President Mutharika -Enough is enough

President Mutharika -Enough is enough

BLANTYRE (Brian Ligomeka, News24) –Malawian President Peter Mutharika is under fire from the opposition lawmakers for shielding cabinet ministers who have been implicated in a $330m corruption scam.

But Mutharika has vehemently rejected the accusation, claiming he did not know names of the implicated ministers.

Leading the bandwagon of those calling for the sacking of the alleged corrupt ministers is opposition lawmaker Kamlepo Kalua, who is vice chairperson of the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee.

“The matter is simple. Some corrupt barons embezzled $330m between 2009 and 2014. A recent forensic audit shows among those implicated are seven cabinet ministers. We want them fired,” Kalua told News24.

 He said the foreign forensic auditors who conducted the audit submitted the names and files of those implicated to the Anti-Corruption Bureau and National Audit Office for action.

According to Kalua, if Mutharika fails to arrest “the thieves in his cabinet”, he should resign as he is not in control of the state affairs.

Shame the ministers

But Mutharika rubbished Kalua’s claims, saying he could not sack his ministers as he did not have the names.

Mutharika recently challenged Kalua to name and shame the corrupt ministers.

“This lawmaker should bring the names at Kamuzu Palace or he should shut up forever. I sent the Chief Secretary to the Auditor General to get the names and he came back saying there are no such names,” Mutharika said.

But Kalua hit back, charging that Mutharika could get the names from Anti-Corruption Bureau and National Audit Office.

“The President is not being honest…. It is a joke for the president to express ignorance on the names,” he said.

Kalua added: “Let him follow up with the auditor general because the auditor general said he submitted 13 files to the Anti-Corruption Bureau and out of those files, seven belonged to cabinet ministers.”

Rampant corruption

Outgoing British High Commissioner to Malawi, Michael Nevin, also bemoaned the higher levels of corruption in Malawi, exacerbated by a culture of impunity.

He told a local paper that the country’s rule of law could be permanently undermined by failure to bring to book those who break the law.

“The cancer of corruption is the most dangerous element that can undermine Malawi’s instability,” Nevin said, adding, “Corruption, fraud are not sufficiently challenged.”

Besides the current corruption scandal, Malawi is yet to recover from another scam called Cashgate, in which at least  $32m of Malawian state funds was stolen by government officials in just six months between April and October 2013.

Malawi is not the only African nation facing the serious problem of corruption. In South Africa, President Jacob Zuma recently faced public scrutiny over the inflated costs of security upgrades at his private home in Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal.

South African taxpayers footed a R246m bill for the upgrades and some residential upkeep that was unwarranted and deserving of recompense, according to public protector office.

 Aniva, Fanny with their youngest child, Fanny's sister and a former client

Aniva, Fanny with their youngest child, Fanny’s sister and a former client

BLANTYRE (Brian Ligomeka, News24 Correspondent) –An HIV-positive Malawian man who claimed to have had sex with more than 100 women and girls is attracting sympathy from several quarters.

The sympathisers, who includ some journalists and chiefs, have called for the immediate release of Eric Aniva.

Aniva’s sexual conquests came to light in Malawi when a local television station, Times and later BBC interviewed him.

In both instances, he admitted that he was a paid sex worker. known as a “hyena”.

 “I provide sexual cleansing services. For instance, if a man dies, his wife is required by tradition to sleep with a hyena before she can bury him. If a woman has an abortion, again sexual cleansing is required,” said Aniva.

He also revealed that teenage girls were “sexually cleansed” after their first menstruation to mark their passage from childhood to womanhood.

According to culture, it was said that if the girls refused, some mysterious disease or fatal misfortune could befall their families, or the village as a whole.

‘Treating the symptoms rather than the disease’

Jose Safarao, a columnist for a local newspaper recently argued that arresting Aniva was wrong and unjustified, branding him as a victim of cultural circumstances.

