the observant eye, the winner was clearly marked with the bid by the North and Centre to unite in toppling the South which the two accused of dominating the association without bearing fruits.


In the end, Ian Chisekula carried the day taking the post of the presidency beating MacArthur Matukuta who was seeking a second, term by 14 votes. And other losers on the big post included Andy Longwe, Fred Mukhuwa. Mafumu Matiki and Eric Mabedi withdrew from the race.


Chisekula of Lilongwe's Rising Choreos and Theatre Company will be deputised by Henry Ntalika, a former Wakhumbata member who shied away from the top post after seeing the works of the alliance. Oneness Arts director, Manasseh Chisiza took the post of secretary.


Katoto Mvalenji's Boniface Tivalenji is the new treasurer deputised by Max DC, Astrovaganza's Isaac Banda is the publicity secretary and Frank Yalu will be his deputy.


Regional chairpersons make Committee members of NTAM thus Sam Sambo of Oneness Theatre (North), Grace Chinula of Tongue Arts (Central) and Lyson Namalomba (South) assume the ex-officio honours.


Chisekula thanked God and the North for their pivotal role in his glory but said the alliance with the north was just a winning strategy and that he will focus on uniting, consolidation and improving the country's theatre.


"In the past executive you could be in the executive yet not know what was going on, the South has dominated theatre without giving artists a feel of what theatre is," said Chisekula, "I will bring in transparency and accountability."


Chisekula said he would also modernise the arts and try to end the association's dependence on the Norway fund that the association gets through Copyright Society of Malawi (Cosoma).


Reacting to the news, Northern region Theatre Chairperson, Sam Sambo congratulated Chisekula and said he expected big things from him. Central region's Theatre secretary general, James Kitchen said the north had chosen wisely and said it should continue in monitoring the incumbent


"For the Southern region guys, let them know that there is time for entering and time for exiting. There is always next time," said Sambo.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

ARV’s Disfiguring people, MHRC to investigate

One of Malawi's most outspoken HIV activists, Lillian Kumwenda has fired a distress signal saying that the current Anti Retro Viral (ARV) drugs being taken by HIV positive Malawians are having drastic side effects on them, a development she called a "human rights issue."
Kumwenda said this on Thursday in Mzuzu at a meeting organised by The Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) aimed at strategising ahead on 10th December which is World Human Rights Day.
"As much as we appreciate that we have free ARV's unlike other countries, the current drug is having serious side effects. The effects range from swollen chests and narrowing of the legs for example," said Kumwenda.
A nurse who did not want to be named corroborated Kumwenda's story and said that the development is leaving HIV positive people prone to discrimination.
"The side effects mean that those on ART are easily identified and that can be a basis for stigma against the people," said the nurse.
Human Rights Activist and former columnist, Emily Mkamanga said people need to know what the side effects of prescription drugs are before they are given the dosage. She compared Malawi and Western countries and said in The West, every medical procedure and dosage is well explained to the patient as per its implications.
"It's not right. This is life. What are they giving us, are they not drugs rejected somewhere?" wondered Mkamanga.
MHRC commissioner, Desmond Kaunda said that the HIV situation in Malawi is full of discrimination as what is perfectly a human rights issue [ART] is taken as charity.
"We need to advocate more against this subtle discrimination, there are other alternative drugs and government should do more," said Kaunda.
Meanwhile MHRC , through its Director of Research and Documentation, Wycliffe Masoo, said that Kumwenda's case will be prioritized in the study the commission is going to launch titled Human Rights and HIV in Malawi.
Kumwenda said that she has raised the issue with government but government has promised to help-next year.
The ARVs that are causing the alleged damage is called Trimune 30 and 40 and is a combination of Neverapine, Lamuvidine and Stavudine.
According to Wikipedia, AS OF 2009 the US recommends the combination Emtricitabine, Tenoforvir and Efavirenz as its ART dosage.

Happy Against England? The World Cup Epilogue

I couldn't believe that England with its Global appeal failed to win, but as an intellectual i will try to brainstorm why England and USA have lost...speaking as a group of people...excerpts.

News that England had not even been on the contenders in today's World Cup bid results list shocked many in The UK as evidenced by the number of angry and disappointed tweets Britons sent out.

Many will blame the timing of the airing of the Panorama programme on BBC but there is something which may be the ultimate reason why England and USA have failed to host the World Cup: war on terror.

So much has been said to sugar-coat the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and with the perfect timing of WikiLeaks, England and USA were up against serious moral opposition. There is growing anti-Americanism and anti-British sentiments among the people I know-which might be the pattern across the world.

Many people think the English are proud-so proud that they think that the wedding of their prince should make global news.

