Wednesday, November 28, 2012


The mistake that some Malawian politicians made after Barack Obama’s 2008 victory was to look at the triumph in regards to his age. 

This became evident due to the coincidence that we were having our own elections a year later and many people took Obama as their platform of achieving their political ambition.

“Vote for me because I am young”

They really tried to use their age, nothing else, as bait. Though several young people were voted, it still remains a waiting game whether we have had and will see an Obama in any aspect within our political sphere.

As we approach another period of political campaigning for the 2014 Elections others are dusting the same old script.

“I am young so I will make a good President”



I wonder where you get all this misplaced logic.

People are not looking for the “young” in a presidential candidate. People are looking for achievers with appealing track records.

Yes Obama was relatively young in 2008 but that’s not all there is to his CV.

The Obama you imitate is a Harvard graduate and he served as President of the Harvard Law Review.
The Barack you adore was a community organizer and taught law at some prestigious University in Chicago.
BO (not his dog but him) served for three consecutive terms in the Illinois Senate before he set eyes on other bigger engagements.

When he lost bid for the US House of Representatives in 2000, Obama never quit. He stood smart and waited for another chance which came four years later.

If one quits in the middle of anything then Obama is surely not the best comparison.

Obama never quits. (It was only Marijuana he quit smoking long ago)

And there has been talk of following in the footsteps of British Prime Minister, David Cameron aged 46. He too did not win because of his age but performance and astuteness. A first class honours degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) from Oxford, Cameron can surely not be measured on his age alone.

After college he patiently and humbly worked for the Conservative Party in their Research Department and became an adviser to Norman Lamont (a former Chancellor of Exchequer) and Michael Howard (Leader of the party)

Cameron served first before people noticed him.

What about his 7-year stint at Carlton Communications and his defeat in his first go at Parliament in 1997?
Just like Obama, Cameron never quit and four years later he was elected MP.

From there he was moved to the front benches and later on made a name as he was part of the coordination team for the 2005 campaign for the Conservatives.

His party lost the election yes but Cameron’s leadership skills had been well tested. So it was not surprising when in the same year he won the leadership of the party.

One thing is for sure, Cameron rose through the ranks of the party and they recognized him along the way.

Nothing artificial, nothing shrewd, nothing forced.

Do you still doubt that age alone cannot be the barometer? Give me any name of a young President and I will tell you the story behind him or her. 

Don’t you dare mention 38-year old Andrei Rajoelina of Madagascar. His is a story too hard and twisted to comprehend.

From being a young DJ in the clubs of Antananarivo he ventured into events organizing. His turn around came in 2001 when Mark Ravalomanana won the Presidency. Rajoelina being a shrewd young entrepreneur befriended Ravalomanana’s daughter and it is rumoured that the two were having an affair. Within that period he became mayor of the capital, Antananarivo.

As Mayor he went into a professional and political confrontation with Ravalomanana, a crisis that saw the latter losing his Presidency.

The military played a part in the transfer of power from Mark to Andrei in 2009.

Though he messed up the finances as Mayor, Rajoelina would still boast of running a public institution besides his personal enterprises. He is not only young, he is courageous enough to face tough situations including bullets and teargas during his confrontation with Mark.

We can go on and on and on but my humble advice to those who intend to run for the Presidency in Malawi.
Don’t use age alone as your platform. Show us where you are coming from and what you have achieved along the way.

Don’t look at the age of Obama and Cameron, these guys possess traceable and sound credentials and rose through the ranks smoothly.

Take your time to learn from the party about its philosophies and varying dynamics. Don’t allow to be pushed into something you are not ready for. Rise naturally and make meaningful impact.

Malawians are not ready to change nappies of their President. NO.

You might be young but do you have the guts?

Running government is serious business.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


Recently, young politician Atupele Muluzi, has sent tongues wagging because of his election as UDF National Chair (now President), resignation from cabinet, his party's flip flopping in parliament and his Njamba rally where reports indicate that the patrons likened him to US President Barack Obama.

I am still not sure on what basis are the two being tipped towards comparison. If it is the "Change" factor then Obama used that banner in 2008 and he hasn't brought the change during his first term (besides the drones pounding Pakistan and Somalia)

I will not dwell much on Obama but I would like to let off a few issues in regards to Atupele's Presidential bid. I have heard so many times people saying Atupele is going to give all Presidential candidates a headache.

I simply beg to differ.

I think that opposition parties, not Joyce Banda and her government, should be the ones scared with Atupele.

Anywhere in the world, opposition political parties promise to offer solutions to the problems taking place while they are outside of government. I am yet to see a political party that will tell people how they will sort out problems that might arise after they have gone into government. They all work on the template of the serving President.