“Arresting Aniva is like treating the symptoms rather than the disease. Aniva did not go looking for widows and adolescents to sleep with. They hired him; ‘they’, meaning custodians of culture in his community. They even paid him to do it. Arresting Aniva will not stop the ‘hyena’ culture,” he argued.

According to Safarao, custodians of the culture would continue to secretly hire ‘hyenas’ and make them vow never to talk to the media.

“Deal with the culture. Aniva just happens to be a small actor in the scheme of things, and his arrest is of no consequence,” he observed in his column published in The Sunday Times of Malawi.

He added: “Arrest custodians of the culture. Arrest the parents who accepted that Aniva should sleep with their children. Arrest whole villages, if not the entire tribe, which, in a way, means arrest no one.”

The columnist argued that if the law said the “hyena” culture was banned, everyone would begin to understand that it was an illegal thing to do, and, short of that, Aniva was a scapegoat.”

Commenting on the same issue, the editor of The Daily Times, Innocent Chitosi, said that many Malawians were aware of the risky traditions being practised in their areas and hence it was wrong to have one sacrificial lamb.

“It is totally inhumane for Malawi to deliver Aniva to the firing squad. If anything, we have to round up political and religious leaders, as well as all the chiefs of the district. These are all accomplice to the crimes that Aniva, the hyena, has been committing,” he wrote in his column Pick & Choose.

‘Bondage of rear’

He added: “But all Malawians have been aware about the risky cultural practices, not only in Nsanje but also in the other districts.  As such, President Mutharika should lead all of us into jail because we are part of this crime. If this sounds absurd, then arresting Aniva on such crime is utter nonsense.”

According to Chitosi, what Malawi needed was the intensification of behavioural change advocacy.

“We need to demystify issues of miscarriage, still births and the like. Our people must be redeemed from that bondage of fear.”

Traditional leaders also joined those calling for the release of Aniva, who was now being referred to as “Malawi’s hyena man”.

“The case is being blown out of proportion. Some forces have declared total war on the culture of the Shire Valley,” said Foster Tchale, spokesperson of Chief Malemia of southern Malawi’s district of Nsanje.

Aniva’s second wife, 24-year-old Funny, also demanded the immediate release of her husband.

She said the arrest which came after the order from Malawi President Peter Mutharika had greatly affected the family.

‘How can they arrest him for an old story?’

According to Funny, Aniva had stopped conducting “sexual cleansing” a long time ago.

“How can they arrest him for an old story?” she asked.

Funny said the arrest had a huge negative impact on the family which was struggling to get food, with the breadwinner in custody.

“My fellow villagers are also ridiculing me, with some saying since my husband is a hyena, I am also a female hyena. Just imagine, I am being given different names, yet I have not committed any crime,” she said.

Much as Aniva had sympathisers, human rights groups wanted him prosecuted for abusing girls and women in the name of culture.

The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) in a statement has lauded Mutharika for his swift response to the issue.

UN Women executive director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said Mutharika’s bold move demonstrated a strong commitment to the protection of rights of women and girls.

“It is commendable that the government of Malawi has taken a strong stance against harmful traditional practices, particularly on early child marriage and sexual initiation for girls, and that legislation is being put into effect,” she said in a statement.

Ntata

Ntata

OPINION (Z Allan Ntata) –When Kenneth Sanga declared that the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) intends to lord mediocrity over us until 2099, many laughed him off as a typical empty tin.But, when a few days later, Grace Chiumia, an MP and a minister echoed this disgusting thought by crowning Peter Mutharika the “Life president” of Malawi, people – for good reasons – became worried.

Why? Because our ancestors used to say: “Galuwamkotasakandirapachabe”.That is to say, when a bitch – take the pun any which way you choose – that had been entertaining neighbourhood dogs started burrowing, elders started expecting puppies to emerge.

Therefore, although a Life Presidency would not mean much given the incumbent’s advanced years, any line of thought in that direction is still repulsive.What is particularly nauseating is that here is an administration that can’t deliver, pondering how to cling to power and not how to dig us out of the mess it has entrenched us in!

