Tuesday, June 12, 2007


It is no longer a rumour that the operation of the Shire Bus lines are not only on the dead end, but also a big blow to the country’s craving to improve its tourism industry. Frankly speaking transport is an important catalyst if development is to be enhanced. But for this to be achieved having a good public service provider, is a must. In this case, Shire bus line can be alluded to as an example that can help not only the very poor but development of the nation as a whole. But it is a pity that instead of having a bus line that is vibrant, boarding which tourists can have a good feel of how friendly Malawians are the reality is that it is staggering to achieve its role.

Government upon realizing that the once Stage Coach turned Shire bus lines is facing lots of tribulations thought aloud that the company should be dissolved. Government looks at Shire bus lines as not bringing government the much needed revenue. It believes the idea will not only be good, but will as well bring efficiency in the operations of the company. From this one can deduce that the government deems a new blood will revamp the company so much that the company’s networks will spread even beyond those areas that the company reached in the 1990s.

On the same, reports are making rounds that in the current state, each bus has 20 workers. Though not sure how they work, one thing is clear, it is said that the number of workers is too much as such they want the number to be reduced. In so doing the result will be effective operation of the mother bus line. But the question that is rather a conundrum instantly sprouts is, “are the workers responsible for the inefficiency of the company?” By workers in this case are those of lower ranks, though the demarcation is a problem. Were they just employing people without considering the number of workers?

In short, by looking at the whole debate, it can easily be deduced that some individuals on top, not the ones that are to face the fury of retrenchment are largely responsible for the whole mess that government thinks can be buried by dissolving the company.

Without mincing words, before 2000 a number of buses operating and reaching far areas were numerous, but now it is sad, so to say, that many areas now do not see these buses, not that the roads are pathetic, but for the reasons only the management can fully explain.

However a number of buses are grounded, which to some degree can be attributed to
negligence by those responsible. This lucidly translates that the number of buses
operating was decreasing culminating in more workers on each bus. As such to start
retrenching those below, though it sounds unadulterated, is outlandish in all senses of
human intellectual capacity.

Though some people were demanding to have a commission of inquiry, if history is
anything to go by, that will not provide the solution, nor will it move even an inch
towards addressing the problem. In Malawi many inquiries have been conducted but only
a handful of them had their findings revealed to the public.

Further, for one to argue that the minibuses offer an alternative to the now, almost half-white elephant entity in the guise of Shire bus lines can as well not provide a panacea to the enigma at hand. The minibus’ number has alarmingly shot because of Shire bus lines’ inability to provide services to many corners of Malawi . Of course it is undeniable fact that since the new millennium the company has involved itself in a handful of accidents, but that does not suffice for the company to be substituted with these minibuses, a majority of which is not road worthy in the truest norms of the road use. The minibuses cannot, therefore, be trusted in any way; in fact they are to some level a scary to the tourism hence becoming an impediment towards attaining development.

Looking at the Shire bus lines issue, dissolving the company will not be finding the
solution to the puzzle at hand, rather it will just be a suppression of the problem which
will resurface in the years to come. The mere changing of the names from Stage Coach to
Shire bus line, now on the verge of masking a new name, exhibits volumes pertaining to
the problems that bus companies face in the country. The reasons will remain the same,
though names can be changed now and again.

The restructuring of the whole management of the Shire bus lines is a must, not that it
Will be a final solution, at least will give the first step towards finding the answer. As of
Now the workers’ side of the story has not been heard, whilst at the same time being
convinced beyond doubt by those in the management that the majority of those below
should go. As Paulo Freire, a scholar from Brazil who was on the forefront in Liberatory
Education where dialogue is seen as a catalyst towards reaching a consensus to reach a
Compromise to a problem said, it is only through dialogue that a clear solution where all
parties involved in the affair should be involved can be found.


The Media is now awash with stories of the on going calls for the negotiation aimed at the creation of the Free Trade Area between the European Union (EU) and the African Caribbean Pacific (ACP) nations, with the former on the forefront. With the expiry of the Lome and Cotonou agreements the two groupings are negotiating to have a framework of economic relationship. On basis of the past agreements the ACP countries have had access for their goods to the EU market on non- reciprocal basis.

But now it seems the winds have changed direction. The EU is negotiating with African countries so that they should have an Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) are aimed at having both parties benefiting. In this regard the ACP countries, to which Malawi is a member country, are supposed to open up their economies so that Europeans goods should have a fair access to ACP markets.

The European Union is saying that the EPA will strengthen local markets as a result trade will boom. This is seen as a catalyst that will assist facilitate local trade and make the region more attractive for investment. One can therefore argue that the Direct Investment Flow will propel to the heights ever thought. On surface one can be convinced that the EU has the interests of the poor countries at heart, but digging deeper the whole issue, with the past experience speaking volumes and the recent revelation of the Reports in disagreements with the whole arrangement, the cooperation that EU is trying to bring has more harm than sweet that their rhetoric, filling the air in the process, can bring.

