Parliament summons, Minister for Defence, Khamisa over coupons saga.

Another in the daily sagas on corruption with Fertilizer Coupons from the Nyasa Times
Is this why less than half of our Government approved villagers got their coupons?
Sadly: No fertilizer No maize

Malawi National Assembly has said it will summon Minister of Defence Bob Khamisa to properly explain why he was found with the fertiliser subsidy coupons and who gave him.

This comes barely two days after his party, the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), also indicated that it would summon him to seek further clarification on the issue.

Chairperson of Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources Vitus Dzoole Mwale told a local radio his committee would summon the under fire minister to find out the truth of the matter following government’s stand that it is not connected to the issue.

However, the chairperson could not say when Khamisa, who has lately been unwilling to talk to the media claiming it is fixing him to fire, would be summoned.

DPP chairs are too hot now for Khamisa to sit on after he admitted last week to have given United Democratic Front deputy director of research and former minister Phillip Bwanali 400 fertiliser subsidy coupons to carter for his Thyolo North Constituents.

Bwanali claimed in an interview with Capital Radio that he was personally given 2000 coupons by Deputy Minister of Agriculture Binton Kutsaira, though the latter has since refused to say anything on the matter.

However, Bwanali was later arrested by Blantyre Police on suspicion he was in possession of stolen or fake coupons. When he told the police the coupons were genuine and given to him by Khamisa, the police released him unconditionally.

He was nevertheless re-arrested following a directive from President Bingu wa Mutharika and spent six days in cell after being denied bail. Surprisingly, Khamisa is yet to be questioned by police as to where he got the coupons.

The Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources, the opposition parties and various other sectors have labelled the fertiliser subsidy programme as a mess but government has insisted that the implementation is on track and according to its plan.

Recent media investigations revealed that each minister and loyal DPP members of parliament were given 2000 coupons to be distributed to the party followers.

Mary Shawa, describes malnutrition as a silent crisis.

Lilongwe:UN Integrated Regional Information Networks

Despite two years of bumper harvests, malnutrition, partly a consequence of Malawi’s famine in 2005, still lingers. “The scale of the malnutrition problem in Malawi is clearly very large and, given its consequences for economic development and child survival, calls for immediate and large-scale action,” said Aida Girma, UNICEF Resident Representative.

“Micronutrient deficiencies, which are often referred to as hidden hunger, are also very high.” Malnutrition is characterised by key indictors, such as the number of underweight children and levels of stunting, wasting and micronutrient deficiencies: stunting levels were at 46 percent, 19 percent of children up to 59 months were underweight, and wasting was 4 percent, the UN Children’s Fund representative added.

After the drought

Malawi has turned the page on the 2005 drought that left about five million people in need of food aid. According to government estimates the 2007 maize harvest, the staple food, increased by 22 percent over the 2006 crop, and was 73 percent higher than the average for the past five years.

Mary Shawa, principal secretary in the Office of the President and Cabinet responsible for nutrition and HIV and AIDS, described malnutrition as a silent crisis. She called for a comprehensive study to establish whether the bumper harvests in the 2005/06 and 2006/07 growing seasons had had any impact on reducing malnutrition levels.

“We have started to see improvements in the food security situation in Malawi in the past two years [but] malnutrition is still a challenge,” UNICEF’s Nutrition Officer, Stanley Chitekwe, told IRIN.

He said malnutrition was caused by three underlying causes: the first, household food security, had shown improvement; the other two – care for children and women, and the availability of health services – were still inadequate.

“Malawi is heading in the right direction by meeting one of the three requisites for nutrition,” he commented, but addressing the other issues would “require more investment in building capacity to improve care practices and health seeking behaviours”, because “there is still more work required in promoting diversified crops rich in vitamins and nutrients, and in food processing and preservation.”

HIV/AIDS also “undermines nutrition improvements by directly causing ill-health and eroding capacity at various levels – family and institutions – to care, produce food and provide services,” Chitekwe added.

The hunger gap, a pre-harvest period when food from the previous crop was often depleted, meant that seasonal variations in household food availability still resulted in higher levels of malnutrition from September to March/April each year, he said.

Filling the hunger gap

A 2005 National Nutrition Survey found that 90 percent of children in Malawi were malnourished. Tapiwa Ngulube, principal nutritionist in the ministry of health, said since then the government had established 95 Nutrition Rehabilitation Units, where free food was given to malnourished children and mothers were trained to feed them correctly.

“Our aim is to ensure that the children are healthy and have gained weight by the time they leave rehabilitation units; children who are malnourished lose up to 11 centimetres in height if they are not treated for malnutrition and stunting,” Ngulube noted.

Around 39,000 children are still being treated at rehabilitation centres throughout the country, but “our efforts are hampered by a shortage of medical personnel,” Ngulube said.

Relevant Links

UNICEF’s Girma attributed micronutrient deficiency to the low nutrient content in local diets, which are based mainly on cereals, roots and tubers and said diets needed to be supplemented with micronutrient-rich foods like fish, meat, eggs, milk and dairy products.

But in a country where over half the people live on less than US$1 a day, most households struggle to come up with two meals a day.

[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations ]

Distribution of Fertilizer Coupons in the news again

From the Nyasa Times
Police in Mzuzu have impounded 300 bags of fertilizer from ruling party regional governor for the north, Harry Mkandawire when they stormed his house for search and arrested him.

Eye witness said police stormed Mkandawire’s residence upon a “tip-off” from the public that Mkandawire was frustrating the fertilizer subsidy programme in the north as he was denying members of the opposition parties from benefitting.

Police press office at the national headquarters confirmed the incident but said investigations are underway.