I don’t want, even for a split second, to entertain the revolting prospect of another five years under this dministration for obvious reasons.What I find amusing is the cunning with which DPP is working towards its goal of total domination. The strategy is simple, and in its simplicity lays its strength.

Look around: What we see is runaway inflation, borrowing to build toilets, companies closing and laying off employees, shrinking productivity and hence less taxes with which to provide social services equitably.Blackouts, somehow tamed by the “mandasi” lady, Pres Joyce Banda, have returned with a vengeance, and taps that she had flowing with water 24/7 are now back to normal DPP dry standards. Mutharika is not only failing to employ doctors, teachers and nurses; he is also failing to pay those already employed.

Then there is the revival of DPP’s old religion: corruption.No sooner does one finish reading the MK577 billion looting audit and shielding of seven ministers implicated and corruption in the military now boosted with a needless reshuffle; is one confronted with headlines of corruption at the Roads Authority, corruption at National High Education Institute, and bingo, under the wise and pragmatic leadership of this ‘Life President’, corruption has found a home at the ACB where our pal and seemingly youthful director is just too keen to follow the footsteps of jailed Counsel Kasambara by introducing graft in the very establishment that is supposed to fight and prevent corruption!

When I look at these issues, I get the feeling that this chaos is all too well coordinated for the deterioration to be coincidental.

Why would anyone do this, you may ask.

Good question.

The answer is that the ploy is to stun all observers and critics with so many failures, all happening simultaneously, that no-one will see a pattern early enough to unite and dislodge Mutharika from power.

If at all we care about Malawi, have self-respect and claim to be God-fearing; we must stop this mediocrity overdose and put Mutharika in his place.This is not the time to be whistling our way past the graveyard. The result of this passive behaviour is why Malawi is now a country soon to be buried.

When you look at the University fee hike, despicable reduction by a paltry MK50,000, the intimidation of students’ representatives, and divide and conquer tactics to dismiss a legitimate national concern; we see a dictator too callous and confident that he can pee all over us without any reprisal.

We cannot continue allowing this to be the order of the day.

Look at the selective justice at play in Cash-gate. President Mutharika and the DPP administration are dragging their feet and completely unwilling to act.

And with the opposition busy squabbling, DPP managed to forestall Parliament when it was in session knowing that once parliament rose, the gullible and timid Malawian mind will soon forget the issue and move on to discussing Donald Trump and American elections. In this failure of President Mutharika to bring to book those implicated in that unprecedented looting of public resources, however, is all the evidence and demonstration anyone could ever need of a president in total scorn and contempt of the calling of his office. My appeal to you fellow Malawians is simple. Mutharika must be made to act. One way or the other.

What more evidence do we need that as long as Mutharika and his goons continue, there will be no light at the end of the tunnel?

Naturally, singing his boss’ song-sheet, Lucas Kondowe, ACB Director has stopped acting in the shadows after swallowing the impunity bug from head to toe.When he is not busy lampooning us with diversionary posts on the American campaign on social media, he is blatantly interfering with operations of other independent institutions including dropping a watertight 10-year-old case against BakiliMuluzi, citing lack of evidence.Was this not for the Judge to decide after the trial had run its course?

As I stated elsewhere, his predecessors, all of them experienced lawyers, four of them for Chris-sake, pursued the case with conviction that our money was stolen.

Comes this guy, he says there is no evidence. Makes sense to you? Who’s this guy?What we have here is a bootlicker’s impunity from the ACB director, encouraged by the fact that by doing Mutharika’s bidding he too can be licensed to loot.

To conclude, in these two years or so, we have suffered too many ills for one to shake a stick at. It’s not accidental. A strategy is at play.

