Malawi Looks to Cannabis to Supplement Lost Tobacco Earnings

legalizing cannabis,
legalizing cannabis,
Malawi Looks to Cannabis to Supplement Lost Tobacco Earnings

Written BY: Lameck Masina

Malawi is the latest African country to look at legalizing cannabis, the plant that produces hemp and marijuana, after similar moves in Lesotho, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. As Malawi’s tobacco industry, the country’s biggest foreign exchange earner, has dwindled due to anti-tobacco campaigns, farmers are now looking to grow cannabis.

Malawi has long relied on tobacco, which accounts for 13 percent of its gross domestic product and 60 percent of its foreign exchange earnings.

But as tobacco prices per kilogram have fallen, farmers like Phineas Chimombo have struggled.

Chimombo says in most cases farmers like him who are already poor struggle to find money to transport tobacco to the market and sell their tobacco as low as 50 cents per kilogram.

Health campaigns have eaten into tobacco profits, so farmers like Chimombo are looking to cannabis, the plant that produces marijuana and hemp.

Chimombo says once one grows hemp, just a small portion of it fetches more money than one can get from any crops a farmer can grow.

Malawi is joining African nations Lesotho, South Africa, and Zimbabwe in looking to legalize cannabis after years of debate.

In March, legislators will consider a bill on legalizing medical marijuana and hemp products.

Malawi parliament member Boniface Kadzamira has long pushed for the legalization of cannabis.

“We were the first in this part of Africa to start discussing this thing. Those countries that came after us have gone ahead of us and have already started issuing licenses,” Kadzamira said.

Malawi’s anti-drug campaigners worry legalizing medical marijuana will encourage more recreational use.

Nelson Zakeyu is the executive director of Drug Fight Malawi.

“And because local marijuana is commonly used in the country, then [it is] is legalized, [it] is like they are telling young people to use local marijuana. And that is what we are fearing,” Zakeyu said.

But supporters of legalizing cannabis appear to have won the debate, that it is better to regulate the trade and help Malawi’s economy to grow.

Source: VOA News

Lesotho amends constitution to allow for dual citizenship

Rustenburg – Lesotho has amended her constitution to allow for dual citizenship, Lesotho Home Affairs Minister Tsukutlane Au said on Sunday.

“We have amended our constitution to allow for dual citizenship, but the target was not South Africa per se. We are targeting all the countries where we have lost Basotho as a result of dual citizenship [problems], whether they have taken American citizenship, they have taken British citizenship, they have taken South African citizenship, whether they have taken German citizenship.

“We are targeting all Basothos who have lost citizenship so that we can still reverse the brain drain, because we have suffered serious brain drain as a result of losing those skills,” he said.

Au was speaking in Rustenburg in the North West during a visit to inform members of the Free Basotho Movement of development in Lesotho. The Free Basotho Movement has been calling for Lesotho to be incorporated into South Africa.

He said Lesotho was unique in the sense that it was surrounded by South Africa, unlike other neighbouring countries. “We are not like Zimbabweans, we are not Zambians, we are not like Batswanas, we are totally unique when in comes to South Africa, we are in the middle of South Africa, we are surrounded by South Africa, so that means our relations with South Africa have to be very unique.”

Au said Basothos had lost their citizenship when they took out another country’s citizenship and thus Lesotho had lost a number of people they had invested in educationally.

He also condemned killings in Sondela and appealed for calm, saying there was a committee in Lesotho attending to problems Basotho faced in South Africa.

At least 11 people have been killed in recent clashes between Basotho and Xhosas in Sondela near Rustenburg. The clashes were allegedly set-off by a love rivalry between a Xhosa man and a Mosotho. The two reportedly fought over a woman in August. The Mosotho was stabbed and taken to hospital, and a few days later the Xhosa man who allegedly stabbed him was beaten up by a group of Basotho men at a soccer match at a local sport ground.

Things got out of hand on November 18 when two Basotho men were brutally killed, allegedly by a group of Xhosa men. They were allegedly hit with hammers and their bodies dragged to an open veld where they were set alight.

In retaliation, the Basotho were reinforced by a group called the Marashiya from Lesotho. On November 25, four men and a woman were kidnapped. They were found dead the next day. Three men and a woman had been burnt with old tyres while another man was stabbed in the neck and his nose was cut off.

Eight people have been arrested and three are due to appear in the Rustenburg Magistrate’s Court on Monday on charges of conspiracy to commit murder. The other five are expected to appear in the same court on December 6.