Friday, September 18, 2009


It is almost a tradition that recently elected leaders have their offices assessed in their first 100 days. With this tradition, political players around the world were all eyes waiting to witness how the America’s first black president would be rated in his first 100 days. Malawi, just as any other country in the world, is no exception to this usuance.

In the May 19, 2009 parliamentary and presidential elections in Malawi, Dr. Bingu wa Mutharika, Democratic Progressive Party candidate, was announced the winner. Following his landslide election victory, Dr. Mutharika made an inaugural speech at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre on 22 May 2009. In his speech Dr. Mutharika pledged to implement a number of priorities as a way of consolidating the “gains” his government achieved in the past five years.

In the final part of his speech Mutharika made an assurance to the Malawi nation that he will be a good man on the political scene. On this important note, Mutharika promised to serve the country with no regard to a person’s political party affiliation, race, tribe or creed. Mutharika has however miserably failed on this promise if recent media accounts of his political life are anything to go by.

There are accusations alleging that the first citizen’s choice of people to fill highest echelons in government departments smacks of Thyolo tribalism. Still adversely opposed to his promise that he would be the president of the people is his recent by-election campaign speeches.

During the by-election campaign, Mutharika was reported to be buying the votes of the electorate by making it a point to the voters that if they do not vote for a DPP candidate in the area development will be a stargaze. His electioneering in the by-elections was every inch a reflection that what he said on the day of his inauguration, at least on this issue of political accommodation, was nothing but an attempt to win the ululation and applause of the people since his campaign was marred by mudslinging and pillory.

Mutharika’s pledge to “heal the wounds and bruises” that were caused during the campaign period was systematically reneged as his by-election speeches emphasised on demonizing opposition candidates while praising DPP candidates. On corruption, Mutharika made interesting statements that enlivened his belief for a new, corrupt-free Malawi. Sincerely in his voice was he as he elaborated his belief that corruption is a menace to a society and remains the world’s greatest encumbrance to development.

It remains a sad fact that the much-touted zero-tolerance for corruption follows no real direction 100 days after. It is the same old faces with the same accusations of witchcraft that they were hunted for in his first five years term. This practice is giving Malawians fertile ground to discredit his anti-corruption drive labelling it as a political ‘witch-hunt’. The situation is as though Muluzi, assuming the allegations that he pocketed k1.7 billion donor money is true, has been, is and will be the only corrupt person in Malawi.

The import of this argument is not in the least to say that the Mutharika administration is doing a disservice to Malawi by bringing the former president to corruption charges. But what raises the eyebrows of many a Malawian is the twist the former president’s corruption case has taken. The argument is that the Mutharika administration’s anti-corruption drive should better take a new turn where corrupt people are brought to book without fear or favour.

The anti-corruption campaign of course be intensified but it be not lopsided in the sense that only people from the opposition benches meet the wrath but those on the government side spared with an aim to silencing the opposition. Allocating more resources to the anti-corruption alone will produce no tangible results but fairplay and neutrality will do.

What is disconsolate to the minds of many in Mutharika’s first 100 days in office is that the campaign is characterised by political appeasement, cronyism, favouritism and other self-serving ‘isms’ which can do Malawians no justice at all in as far as the fight against corruption is concerned.

It is upon these observations that one would categorically say that the Mutharika administration has execrably failed in its avowed aim to making corruption history in Malawi.


Quota system, as applied to the University selection system, can be defined as a system that seeks to assign a proportional share of the higher education cake in Malawi to each district.

For some time, the debate about quota system has been monopolised by the academicians thereby confining it to academic circles. This time things have changed in the sense that almost everyone is giving opinion. The government’s proposed re-introduction of this out-lawed system has proved to be a litmus test on people’s argumentative skills if objectivity in arguments is anything to go by.

What perturbs many a person in Malawi is the government’s u-turn on this issue. What people should be interested much to know should be the answer to the questions: why government is rethinking of re-introducing it after it was given a cold welcome back? Is there anything good necessitating its re-introduction? Does the system serve the nation any good?

This system, to begin with, is necessary to the Malawi public because it is the taxpayers' money that every Malawian is not exempted from paying, whether poor or rich,that is used in running these public universities. Much as the few rich may pay high taxes one cannot deny that the many poor also pay relatively huge taxes if calculated in percentages.It is therefore only fair that the system be introduced to ensure equitable access to the public university.