In fact the ACP countries have been divided into 6 small groups for negotiation, possibly according to the way the regional bodies are.

When it was revealed that that Malawi and other least developed nations under the umbrella body of the ACP will record the alarming levels of unemployment if they agree with the new global European Commission, the latter dismissed the fears. It is being pointed out that if it comes to effect in January 2008, Malawi and other ACP countries will grant 85% free access of products from Europe with the hope that European countries will follow suit.

According to the 12 paged Nairobi Oxfam International titled, Unequal Partners: How EU-African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) EPA Could Harm Development Prospects of Many of the World’s Poorest Countries, Oxfam believes the EU is the clear beneficiary in the whole issue. As Oxfam’s Report quoted in the Nation early last month says: “On paper it shows Africa’s average cut on tariffs is lower than EU, but in reality, when one computes figures using complicated Swiss Formula, Malawi will open its market about 70% while Europe will have opened theirs by 25%.”

If they can say that the trade barriers will be eased, but with Oxfam’s revelation one is stopped to think further; which means the imbalance levels of trade will still be there. In fact history has it that EU’s history, despite funding different activities, has been detrimental on issues of economies. This is manifested in the way EU market is governed. The EU countries determine prices of the poor countries, whose exports are but primary products.

The problem that is rather an enigma is that even when the EU opens up the barriers, their tendency of subsidizing their products visually makes the products from Africa to have low likelihood of selling, as products from the EU are cheaper resulting in countries like Malawi fall short stand to the heat.

The agreements will also be a graveyard for most industries in third world countries that are national, which it is doubtful if they can compete with multinationals, so are the poor farmers.

“The majority of farmers in Malawi are very poor. It is ridiculous to expect them to compete with imports produced on large, heavily subsidized farms in rich countries, but this is what international rules and practices are frequently making them do,” Mavuto Bamusi was once quoted in Press.

In the same way, the 2004 statistics of the shares of the World Trade shows it was weighing against poor countries. For example, United States commanded 12.4%, EU had 31.2%, Asia was having 9.9%, and on the base Africa had 1.9% as released by Standard Bank of South Africa. By combining the shares that Africa had and Asia, where most members of ACP are, one will be able to see the great disparities that are there in World Trade.

This agreement will have a major democratic implication for the countries involved. In other words, it will change the focus from political and social standards at the expense of trade and economies. At this point, it will have an adverse impact on essential goods and services since it will be more of capitalistic approach, with government having no control.

It is a blunt truth that for long time Malawi as a market has been reduced to a mere dumping ground, where numerous goods, most of them not certified from poles apart countries and companies have been flooding market, there by making local products expensive. As Moore writes in Regional Integration and Regional Governance Under the New African Initiatives: A Critical appraisal (2004), “in global political economy it has always been suggested that the West has far less to gain from African solidarity and as such has done all in its power to impede it.” In this respect it suffice to say that the whole issue of EU-ACP marriage will only lead to demise of many regional blocs like SADC, COMESA, ECOWAS that are in poor countries.

Though the relationship of EU-South Africa trade deal can be pointed at as a positive gesture emanating from Brussels, one only wonders why they started with South African not Rwanda. May be because the country has resources? Or is it indeed one of those ways of trying to bring SADC to it’s kneels since many people believe South Africa holds the key to SADC’s success. It is reported that South Africa- EU agreement contains that South Africa will liberalize 86 percent of its imports over a 12 year period, while the EU will open its market up to 95 percent. According Oxfam this is seen as “offering to some groupings.” And dividing of ACP countries into 6 categories does not help matters either. This might create a scenario where the levels of opening up varying because regions do face different problems. Such being the case some of the countries might be alienated whilst others may be favored like South Africa.

Finally, the whole issue of having the marriage between EU and ACP countries is a kind of agreement that is imbalance, which will only benefit few countries in the ACP, with the majority, some of which had their economy like Malawi almost back on track. This agreement will only force a majority of third world countries in a pit of poverty. As Mandela on 27th April 1998 rejected US president Bill Clinton’s Free Trade Prescription for Africa by saying, “this is a matter over which we have serious reservation….To us this is unacceptable,” ACP countries should not deceive themselves but the only answer should be a big NO!

Friday, June 8, 2007

In Support of Evo Morales! An Advocate Against Discrimination

Bolivia President, His Excellency Evo Morales has joined many advocates in the fight against discrimination, ranging from economic discrimination and trade discrimination. This time, he has moved from his usual critical viewpoint of the Bush administration to football. He is reported to have urged the Soccer legend, Pele to fight FIFA’s ban on international games on higher attitudes, areas above 8, 200 feet.

This ban highly affects the Andean countries of which Bolivia is part of. The President rightly advocates against this decision which discriminates against the Andean Countries and people in such region. Even though the decision is intended to protect the health of players who need a lot of oxygen in the field of play which is thinly available in such attitudes, Morales sees this ban as discriminatory, which an international criminal offence.