For years, John Tembo has been offering the provision of check and balances to several regimes but the coming in of DPP and a reorganized UDF has shrunk the opposition space.

So as things stand, MCP, UDF and DPP are fighting for some virtual prominence in a permanent space which doesn't change.

These parties must show admirable potential in handling issues in that space if they are to convince the electorate about their capabilities to run a government. For sure these competencies cannot be displayed through fighting the government of the day. Ask John Tembo when he fought Bingu between 2006 and 2009. What he got was shrinking popularity and a dismal performance at the 2009 polls.

The demographics of our electorate is an enigma yet predictable. Those who rely on the votes from cities and urban centres end up being disappointed. Only Muluzi's first go at the elections in 1994 and Bingu's re-election in 2009 were the only times when the urban vote leaned towards a winning candidate.

Njamba, Masintha and Katoto rallies can no longer be used as a barometer of electoral success.
There is more to Malawian politics; the rural masses.

These are the people who hold the key to determine the winner in any election. They live simple lives and they need simple policies. Good water, shelter, food, security, education, good health and other supporting factors.

Don't just tell them to embrace an Agenda for Change, they need to know how different and better it is from the amenities they are already enjoying.

Don't just tell them not to vote for a President because she is a woman, they need to know what is it that men have done better than women (if any).

Don't just tell them that Joyce Banda should stop giving them maize flour, tell them how you would solve a similar crisis if you were in government. In trying to answer those questions, many opposition parties will end up exposing void reasoning hence losing the trust of the electorate.

Don't boast to rural masses that you will use helicopters during your campaign, that is not what fascinates them. By the way choppers have never influenced the voting pattern of any democracy?

The opposition bloc thinks by exploiting Joyce Banda's predicament they will score substantial votes though they have full knowledge that the State President is dealing with an extension of problems from the previous regime.

They are busy defining their political activity in reaction to what the government is doing; not what the citizenry wants. This puts them at liberty to despise the incumbent even if she doing the right thing and the poor masses take notice of such politicking.

So, if the President distributes flour to the masses, the opposition is reacting by telling her to slow down because she is blowing away government money through her travels. This kind of selective perception puzzles the very poor that are being helped by the President's gesture.

The poor will end up wondering whether the opposition parties are not concerned with their welfare. From a poor man's perspective, having a bag of flour in their house is much more important than balancing up the financial books at Capital Hill.

There is nothing wrong for Joyce Banda to travel and execute her duties as Head of State. If the travels are a means to help the poor, then things are in order. People in the cities make noise when poor people are benefiting but they don't groan when government uses millions of dollars to sort out the fuel crisis. Stop being selfish, much as you need to fill your car tank, somebody needs to have food in his home.

The opposition parties are simply baring their hidden fears. It is a fact that if you are a politician you focus your efforts where it matters most. They fear that by travelling to rural areas to distribute flour and other things Joyce Banda is raising the bar higher for them to reach in their quest to win in 2014.

It is this fear that propels opposition parties into action to fabricate stories, attack the current government willy-nilly and engage in violent acts.

2014 will come and it will surely be an interesting civil conduct. Let us remember though that much as it is too early for bets and guesses, a ruling party has never lost a Presidential Election since UDF defeated MCP in 1994.

Ruling parties have had this advantage because they have a leverage to engage the populace through many developmental initiatives such as roads, schools, irrigation schemes, fertilize subsidy among others. This advantage also comes in times of emergency interventions such as distribution of food during hunger and help during natural disasters.

Any party that is serious with making meaningful strides in 2014 should strategize towards being a responsible institution.

If they waste resources fighting Joyce Banda then the script will be the same.

They will lose an election and they will rush to court to contest the results. The time they will be strolling in the corridors of the High Court, the President will be inaugurated either at Kamuzu Stadium or Parliament. Back to square one, they will start another battle as opposition parties.

With the "First Past The Post" electoral provision in place, opposition parties have a lot of work to do if one of them is going to make it. Any simple majority gives the incumbent her own term.

However, with the path that our opposition parties are taking, I doubt if time is ripe for an opposition party to defeat a ruling party at a Presidential election.

Thursday, November 15, 2012


The first decade of the 21st Century brought with it some odd personalities on the local scene and leading the pack is one man who we all settled to call Jesus Matiki.

Perched somewhere at the foot of Michiru Mountain in Chilomoni, Jesus Matiki made a revelation that he was the promised Messiah and he had come to save or judge mankind.(save or judge Malawians in this case)

Being a so called Chrisitan nation, Malawians were amazed, appalled, confused and enraged by such a revelation deeming it blasphemous in any regard.

