All publications of The Citizen Eye . Lilongwe , Malawi
*Down but not out:Masasa land slide victims still trapped in the disaster zone- awaiting govt's rescue*
BY MONALISA NYIRENDA
Hundreds of landslides victims trapped in Masasa disaster zone in Mzuzu are still waiting for the government's promise to be relocated to a new and safer palce, almost six years since Peter Mutharika, the then President declared the area a disaster zone.
Atleast seven people died, several others injured, and hundreds of houses collapsed as a result of the mudslide following persistent heavy rainfall that hit the city, and other places in the northern in 2016.
Saulos Chilima, the Vice President toured the affected area in April same year, and ordered the city council authorities to evacuate the victims to the new and safer place .
He also ordered that the utility service providers such as Escom and Waterboard should stop forthwith provision of services to the area.
But six years down the line, the victims are still trapped in the disaster zone.
A visit by _the Citizen Eye_ to Masasa observed that many houses are failing to stand the persistent hevy rains that continues falling in Mzuzu.
"We are still trapped in the disaster zone and are in danger," says the area's block leader Menius Banda .
"Most houses here are at risk of collapsing due to the excessive rainfall, and people are living in fear of loosing their lives," she told _the Citizen Eye._
Grace Banda , a poverty stricken widow of six children is one of the most at risk victims. Her house may collapse anytime but she still insists to remain in the area.
"I know that I'm on the death trap but I have no option," she says, "I can't manage to find money and buy a piece of land and building materials hence I'm hoping on the government promise," Banda.
Other victims we talked to collaborated with Banda that they are failing to get out of the area on their own due to financial problems.
But MacDonald Gondwe, the Spokesperson for Mzuzu City Council said the Council has not effected the presidential order due to a number of factors including lack of resources.
"The plan is still intact as per the directive but the relocation exercise demands resources to enable the Council compasate the affected households as well as securing a new space for them.
"This exercise awaits resources because the resources were supposed to come from Department of Disaster management Affairs(DODMA) since the council doesn't have really available resources to help necessitate the exercise," Gondwe said.
He adds that the plan will also work on compensation of the victims for the loss of their property.
"Most of these people were born and raised in Masasa , they have set up businesses, built houses, and the relocation may mean reshaping their lives to something they didn't expect."
Gondwe , however, bemoans lack of conviction by some victims to be relocated as they continue to erect structures within the area despite the directive to stop.
BY HENRY KIMWANA MHANGO
President Lazarus Chakwera would save more than one billion kwacha (US$ 1.3million) tax payers Money spent on salaries and other benefits for eleven Ministers per month if he could adopt a 20 member cabinet set by his predecessor Peter Mutharika in 2014 _, the Citizen Eye estimates._
On Thursday, Chakwera postponed reshuffling his 31 member first cabinet which has been rated by most quarters as resource consuming and poorly performed.
And the public has been calling the president to cut his cabinet to 20 members to match the country's state of economy and ensure competitive performance.
According to our estimates each Minister is entitled to K3.5 million ($4,458) Monthly Salary, K800 000 ($1,019) housing allowance for those living in private houses, 2000 litres of fuel estimated at K1.8 million ($2,293), 250 000 airtime ($318), K50 000 ($63,6) MASM (medical scheme) membership monthly contribution, and K50 million ($63,694) loan of which half of it is refunded by tax payers.
They are also entitled to atleast 8 domestic trips per month with a minimum estimated allowance of K60 000 ($76,4) each and atleast one foreign trip costing an estimated K5 million ($6,369) .
This means government has spent an estimated K880, 440,000 ($1,121, 579) for salaries and benefits of eleven cabinet Ministers .
The figure excludes costs for foreign trips , salaries and benefits for their personal assistants, drivers, body guards and running costs for their perspective ministries.
Government could not yet confirm the costs but a former cabinet Minister who spoke on condition of annonymity claims that the current cabinet members costs might even be higher since the above estimated costs applied to the previous cabinet members.