Minds are still ripe with the racism in Ireland and the Gamu incident. And the World seems not to have bought the story that led to Diana's accident. Remember how a Brazilian was gunned down for growing a beard similar to a Muslim's?

The media in England is one of the most misleading-lead-infrastructures that Britain has. Take football, they try to rate English football as the best yet we know Messi is not in England.

When Beckham was in Spain all we heard of Spanish soccer was Beckham this and Beckham that... how does that make people with sane heads and a craving for real news feel?

We cannot even begin to speak of USA with its drones and Terry Joneses; they were written off in my diary even before they applied for the hosting.

And Russia?

I know that Russia is the most racist country in the world and I am shocked that they got the bid, why did they? Because Andry Arhshavin cried?

All hail Qatar!

The most interesting World cup will be in Qatar with its booming economy it will be interesting to hear from the Middle East soccer-wise.

For Albert, deaf and dumb

Blind to all sounds

Mute in all dialogue

Yet boisterous as the river at night

Normal as an owl at night


I wish he heard the music

The cricket chirps, the waves

And the roar of thunder

Look, he stands as we duck to it!


A blessing in a curse?

Ticket to be oblivious to cries, gossip,

And curses flying by?


What if thunder fell on the standing?

Or a snake hissing a warning?

An oncoming truck?


After puberty

Will there be a proposal?

And the child an eloquent hearer and orator?

For Albert that is nothing

The world to him lives at his fingertips

And in the grunts that make his sentences


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A Classic Protest Billboard

Pic. 1 A billboard captured at the premises of the Livingstonia Synod which has been a strong critic of what it calls "nepotistic policies" by the Mutharika government

Students Riot in Mzuzu, 11 in jail, K2.4 million damaged

11 male students of Viphya Secondary School in Mzuzu are to remain in custody until Friday after Senior Resident Magistrate for Mzuzu Magistrates Court, Gladys Gondwe, denied them bail in the case where the 11 are answering charges of malicious damage and rogue and vagabond.

The students were arrested on Tuesday morning following a rampage that Viphya students went on in protest against their schoolmates' suspension.

According to Viphya's headmaster, Mabulabo Lungu, the incident was a peak to events that started a week earlier.

One student, Sipho Chirwa is reported to have rallied four students to beat up Dalitso Moffat who had come to check his MSCE results. Sipho told his friends that Moffat had bullied him the previous year. Moffat was cornered and properly beaten but the students were surprised to note that Sipho himself had warned Moffat of the impending attack.

To punish him for his confusionist tactics, the four students in turn beat Sipho up drawing the wrath of his father who threatened the school with a lawsuit. The school then acted promptly and suspended the four students on Friday, a move that prompted the students to stage the riot. Siphon was also suspended.

The riots began at midnight on Monday and it was 40 minutes after the riots broke up that the police came and they were too late. The four students were not available at the campus at the time but the headmaster alleged that they were in the background organising the riots.

"The total damage is pegged at K2.4 million and if there are any sympathisers out there let them come and see what the students have done. Was the school wrong in suspending violent students?" asked Lungu.

Lungu also alleged that a group of 15 ring leaders forced others to break the windows and that resistors were beaten.

When the reporter went to the school, almost all of the window panes were broken, some desks were lying in half and there was a silent aura that ran about the deserted school famous for its prowess in science-based subjects.

Police initially arrested 52 students 16 of whom were girls. All the girls plus other 25 boys were released indefinitely on Wednesday and the rest appeared before court.

The court was packed with guardians and sympathisers on Wednesday afternoon. The 11 were crammed into the witnessed stand and looked very intimidated coupled with their lack of representation.

Prosecutors charged them with three counts: conspiracy to commit a felony, rogue and vagabond and malicious damage of property amounting to K2.3 million but the magistrate struck off the felony charge after the prosecution failed to substantiate it.

When it was time to take pleas, three of the 11 pleaded guilty and the rest had to be listed as not guilty after they dilly dallied in answering with some saying that they partially accepted the charges but argued that they couldn't have done all the alleged damage by themselves.

Magistrate adjourned the case to Friday morning but, to the surprise of many, remanded the boys in custody.

The school which was closed following the riots will open on 3rd January and the headmaster said that the board of directors has not yet met to decide on what punitive measures the other students will face.

Viphya secondary school is owned by Roger Nkhwazi, Douglas Mwenitete and a Mr. Kamvazina, it is situated just past Kaning'ina on the road to Nkhatabay from Mzuzu, and it is famous for not offering subjects like Chichewa and concentrating on scientific ones.

Protest Politics and Culture: NTV investigates in Malawi marijuana farms

Protest Politics and Culture: NTV investigates in Malawi marijuana farms