What made Matiki a class act was his ability to attract the agenda of the media for so many weeks. Nation and Daily Tiimes newspapers dedicated enough space for Jesus such that reporters and photographers followed him almost everywhere he went. Several radio stations followed suit.

One day Jesus was hungry and he stopped at a chips stall at Nthukwa in Chilomoni. Multitudes followed and mobbed him telling him not to eat chips but to simply turn some stones into bread or into chips. One man even offered his pair of slippers so that he would turn them into fish.

The mobbing got worse one day when people stoned him after noticing that he was buying some dough nuts from a young girl. The people accused Jesus Matiki of asking for a bargain, an ettiquette not in tandem with the "saviour"

All this excitement continued up until editors countrywide shared notes and decided to withdraw their men and women from tracking Jesus Matiki.

"Why should we waste resources on someone who is mad and does not even know what he is doing. As editors we have been greedy for scoops at the expense of our little resources," said one ditor.
From that day onwards, Matiki was no news at all.

Let me confess that he became news again months later after it was learnt that he had fathered a child with one of his disciples.

Matiki, despite being a village smart man, always wore a faint smile and it made him look photogenic enough for our local publications.

He had no problem at all, his schizophrenic mental faculties were convincing him that he was Jesus, the saviour. Sadly, instead of getting him medical help Malawians decided to give him attention up until we realized that we cannot chase him forever.

Jesus of Chilomoni is now somewhere in Chiradzulu but the country still has another man who loves attention. He is ready to speak and send commands everytime he sees a microphone, notepad and pen.
John Kapito, Consumer Association of Malawi (CAMA) Executive Director. (It seems he has been heading that organisation for as long as it has existed)

With all due respect to Mr. John Kapito, I think the way he pushes his agenda to other constituencies is faulty.

After telling Bingu to resign, Kapito has so far extended the gesture to Joyce Banda, Khumbo Kachali and several public officers. To him, every mistake one makes in public office must be followed by a resignation.
And recently he has made another call telling Malawians to stage street protests in January so as to force President Joyce Banda out.

To me, this is just another episode of attention grabbing, wrongly so.

However, it seems that is what Kapito loves most.

One time he tried to grab the attention of Malawians by telling them to stay away from buying bread in Malawian shops because the price had gone up. A day before the planned protest, Malawians were seen buying enough sugar and margarine and other kinds of spread.

In defiance, right on the protest day, they went and purchased many loaves of bread. Unsubstantiated reports indicate that one man shouted at Kapito saying "Kapito if you have no money to buy bread, just go and buy cassava from Ndirande market"

Another time he called upon all the 900,000 Blantyre residents to march to ESCOM House to protest the rise of electricity tarrifs. ESCOM mobilized enough security to avoid a fracas besides the normal petition presentation.

His move paid dividends as people really went to present the petition. The problem was that only five; yes 5, people had spared their time for such action.

Honestly, the bread and electricity issues were very true and pertinent. We are sorry because we let him down as fellow Malawians.

However, only when Kapito learns to work with his friends will he achieve desired results. You can't just speak and expect the whole nation to tick towards your desires, I don't think so. Even Sychelles with a population of 96,000 cannot pull such a stunt; what more with a country of 14 million citizens?

Just because Malawians took to the streets on July 20, 2011 does not mean that they must march everytime something looks out of order.

We marched on July 20 because Bingu's government had stopped listening to our concerns. We marched because on a day we wanted our government to listen to our cries, they were busy having a banquet at State House disguising it as a Public Debate.

We went on the streets because Bingu had made it clear that were were not humans anymore but ankhwenzule who were only protesting to make unnecessary noise. We had to face teargas and live bullets because we wanted to smoke out the old man before he smoked us out first as per his wish.

We marched because we wanted to kill the fires; fires that were razing markets, offices and houses. (Ask Reverend Sembereka and Rafiq Hajat)

After July 20 we were ready to march again anytime because the 20 point petition had not been addressed. We were still itching for more to prevent more butchering like that of young man Robert Chasowa.

Finally Mr Kapito should be reminded that we marched on July 20 because Bingu had become an enemy of all except his DPP party. He had sidelined everybody. For the first time we saw a Head of State responding to Catholic Pastoral Letter and he ill-spoke against all the churches that pointed his wrongs. The battle lines were very clear; Bingu against us.

In conclusion, it is not necessary to go on the streets again in January.

The Joyce Banda government has not stopped listening to the populace. It is a government that is continually enganging the public to find a better way out of this difficult time. There is no executive arrogance like the one that killed the DPP-Malawians trust.

