Thursday, June 30, 2011

Now this calls for a big WTF!

As if petroleum fuel shortages are not enough, the country’s sole electricity provider, Electricity Supply Commission of Malawi (Escom), has just announced that it is embarking on a massive load-shedding program that will see the whole of Malawi in darkness everyday from four to 10 PM for the rest of this year.

The announcement was then defended and sugar-coated on the state broadcaster MBC TV in its News Hour programme on Wednesday by one of the parastatal’s officials.

The move has already become one of the most discussed topic on the social media and cyber sphere with some backing Escom, and some trashing it as part of DPP’s continued failure to run the country.

“We heard that Escom got funding to improve power generation where is that? And not only that, Escom is a monopoly that enjoys abnormal profits and economies of scale, where is that again?” wondered one Malawian on Facebook.

“This will mean more trees going down, they can’t bring this move when winter is at its peak, what will we cook with?” said a DJ on Radio 2 of the MBC.

“I hope this will not affect Poly, because we never live in darkness without raising hell,” said a Poly student.
Escom has been under constant criticism over its incapacity and misuse of revenue with the recent K80 million kwacha party scandals still vivid in Malawians memories.

Some quarters of Malawi have since planned to march against the country woes with posters in Blantyre’s Ndirande calling for a 6 July march, in Mzuzu Msenga Mulungu, one of the protest organisers said they [Fond] are planning something on the 20th of next month.

In the world over such issues as tax raises, fuel shortages and energy woes result in nationwide demonstrations but Malawians never seem to agree on one course of action.

“Why are only 6 Malawians RSVPing this event?” Wondered Fungai Chiposi, a Zimbabwean who is a critic of Robert Mugabe’s rule, he was referring to the event “Malawi Revolt Update” which is being hosted by a Malawian living is Seychelles.

Signs of division are eminent in the drive to protest Malawi’s woes with tribalism raising its dirty head in some occasions.

“Atumbuka you just want to revenge Bingu on Quota, we will not join you,” said one user on the Malawi Revolt Update wall, referring to the ‘Mhango’ surname of the host.

Tribal issues also played out in one of Poly lecturers’ meeting in March where lecturers from the Central and Northern Region voted against teaching while those from the south and especially from the Mhlakho belt voted to teach because they said the others were only being personal against Bingu because he was a Southerner.

Undule Mwakasungula (Ngonde) and Gift Trapence (Lower Shire), the two top most human rights activists in Malawi have also seen their share of the tribal labelling on the social media; it seems that Malawians are yet to agree that the country’s woes are for everybody.

Meanwhile to stage a demonstration police are demanding that the Intelligence unit be involved in the planning, that the planners give the exact number of people that will be present; this is reportedly according to the new Police Act. The go ahead for demonstrations has also been shifted from City CEO’s to District Commissioners.

Reports also indicate that an extra band of intelligence spies have been deployed to eke out intel on demos in the country’s night clubs.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Paladin exploiting Karonga without giving back

General Secretary of the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian, Reverend Levi Nyondo, on Saturday expressed disappointment in the role of government and the Uranium mining company for ‘not doing enough, quickly’ for the people of Karonga following the floods and earthquakes that have affected the district over the last 12 months.
Nyondo, Male in foreground

Nyondo said this at Iponga Primary school where the Synod was launching its own relief response that will see thousands of victims receive food, medicine, seeds, mosquito nets, water treatment materials and plastics  sheets for three months.

“Let the representative of the government here take this plea to the powers that be, we are all Malawians, and we all pay taxes, let government treat everybody as equals. If you don’t forward my plea I will do it myself,” boomed Nyondo drawing applause from the seated masses.

In a later interview Nyondo said he feels that government is not doing enough for flood victims, he also said the government similarly delayed in responding when the district was pounded by a series of earthquakes that left thousands homeless.

“Then we have Paladin at Kayerekera...they should not just steal the peoples minerals and make moneys, they should do more for the common people and not just build houses for chiefs,” said Nyondo

However Traditional Authority of the area, T/A Mwakaboko thanked the synod, government and others Nongovernmental Organisations for their effort. He then piled blame on the shift cultivators who inhabit the hills west of the flooded areas.

According to Donald Manda, Director of the Synod of Livingstonia Development Department (SOLDEV), the three-month response program will cover about 1000 households in the areas under the dominions of T/A Mwakaboko, Kyungu and Kilupula.

The program is being bankrolled by Tear Fund UK and Presbyterian World Service and Development to the tune of K20.5 million.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

We won’t go to class before our demands are met - Poly lecturers

Lecturers from the University of Malawi, The Polytechnic on Tuesday snapped their fingers in the face of their employers, listing down resolutions which ‘have to be honoured’ before the dons can return to pushing chalk.
In a meeting that went well into Tuesday evening, the lecturers formulated their resolutions which they have since forwarded to the University of Malawi Council.