Mutharika and his bandits have evolved from a horde trying to develop a country, to a con-men pretending to fix the nation’s problems, then to a gang totally unconcerned about fixing anything, and ended up as sixteen year olds that want to party everyday, as long as someone – and not them – picks the tab.

If all these developments are not enough a clarion call to demand our Malawi back, we will wake up one day to learn that the country has been leased and we are now tenants whose existence is to toil so that Mutharika and his goons can continue merrymaking.

Ignore the signs of the times at your peril.

DPP leadership

DPP leadership

STANDPOINT (Z Allan Ntata)- Against all common sense, in a demonstration of a regrettable disconnect from suffering Malawians; a top DPP official obviously high on something, dared to proclaim that Malawians will continue languishing under the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) third-rate administration until 2099.

Kenneth Sanga, the senior DPP in question, speaking recently at a public rally, made clear the intention of the DPP: to misgovern and keep misgoverning Malawi until the country is buried six feet deep, as a result of the unchecked corruption, blatant nepotism and poverty of leadership.

He

didn’t exactly put it this way. But it can easily be construed by weighing what he said against the speed at which Malawi is cruising to a chasm.

Were this a joke and were Mr Sanga merely playing ‘follow-the-leader’ and trying to outdo his boss with his ‘eat-mice-and-zitete’ tragi-comedy, it would have been funny, very funny. Ha haha!

But Malawi being in her most dire straits like never before, to have the very people failing to deliver any of their electoral manifesto promises making such statements, is cause for concern.

When one looks at their dismal failure versus their nonsensical wishful thinking to rule forever against a background of how they got to Sanjika via outright deception of the masses, such statements can drive even the most docile Malawian to run riot.

But this insensitivity is not the only indictment against the DPP.  On top of the promises it is not even trying to keep, we now have perpetuation of Cashgate in many various new forms.

I will save this for others, but if you want to start checking, begin with the money bills, especially the loan to refurbish Chileka Airport, and follow the money.

On top of this, the DPP now wants to kill a whole generation with prohibitive university fees.

Then there are reports of Malawi Defence Forces’ disquiet with the baffling humiliation of their commander, of hunger across the country and of an economy gone to the dogs.

As many others have said elsewhere, it would have been better if the country was running on autopilot because on autopilot, technology takes over while unmanned as Malawi is, gravity brings everything down.

Ours is a case where the pilot has abandoned the cockpit 30,000meters above sea level, to make merry in the business class while seeking more affluent party space – without engaging the plane on autopilot – leaving us all in grave danger.

The result is a president ignorant of happenings in his own country, in his own administration and worse, even in his own cabinet. How can he follow developments having relinquished control of the cockpit, where all the control apps and informatics are?

This is why no amount of window-dressing is succeeding to camouflage Mutharika’s failures, his unfitness for purpose, and his party’s addiction to greed.

The question I often get after such dire diagnosis is, ‘Allan, sure you can talk and you’re right, but so what? What’s next?’

For answers, let us look to the National Intelligence Bureau (NIB), and its preoccupation with regime change.

NIB’s nightmare, knowing as it does the wide-ranging discontent that Mutharika has bred, is regime change. Now, assuming NIB is right, then we all ought to help NIB’s machinations, forged coup letters and all, become real by giving this serious thought.

Let’s face it. Without regime change, we are licensing the DPP to continue with its bad governance programme until 2099. If we allow this to happen, then we are indeed the daftest species plying the earth.

The question is no longer whether those protesting mediocrity really want regime change, no. This is a foregone conclusion.

The question at hand is: once we get rid of Mutharika today, who comes next? And it is when one looks at those aspiring for the presidency, or the parties interested in displacing the DPP, that the headache begins.

I wish I could, here and now, declare: “Ladies and Gentlemen, let us look to the Leader of Opposition, Dr Lazarus Chakwera and the Malawi Congress Party (MCP)”.

But I can’t.

I wish I could, right now, declare: “Ladies and Countrymen, our hope lies in ‘Dr’ UladiMussa or KamlepoKalua or whosoever and the Peoples’ Party (PP).”

