Monday, April 29, 2013


The past week was eventful in many ways but top of the list is President Joyce Banda’s remarks on why she thinks the media played a role in the death of her predecessor, Bingu wa Mutharika. 

The statement created excitement among avid followers of current affairs. And the ensuing debate has been dual-faced. One horde has sounded alarm saying the First Citizen was not supposed to highlight the country’s media in such a manner while another contingent sees nothing wrong in how she presented it.

However, having followed the issue from the day it was reported in Daily Times and the debates and analyses that followed I choose to believe that what the President did does not amount to an offence to the media or oppression of freedom of speech.

For all we know, Joyce Banda administration has stayed on track in ensuring that the media is operating in a conducive environment without hindrances from the Executive arm of government. That is why within her first year in office she repealed draconian laws including Section 46 of the Penal Code which directly affects media freedom.

The statement made at Sanjika is only reflecting how our media operates with selective perception when it comes to issues that really matter to Malawians.

My problem is that we might be failing to see the whole picture in regards to the event which facilitated those remarks.

The President’s meeting with MISA representatives was centred on an agenda of informing her about Table Mountain Declaration and asking her to consider putting her signature on it to signify her government’s commitment.

Going by that arrangement, President Joyce Banda performed her duties quite well as per her diary. As things stand, she has promised the media body that she will look at the document and give it the consideration it deserves.

Take note that remarks following the presentation of the document ranged from President Banda promising the media that she is their trusted friend and ready to work with them always. She commended the media on the role it plays in the fight against corruption which is one of the focus areas in her governance policies.

In the same spirit of openness, the President also thought it was wise to point out some anomalies that if rectified can bring about meaningful and constructive engagement between government and the media.

This is where issues of the media and Bingu’s death come in. A President just like any other human is built up to be affected by information that is deliberately packaged to cause harm to character.

So when our President says that sometimes the media loses focus she is not speaking from a blank. She has read the trends and saw what I see.

On occasions, our media becomes obsessed with the Presidency thereby forgetting to highlight on other equally important issues that affect common people on daily basis.
For instance, some developmental and constructive issues have been pushed to the hind so as to create space for sensational pieces that are only aimed at maximizing sales.

I don’t think the President is asking for too much when she questions why her meeting with US President, Barack Obama, was hidden at some inside page with little prominence. And does the media need to be told how and why TIME Magazine 100 Most Influential Persons is a global story that also carries more weight when one of the persons happens to be one of your own?

Does it make sense to have a newspaper column that always talks ill of the President? Of what use is that kind of writing?  Can it be natural that a column can just take the position of hitting out at the President? When criticising the President weight more in favour of being a norm and habit does fairness and objectivity, which are the norms of journalism, retain their credence?

An agreement will have to be sought that some of the writings that appear in the newspapers are self-serving as opposed to serving the interests and nobility of journalism.

Having said that I for one can relate to the President’s disappointment towards some of these tendencies that turn blind to good initiatives only to focus on what they term wrong deeds without offering alternatives if this country is to move forward.

So when she relates Bingu’s death to media conduct she is speaking on behalf of the Presidency no matter who is going to rise to the mantle a hundred years from today.
Infact she is not the first person to say this. The report of the Commission of Inquiry into the death of President Mutharika makes a similar suggestion that the pressure from the media, among other sources, contributed to the stress that may have triggered the heart attack.

Put it another way, where does this notion come from that the media is beyond reproach and, thus, must not be criticised? If the media believes it is entitled to criticise the President and her government, is it not fair and correct that the President and her government are also entitled to criticise the media?

Just what makes the criticism of the media against the President rightful and the criticism of the President against the media muzzling? Should it not follow that those who criticise others, must not close their doors to criticism from others?
Bad stories which are bent on destroying characters can destroy the health of our leaders as they are always under pressure to explain themselves. 

Thus coming from a background that Bingu died of cardiac arrest, it should not surprise those in the know why heart disease is not compatible with stress of any kind. Did the media contribute to stress on the former leader through some damaging stories? Absolutely yes.  

