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UNILIA students invent smart stick to aid the visually impaired

Mwale demostrates how stick works to Dr Chilima

Students from University of Livingstonia (Unilia) have devised a sensory walking stick that will help people with impaired vision to detect any objects in their way when they are walking.

The new innovation which is called Smart Stick was revealed Friday in Mzuzu during Unilia’s Computer Engineering, Public Health, and Food Security and Nutrition Symposium.

Among others, the stick has been devised with the ability to detect moisture, distance and light feelings for the people which will help them to walk without any difficulties.

Fourth year Computer Engineering student Tikhala Mwale, who made a presentation of the Smart Stick at the symposium, said the innovation marks the beginning of a new chapter for people who have sight challenges.

“This is a breakthrough for people with blindness challenges. They will no longer struggle to walk on their own as the stick guides them wherever they go. We have devised this stick in such a way that it uses three feelings of moisture, distance and light which enables them to automatically receive audio directions whenever they are walking even during the night,” he said.

Mwale said among others, the stick uses locally available cell batteries which make it even affordable to people who live in remote areas where there is no electricity.

He explained that the new innovation would help students with impaired vision in their education pursuit as they would be encouraged to go to school on their own without the help of others.

Director of Health Technical Services in the Ministry of Health, Dr Benson Chilima expressed delight and praise for the students’ innovation.

“This clearly demonstrates that as students who will be graduating in a days’ time, you are ready to help the country offer solutions to a number of challenges that the country is facing”.

“The industry out there needs graduates who are valuable and ready to give solutions that they have learnt from the four years they have been studying,” he said.

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Malawi making strides in right to access to information

Dausi at the Right to know conference

Government says it is making significant strides in the promotion of the right to information and right to access to information in the country.

The Minister of Information and Communications Technology, Nicholas Dausi, said during the commemoration of the International Right to know Day at Bingu International Convention Centre (BICC) in Lilongwe.

Dausi said government has made good progress in promoting freedom of expression, freedom of opinion and freedom of the media to publish freely in the country without been questioned.

The Minister explained that Malawi adopted the information regime which has enabled it to fully participate in the commemoration of the day.

“The commemoration of the International Right to know Day started way back in 2002 when advocates of the right to information gathered in Sofia, Bulgaria. Since then, commemorations have continued to be done on yearly basis, particularly in those countries with legislation on Access to Information.” Dausi recalled.

He hoped that the country would continue to commemorate the day on yearly basis from now onwards in line with this principle that Government enacted the Access to Information law (Number 13 of 2017).

Dausi said the enactment of the law on Access to Information would eventually have a very positive impact on the enjoyment of many other rights such as the right to freedom of expression.

“The enactment of the Access to Information Act has not just come accidentally. It has come as an attempt to bring to life the Constitutional provisions on the right to information and right to access to information.” He observed.

Dausi added that with the passage of this new law, Malawians could now exercise their right to access public information to the extent that such information is required for the enjoyment of their right.

“By passing the law on access to information, the Government has now made it possible for many Malawians to begin to exercise their rights as enshrined in the Constitution.” The Minister viewed.

He singled out that the enactment of the Access to Information Act is part of the ongoing reforms in the public sector Government has been championing since 2014.

“These reforms are meant to make Government transparent, accountable and responsive to the needs of the people. Our Government is committed to ensuring that we raise the bar of excellence in so far as the provision of public services is concerned,” he emphasized.

Dausi said government considered the need to empower citizens to demand better services, more accountability and transparency in the workings of government institutions in the quest to fight Corruption.

“The passing of the Access to Information Act empowers the people as rights holders to demand their rightful entitlements,” he noted.

Dausi thanked United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for the financial support that they have provided to this activity.

“We thank them for the continued support to all other related activities pertaining to the law on access to information. We anticipate a lot of capacity building initiatives in the near future targeted at oversight institutions, information holders, and the media,” the Minister pointed out.

Commissioner for Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC), Patrick Semphere said their organization would need material and financial support to ensure that Access to information ACT is implemented in full.

He said MHRC human resource would require capacity building in order to understand better the ACT.

Chairperson of Parliamentary Committee on Media Information and Communication, Samuel Kawale called upon various institutions to familiarize themselves with Access to Information Act.

He said for the institutions to make to use of it they need to fully understand it and take a leading role in sensitizing the people on its importance.

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Reforms showing progress-Government

delegates

Government has indicated that there is a lot of progress being made in the public sector reforms program.

The Reforms began on 11th February, 2015, when His Excellency Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika, President of the Republic of Malawi launched the Public Service Reforms Agenda.

The main objectives are aimed at improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the Public Service.

Lloyd Muhara, Chief Secretary to the Government said this when he opened up a public sector reforms conference in Lilongwe.