Sadly, this is equally unfeasible. Why?

If recent reports are anything to go by, DrChakwera has a lot of learning to do plus he has to decide what he wants to be.

Let me put it this way. No one can run a political party like a Church, just as a Church cannot be run like a party. Politics and religious issues – where people follow blindly – are different.

The Peoples Party (PP) is a virtual non starter. Even from planet Mars you can surmise that no one is in control and gravity is at play.

As for AtupeleMuluzi, forget him. Ever since he pirated Siku Motors’ motto: ‘Here today, There tomorrow’, only the people directly benefitting from his see-saw politics take him seriously.

So here we are: devoid of leadership in the incumbent, and those on the touchline can hardly get it up.

What about the Vice President, Dr Saulosi Chilima?

Does he love Malawi enough to denounce the sinking Titanic that is taking us all down, and can he be bold enough to jump ship, demonstrate that with his private sector experience, education and comparative youth, he has what it takes to take over the captaincy of this ship and steer it in the right direction?

To hit the nail on the head: does he have the guts or like the Leader of Opposition, he is happy as long as he gets his perks, fat allowances, the other larger than life benefits, goes to Church and time goes?

The bottom line is: without a viable alternative, Malawians can only suffer and wilt with despair knowing that as things stand, there is no super substitute on the bench.

I weep for Malawi, will you join me, or has compassion fled to brutish beasts?

Maseko- Fired

Maseko- FiredFradu

KARONGA (Malawi NewsNow)—One of the prime cash gate suspects at Karonga district Philemon Maseko has on Tuesday been fired as Acting Director of Public Works.

This follows a revelation that Maseko and his group pocketed millions of kwacha of MASAF 4 project.

The dismissal document which has been signed by Karonga district council chairperson Patrick Kishombe says the

council will replace a caretaker on the position.

“We have noted that you have been abusing this office and we therefore asking you to step down,” said the document.

“Among the things, you have failed to produce the MASAF 4 and Malata and subsidy projects,” added the letter.

Despite evidence that the money has been misused, Maseko who is also the district Physical Planning officer said people are accusing him because he is a young man who is development conscious having managed to build two big mansions and having bought three vehicles within two years in office.

Meanwhile, Kishombe says there are continuing with their investigation and promised to shed more information after finalizing.

Meanwhile Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) gurus are zeroing in to have Maseko arrested to answer criminal charges of stealing by public servant.

 

Kasambara - Convicted

Kasambara – Convicted

LILONGWE (Allan Ntata) -The guilty verdict handed out by the high court to flamboyant lawyer and former Attorney General Ralph Kasambara, SC is not simply a matter of the law taking its course.

 Kasambara leaves the court premises in Lilongwe after the conviction Kasambara leaves the court premises in Lilongwe after the conviction. It is so much more than that. In the excitement that gripped the nation on the day of the verdict-the verdict was broadcast on no less than two television stations and there were running.

commentaries online and social media-it is easy to join the bandwagon and start analysing the verdict, the evidence and the lawyers’ arguments.

I have heard and read many such excited analyses. Back in my active lawyering days, I would have been equally excited to read the judgment, critique the judge and offer an opinion on whether the verdict was deserved, supported by the weight of the evidence or whether the judge erred in his reliance on call logs and Kasambara’s forthcoming appeal should be anticipated with bated breath.

But since I moved on, I must glean from this exciting saga some important lessons and observations that might not be obvious at first glance.

Judicial courage

The Kasambara case has shown us once again that it is possible for our judges to be brave and courageous enough to handle sensitive and politically volatile cases.

This is an important and necessary element in a country with a weak governance framework.

The country’s judiciary hopefully remembers that it is probably the last refuge of the Malawian citizen victimised by a greedy and self-centred executive too bent on unscrupulous plunder of public funds to care about serving its citizens and a parliament betraying its electorate because of greed, weakness and fear.