“We have asked Council to put their words in writing on the issue of the closure of the college, on the issue of the freezing of salaries and on the issues of the signing of the forms. The fourth resolution is for council to go by the chancellor’s speech that there should be no casualties in the quest for academic freedom,” said Griffin Salima, Chairman of the Pascow, the college’s academic staff association. 

Council printed out forms for the academic staff to fill if they wanted to keep their jobs, very few filled them and Salima said the issue should be clarified by the council. Salima also said that the council should clearly state that it has withdrawn the cases in court against lecturers before classes can resume.

“We also took time to analyse the presidents’ speech on academic freedom and we are in total agreement with what he said that there should be a win win situation at the end of this, it’s why we have asked council to withdraw the cases it is pursuing against us.

“imagine Council sued government for paying us salaries, it’s why we joined the case to defend ourselves, unless such cases are withdrawn and council clearly puts it in writing to us, it’s hopeless,” said Salima.
Asked what the lecturers would do if council doesn’t honour the resolutions, Salima said it would then be hopeless and that only force would see them back in class.

This comes at a time when students soared their hopes of returning to school this July; the ball now remains in the court of the University Council.

Meanwhile MBC TV has been parading Chancellor College lecturers who have been condemning the CCASU and Jessie Kabwila-Kapasula’s leadership with one Philosophy Lecturer, Pascal Mwale, calling the union combative and disrespectful.
Mwale took time to condemn Blessings Chinsinga saying that what he underwent under Mukitho was a personal thing and that his statement that he underwent trauma are contradictory because he [Chinsinga] also told the nation that he was never intimidated by his being summoned by the police inspectors.

 However, one lecturer from Chanco wondered why MBC is using people who have admitted not being part of CCASU.

“I don’t know if that is even journalism, why would they parade Pascal Mwale when we all know that he has been to a mental hospital?” wondered the source

Protests Today

From today I will try to map the world is a sample:

Today Cab drivers protested in New York

About 200 public employees marched across the Delaware River this morning in protest of cuts to their benefits.

Great article on Protests here:

Here is how the first paragraph has been tackled: ‘We as a people are much too easily persuaded to lose our temper and get angry. We look for elements of negativity in situations that confront us. Furthermore, instead of being modest or sceptical about the validity of our own position and conceding that the other side’s interpretations may merit serious consideration, we tend to be loud and exaggerative in pressing our point of view’ – cool stuff!

One from Jo’Burg!: Taxi commuters were planning to protest against exclusive bus lanes in Soweto on Monday, the SA National Taxi Council said.

While we are busy organising the toppling of governments via facebook, in Israel our protest friends are using social media to protest....against cheese prices!

Rest in Peace Brian Haw, the good protest shepherd

Out in the US, Members of a controversial church plan to protest today's memorial service of a 21-year-old Marine from Gastonia who was killed while serving in Afghanistan.

Read more:

Spain's 'indignant' activists launched protest marches today which will culminate in a major Madrid rally on 24 July, showing no let-up just a day after rallying an estimated 200,000 protesters.
I wonder if they play soccer while protesting in Spain!:

Come on Asad, go! ‘As a pro-democracy uprising continues to rage in Syria, about 100 protesters marched Sunday night from Laurel Street and Sixth Avenue through Balboa Park, shouting “Long live Syria. Down, down with Assad.”

The King says he is bringing reforms, the people think its not enough: ‘Several thousand Moroccans have taken to streets in the country's biggest city, Casablanca, in protest against the constitutional reforms proposed by King Mohammed VI.

I thought the Catholics were Conserving in nature?  But...
 Parishioners of a liberal Catholic Church demonstrated outside the facility Sunday, protesting what they say is a more conservative direction the parish has taken the past two years

Up-close and personal is always the best!
Northern Territory cattlemen will deliver a personal message about the ban on live cattle exports to Indonesia when they meet federal parliamentarians in Canberra

Happy Protesting Everyone, but sincerely today belongs to Ben Haw who couldn’t beat Cancer....his cause lives on.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Unima Council Declares 4 Chanco Lecturers Pariahs

"this story was compiled anf filed for Nyasa Times"

Kabwila-Kapasula and company are on record to have said that they don’t want to see any victims in the academic freedom struggle, but it seems the University Council of Malawi has other ideas,  on Wednesday evening the University Council issued marching orders to the four ‘ring leaders’ it earlier attempted to fire.

The four are Associate Professor Blessings Chinsinga, Professor Garton Kamchedzera, Franz Amin and Dr. Jessie Kabwila-Kapasula.