It is this money, and of course some donations, that is used in funding the public Universities. If we accept the fact that all people contribute to the input how rational can one be to deny such people to reap the output. The inequitable distribution of higher education through meritocracy cannot be justified since the system does not uplift the lives of the worst-off masses but inadvertently or otherwise, it serves the best-off few, then, sadly, a considerate Malawian is forced to conclude that the system miserably fails. If this be the case then the worst-off group shall be indescribably worse off.

But the government is there to ensure that it serves the entire population for its improved welfare. Looking at how sadly meritocracy has failed to lift the worst-off, we therefore have no option but look at quota system if at all it will provide serviceable equalities.

The main good that quota system will do is to raise the position of the worst-off group and that therefore makes it a good companion to go with. The quota system issue has been and still will be, as colossally misunderstood as the concept justice. This system has been a springboard of numerous arguments about University education in Malawi. It was there during the Kamuzu Banda reign with the view to giving equal opportunities to Malawians to access the higher education cake.

What gave birth to this system in Kamuzu Banda days was Dr. Banda’s suspected foul play in the selection of students into the public University which indicated some undertones of districtism and regionalism. And because only few districts produced a lot of graduates while many produced none at all, it was then thought that this system be introduced to ensure that access to the higher education system is equitable. This is to say that the trend of having many graduates in few district while having none at all in many districts meant that the country’s human power resource was lopsided; some districts needed technical specialist support from other districts since they could not produce their own.

 A lot of people arguing against the proposed re-introduction of this system have based their argument on the system’s suspected discriminatory aspect. It is a wonderment to hear this, but that aside, the interesting part about this argument is whether or not the opponents of quota system have ever questioned the merit in the so-called meritocracy.

Is our meritocracy so meritocratic to the true sense of the word ‘meritocratic’? If not then it is itself a discrimination of the highest peak. As one sage once said, “the greatest injustice is to pretend to be just when one is unjust”. Is it not a discrimination and an act of injustice to leave out a student with 36 points since it is the entry requirement into the University of Malawi?.

If the meritocracy was meritocratic enough it would have made it a principle that whosoever gets the required 36 points should see him/herself in college corridors. But to say the requirement is 36 points yet contradictorily leaving out those with such points is both an irreparable injustice and a mock on their selection criteria. It is injustice to be left out with 36 points let alone to be left out because of space.

Still some pessimists of quota system have argued that quota system is a threat to merit in the University because brilliant students will be left out and less intelligent students will enjoy the easy ride thereby undermining the standard of University education.

What seems to be of great concern is most people’s confusion about the correlation between points a candidate scores and intelligence. If it were that having good points meant brilliance then there would not have been cases of students with good points being ‘weeded’.

There have been cases in the University where students with points range of 6-12 being expelled for poor academic performance yet those above this range have been able to sail through the troubled life of assignments and examinations.

 If quota system was a discrimination, how would government plan to discriminate its own citizen it swore to serve fairly? People are either afraid of non-existent bad outcome or share the give-it-a-bad-name-and-kill-it mentality – something which serves people’s own self-interests.

What should dawn in the minds of people is that the implementation of quota system has become a necessity now. One rationalist once argued that “in times of necessity there is no justice for necessity sees no justice”.

In conclusion, quota system should be given a chance to be implemented and be used as selection criterion into the public University for it has been seen to raise the position of those groups worst-off in society in as far as access to higher education is concerned.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


The release of Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, 57, a man convicted in 2001 for his involvement in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over the Scottish town of Lockerbie, has caused international outrage and condemnation. Al-Megrahi, a Libyan national and a former Libyan intelligence officer, was released by the Scottish government on August 20 on compassionate grounds due to the advanced prostate cancer he is suffering from.

Al-Megrahi was convicted on January 31st 2001 by a panel of Scottish judges sitting in a special court in Camp Zeist in Netherlands.

He was convicted on 270 counts of murder he was charged with and was given a minimum prison sentence of 27 years. Although the west has strongly criticized the decision by Scottish government to release al-Megrahi, Scottish government has expressed no remorse whatever over its decision and has stood by it tooth and nail.

People like Martin Cadman who lost his son, Bill has also stood behind al-Megerahi’s release, and Maxwell Kerr, a Lockerbie resident, share Scotland’s decision further sharing his thoughts that he believes al-Megrahi is “innocent”. The Scottish government’s decision has been seen by many as a big mistake with Frank Lautenberg,a Democratic Senator from New Jersey calling it “an outrage” and that it is also a ”caving in”.

The united States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called al-Megrahi’s potential release as something ”absolutely wrong” adding that United States is “deeply dissappointed” and stopped there without elaborating.