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


WARNING! Not for the weak hearted

Dear Dalitso, the gluttonous brother, If I would be too honest with you I would say “it is indubitable that you survive by writing bad about others, in simple terms “ you are paid to write nonsense”. However, when I browse through your writings (most of which are pro PP) I see a young man betraying his own career through his predisposed, potentially sponsored writings. 

Of course I should acknowledge that you are not one of (my) the best writers and of course it would be an insult to the worst writers if we would blend or include you in that category (that sounds too personal, yea, I agree with you, but it’s just the painful truth) I feel sorry for brothers who write to please their masters (politicians and their berries) and not to tell the truth, I feel sorry because their careers are short lived. 

My brother, let me remind you that writing a story is beyond putting together letters rather involves strategic thinking, analyzing what you gathered and write a sound report. In your article you said, “Chakwera’s duping of Nkhoma Synod to cost his bid”. I carefully went through this article and thought that I could read something like, “The moderator of Nkhoma Synod or Rev. so and so of the Synod said Chakwera will never have the support of Nkhoma Synod because he once dumped the Synod.” 

That is what I expected, and I repent of my sins of thinking that the writer was professional enough to do so. Dalitso, if you ever went through a communication class and came out transformed, you would have learnt that stories like the one you wrote are dealt with using a coin theory whereby each side of the story is equally important. 

Did you try to inquire and hear from both sides? Or maybe you just made your untutored shallow research and draw suppositions? As a professional (if at all you are) you would have known that greatest journalists (not that you are one of them or aspire to be) base their stories on real research and a sound analysis of issues

On Sunday 21st April, the Nkhoma synod through its Leaders on Z.B.S refuted the allegations that the Nkhoma Synod was backing the candidacy of JZU, they emphasized that if some pastors visited JZU, did that out of their own interest not that of the Synod.

Did you get that? Or maybe at that time you were busy licking your master’s boots? In fact in your article you said that Nkhoma Synod is still angry with Chakwera’s dumping of the Synod. I find this irrational with what the church stands for. 

There is no way Nkhoma Synod would keep grudges against Chakwera for such a long period. The fact that some pastors visited Tembo does not make one to generalize that the Nkhoma Synod supports JZU and has grudges against Chakwera. Nkhoma Synod is actually proud of the investment they instilled in Dr. Chakwera; he is part of the big Christian family of which Nkhoma Synod is part of.

Once again, to the Writer (Dalitso), you need to understand that writing does not end on just gathering the materials that you need to use in your article; it does as well involve critical thinking as well as a strong knowledge on news analysis. In your article, you categorically made some silly assertions that highbrows would easily pick on. What is the connection between MCP and Nkhoma Synod? 

Are you telling us that Nkhoma Synod is a branch of Malawi congress Party? Are you telling us that Nkhoma Synod has the final say on matters of MCP? I should think and I know that Nkhoma Synod is bigger to handle party politics. These are some of the questions that your article raises and unfortunately your half-baked research fails to discourse. Dalitso my friend by default, Mwina unakalemba mchichewa mwina zidakabveka bwino (may be if you had written in vernacular your article would have made sense).

I would like to believe that if Chakwera had dumped Christianity for Buddhism that would have been a problem for Nkhoma Synod. If Chakwera had dumped Nkhoma Synod for Humanistic ideologies, that would have been something to worry. His moving from Nkhoma to Assemblies of God would be equated to somebody who shifts from Zomba to Mulanje, yet remains to be part of the big idea (Malawi).

I repeat this is not for the weak hearted because am calling a spade a spade, a bootlicker, Dalitso.

To my gluttonous friend, Malawi is ready for the new leaders who are God fearing not these recycled politicians who become billionaires 2 weeks after going into government. I repeat, not these recycled politicians who have already written an intend letter to join the party that will win in 2014 and they will submit that letter as soon as MBC will have announced 7% of the electoral results. 

Malawi is too good for these ill mouthed politicians who accuse somebody for not being married yet themselves have a horde of women in all regions of Malawi. When I become APM advisor, I will encourage him to snatch a wife from somebody just as we hear the allegations that JB snatched hers, maybe that’s the way to go so that ill mouthed people like Uladi would begin to respect him.

We don’t want dirty politics, concentrate on your party policies and rebuild the image of your party rather than hide under the shade of being a journalist (if at all you are).
May you bless yourself as you trade your career and vigorously wait for your next pay slip.