Muhara said currently all the areas of reform have been identified and implementation is now in the process.

“It is pleasing to note that the reforms have been very well embraced by the entire Public Service and now we can see that no one wants to be left behind. At the launch of the Reforms Agenda, we started with seven pioneer ministries and one department who signed Performance Contracts with His Excellency the President as commitment to deliver on their planned reform activities,” said Muhara.

“Consequently by December 2016, reforms for all remaining ministries except two were approved and Performance Contracts also signed. In addition, all parastatal organizations have had their reform areas approved and commenced implementation in October, 2015. Councils too have not been left behind on this journey and as I speak thirty five district, town, municipal and city councils are in the process of implementing their own approved activities,” he added.

Chief Secretary to Government

Muhara further said the aim of the Reforms Agenda is not to merely draw up a list of activities and submit them for approval; rather it is to ensure that the activities undertaken should bring about positive change in the way business conducted. He also said the Agenda calls for “business unusual” and the need to graduate from dependence on government subvention and to become financially independent.

“We need to recognize that the current financial pressure that MDAs are exerting on the national budget can be eased significantly if we are become more vigilant and innovative in identifying new revenue sources and investment opportunities. In addition, reform activities will be more efficiently implemented if our efforts are made in a coordinated manner to ensure that we maximise on the synergies that exist within our different sectors,” explained Muhara.

The main objective of Sectoral Conference is to come together in a sectoral approach and thrash out issues that are either enhancing or affecting progress within the individual sectors in a collective manner.

“The conference will track and appreciate the progress that has been made in the different institutions within specific sectors and update one another on the benefits that have been derived from reform activities. It is expected that at the end of this Conference, we will come up with concrete recommendations to address the challenges which will be uncovered and which will guide future interventions in the Reforms Agenda,” said Chief Secretary.

“Time has come for each one of us to take individual responsibility for the plight of our country and to acknowledge that change comes within oneself. As the popular saying goes, “Charity begins at home”, the Public Sector remains the key to national transformation and is a pre-requisite to realizing our national development goals. We need to understand that we will not make much progress in developing our country if we continue to conduct business as usual. Change needs to happen and it needs to happen NOW!” he added.

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Chief squashes national ids 666 rumours

nRB

Traditional Authority (TA) Khosolo in Mzimba District has advised people in his area not to believe in rumours that the National Identification registration exercise is a mark of the beast (666) as was said in the Bible.

Revelations Chapter 13 verses 16-17 speaks of the time to come when people shall not buy or sale their products without the mark of the beast on their right hand or the forehead.

“It has been learnt that people are spreading rumours that the national Identification exercise is actually the mark of the beast or the number 666″.

“This is false and misleading. And I want to urge you that you should register when this exercise comes in our district during the fifth phase because only those that will register will be issued with the identity cards,” Khosolo said.

The Chief said this Sunday during a public meeting organized by Action Aid with support from UNICEF aimed at sensitizing parents, teachers and learners on the importance of taking part to curb violence in schools and homes.

National Registration Bureau spokesperson, Norman Fulatira concurred with TA Khosolo in an interview that people should not be discouraged by the rumours.

“The issue of 666 says when that time comes people will be marked on the forehead and on the arm. That is obviously different from a national registration card which is a smart card”.

“All our neighbours have implemented their national ID system. Why is the issue of 666 only in Malawi? Luke chapter 2 verse 1 onwards talks of Joseph and Mary going for registration in their homeland. Was that 666 as well?” he said.

Mzimba District is in fifth phase of the national registration exercise which will begin in October, 2017.

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Reforms on track-Minister

Minister of ICT Nicholas Dausi confers with Chief Secretary to the Government Llyod Muhara during the Press briefing at COI Lilongwe-

Minister of Information and Communication Technology, Nicholas Dausi has said government will continue to drive and make sure that its reform program is yielding tangible results in all the councils in the country.

Dausi made the remarks on Monday at Central Office of Information (COI) in Lilongwe during a press briefing on the progress of the reforms.

“We would want to make sure that the way of doing business should be changed. For instance, in the government ministries, we are encouraging people to attend to their clients. Whether at the Accountant General they must make sure that they attend to people of the deceased estates by assisting them as quickly as possible.

“People must go to the ministries or agencies and get the services they want such as at the ministry of education, agriculture or health, the devolution of power has led to teachers to be getting their salaries in the district councils, and all those are latest developments in the form of reforms,” said Dausi.

He said this is to make sure that accountability and transparency in the way government funds are being disbursed are part and parcel of the reforms.

On the allegation that government is opting for softer reforms and that things are not moving, Dausi said reforms were a development in life, and that with the media advice and collective wisdom government would be able to move forward.

He therefore appealed to members of the press to evangelise on the reforms and the progress it has made so far.

