Escom announces 6 hours of daily darkness

This is a piece from the Nyasa times, indicating more woes for Malawi. We head off on July 5 into the unknown. There has been little fuel in Mzuzu since we left (they are totally out of diesel at the moment) and hopes of an improvement seem slight.
At best I feel that we should stay in Lilongwe for two days when all the group may travel North together!
Now for the good news….. there’s none, so just read on!!!

Published: June 30, 2011

As if fuel shortages are not enough, the country’s sole electricity provider, Electricity Supply Commission of Malawi (Escom), has announced that it is embarking on a massive load-shedding program that will see the whole of Malawi in darkness everyday from 4pm to 10pm for the rest of this year.
The announcement was then defended and sugar-coated on the state broadcaster MBC TV 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 others 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 student at Poly a constituent of University of Malawi.
Escom has been under constant criticism over its incapacity and misuse of revenue with the recent K80 million scandal 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 are planning something on the July 20.
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 RSVP-ing 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 Lhomwe belt voted to teach because they said others were only being personal against President Bingu wa Mutharika because he was a Lhomwe.
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.
Reports also indicate that an extra band of intelligence spies have been deployed to gather information from individuals on the planned demonstrations.—(Reporting by Dillinger Soko, Nyasa Times)


Wells for Zoe society in DIT

Hello W4Z Society!

It all started with these guys, pioneers taming the jungle!!

Wells for Zoe officially now has society status in DIT. This can only mean bigger and better things for the next few years. We’re working closely with The Societies Team in DIT to ensure that we can make the most of all our resources here and in turn operate with the utmost efficiency in Malawi. To mark the occasion DIT are presenting Wells for Zoe with a cheque and preparing to launch a big campaign for September.

Now to get the ball rolling!
Your link to the stars

Strained relations with Germany

Germany bars Malawi journalists
By Nyasa Times
Published: June 1, 2011
Germany minister cancels Malawi visit over governance concerns</em>

Got this very upsetting article in my mail this morning. It looks like a very shortsighted view from a great and powerful nation.
Encouraging and empowering journalists lood like such a positive move by the Germans, but, to me, this is not a positive move.
Theres always hope though.
Malawians have started to feel the pinch of the strained relations between the DPP led government and its international partners after the International Institute for Journalism (IIJ) of Germany – has barred Malawian journalists from applying for one its course saying the southern African country is not a German partner.

The development comes barely a few months after the German government suspended aid to the impoverished Malawi as sanctions against President Bingu wa Mutharika’s dictatorial rule.

The donors are concerned with violation of freedom of the press and expression, lack of accountability and human rights abuses.

Nyasa Times impeccable sources say the German Embassy will close its mission in Malawi in the next 12 months. And yet the application form is supposed to be submitted to the German embassy in the respective home country.

“Sorry for the mistake…unfortunately. Apologies! Unfortunately, we have to tell you that your home country does not belong to the list of countries a partner country in the frame of German Development Cooperation,” reads an email response from Sabine Emmerich IIJ Project Manager based in Bonn, Germany made available to Nyasa Times.

The International Institute for Journalism (IIJ) early this month announced a training course “Reporting Politics: Good Governance, Investigating Policies, Covering Elections” to be held in Berlin from October 20 to November 29, 2011.
In the advertisement, Malawian journalists were among those from several countries such as Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Indonesia, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Uzbekistan, Zambia and Zimbabwe that are eligible.

But in the latest advert Malawi has been struck off the list.

Emmerich said the IIJ has to focus its training activities on a limited number of partner countries in Africa and Asia because its capacity does not allow to cover the necessities of a great number of countries.

“I am therefore very sorry to say that we cannot encourage you to apply. I regret that by mistake you received the announcement of this course although your country does not belong to the targeted countries. I am sorry not being able to give you better news and wish you all the best for your professional plans,” said Emmerich to one of Malawian journalist applicant.

The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Malawi Chapter expressed ignorance on the matter.—(Reporting by Andrew Nyayah, Nyasa Times)

Dancing with Umosa street children

Why I volunteered

Why I Volunteered

I wanted to come to Malawi to make a difference, to help people and communities to build wells for water and grow food and work physically hard to make a difference in Malawi. But now that’s not why I am here. My perceptions of Wells for Zoe have changed. It’s not about me working hard, digging wells, and it’s not about me making a difference. It’s about providing opportunities, support and encouragement for Malawians to make a difference for themselves.