Our current leaders can apologize when they say something wrong and they have showed commitment by cutting the Presidency's salaries by 30 percent (I hear John Kapito was still unimpressed as well because he wanted them to announce the cuts through parliament)

This government has created a forum for people to present their ideas as we head towards economic recovery.

Joyce Banda has not called us strange names. She has not intended to smoke us out. Time for the streets is not ripe Mr. Kapito. The devil has not yet sat on our backs.

We cannot take heed of Mr. Kapito's call. The last time we filled Victoria Avenue there was a collective effort from credible institutions such as Public Affairs Committee, Malawi Law Society, Malawi Council of Churches, Roman Catholic Church, Livingstonia Synod, ECAMA, the academia and other civil society members. All these instituions have shown hope in the path we have taken as a country and they are optimistic that things will get better shortly.

It's good to keep talking to our government and keep them accountable and it is equally good when a government listens to the citizenry. That is exactly what we have in place right now. Let us give dialogue and optimism a chance.

However in regards to Kapito's planned street march, I might be there in January so that you should not only have four people going with you.

Piece of advice; try to trace Jesus Matiki in Chiradzulu and invite him to the protest, he might love the spotlight as well.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


One evening over supper 5 years ago, my late uncle told me a story that happened in 1980 during Kamuzu Banda's regime. MCP faithfuls had just put together a new song "Ife ndife ayani ayani nanga" (Who are we, who are we) and were ready to dish it out at all Presidential functions so as to make it familiar within the rank and file (Be reminded that in those days every Malawian belonged to the party)

Their chance to perform the song came during a welcome rally for Kamuzu who was returning from one of his foreign trips. As usual people were ferried to Chileka Airport to welcome their "Messiah". The sitting arrangement had women closer to the podium and they kept on rehearsing the song readying to impress their leader who was still in the VVIP longue.

"Ife ndife ayani ayani nanga?" (who are we, who are we), led Mai Tsamwa.


"Ife ndife amai" (we are women), came an astounding chorus of response from the women who were always dressed in party colours.

Tsamwa cut the song abruptly because it was announced that the Life President was making way to the mini-stadium to speak to the masses.

After brief introductions from Master of Ceremonies and interpreter, John Zenasi Ungapake Tembo, it was time for the MCP to give their leader a new song "Ife ndife ayani ayani nanga"

"I hear you have a new song for ONgwazi and I have information that this song was composed by one young lady in the Womens League. I hereby ask all men to lead the song with all their strength in honour of the efforts of this young woman," Tembo said.

"Mmmanjamo" (Abig hand please),Tembo concluded.

A youth leaguer jumped up and started the song.

"Ife ndife ayani ayani nanga?"
(who are we, who are we)
Thousands of men answered in unison"Ife ndife amayi" (we are women, we are women)

The leaguer continued with more emphasis this time around "Ndati ife ndife ayani ayani nanga?"

All the men answered again "Ife ndife amai"

The song went on "amai ochokera ku Malawi, tangoona a Ngwazi akukhala pa mpando" (women from Malawi, we have just witnessed Ngwazi taking his seat)

No way!!!

Malawian men becoming women in 1980?

Malawian men in 1980 had symbolically sang along in a lyric without displaying their gender sensitivity? To the composer all songs were bent towards women praises to Kamuzu such that she forgot to coin in some men-sensitive phrases.

My wonder is 'What has gone wrong in the past 32 years and in the 21st Century that we should deny our obligations in cherishing our adorable women?

It seems we have come to a point where as a nation we want to make a ground breaking decision about the structure of our leadership. Unfortunately this decision only has two sides; we take one and leave the other, nothing in between. To be ruled by a man or woman, obviously nothing in between.

Why should we struggle to make a decision on an issue that is obvious?

By making noise that Joyce Banda should not rule beyond 2014 just because she is a woman, are we being fair to our women? Save other reasons for your personal affiliations and gratification but JB's womanhood cannot be an issue as we head towards 2014.

Remember Noel Masangwi? He said in 2011 that a woman cannot rule Malawi and thank God for sustaining his life to witness it happening several months later. We can forgive Masangwi because he said it before it happened but why should we forgive those who are doubting after President Joyce Banda took the reigns of power?

We seem to politicize everything but what is really wrong for a woman to lead an African country in the 21st Century? (Remember we only have 2 choices)

Do people really have a problem with Joyce Banda because she is a woman? Or is it because she is Peoples Party and they are something else? she is Yao and they are something else? or she is influential and they are something else?

Can we for a moment learn to grasp things with sober minds and make informed choices.