Chief Director for the Public Sector Reforms in the Office of the President and Cabinet, Seodi White said in May this year, the Public Sector Reforms Management Unit (PSRMU) held interface meetings with the 35 local councils.

She said the idea of the meetings was to build capacity within councils as well as review the progress made by the councils in putting their reform areas in the standard implementation and reporting framework which was approved by government which should take on board realistic targets and budgets.

According to White, 12 councils have submitted their revised reform implementation frameworks and that the first quarter progress is due on October 10, 2017, after the PSRMU will conduct a validation

“Improved service delivery in health, education, agriculture, fisheries and water services; financial management resource mobilization; infrastructure development; local governance and decentralization; environment management and climate change adaptation are some of the areas reforms are focusing on in the councils,” said White.

Amongst the focused areas are improvement in human resources management and administration; participatory planning and development; food security and agriculture production; urban development; disaster risk management; information and communication technology; population growth control and promotion of tourism sector and cultural heritage, according to White.

The implementation of the reforms is an ongoing process and an important milestone that continues to be recorded by the 17 ministries, 53 parastatals organizations and 35 councils in the country.

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Construction of New Mzuzu International Airport To Start november

Principal Secretary for Transport Public Works Francis Chinsinga briefs President Mutharika on the new Mzuzu International Airport Pic by Andrew Mkonda -Mana

Construction works for the new Mzuzu International Airport is scheduled to start in November this year to the tune of U$20 million (approximately K14.6 billion) funded by the Exim Bank of China.

Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Transport and Public Works, Francis Chinsinga disclosed this when President Arthur Peter Mutharika visited the site at Lusangazi.

The site is 10.5 kilometres from Mzuzu Central Business District (CBD) and about three kilometres from Lusangazi Roadblock to the west.

Chinsinga told the President that the total size of the land earmarked for the airport is 230 hectares; but for a start, about 90 hectares of land will be used.

“This piece of land (90 hectares) is enough for two runway lines of about two kilometres long and with associated structures such as the terminal and some buildings comprising the VIP departure and arriving lounge,” he said.

Chinsinga said after using the 90 hectares of the land, the remaining part will be used for the extension of the airport in the near future so that it also accommodates big aircrafts.

Mutharika appreciates the new designs

He said once completed the Mzuzu International Airport will boost the tourism industry in the northern region, especially, Nyika National Park and Likoma Island.

“If all is done and well managed, the construction works will take 18 months to complete”.

“We are looking at an airport slightly smaller than Chileka Airport in terms of structures, but this airport will be able to accommodate aircrafts of 70 passengers on board,” he said.

Speaking in a separate interview, Inkosi Mpherembe of Mzimba thanked government for the project saying it will open up Mzuzu City in terms of development.

Mpherembe said as Mzuzu is growing very fast, there is need for the city to have a reliable modern international airport which will not only beautify the city but also attract tourists in the region.

“We are so thankful to the government, this is what we call development, and what we were looking for,” he said.

Government wants to construct the new airport since the current one is situated parallel to the Mzuzu-Karonga M1 Road and close to a residential area.

Some investors in the city have been failing to construct multi-storey buildings in the city because of the airport which is close to the central business district.

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Events

Heavy K to perform at Fifteen Sports Bar and Lounge’s 1st Anniversary

Heavy K

South African star Heavy K real name Mkhululi Siqula, will perform in the country at the 1st anniversary of Blantyre’s high end Fifteen Sports Bar and Lounge.

Co-owner of Fifteen Sport Bar and Lounge, James Makunje Jnr confirmed this in an interview saying they want to make the 1st anniversary an extra special day for its customers

“Yes it’s confirmed, the contract has been signed and he will be performing at our 1 year celebration party which we hope will make the day extra special for our customers” he said.

Makunje Jnr explains he has worked with Heavy K a few times in the Rainbow republic and have kept in touch so it was simply an issues of telling him to come and be the headline act.

“I have worked with Heavy K a few times in South Africa so we have been in touch for some years. The last time he came to Malawi l mentioned to him that we would be opening a lounge soon and would like him to perform there one day”.

“He (Heavy K) was very open to the idea, so we have been in communication since January trying to identify the perfect time for him to come and we felt this was the ideal time to bring him over as the headline act for our birthday celebration” says Makunje Jnr.

Fifteen sports bar and lounge is a fairly new bar that is determined to bring a truly modern and diverse entertainment experience to Malawi which promises a vibrant atmosphere.

Makunje Jnr adds “We strive to host the most unique events in the city and on most occasions we achieve that of which we will continue to do so in future”.

Keeping true to their word the bar and lounge is one of the highly regarded top places in town to drink, socialize, network and cool off steam after a long day’s hard work.

Situated along Mandala road the bar offers its customers cozy atmosphere and a wide selection of sports.