Until now I have never imagined the importance of just being here, encouraging people, working with them, listening to them and even playing with them.

Today and yesterday the journalist students went to Zolo Zolo secondary school to facilitate a simple journalism workshop. It was amazing to see how the students enjoyed it and how they allow themselves to be free, to have fun working, to have fun dreaming and how inspired they were about the possibilities of education.

We exchanged emails and phone numbers with the students so that we can continue to work with them, to support and encourage them long after we leave. We will always be there for them.

Not only did we work with secondary students but we went to pre schools in various villages. We were really welcomed by the locals and in particular the teachers. I soon came to realise that their schools have practically nothing. We played with the children on each visit and they quickly became comfortable with us, laughing and running around and actually being children.

John and Mary Coyne have done so much here working with small communities. In Lusangazi for example, the most amazing farm has been set up by Wells for Zoe which is run completely by Malawians; a small, close knit group of people doing their own research in order to achieve the most efficient and practical way of farming and particularly the most sustainable. They have a small hostel on site which visitors can stay in free of charge and work with Wells for Zoe farmers, learning these sustainable practices.

As we drive down different roads and through different villages, it is a common occurrence for John to get out and talk to the small local farmers about their difficulties and offering them the opportunity to visit Lusangazi. It’s there for everybody.

I couldn’t imagine a more welcoming and helpful, hardworking farmers than those at Lusangazi. They are truly amazing.

Going home, I know why I am here. I am not here to do the jobs that the Malawi people could do in half the time. I am not here to teach or to preach, to lead or to be followed. I am here to work with the people, to build friendships, a network of support and encouragement that can be continued long into the future. I know that while I may be back in Ireland soon, Wells for Zoe will continue to be here in Malawi, and will continue to be a community of people that will always be there, that will always offer help and support, that will always extend the hand of friendship and that will never give up.

Tough Times to come

Huge cuts in Malawi’s zero-deficit budget
By Nyasa Times
Published: June 1, 2011

Malawi is planning budget cuts of as much as 40 percent this year due to a donor aid freeze that looks likely to bring five years of pacy growth to a juddering halt, Finance Minister Ken Kandodo said on Wednesday.
In an interview with Reuters two days before presenting his 2011/12 budget proposals to parliament, Kandodo said he was working on the assumption that there would be no external aid, and no foreign or domestic borrowing.
“Our recurrent expenditure will be financed entirely from our own resources,” he said.
Several years of growth of 7 percent or more has allowed the southern African nation to slash its budget deficit from 7.8 percent of GDP in 2003/04 to 1.5 percent this year.
However, these figures mask the fact that donor funding still accounts for 40 percent of official receipts.
Former finance minister Friday Jumbe said such a budget, if passed, would have a disastrous impact on the country of 13 million, which has an HIV/AIDS rate of 11 percent and average per capita income of less than $1 a day.
“It will have grave consequences on the economy,” he told Reuters.
“This budget will not be supported by donor grants, as always, because of the on-going aid freeze and therefore it may underperform as it will be so dependent on domestic revenue collected by the revenue authority.”
Britain, Malawi’s former colonial master and biggest bilateral donor, last month suspended aid worth $550 million over the next four years due to a diplomatic spat between London and Lilongwe.
Relations have nosedived in April when Malawi expelled Britain’s ambassador for referring to President Bingu wa Mutharika in a leaked diplomatic cable as “autocratic and intolerant of criticism”.
Britain responded by kicking out Malawi’s acting ambassador to London.
Donor sources indicated at the time that other governments may follow Britain’s lead, and the World Bank said this week it was withholding $40 million in aid pending revival of an International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme.
The aid freeze is likely to exacerbate an already severe dollar crunch caused by sluggish overseas tobacco sales, which account for 70 percent of foreign exchange earnings, and a large import bill for a five-year fertiliser subsidy programme.
The lack of dollars has put major pressure on the local currency, the kwacha, which has been pegged at 150 to the dollar after devaluing from 138.5 in November 2009.—(Reporting by Mabvuto Banda, Nyasa Times)