In this regard, this display by the judiciary is an important victory for our governance system.

The rumours that started floating around soon after the glitzy lawyer was charged were that our judges were shying away from handling the case, offering one excuse after another, not having the courage to preside over a case that was certainly one of a kind, involving an accused that had a reputation for being apparently a brilliant and rather crafty and ruthless customer.

Some said the case was never going to see the light of day, that justice would never really be served and that chances of the trial reaching completion-if it ever got started at all-were few and far between.

There would be no trial for Kasambara, they said. He was too clever and too smart for that, they said.

It appears they were wrong. It appears these rumours were either simply idle talk or wishful thinking by Kasambara’s fans.

It is important to commend the judiciary and perhaps the judge specifically for courageously and rather efficiently seeing the matter through.

More importantly, the role of the victim, former budget director Paul Mphwiyo, as a state witness should not be overlooked.

It must have taken a lot of courage after an attempt was made on his life for him to come forward and testify against his attackers-who were on bail and could do anything!

They had after all, tried it before! There were stories of his being harassed, and his mother’s house being attacked. It could have been intimidation or mere coincidence.

Either way, he went ahead in spite of the probable post-traumatic stress. A mature democratic dispensation needs such courage from witnesses as well as judges in order to have a justice system that people can trust and count on to see justice not only done but also seen to be done.

Above the Law

In as much as the state has shown to be capable of bringing highly popular characters to face justice, it is, however, still the case that this only happens when you are an enemy of whatever political dispensation prevailing at the time.

It is not idle speculation to suggest that had Kasambara been connected to the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), he probably would never have come to a similar fate as he has done in this case.

We must remember that this case was started in the previous political dispensation when Joyce Banda was president. Thus, from a governance perspective, there is still more to be done in ensuring that no one in the country is above the law.

I recall that the matter proceeded in a haphazard fashion-especially after Kasambara declared that he would call then president Joyce Banda herself as one of his witnesses.

There was excitement that in the course of the trial, a lot more secrets of Cashgate and Banda’s alleged involvement in it would be revealed.

Could that have been the reason the matter was only pursued earnestly when Joyce Banda was deposed and the DPP took over power? Could the DPP government have been pushing for the case in the hope that it would produce some political benefits? This is not an idle theory.

There have been many allegations of criminal activity involving DPP sympathisers in the past two years and none of them have been investigated, let alone charged or prosecuted.

As much as the Kasambara trial is a case of justice probably running its course, it is also an unfortunate underlining of the governance deficiency in the country-the fact that when you are supporting the ruling party you are untouchable and above the law, and that for certain people to eventually pay for the many criminal activities they have committed in the country, we all will have to wait for them to fall out with the ruling potentates.

The cause of politicians to constantly prostitute their morals and cross the political floor in favour of the ruling party can be explained in part by their desire to avoid being investigated and prosecuted if an adverse political dispensation takes over. This pollutes our politics and severely compromises the country’s governance framework.

Contradictions

There is a question that is required in most murder trials that was not fully and clearly answered in the Kasambara trial. This is the question of motive.

If Kasambara truly conspired with two others to murder Mphwiyo, what was their motive?

This is an important question. In my own earlier investigation into Cashgate, I had suggested that in spite of some arguments to the contrary, it was becoming clear that Mphwiyo was shot because he was probably the one who uncovered Cashgate. The prosecution in the Kasambara trial seemed to agree.

In their case, Mphwiyo was about to expose Kasambara’s role in the cashgate scandal and that was the motive behind the attempt on his life. But if this was the motive and the prosecution truly believe that this was the reason for Kasambara conspiring to murder Mphwiyo, why is the same prosecutor also accusing Mphwiyo of Cashgate related offences in a separate case also currently in the courts?

Are we to believe that Mphwiyo, the victim of a murder conspiracy and an attempt on his life for fighting Cashgate, is also its mastermind and instigator? It is a sad contradiction for the future as it may discourage other whistle-blowers.