Barack Obama on his part, speaking after the news of al-Megrahi’s potential release, only said that he was in contact with the Libyan government that should al-Megrahi be released he be welcomed not in ”some way” and that once he arrives in Libya he be under house arrest.

The international furore that has ensued as the result of his release has been aggravated by the hero’s welcome al-Megrahi was given back home. Now the question is: was the hero’s welcome anything serious to occasion such international reaction?.

Upon hearing the news that al-Megrahi is coming back into the oasis hands of his country, hundreds and hundreds of his countrymen flocked to Libya’s capital Tripoli to welcome him. Indescribably happy with his unexpected coming, some people waved Libyan flags others Scottish flags in a way that symbolized their missing him.

Upon arrival, al-Megrahi was accompanied by Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi, the son of Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi in what UK and US call an “attempt to play down” al-Megrahi’s arrival in order to suit the wishes of the US and the UK. He was later reported by the ever-watching media to have embraced the Libyan leader. The smiling faces that welcomed al-Megrahi, their home man, has added salt to the wound created by his release.

After some silence on al-Megrahi’s release, the British Prime Minister Gordon Brown spoke of how he “repulsed” the scenes of al-Megrahi’s welcome. The Scottish government has also been under unrelenting western pressure for its decision to release the convicted Lockerbie bomber.

The president of the United States of America, Barack Obama speaking on the same issue of al-megrahi’s hero’s welcome spoke plainly. Al-Megrahi’s hero’s welcome is “highly objectionable” , he said. The western world’s condemnation over what it calls a ”hero’s welcome” is something not to be taken lightly in the political sphere .

Al-Megrahi’s release and of course everything that he does or says or others do or say to him now is as internationally newsworthy as was his handover, trial, appeals and conviction. Suffice it to say that Al-Megrahi’s story is a good field for a lucrative political gamble and, categorically speaking, there is no denial to that.

There has already been allegations from the international community going to the British and the Scottish governments accusing them of striking a deal with the Libyan government to free the bomber in exchange for greater access to the Libya’s gas and oil reserves-something both governments have vehemently gainsaid.

It upon this axiomatic political fact that no sane man would expect the international community to be mum, hence the reaction should not be every inch a nightmare.

For instance, Alex Salmond’s Scottish decision to free al-Megrahi will see him suffer a heavy loss when parliament meets-a situation analysis have said was deepened by national cerebrations and acclaim that al-Megrahi was accorded. In Britain, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats made scathing attacks to Gordon Brown.

William Hague, the shadow foreign secretary commented it’s to the astonishment of the Britons that it took five days for the prime minister to make a partial response. He went on accusing Gordon Brown of failed leadership because he, initially, had been unable give his opinion on al-Megrahi’s ruling when many people from different countries had commented on the Scottish government's decision.

As is already implicitly stated above, it would be unrealistic to expect comments on al-Megrahi’s release yet ignore the same on his welcome.Much as this story is a fertile land for politicking to gain the much-needed political milestones, I find most of the condemnation from the international governments and organizations as having undertones and overtones of fantastically absurd political manouvres.

In a nutshell,the western world’s many comments on al-megrahi’s story smacks of its deliberate attempt to ignore the What-Where-When –and-How of politics.Al-Megrahi’s so-called hero’s welcome is nothing but an expression of Libya’s tradition in as far as hospitality is concerned.It should be known that in Libya 97% of the population associates with Islam.

From this it can be seen that Islamic influences in the life of the majority Muslim Libyans cannot be underestimated.the religion of Islam encourages a spirit of brotherhood which I guess al-Megrahi’s welcome was just an expression of that.

Lest we do not know in Libya family life is fundamentally cherished with people living in apartment blocks.The simple thing the western world should do is to appreciate the traditions of Libya and for a moment part away with politics.

But a word of caution should go to the Libyans not to take the international reaction to be something to play games with,for al-Megrahi’s release has now become the laboratory for testing the super power’s influence and leadership.

But the point I am driving home is:the western world should live the Libyans observe their traditions without suppression or some other.

The world has had enough of politics in al-Megrahi’s story but he be excused this time for his welcome was a mere observance of Libyan tradition and not a slap in the face.


Defined in loose terms, democracy is a political system in which the supreme and ultimate power is vested in a body of citizens who can elect people to represent them. In a different way it can also be defined a political orientation of those who favour government by their elected representatives.

The election of representatives is done through open voting.In Malawian democracy has been a source of many intelligent intellectual and political debates ever since this new baby was born in the year 1994.

Although the baby was welcomed with smiling faces, it later was on the brink of being suffocated by its many relatives including its begotten parents. Reason? The corrupting influence of power and the disease of self-centredness.