Meanwhile, government spokesperson Patricia Kaliati said the fertilizer subsidy programme is meant to benefit only those that cannot afford to by the fertilizer at K4, 000 and not everybody.

“This fertilizer subsidy is not universal,” said Kaliati at Kasungu Community Centre Hall during a stakeholders meeting.

“We know that many people have complained not to have benefited from the subsidy programme therefore government has printed 30,000 additional coupons to fill the gap,” she disclosed.

Traditional leaders in the blamed for the fertilizer subsidy failure on poor planning by the agriculture staff describing them as corrupt and intimidating.

President Bingu wa Mutharika who is also minister of agriculture has blames the opposition for being behind the poor distribution of the farm inputs but the opposition denies the charge blame government for shifting blames for its failures.

Elsewhere, police on Friday impounded 71 bags of fertilizer from local traders suspected to have stolen the bags in Mchinji.

According to Mchinji Police Station Officer, Superintendent Jacob Kakhongwe police impounded the bags of fertilizer from some local traders who did not have any legal documents for doing business related to the farm inputs.

Kakhongwe said the police got suspicious upon seeing that some fertilizer which was being offloaded from a three toner lorry, registration number BN 7543 onto another vehicle of similar tonnage registration MC 2483 was related to government subsidized fertilizer.

“Police are keeping in custody Malingamoyo Matchona 36, of Kalolo village in chief Kalolo’s area in Lilongwe and Aubrey Madeya 27 of Namata village in chief Kaduya’s area in Phalombe. The two would appear in court to answer charges of being found in possession of property suspected to have been stolen which is contrary to section 359 of the penal code,” said the police officer.

Sinead and John on same song sheet, for Wells for Zoe

Sinead and John on same song sheet
By Barry Egan
Sunday December 16 2007

JOHN WATERS’s book, Lapsed Catholic, about his relationship with God and alcohol, is already on my list to Santa. The thing is, I might need a stiff drink to get through it …
John doesn’t just look like Leonardo da Vinci, he truly is the consummate Renaissance man. The brilliant journalist, columnist and author is also a gifted songwriter. If you ask me, John’s real gift is for living — look at the philosophical spirit in which he took the verdict on his Eurovision entry (remind me again how many times Waiting for Godot was rejected).
All this talk of John has made me a bit philosophical myself. My news is that John has co-written a song for Sinead O’Connor that will be released next March on an album entitled Water For Life to aid the charity Wells For Zoe and I am reliably informed that Baby, Let Me Buy You A Drink, is a Lennonesque classic in the making.
“It is about Ireland and Irish people’s relationship with Africa. It tries to get to the idea that we are in historical terms both hound and hare,” John told me.
“We identify with African countries as a fellow victim but we are also part of the west and in that we are also complicit in the rape of Africa. The song deals with the paradox of that dualism.”
I explain to John that this is possibly the first time in the history of the back page that the phrase “the paradox of dualism” had been printed in a social column. He replies that after writing a song called Baby, Let Me Buy You A Drink — the drink refers to water and clean water in Africa — he is going to pass a law when he becomes Minister For Justice “requiring any song with the word baby in it to be about an actual child younger than 18 months.”
As Sinead might say, Nothing compares to you, John.
– Barry Egan

11890 sponsors John Waters


RTE Late Late on Ice 066

Originally uploaded by wellsforzoe

11890 Directory Enquiries, sponsored John Waters in the Late Late Show/ 7Up Christmas on Ice “Celebs on Ice Special”.last night. John’s chosen charity was Wells for Zoe.
The picture shows an 11890 gathering with Irish Times journalist, and author John Waters.
11890 had made a 10,000 euro committment, but such was the entertainment value of his performance that the added another 5000 to an already generous donation.
Having spent the evening with them , they are an amazing group of people, committed, as we ourselves are, to doing things in a different way, often in the face of many obstacles put in our way.
It was reassuring to find that we share a very simple philosophy of serving each customer as a unique individual.
I am proud of their achievements and very positive of their continued success.
In my life to date I have admired strong women, whether they are close like my mother, wife and daughters, illiterate village women in Malawi or the ordinary women I meet every day, who do wonderful things as a matter of course. They just get on with it without wondering why they are not men.
Last night I added another to my list, Nicola Byrne, Managing director of 11890.
You should read what was published in the September 2007 Issue of Irish Entrepreneur at the following link:
http://www.irishentrepreneur.com/entrepreneurs/07_08/nycola_byrne.asp
Of course you wouldn’t be surprised if you met her father and mother.

DIT for Malawi

Mary and I had a meeting with a group of very enthusiastic volunteers from DIT Aungier St and Bolton Street, who are planning to visit our projects at Easter 2008. The magic of youth is wonderful. I think we often forget how committed young people can be. By the sound of it they are all prepared for action and really want to achieve something: and there is no better place to go.
The group so far are Chris Cahill, Elaine Bolger, Emma Geraghty, Stefan Brennan, David Dunne, Megan O’Hanlon, Triona Sherlock and Ali Lee. We met Paul Durning when he spoke to the sixth year class in Blackrock College recently when he had the idea for the trip. Such is his drive that he has now enthused the rest of the group, who, as from to day are in full swing
More news later, so watch this space.

Fundraising




Malawi 15 Oct 2007 005

Originally uploaded by wellsforzoe

A fundraiser for Wells for Zoe and The Lake of Stars Festival, will be held in the George Bernard Shaw on Richmond Street in Dublin 2, on Saturday next Dec 15, from 8 on
This looks like the place to be on the night and promises loads of fun and frolicks.
You can always pop in, on your way to, or from some other commitment you may have on the night, just to support the lads in this very worthy effort.
Wells for Zoe are featuring on the late Late Show, RTE 1, on Friday night Dec 14.

Every Euro makes a difference