A future potential whistle-blower may decide to keep their mouth shut for fear of being considered criminal masterminds!

If in our governance system, we allow for this kind of contradictory thinking to continue, it will be very difficult for the country to move forward, especially in matters of corruption and government malfeasance.

Those that are given the responsibility of safeguarding the country’s criminal justice system need to be more competent and more consistent in their thinking.

The Kasambara trial may have scored points for the government, but for me, it leaves a rather conspicuous governance sour taste in the mouth.

Finance Ministers Goodall Gondwe with World Bank Country Manager Laura Kullenburg: Abus eof funds allegations

Finance Ministers Goodall Gondwe with World Bank Country Manager Laura Kullenburg: Abus eof funds allegations

LILONGWE (Malawi NewsNow)- World Bank has accused the Malawian government of abusing funds meant for its projects in the country. This adds up to several corruption cases the south east African country has been rocked with. In line with the policy of the World Bank, Malawi will now have to refund the money, even as it battles to sustain partnership with other donors due to trust issues.

The World Bank Country Manager for Malawi, Laura Kullenberg confirmed that the government will have to make a refund of abused money.

The money in question, which amounted to over $500,000 (K400 million) was billed for the procurement of computers and a printer.

The funds abused are under the World Bank funded financial reporting and oversight improvement project managed by the Treasury – an equivalent of the Ministry of Finance in other countries.

“As part of our fiduciary responsibilities and oversight for World Bank Group [WBG] funded projects, we take procurement issues seriously in order to ensure client countries receive value for money from these projects.

“When our due diligence establishes a project expense as ineligible, we normally request a refund from government for those expenses. For example, when goods or services procured do not meet the specifications indicated in bidding documents, when required documentation is missing or when the procurement method used is at variance with what was originally cleared by the bank under its procurement policy,” Kullenberg said.

Financial impropriety is not new in Malawi. Fiscal indiscipline during the Muluzi (1994-2004) and Mutharika (2005-2012) presidencies prompted the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to suspend lending in 2001 and 2011, respectively.

Also, since 2013 – when President Joyce Banda, the first female head of state of the country was in office – the#CashGate scandal has been a major yet-to-be resolved case.

However, there is need for the Malawian government to invest in an anti-corruption crusade and transparent financial management.

With the fast decreasing level of trust that most international bodies have in the country, if nothing is done to ‘cleanse’ Malawi, there will be more strains to its relations with external bodies.

TNM inside hightech shop

TNM inside hightech shop

BLANTYRE (Malawi NewsNow) – In a bid to improve customer experience with its 4G Internet, TNM plc has unveiled new packages for its post-paid customers which are tailor-made under what is called TNM Contract.

The offer comes in four contract packages dubbed TNM Lite, TNM Classic, TNM Plus and TNM Ultimate.

TNM chief executive officer Douglas Stevenson said the new contract packages are part of the journey by the company achieve convergence in delivery of mobile Internet and information and communication technology (ICT).

“TNM Contract is full fledged package to enhance user experience by providing incentives for voice, data and unparalled connectivity to our now high-speed and reliable Internet,” he said on Friday in Blantyre during the launch of the product, which specifically caters for its corporate customers.

Stevenson said for as low as K10 000 per month, customers can join the TNM post-paid family and qualify for a free smartphone worth K60 000 in addition to free WI-FI.

The other packages offer customers incentives of smartphone in the ranges of K160 000 for TNM Classic, K450 000 for TNM Plus and K900 000 for TNM Ultimate.

“Our new packages go beyond voice by providing data and mobile Internet, illustrating our drive from a traditional GSM [Global System for Mobile] company to a full fledged ICT company,” said Stevenson.

TNM plc is the only telecommunications company listed on the 13-counter Malawi Stock Exchange.