Supporting acts at the 1st anniversary are “resident Dj at Fifteen Dj Flame and we have Dj Nathan tunes coming from Lilongwe” says Makunje Jnr.

Recently the bar and lounge hosted an exquisite independence celebration activities which went on into the night and patroness expressed satisfaction with the organization.

During its short period in business it has hosted top notch artist in Africa like Zahara, Lira and Malawi/Swedish group ‘The Very Best’.

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Government reitarates its position in promoting transparency and accountability

chilima speaking

Government will continue to provide the necessary conducive environment to strengthen the promotion of transparency and accountability in the country

The Vice President of the country, the Right Honourable Dr Saulos Chilima reiterated this on Wednesday at a conference held to review the performance of Tilitonse program.

Tilitonse program is aimed at promoting good governance among other components.

The performance review conference was held at Bingu Convention Centre in Lilongwe.

The Vice President Chilima in his peach said “As a country, let us agree that change hurts, but it is the only way out to meaningful development. Change means that there are winners and losers. What are the net gains for the country if we implement change? Change means asking tough questions and getting not so pleasant answers,” said Chilima.

Chilima said during the time Tilitonse has been in the country it has made a significant contribution to improving justice and accountability.

The Vice President further appealed to participants at the conference to reflect on governance issues and do self-assessment of what role they have played as civil society in as far as advocacy is concerned.

“As a civil society, are you supposed to join the protests or again help in communicating to the masses that this is important if we are to improve equality in education, especially when we look at the resource envelope in the wake of population boom?” he questioned.

Besides, Jen Marshall who is Head of Britain’s Department for International Development – DfID in Malawi said she was happy with the way the funds have been used in the program.

The creation of Tilitonse Fund was motivated by the deteriorating governance context of Malawi between 2009 and 2011.

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Mutharika commissions multi-billion Kalenge Water Supply Project

Mutharika commisioning Kalenge water project

President Peter Mutharika commissioned the multi-billion Kwacha Kalenge Water Supply Project on Tuesday.

Mutharika did give a stern warning against vandalising of the facility by the consumers.

“I urge you to take care of the facilities. Good quality water, fit for human consumption is expensive to produce, I therefore ask you, the people of Chitipa, to take responsibility to look after the facility; avoid vandalism,” said President Mutharika.

Situated in Chitipa, the project has been financed by the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (Badea), which pumped in US$10 million and Malawi Government which injected MK7.5billion.

The Malawi leader said that what people of Chitipa were witnessing was a fulfillment of his 2014 campaign promises which included a piped water scheme and modern roads.

“The DPP government brought a modern road from Karonga to Chitipa. Later, we brought another road to Misuku Hills. Today we brought you piped fresh water. One day, we will open a tarmac road through Nthalire and Nyika to the border with Zambia and Tanzania.

“Today is a manifestation that we are implementing projects which we outlined in the manifesto of Democratic Progressive Party some three years ago. My government will continue implementing various projects across the country”

“In the next two days, I will be launching the Mzimba Integrated Urban Water and Sanitation Project. The Mzimba water project is also a preparation for Mombera University,” he added.

Over 47, 000 households are the main beneficiaries of the multi million dollar Kalenge Water Project.

The project under the Northern Region Water Board (NRWB) is designed to benefit over 47,000 people at Chitipa Boma and along the pipeline from Kalenge River and will end problems of intermittent water supply.

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80 million spent on July 6 Independece celebrations

Chairperson of the organising commitee for the 53 independence celebrations Joseph Mwanamvekha is accompanied by Hon.Japie Mhango and Nicholus Dausi at the press conference CStanley Makuti 1

The main organizing committee for the 53rd independence Anniversary Commemoration has said government spent K80 million on the July 6 Independence Celebrations.

According to Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, Joseph Mwanamvekha,  the committee had a budget of K100 million for the celebration of the of July 6 but President Arthur Peter Mutharika directed that the money should not exceed K80 million and that it was the money that was released by treasury.

“The key expenditure in the budget were logistics for the clergy and choirs, venue bookings and related costs, logistics for the two teams Nyasa Big Bullets and Silver Strikers  and related costs for the local football match, security costs and production of commemoration cloths,” said Mwanamvekha.

He told the press that they did not shy away from reveling the figures to the public as some quarters insinuated but they were trying to rationalize the figures and had a budget of K100 million that was slashed down to K80 million by President Prof. Arthur Peter Mutharika.

“Expenditure for the celebrations was K80 million out of budgeted K100 million that was slashed down by President

He expressed saddnes over the tragedy but said he could not say much as thier is a commitee which is looking into the situation

Mwanamvekha was accompanied to the press briefing by his counterparts Nicholas Dausi and Jappie Mhango from Information and Transport respectively.

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