Political heavyweights well versed in election issues who have keenly been following Malawi’s journey from one-partyism to multi-partyism predicted that the 2009 parliamentary and presidential elections would define democracy in Malawi.

Sadly, the definition so far the 2009 parliamentary and presidential elections has given to democracy in Malawi does not really offer any meaningful insight to the meaning as conceptualised in advanced democracies.

The campaign period was declared and Malawians witnessed every moment of the campaign trail, thanks to the media fraternity.

The results were out and the DPP confidently won the elections. The governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) won with overwhelming majority in the elections. Both international and local election observers, political commentators and analysis as well as journalists have unanimously and objectively called the DPP’s win a “landslide victory”.

The DPP and its supporters and of course peace-loving Malawians had every reason to be happy, after all its win demanded celebrations since the 2009 elections were a litmus test to our fragile democracy. The belief that DPP was a household name that some Malawians’ had held in run-up to elections was cemented after it was announced that the DPP had won the elections.

This being the case however, what is saddening is the irrevocable reality that in less than 90 days away from the national elections, the DPP has suffered a heaviest blow ever- it has lost the by-elections. A heavy blow indeed, from an overwhelming national elections win to a humiliating two by-elections loss.

It is a blow that has taken the DPP unawares and has sadly spared no person in the DPP’s inner circle, its supporters as well as its sympathisers. The most painful part of the blow is that the by-election loss thwarted the DPP’s election victory celebrations prematurely. The DPP’s by-election loss struck an unforgettable remorse blow that has denigrated the DPP from hero to zero.

Critically analysed one is to see that the DPP’s loss of the by-elections is a free must-learn-from lesson for political parties and political players that the masses want parties that they walk the talk and that they are fed up with dancing to loads of political malarkey. The DPP’S is arguably also enough reason for inquisitive Malawians to pause and ask: Should this be a sign of the peoples’ loss of confidence in the DPP? To say it is, is to make as good a guess as that of a many surprised Malawian.

Why such a guess is good is because the DPP was fresh coming from elections it had won with a majority unheard of in the Malawi’s election history.

It is a good guess because the DPP was at the pinnacle of political fame. Its strategies were still fresh and, with how easily and confidently they won the elections, their strategies proved surefire ways to winning almost any election. In addition to this, the DPP had the state-controlled media at its disposal as its mouthpiece and propaganda machinery where the opposition and independent candidates were pilloried and labelled ‘development-disoriented’.

The first citizen himself, the DPP’s torchbearer in the 2009 parliamentary and presidential elections, was no lackadaisical. He was seen campaigning side by side with the DPP candidates in the by-elections. The vice president also did her part in the by-elections campaign to ensure that she re-secures her Zomba-Malosa seat.

The DPP pressed every possible button to ensure that it wins all the two seats in the by-elections so as to beef up its numbers in the national assembly. But all to no avail. At the end of the day the DPP got a humiliating loss. If at least it had lost the Ndirande seat only would it have been less humiliating than it is now.

One would confidently deduce that DPP’s failure to return the Zomba-Malosa seat, a seat it won in the parliamentary and presidential elections, is axiomatic of the people’s loss in confidence in it. There is no an explanation to this other than that the seemingly docile Malawians have lost a great deal of confidence in the DPP- led government, if not all at all.

The DPP’s chagrining loss very well calls for a post-mortem because it is really debasing to see that the unwavering presidential and vice- presidential support enjoyed by DPP candidates all meant nothing to the electorates in the two areas where the by-election was conducted.

It is reasonable as well as objective for DPP-ites to be that surprised for it is a devastating fact to note, in the eyes of the voters, that all the media coverage, the ostentatious campaigns and the aphungu a DPP ndi achikuko warcries were nothing but pieces of well-tailored egoistic political rhetoric.

It should, for the betterment of the party, do the post-mortem as far fast as it can so that they re-strategise otherwise this may be a sign of the beginning of the demise of the empire. It is an untenable and self-shooting a position to ignore what has befallen it and miserably failing to extract a lesson from it will be a colossally disconsolate action.

Accepting what reality has offered is the good starting point of any intelligent endeavour. To ignore what reality has offered is to cheat oneself of a better solution that is not it. Moreover, because the by-election results has clearly spelt the people’s dissatisfaction with and betrayal by the DPP, it will be of great service for DPP if it unlearns itself the mentality that “if you perform the best this moment it necessarily follows you are to perform the best in the moment that follows next”.

