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Published on Thursday, 30 December 2010 21:45
Written by M'theto Lungu
Nyasa Times Multimedia, a private information entity, as named Malawi's Vice President, Right Honourable Joyce Banda (JB), as its inaugural ‘Person of the year’. Publishers of the online Nyasatimes.com, the group says Banda get the accolade considering her from a list of ‘People who Mattered in 2010’. “The Nyasa Times Democracy and Human Rights Award has been awarded to an individual that has made significant contributions to the advancement of democracy and human rights in Malawi,” a statement said.
The online servive on Malawian issues has also awarded organisations and individuals in its inagural 'Democracy and Human Rights Awards'. These include the Human Rights Consultative Committee (HRCC), journalist Raphael Tenthani, the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) and the Church of Central African Presbytery (CCAP) Livingstonia Synod.
“As the first truly online media organisation in Malawi, we are committed to supporting courageous homegrown individuals and groups who build democracy, stand up for justice and defend human rights,” the statement added.
Nyasa times added JB has stood up to male chauvinists within the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) who undermine intra-party democracy through bulldozing a dynasty upon Malawians. She was fired from the party allegedly from forming parallel structures recently.
“Joyce Banda and a few colleagues have demonstrated the hard won democracy cannot go to the dogs at this point opting for the party faithfuls to elect the party torch bearers for 2014 than a mere few favour -seeking greedy politicians,” the editorial team said.
The honour has been communicated to the Office of the Vice President and she has accepted the accolade “with great humility”.Vice President’s press officer, Ruth Govati, said that Banda was “humbled” when news about the award was disclosed to her.
“It’s with great humility that the Vice President Right Hon Joyce Banda accepted the award,” informed Govati. “It’s a welcome development. It’s a recognition of her achievements in fighting for the welfare of women and children and commitment for the fight of democracy in the country,” she added.
This is not the first time for Banda to be recognized for her contribution to the nation.
She is also a recipient of several international awards which included ‘Women of Substance Award’ given this year (2010) by the African Women Development Fund.
Banda also shared with former Mozambique president Joachim Chissano, the Africa Prize for Leadership for the Sustainable End of Hunger in 1997 by Hunger Project – a New York-based non-governmental organization.
The Malawi first female vice president is also a recipient of the International award for entrepreneurship development, 1998 which was given by Africa Federation of Woman Entrepreneurs and Economic Commission for Africa.
Other accolades include the 100 Heroines award, 1998 – Rochester, New York and Certificate of Honors, 2001 by the Federation of World Peace and Love, Taiwan, Republic of China.
Banda was the winner of The Nation newspaper ‘Woman of the Year, Malawi', in 1997 and retained the accolade in 1998.
Prior to an active career in politics, Banda, 61, is the founder of the Joyce Banda Foundation – a charitable foundation that assists Malawian children and orphans through education.
She is also founder of the National Association of Business Women (NABW), Young Women Leaders Network and the Hunger Project.
During the year, Banda also became a member of the Global Leaders Council for Reproductive Health, a group of sixteen sitting and former heads of state, high-level policymakers and other leaders committed to advancing reproductive health for lasting development and prosperity.
The online news website managing director Edgar Chibaka said they also recognized HRCC for their continued work in defending and campaigning for human rights.
Undule Mwakasungura the chairperson of HRCC, the grouping of 91 nongovernmental and civil society organisations working in the promotion, protection of human rights and good governance in Malawi, said his organisation welcomed the Nyasa Times accolade.
“It is inspiring to receive the award from the Nyasa Times. It is nice that there other people out there who appreciate and recognize what we are doing,” Mwakasungura said in a statement.
Tenthani a seasoned free lance journalist who writes for international news organisations such as the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Associated Press (AP) and Pan African News Agency (PANA) has been recognized for his brevity through his writing against the system which is allergic to criticism.
Ruling DPP and presidential spokesperson Dr. Hetherwick Ntaba, is on record attacking Tenthani, the 'Muckraking on Sunday' columnist in 'Sunday Times' saying he has been “paid” to tarnish the image of the government and President Bingu wa Mutharika. He described Tenthani’s popular column as a product of “dishonest journalism.”
Nyasa Times said: “Despite government attack and desperate attempts to discredit the professional journalist, Tenthani continues to write without fear or favour. He deserves ‘Freedom of expression 2010’ as part of the Democracy and Human Rights Awards.”
“I’m honoured to be included on the list,” said Tenthani who also reports for Maravi Post, an online publication.
The nine RCC bishops are recognised for their popular pastoral letter, ‘Reading the Signs of Time’ which rebuked the government of Mutharika on governance issues.
The CCAP Livingstonia Synod has also been recognized for their continued fight for the people by denouncing the education quota system which it deemed “genocide” against people in the northern region.
The list includes the Baptist Convection of Malawi, Father Michael Mtambo of Anglican, and politician Harry Mkandawire.
Emma Kaliya, chairperson of the NGO-Gender Network has also been recognized for her brevity to speak out despite being lured with a government appointment in the National Advisory Council.
Also honoured is the Centre for Development of People (CEDEP) – a local NGO that looks after the interests of minority groups like prisoners, sexual minorities and other marginalized groups.
CEDEP has been honoured for its work to address the needs and challenges of minority groups – such as gays, lesbians and sex workers – in Malawi, in the context of human rights, health and social development.
As a result of their advocacy to ensure that needs of sexual minorities are addressed in national HIV programming, men who have sex with men have for the first time been included in the in the National HIV Prevention Strategy