Peter Mumba, a Mzuzu based youth activist says Chakwera would still have performed better without the eleven Ministers , and channel resources to procurement of medical supplies or roads rehabilitation.
"The president needs to understand that we are in economic crisis largely contributed by the Covid-19 pandemic and local citizens remain the most vulnerable.
"I think it will please voters if he could even appoint 15 Ministers and save 50 percent of the resources spent on the current 31 member cabinet ," Mumba said.
In 2014 the former president Peter Mutharika appointed a 20 member cabinet including himself and his Vice to save public resources and ensure performance competition.
Chakwera who was then Leader of Opposition in Parliament supported the idea and demanded Mutharika to make it constitutional to be a long-term goal.
"It is in this regard that the Malawi Congress Party's position is that even the reduction of cabinet size to 20 should be included in the Constitution," Chakwera was quoted by the media in Parliament as he was reacting to President's first State of the National Address in June, 2014.
Charles Kajoloweka, a development and governance activist says even the tonse alliance government recommends and promised a lean member cabinet to save public resources.
"I think President Peter Mutharika demonstrated and showed to the country that it's possible and doable to have a 20 member cabinet.
"And if you look at the MCP manifesto, they have committed to have a lean cabinet in a bid to reduce expenditure on government," he told _the Citizen Eye._
The development and governance expert believes it is not time for the president to begin partying and rewarding each other politically but serve the country.
"We don't need all that bloated cabinet when the President has the whole village of advisors, some of them we don't even understand there roles.
"We believe that the current administration can do with 20 or even less member cabinet, it's not about the quantity but quality of people you assemble, work ethics, efficiency, capacity and commitment to the work," Kajoloweka states.
BY LUSEKERO MHANGO in Karonga
Malawi’s qualification to the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations has energized the flames flag carriers to target the World Cup qualifiers.
The flames reclaimed it's foot ball history after edging Uganda Cranes 1-0 at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre last week.
The country's appearance at the final will be the third after making it in 1984 and 2010.
After achieving the impossible in making it to Cameroon 2022, the Flames will look to make history again in making it to a maidden World Cup in Qatar.
Drawn in a tough group that consist of West Africa’s power house nations of Cameroon and Ivory Coast as well as neighbouring Mozambique, it’s no doubt about it that the Flames face an uphill task to achieve the ultimate dream of appearing at a world cup.
But as shown in making it to the Africa’s show peace tournament, Malawi can no longer be discounted and dismissed as the whooping boys of the world cup qualifying group that contains professional players in big European leagues.
If the flames can haul six points in their last two qualifiers against South Sudan and Uganda to seal their qualification to Cameroon who knows what they can achieve if given the resources and time.
Ironically, the man behind the Flames success is former TNM Stars coach Meck Mwase.
After trying several expatriates, Football Association of Malawi settled for Mwase, though still many doubted and are still doubting his capabilities.
But the coach has proved his mettle by succeeding where others failed.
As Rudoviko Nyrenda a Sports Pundit, observes empowering a local coach is the best way to go as proven in the qualification to afcon.
“We have a lot of talented players and the only way we can get the best out of the is through empowering our local coach and as a country I’m glad that we have one at the helm of our national team hence achieving the dream of a world cup is possible,” told _The Citizen Eye_
Echoing Nyirenda’s sentiments the flames coach Meke Mwase, said he always believed the country had enough talent and players to qualify for a major tournament.
“I always said it that we have plenty of talent in the country. What we only need to do is to have belief in our players.
“When we lost our two back to back qualifiers against Uganda and Burkina Faso, people ruled us out. But we had self-belief that we can make it and that remains for the world cup.”
Meanwhile the Malawi National team will be next in action in June when they will face two back to back world cup qualifiers, beginning with the donting trip to Yaoundé to face Cameroon before returning home to face neighbours Mozambique.
Malawi National Team