“I was working late (around and when I was passing the administration block the head of security [at Chanco] came to me and told me that I was wanted by the assistant registrar,” narrated Kamchedzera in a phone Interview with Nyasa Times, ‘on my way to the registrar’s office I met the college principal who didn’t greet me, a thing I found very unusual.

“The assistant registrar then handed me a letter from Council which said that it was a follow up from the letters they served us earlier when they terminated our contract. The letter said that the council was aware of the injunction [against the fours’ firing] but said that our services were not desired anymore and that we are therefore not compelled to report for work,” said Kamchedzera.

Kamchedzera then revealed that the council had also sent a 10-paged document to the rest of the academic staff telling them among others not to try to engage it in any talks advising instead that all queries should be directed to the principal.

Kamchedzera bemoaned the confrontational approach the council has taken saying it comes at a time when lecturers were trying to engage in dialogue to quickly resume teaching.

Meanwhile Nyasa Times gathered that the few academic staff that were on campus briefly met and a bigger meeting is scheduled for today to chart the way forward on the firing and the continued targeting of the four by the University Council.

The University Council actions also did not go well with Lawyer-cum-Politician, Ralph Kasambara who described the action as retrogressive.

That is contempt of court. Most likely the council's conduct will result in a deadlock. Lecturers might not go back to teach. It means that nothing has changed. Academic freedom is still under threat,” said Kasambara who was speaking from Stockholm.

  Despite President Mutharika suggesting that the closed universities of Polytechnic and Chancellor College be opened by 4 July, the University Council has been steadily making strides in preventing that happening by maintaining the court appeals aimed at freezing the lecturers’ salaries and completely shutting down the universities.

Some quarters in Malawi allege that Mutharika was just playing games when he ‘assured’ academic freedom on national television, because, the people say, as the chancellor of the university he is also head of the University Council hence part of the court actions fuelling the confrontation.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Lecturers to help defend suspended Bunda students

"Written for Nyasa Times"

University of Malawi’s Chancellor College lecturers who were fired by the University Council have pledged support for the seven students who were fired from the defunct Bunda College of Agriculture for their conduct during the Academic Freedom Demos.

Jessie Kabwila-Kapasula who is the Acting President for Chancellor College Academic Staff Union told Nyasa  Times that they will support the suspended students because they [CCASU] hate to see any casualties in the ight for Academic Freedom.

Bright Theu, Lawyer representing the lecturers in the court cases against the University Council also said that there are ‘plans to work with the students and to find possible ways to assist them,’ further revealing that he would soon be meeting the lawyers of the students to discuss how they can work together.

Kapasula and Theu all confirmed that one of the students has already secured an Injunction stopping Bunda from implementing the decision to suspend him.

“An injunction has indeed been granted in Lilongwe and it is due service. As you remember we said that we would provide whatever help we can,” Theu said.

Nyasa Times separately learned that Peter Mkandawire, one of the seven students obtained the
injunction through lawyer Chimwemwe Sikwese on Friday.

Vice-Principal and chairman of the disciplinary committee at Bunda, Charles Masangano, said the injunction is within the student’s rights but said that Bunda would face them in court.

The seven students who include the students’ union president, Fraction Phwitiko, Peter Mkandawire, Benard Mshali, Ian Onion and George Thandaza, were suspended for alleged indiscipline during student riots and disrespect of the school’s disciplinary procedures as they demonstrated demanding academic freedom in April this year.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Cute Stranger

"Found this one while on a jog outside Mzuzu City, i have never seen it before and i am sure it is not in the flower diary....but i loved the fact that it produces a sweet smell plus feels like a woman's hair!"

Friday, June 10, 2011

Poly, Chanco July re-opening doubtful

'note one thing: I havent talked to Unima Council'

Despite President Mutharika directing that the embattled sister colleges, Polytechnic and Chancellor college open their doors to students by 4th July, there are indications that students are likely to remain home with the revelation that the University Council and lectures seem not ready to resolve their issues out of court.

Rumours started circulating on Thursday that the University Council still wants to proceed with court cases that are aimed at freezing lecturers’ salaries and completely shutting down the two colleges. On Friday the rumour was confirmed by both Pascow’s chairman Griffin Salima and Spokesperson, Simbarashe Mungoshi.
‘I will see the documents that they [University Council] have served us with on Monday but I hear they still want to completely close the college and freeze our salaries, “said Salima, “we agreed that we should go back to class but how do we do that while we are on campus through the courts and we are getting our salaries through the courts?”

Mungoshi said that they [lecturers] spent the day at the court and that the matter has been adjourned to Friday, next week.

