John Paul Kayuni
President Lazarus Chakwera has appointed new commissioners for the Tobacco Commission (TC) which will serve for 3 years to 2027.
The police in Lilongwe have opened a murder case and launched a manhunt for people suspected to have murdered a 37-year-old man who was found dead in a car near Gogo Jenala along the M1 in Lilongwe’s Area 15 yesterday.
The Ministry of Tourism on Thursday closed down Sogecoa Golden Peacock Hotel in Lilongwe for alleged poor sanitation in kitchens and washrooms.
The Lilongwe Chief Resident Magistrate’s Court Monday rejected an application by Prophet Shepherd Bushiri and his wife Mary to dismiss entirely their extradition request by South Africa, and described it as premature and without evidence.
The Bushiris through their lawyer Wapona Kita moved the court to dismiss the extradition case, accusing the South African government of using uncertified documents in court.
In her ruling, the Chief Resident Magistrate Madalitso Chimwza agreed with the Bushiris that the documents used by South Africa government were not certified, but dismissed the application on the basis that the documents have not yet been presented in court as evidence.
Said Chimwaza; “The court agrees with you that the said documents were not duly certified in line with the law. However, your application is premature because the said documents were presented as mere disclosures and not evidence.”
“If you had waited for the documents to be presented in court, then your application would hold because the issue of whether the documents are admissible or not, arises when the documents are tendered as evidence.”
The Chief Resident Magistrate also clarified that the court was not making a decision on whether the two are guilty or not, rather handling the request to surrender the Bushiris to South Africa to face trial.
State prosecutor Dzikondianthu Malunda told us after the court, that he hopes there would be no further disruptions after.
Said Malunda; “We are happy with the court ruling, and we are glad that there will be progress on this matter, and we hope that there will be no further disruptions”.
Lawyer representing the Bushiris Wapona Kita said not all hope was lost, and believes the court will dismiss the request when the “uncertified” documents are tendered as evidence.
“The court has agreed with us on the principal objection that we are raising, however, she has said that perhaps it is premature at this stage because the witness has not tendered the documents as part of evidence.
“So she has set a date when the witness comes and tenders those documents, then she will dismiss the case.”
The court adjourned the matter to October 10, when South African witnesses will testify. The matter will be heard again on October 10, 2023 when the witness from South Africa will testify.
The Bushiris are wanted in South Africa, where they bolted in November 2020, on criminal charges. Through the government of Malawi, the South African authorities asked the court to extradite the two, but this is being challenged in court.
The United States Agency for International Development (USAid) has disclosed plans to partner with at least 25 private sector companies in Malawi “to help stimulate economic growth.”
The American Embassy in Malawi has raised security concerns with increased crime in Lilongwe city this year warning its citizens to take extra caution.
A security alert from the embassy issued on 31 August indicates that the number of
crimes reported from January to August 2023, in area 10, 12 and 43, has nearly matched the total cases reported in the whole of 2022.
Reads part of the security alert: “This increase in crime is correlated with a heightened risk to foreign visitors and to the expatriate community.”
US Embassy Public Relations Officers, Namita Biggins, confirmed the development to Zodiak Online, adding the embassy has since issued the warning and recommendations for preventive actions to their citizens.
The security alert names home invasions, theft, car-jacking and break-ins as some of the crimes that frequently occur in the city.
It further says, other crimes such as kidnappings, though not frequent,also do occur in the city and other places in the country.
However, the police have dismissed this. Deputy national police spokesperson Alfred Chimthere told us crime in the city has actually declined this year in the said areas.
“The data that we have for car-jacking and others from January to June shows a 10 percent reduction from 41 cases in 2022 to 31 in 2023.”
He however said they will engage the American embassy to consolidate the figures and also ensure they provide maximum security in the city and other parts of the country.
Meanwhile, a security expert Master Mfune has dared the police to intensify patrols as one way of addressing the problem.
“The police should intensify their security, the normal patrols that they used to have are no longer there. In the past we could meet police officers on patrol, but now they have reduced,” said Mfune.
The American citizens in the country have since been advised to beware of their surroundings, be vigilant when visiting banks, Auto-teller Machines (ATMs) and should not display wealth by wearing expensive jewelry and watches. They have also been advised against resisting any robbery attempt, take caution when driving at night and desist from walking after dark.