Yours’ Truly,
PP cadet

Friday, April 5, 2013


It is with vivid memories that we remember April 5, 2012; the day when President Joyce Banda became President of the Republic. Save for the fact that she was inaugurated two days later, the Constitution made her our leader at around 11am when a dark cloud engulfed State House (now Kamuzu Palace) due to the demise of former leader Bingu wa Mutharika.

As power shifted from the expanse of Kamuzu Palace to her official residence in the suburb of Area 12, President Banda made sure the nation accorded the dark moment with the respect it deserves. From day one, even when others had not recognized her, she rolled into action and she has never rested even once for 365 days.

Stretched between sorting out the economic mess, correcting the political malaise and patching up foreign relations stains, President Banda had a task too huge to handle.

Hours turned into days and days into months. Men started having dinner at the dining table with their families instead of searching and waiting for fuel at filling stations. Newspaper publishers and workers were assured of booming business after repressive laws against them were repealed. Civil society leaders were seen driving around town in broad daylight as there was no government zealot intimidating them anymore. Arson cases ceased and the police became civilized as government proved tolerant of opposing views by day.

It was a new Malawi which ironically reverted to the old flag. Not that the new one was bad but it was adopted after a leader acted without honest consensus with his subjects. Nepotism was dismantled; meritocracy settled in. 

University lecture rooms were cleaned of state agents; espionage was swept off the academic spaces.

At this point the country remembered the song “Freedom is coming tomorrow” which was blatantly abused by Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) at some point. Prophetically, freedom had indeed come to Malawians. 

There was no time for a breather. The former Head of State had to be buried and mourned for a month after which the nation had to forge ahead with one purpose.

Malawi, a political island, was supposed to be bridged with the rest of the world. There was no need for arrogance here and President Banda has done her job well in mending those fences.

Her experience as Foreign Affairs Minister in previous regimes has helped her build meaningful relationships with leaders all over the world. She has interacted with more influential world leaders in her one year than what any of the previous Presidents achieved in their inaugural year.

Don’t read much into names of world leaders she has met such as Barack Obama, David Cameron, Jacob Zuma, Goodluck Jonathan, Queen Elizabeth II, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Christine Lagarde, Armando Guebuza, Mwai Kibaki and many more. Instead focus on the international relations fences she has mended thereby opening the country to huge prospects both in diplomacy and trade.

For the past 365 days, Malawi (whose financial aid taps ran dry from 2010 to 2012) has seen close to 1 billion US dollars of financial inflow in form of aid and grants.

Thank God it is now a year since that short emotional inauguration speech on April 7.

A year later we look back at President Joyce Banda’s focus on job creation for the youth bulge. Not surprisingly this is what she has been doing since the mid nineties when she founded Joyce Banda Foundation International. Thousands of young people and women have found a platform for self employment through this institution.

Her government has placed agriculture at the pinnacle of the national economic strategies and a fulcrum of social advancement in the country. This is in line with World Bank estimates which indicate that accelerated agricultural growth is four times as likely to reduce poverty as any other sector. In return the sector will provide a bulk of jobs thereby raising incomes in the rural areas where the bulk of the population is.  

This interlocking economic thread will also see a boom in agribusiness ventures thereby giving the much needed boost to the country’s budding industrial sector.   

President Joyce Banda’s focus on agriculture has shifted the institution from being a rain fed to a brain fed business. Now graduates from the country’s agricultural institutions can take the challenges of self employment because a conducive environment has been created.  

Besides the jobs created within, government has also started tapping into job creation through skill exports and training. Notable among initiatives under this approach is the South Korea-Malawi pact which will see thousands of young people working and being trained in the Asian economy before returning home to impart the same skills to other youths.

We look back at the past year with appreciation for many good things that have happened. Our eyes are now set on the future which promises many positives.

We at The Civil Forum cannot live with inadequacy of words and expression. What President Joyce Banda has done in one year should be a stepping stone to a better Malawi in many years ahead.

May the soul of former leader Bingu wa Mutharika rest in peace and may God continue granting wisdom to President Joyce Banda as she drives the nation into the future.

God Bless Malawi, God bless our democracy.