If women chose to withdraw from the affairs of our country just because they are ruled by men, would we manage without their 53 percent of the populace?

Please my fellow Malawian men, whether you get carried away by your religious beliefs, male chauvinistic attitudes and egos or jealousy; just leave women alone please. Let God's time be.

My current take on this is that our country is better without a First Lady.

For now may all men join me in singing along, "Ife ndife ayani ayani nanga"

'Ife ndife amai"

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


I have had dull days since Mitt Romney lost the election but news that Atupele has tendered his resignation as cabinet minister has brought me back to my feet.

Having read the story on Nyasatimes I quickly browsed through some of the comments and realized that there is an anomaly in how we are looking at this occurence. It is a fact that no names were mentioned but due to the obvious choices we have made to look at the issue with names attached to it, so be it.

For starters, Atupele might be admired by many people as a young man who started his politics at a very tender age. Thanks to his father, Bakili, a politician with one of the most fascinating biographies not yet documented.

My grandfather borrowed him a bicycle inflator (pump) outside Chipiku store at Mitundu Trading Centre long ago. This time he was a court clerk at Nsinja Traditional Court. Decades later the man would become probably Malawi's richest man and a decade later with a K1.7 billion corruption case hanging over his head.

However, in our selective perception, we fail to sympathize with one Thengo Maloya (cabinet minister in Bakili Muluzi's government) who was told point blank by the Senior Muluzi that he had two choices to make; give up his parliamentary seat for Machinga North East to pave way for Atupele; in return he was to take up a diplomatic post in Tokyo or face Atupele at the elections without Bakili's support. (We have inside information that Thengo had no chance to say a word and he ceded for the "Love in Tokyo" tagline.

If you still doubt Muluzi's bulldozing of issues then remember the 2003 scenario when he as State President addressed the nation to inform them about what the UDF NEC had deliberated in regards to succession issues (Don't worry or be surprised about Muluzi the State President addressing the nation about party matters; that's just how cunning the man is for you).

With pride he told the nation that the NEC meeting had voted on who was going to become UDF candidate and they had settled for Bingu wa Mutharika who had ammased 54 votes beating Aleke Banda who got 0 votes (yes 0) and Harry Thomson who also had a zero.

Bingu was to have his own pill of Muluzi's bulldozing in regards to Atupele in 2004. Do you remember how "Mose wa Dzulo" delayed for almost a month to announce his cabinet? We hear he was given a list by Bakili which included Atupele's name. (That's how early Muluzi wanted his son to become prominent)

My take on this whole issue is that the young man should now detach himself from the maze that his father continues to create for him. If he is serious about becoming an accomplished politician, he has to learn to become unMuluzi in the way politics is played Kapoloma style.

Can the young Muluzi convince us if really his father had no hand in pushing Friday Jumbe and cronies to the peripherals of UDF business?

Those who choose not to see Bakili's fingerprint in UDF mess are doing so out of sheer ignorance or utter denial. Why then should all the UDF troubles just come to an end just because Atupele has triumphed? Do you think had Moses Dossi won there would have been peace in that yellow camp? It just had to be Atupele at all cost, it just had to be him winning that contest.

Now two week after his son has ascended to the mantle in the party, Bakili finds himself in another battlefront. He starts mobilizing UDF legislators and other members to cut the pie for Atupele towards 2014 (it seems the boy cannot even hold a knife on his own for such a task)

The mistake that Bakili makes is to hint that Atupele's support should come from from the Eastern Region for obvious reasons.

When we are enjoying our sleep, UDF members are going round homes to mobilize what they call the Yao and muslim votes for Atupele. The party is even going to the extreme to tell the moslem community that per religious requirements it is not right for a woman to rule any institution. (Isn't this the same primitive thinking we try to uproot day in day out?)

As National Chair Atupele should know the tricks and tactics being used by his party in the Eastern Region (Mangochi and Machinga to be precise). Trust me Atupele knows what is going on only that he is employing Bakili's tactics; remain silent while others fight your battles.

With all this backbiting, do we seriouly expect that Atupele should find the comfort in government when his father is trying to play his usual tricks?

Now that Bakili has his wish granted and Atupele is UDF National Chair, time has come for the young man to tread alone for sometime because if he continues to lean on his father's tactics then he will end up fighting unnecessary battles.

Muluzi was a proud father in 1978 when Atupele was born, over the years he has held his hand and taught him the ropes of life. Along the way, innocent people have been bruised and hurt. May be time has come for other politicians to say no more to Bakili's dirty games.

I just hope the resignation letter was not written by Bakili himself. You never know.