The authorities have confirmed a plane crash involving a light aircraft in a village near Kamuzu International Airport (KIA) in Lilongwe this morning.
The European Union (EU) says it will provide 3 million euros (approximately K3.5 billion) towards the 2025 elections basket fund through its flagship Malawi Democratic Governance Programme.
EU ambassador to Malawi Rune Skinnebach told journalists in Lilongwe Thursday that the funds will be used to strengthen the capacity of Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC), Malawi Police Service and civil society organizations to ably engage with stakeholders and the electorate in the electoral process.
Skinnebach says this is in a bid that Malawi should have a well-managed, inclusive and transparent electoral process.
“The EU wishes to support peaceful elections, reduce tensions and potential disputes regarding the electoral process by strengthening existing mechanisms contributing to conflict prevention and mitigation,” said Skinnebach.
He added that the EU will also support the participation of women, youths and persons with disabilities in the electoral process.
According to Skinnebach, the donor funds are only complementing the huge budget that the Malawi government will set aside for elections. He therefore called on the government to give MEC enough resources in preparations towards the forthcoming election.
“For the successful conduct of the 2025 tripartite elections, it is imperative that the government allocates sufficient financial resources to MEC in a timely manner, so that it can proceed with electoral preparations as needed."
The EU ambassador also disclosed that they will also continue to support other broader democratic governance initiatives including the National Registration Bureau (NRB) and Ministry of Local Government under its “Boma lathu programme”.
The NRB, he said, will receive 3 million euros through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to develop and roll out the first civil registration system while the Directorate of Civic Education in the Ministry of Local Government will also get 3 million euros to support civic education and increase public participation.
Recently, the UK Government also unveiled a contribution of 2 million pounds (approximately K2.5 billion) towards the Malawi Electoral Support Project to assist in the preparation for the forthcoming elections to be free, fair and credible.
First phase of rehabilitation works on a 60-kilometer stretch of the M5 road from Kaphatenga in Salima to Benga in Nkhotakota have taken off, with the contractor expressing hope the project will be completed within the set two years period.
The contractor, China Railway 20, they are focusing much of its efforts now on erecting bridges as they race against time to beat the rainy season, before embarking on the actual road.
“We want to first put up the bridges before the rains come. We hope to finish this in the coming few months before taking on the road itself.”
During a media tour organized the ministry of information to appreciate road construction projects in the central region, we found works on two bridges; Lipyozi and Navikoko on track, with diversions created.
There is also a major construction of a box culvert at Kamzanga stream, which is mostly cut off during rainy season.
The government of Malawi will spend K37 billion on the 60-kilometer stretch.
DC for Salima James Mwenda who represented Nkhotakota and Salima district councils said that when completed the road section will address many challenges motorists face.
Other than this, he said communities in the two districts are also benefiting from the project.
“The works that you are seeing are largely done by the locals, Our people are being employed to work for the contractor,” said Mwenda.
The M5 road popularly known as the lake shore road, from Salima turn-off in Ntcheu to Nkhata-Bay, is in bad shape and has turned into a death trap for motorists.
The government plans to rehabilitate it in four phases, beginning with the Kaphatenga – Benga stretch, then from Benga to Dwangwa in Nkhotakota. The third phase will be from Dwangwa to Mkwiya in Nkhata-Bay and lastly from Kamuzu road in Salima to Ntcheu.
The government is currently looking for financiers for the remaining three phases.
Another road construction project we visited during the media tour is the Dzaleka-Ntchisi-Malomo road. Here one woman, Mary Ganizani, told us they face many challenges on this stretch.
Said Ganizani; “Our road is in bad shape, we struggle a lot to get to the hospital and we believe this project will help us a lot.”
However, it was evident during the tour that, the fuel crisis the country is facing has taken a toll on the project.
The contractors for the two projects admitted that the fuel scarcity has slowed down progress. They, however said, government has assured them that they would be allowed to start importing fuel and cement.
For past two weeks, the Malawi has also been struggling with Cement shortages a thing attributed to forex challenges. This forced traders to hike prices of the commodity, from 11 000 Kwacha to around 20 000 Kwacha.
A legal battle between the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA) and MultiChoice Malawi (MCM) over DStv tariffs’ adjustment has led to the withdrawal of DStv services in Malawi with immediate effect.