Efforts to talk to a University Council proved futile but University of Malawi Students Union (UMSU), Secretary General, Mphatso Chirwa said that the University Council recently had a meeting where they discussed the Poly-Chanco issue.

“We [students] were not invited as per the rule [that when University Council discusses issues concerning students, the students are not supposed to be present] but we were only served with agendas which included the re-opening of the colleges, the academic calendar and students’ security,” said Chirwa.

On his part Polytechnic Students Union (PSU) president, Evance Morra, said he was in the dark on the issue and that he was just waiting for 4 July.

“If it’s true then it’s defying the president’s directive. We insisted and initiated this dialogue thing because we know how long court proceedings take and to hear that issues are still in court is disappointing, we don’t have all the time in the world,” said Morra.

University students reacted angrily to the development that the court issues were still being dragged on by University Council. A snap Survey of opinion on the social media shows allot of anger at University Council for the ‘politicking’ and president Mutharika for not being honest and clear in his recent speech on the matter.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Unima students dressed down Dausi, warned Mutharika of false advisors

i wrote this story for Nyasa Times... so read it in that context...
As Nyasa Times gathers more details of Saturday’s roundtable meeting between government and University of Malawi students, it has emerged that the students cautioned Mutharika to be wary of false advice from people looking for personal gains.

An inside source who opted for anonymity said the students were referring to Nicholas Dausi who was using the meeting to earn marks in Mutharika’s presence.

“Dausi picked on Lonjezo Sithole [Chanco Students union leader], accusing him of escorting Undule Mwakasungula to the UN to deliver ‘false’ complaints and allegations against Mutharika’s government,” said the source.

The outspoken Lonjezo Sithole protested, citing that he doesn’t even have a passport. The dressing down then begun, led by Polytechnic’s revolutionary Vice President, Victor Mandiwe who told Dausi that he was raising an issue that was irrelevant to the meeting.

The much Phlegmatic Evance Morra, then braved the numerical disadvantage the students were in to tell Mutharika that some people were ill-advising him for personal gains. Morra also suggested the colleges be opened in July to allow for non-residential students to secure accommodation and for the rest of the students to get into school mood.

“Dausi never spoke for the rest of the meeting and when we were leaving we overheard Peter Mutharika [Minister of Education] telling Dausi that he had goofed,” said our source.

The highly charged meeting saw Unima lecturers boycotting it for not being formally invited and saw tempers flaring with the student leaders being called names. The meeting resolved that Mutharika would soon issue a statement to address the issue of Academic freedom.

According to a statement monitored on the state-controlled broadcaster, MBC, Mutharika has assured the lectures of Academic freedom and has directed that the colleges of Chanco and Poly be opened on the 4th of July.

Meanwhile unofficial reports indicate that lecturers are ready to resume teaching and the only questions being raised by students are those of stationery allowance and how the academic calendar will shape out.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Bingu to issue statement on Unima impasse

President Bingu Wa Mutharika has said that he will ‘soon’ issue a statement where he will address the issues of academic freedom and the calendar crisis facing the University of Malawi’s sister colleges, Chancellor and Polytechnic.

Mutharika said this at a roundtable meeting at the state house in Lilongwe between him, Mukitho and University of Malawi student union leaders.

The Meeting which has just ended saw tempers rising and lecturers from Poly and Chanco boycotting it for not being formally invited.

An inside source told NyasaTimes that the meeting which started later than slated saw Bingu saying that he would address the Unima impasse once and for all.

“He [Bingu] said he will issue a statement soon to address the issues of academic freedom and calendar crisis, that was after the students defended the importance of Academic freedom and the need for universities to be opened soon.”

However Mutharika could not say how soon he would release the statement and after the students asked for a timeframe he reminded them of how he hates to be given ultimatums.

The source also said that Lonjezo Sithole was personally picked on and labelled “spokesperson of the lecturers,” a move that disturbed the young man’s peace for a while.

Earlier Pascow's chairman, Griffin Salima confirmed that Polytechnic lecturers were not attending because they did not get formal invites.

“I cannot speak for Chancellor College but as for Poly we didn’t go because we had no invitations and that means there are implications in going and not going [to attend the talks],” said Salima.

Asked how they let the meeting go ahead without the main stakeholders, the source said the students raised the issue but agreed to continue in the interest of students.

Meanwhile there is a surge of hope among students from Poly and Chanco that the universities will be opened soon. A snap survey of social media on the cyber sphere shows high levels of optimism with one event inviting students to be on campus by 1st July.

“We are growing and if we delay more we will not be able to get back into school mood that apart from what an idle mind can do. People can get HIV during this unplanned and elongated holiday,” one student wrote.
There were 3 students from Chanco, 2 from Poly and the rest were government officials.

Pictures from a Jog