The decision affects people in many ways. Football is a source of employment for players and other people in the field like coaches (as we have done to employ a foreign coach, Stephen Constantine at the expense of our local based seeds). Football games played in big cities with high population also bring revenue in gate collections and advertisements. Football is therefore a source of income and a vehicle for removing income poverty of nations. As a result of the ban, all the benefits that come with football in Andean countries (of course plus prostitution) and other countries in high attitude will be removed. No wonder Mr. Morales must be supported in this fight.

However, let me pin point some other facts that he might have missed. Games played in such areas highly risks the lives of players, of whom he presidents over. If they all die, who would play the game for the country to earn some economy? This is why I would urge the governments (Bolivia inclusive) to construct stadiums in attitudes which are ideal for player’s healthy lives.


Let me first congratulate FAM for bring in Senegal for a friendly match with our boys here. Its not an easy task to bring a team which is recognized in the world over for its standard of football to play against a team which does not give any headache to teams even within southern Africa. Presently, the Flames is known for its dim-witted losses and give away of games. We are not consistent in as far as keeping winning records are concerned. For this reason, for a team like Senegal to allow to play us in a friendly we should highly recommend the flames and the government for giving out funds for such games.

However, one thing must not be taken for granted as some Senegal delegates have said. Malawi can upset Morocco. For Malawi to achieve this, I have one or two lessons to give to our coach, Stephen Constantine.

Firstly, the Flames must be aware of the reasons why Senegal has allowed to play us, the underdog (even though people, even Morocco has asserted that they don’t underrate us because anything is possible, the fact remains the same: we are underdogs. This is why the word underrate comes in!). Senegal knows for sure that Mozambique plays good football and the possibility to upset these Lions is high. The Mambas does not just loose anyhow at home, unlike Malawi. However, Malawi and Mozambique are in the same region and are neighbors for that matter. This means that we have many similar things, including the style of football is the same even if we are more underdogs compared to the Mambas. But they will learn the tactics from us that Mozambique can likely use in the field. The Lions will not have any bigger problems thereafter to upset our dear brothers, the Mambas.

As the Flames, we can use the same tactics. Senegal is from the Northern part of Equator, where football is a bit superb that us in the southern part. This follows that Senegal’s style and Morocco’s are almost similar as Malawi is to the mambas. Let us use the pace, dribbling, controlling and passing, and also counter attacking that Senegal will use on Sunday to upset Morocco. Constantine should use Senegal’s friendly, more seriously. Chibakera chamwana chimawawa

First Lady, Madame Ethel Mutharika, Not Loved

There is an adage that goes pamaliro pamakhala nkhani, meaning lots of stories about the person, his/her death comes out at his/her funeral. I take this adage to outline something that amiss in the First Lady’s funeral. In black and white, in this article I argue that the first Lady, the Late Madame Ethel Mutharika, was not loved by his husband. I am at pain to say this but this is the only way to bring sanity and order to our culture so that we don’t anger our ancestors.

Firstly, it started as a allegations in 2006 that the First Lady was not feeling well and that was flown to South Africa and France for treatments. This was labeled as a rumor and was paraded away by the state house.

Secondly, the same thing was repeated this year. It was written and announced in various media that the first lady was not finding okay and had been flown to South Africa for treatment. As usual, Chikumbutso Mtuumodzi, the State house press officer, parried the allegations as rumors genesised by people who don’t want the president to achieve in his war against corruption. The Former president, Dr. Bakili Muluzi was reportedly to be the engineer agitating the allegations. Some unlucky journalist was arrested for reportedly breaking the privacy of people belonging in the public arena when he tried tyo report that Bingu was in South Africa to attend to His Wife’s illness. Now Malawi has lost her mother. The country is in deep grief, as a tragedy has fallen over its people.

Illogically, the death has now become public when the sickness was private. In Malawian culture, leaders are people who belong to the public arena, and their healthy status is a public concern. But to arrest people only to allow them at a later time is absurd.

Above that, when she was ill in the house at State House, the president went ahead to conduct rallies, leaving our mother alone in the house. This was the time when she needed the love of our father, the State President than anybody else. She was desperately in need of assurance of her recovery by the president than anything else. Yet, the president was busy in political rallies castigating his opponents. This shouldn’t be condoned by any leader, even aspirants to be leaders, because it is against African culture in general, and Malawian in particular. Who would deny the fact that she died because she did not receive any support from the husband?

Now we are shown the picture to believe that the first Lady, the Mother of Malawi Nation was highly loved. I berg to differ. It can be deduced from this that our mother, Madame Ethel Mutharika was not loved. When will we learn to love a person when he/she is still alive?

Wednesday, June 6, 2007


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Organisation for the Youth Empowerment in Development (OYED)