Mutharika - To enforce tough laws

Mutharika – To enforce tough laws

LILONGWE (Malawi NewsNow) –Following the confession and arrest of Eric Aniva (the Hyena), who had sex with underaged girls and widows for a living, the Malawian government has moved to outlaw barbaric cultural practices like Kusasa fumbi, an age-old sexual cleansing rite of passage for young girls attaining puberty.

Aniva, who said he’s had sex with over a hundred women, most of whom were underaged girls, also admitted to being HIV positive, provoking a widespread anger across Malawi.

On the program, BBC Focus on Africa, President Peter Mutharika said the government is set to introduce a tougher legislation to put an end to harmful traditional practices and to bring the people involved to book.

“This kind of practices are unacceptable,” President Mutharika said in the interview.

“When I heard about this (referring to the case of Eric Aniva) I was shocked. I called the police and asked them to arrest him because I thought it was clear he was violating the law by sleeping with the girls under 13, but he was already arrested by the local police.”

President Mutharika said he has instructed Samuel Tembenu, the Minister of Justice, to draft a legislation to curb these sex crimes. “I have instructed the Minister of Justice to start preparing a draft paper which will form the base of the legislation to be presented before the cabinet and then we will have a new law governing some of these practices.”

The president said the legislation will be ready by the next session of parliament in November.

Patricia Kaliati, Malawi’s Minister of Information, also weighed in on the subject, saying the country has no issues with traditional practices except for when they are harmful.

“We do not have a problem with cultural practices that are good to the people. But the harmful one’s we have a problem with it, and we are banning it,” she said.

“That is why we have no option but to arrest this person who does not respect the rights of children, but has also infected them with HIV-AIDS after proudly announcing he is positive,” she added.

However, some critics have said banning long-existing traditional practices isn’t necessarily the right step for the government to take, and have suggested that the government should instead, seek ways to modernise them.

“If someone wants to play the role of Fisi (Hyena), if someone wants to do widow cleansing, if someone wants to do widow inheritance, then that person should first of all go for HIV testing,” said David Odali, an HIV-AIDS activist.

Clearly, Odali’s suggestion seems rather illogical as it only implies that sexual cleansing rites and the likes of them can continue as long as the parties involved conduct HIV tests and are certified HIV fr

 Aniva, Fanny with their youngest child, Fanny's sister and a former client

Aniva, Fanny with their youngest child, Fanny’s sister and a former client

BLANTYRE (AFP)-Malawian President Peter Mutharika ordered the arrest Tuesday of a man paid to have sex with more than 100 adolescent girls as part of a traditional ritual marking their passage to womanhood.

The order was issued after the man from the southern district of Nsanje gave a media interview confessing to have slept with the girls for a fee of between four and seven dollars paid by each of their families.

“I order police to immediately arrest Mr Eric Aniva, investigate him and take him to court forthwith for defilement cases,” Mutharika said in a statement.

This little-known local practice is performed in southern Malawi by men known as “hyenas” at the behest of a girl’s parents after her first menstruation.

The ritual is believed to train girls to become good wives and to protect them from disease, or misfortune could fall on their families or their village.

But it is blamed for spreading AIDS.

In a BBC interview broadcast last week, Aniva confessed to being infected with HIV and sleeping with virgin girls without using protection.

Aniva said that the girls were as young as 12.

“All these girls find pleasure in having me as their ‘hyena’,’ he said. “They actually are proud.”

Mutharika said Aniva should “be investigated for exposing the young girls to contracting HIV and further be charged accordingly.”

He also ordered an inquiry into the role of parents, saying “harmful cultural and traditional practices cannot be accepted.”

The sexual cleansing ritual by a “hyena” is also performed on bereaved widows in Nsanje district to exorcise villages of evil spirits or to prevent another death occurring.

Aniva said a “hyena” was selected by the community based on good morals and that custom did not allow him to use condoms.

Malawi, which has one of the highest HIV infections in the world, criminalises sex with a person under the age of 16.

If found guilty of underage sex, Aniva could be imprisoned for life