It is this mentality that made the DPP to be braggadocio in its campaign thinking it was automatic that they would win the elections without much huddle. The earlier the DPP does the post-mortem the better. The DPP’s loss therefore is a sign of people’s loss of confidence in it.

In simple language the Malawi population has spelt out clearly that it is no longer a population to be taken for an easy ride but now it is a population that has to be taken as seriously as an expectant mother is taken.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


Politically speaking, the Malawi democracy has not been interestingly eventful after the failed third term bid. The time between the unconstitutional third term bid to the time of the last budget session has been arguably a silly season, so to speak. Interestingly enough, the last budget session gave Malawi’s nascent democracy a new life. The interface between personal and political vested interests heading for a fatal crush with the national interests was laid bare to the extent that everyone-intelligentsias and ignoramuses alike-could give an insightful analysis of what became the order of the day in the house. The strongly-worded personal verbal exchanges, the unparliamentary foul-mouthing words, the out-of –orders and all that jazz in the house between the government benches and the opposition side-- all played a part to placing Malawi’s fragile democracy at a crossroad.

The opposition parliamentarians were demonized, slandered and threatened. Almost all adjectives in the lexicon having the denotations ‘evil-hearted, selfish’ could rightly qualify them. Having said all this, in there any need for opposition parliamentarians to apologize to the Malawi public for their behaviour in the house? The opposition parliamentarians should, first and foremost, not apologize. There is utterly no need for them to apologize because they stood up for our hard-won democracy when it was at the brink of being defiled.

The issue of section 65, itself a constitution provision, had to be defended at all costs. The opposition was hell bent towards doing this. Yet, paradoxically, instead of commending the opposition for a job well done the Malawi public wants to bring it to its knees. Much as we accept the self-evident fact that party-politics was at the heart of their tabling the section under question, it should be noted that their argument was both reasonable and constitutional, and, further to this, logically tenable. The framers of the constitution, having envisioned how easily opposition parliamentarians can be persuaded to the government benches in search of the greener pastures one is assured there, thought it wise to include the section 65 legislation so that party prostitution be minimized or done away with completely.

It is upon this visionary thinking of the framers of the constitution that the opposition parliamentarians based their argument in tabling the section to achieve what the framers of the constitution, in unanimously coming up with that section, whole-heartedly wanted to achieve. If at all, apologies have to be made then it must be the government for not towing the constitutional line drawn by the framers of the constitution on the said section. Why this should be the case is because what the government did was rightly a deliberate political move to trample the constitution to suit its own vested political interests.

Obsessed with the propagandistic phrase ‘budget ndi ndalama a Malawi’, the local masses ignorantly betrayed the opposition parliamentarians-their chosen watchdogs for government’s actions -frogmarching them to pass the budget without the implementation of the section. The government on its side chose to pay a blind eye to the section always arguing vehemently against its implementation. It even went as far as seeking a second court redress after the Supreme Court of Appeal, the highest court in the land, argued for the constitutionality of the section. The issue of impeachment tabling in the house by opposition members of parliament also attracted a considerable dust of strongly couched emotional sentiments. The government was convinced that the impeachment move was an elaborate and systematic plan by the former head of state, Dr. Bakili Muluzi, to ouster it. With this conviction spread to all its supporters and sympathisers alike its claim that the impeachment move was a political manoeuvre by the ex-president to settle old scones with him gained considerable support from people uninterested with Muluzi’s avowed desire to stand for the 2009 parliamentary and Presidential elections as a UDF torchbearer.

The grounds for the impeachment as reported in the media were clear and needed no disambiguation. But the government through the state-controlled MBC radio One and Malawi’s only television station, Television Malawi, sought to misrepresent the facts of the grounds in order to buy public sympathy something it badly needed. The sympathy gained through the disinformation, misinformation and distortion of the grounds and stand of the opposition parliamentarians made the opposition’s side to be lent deaf ears. Some disinterested political commentators, political analysists and journalists saw the rationality in the grounds the opposition based their argument for the tabling of the impeachment motion. It could be seen that what the opposition was pressing for was in line with what the constitution provided for.

Their major reason for doing that was that the Mutharika administration had flouted the constitution in choosing to be indifferent to section 65. This was both selfless and constitutional to the true sense of the words ‘selfless’ and ‘constitutional’. It would then be unreasonable and unwise for the opposition to apologize for something that has the constitutional backing even if the argument that their tabling the impeachment motion was politically motivated holds. What should be clear to political players is that any happening on the political scene, much as it cannot have overtones, has political undertones just as any dispute about land should better be settled at the farm.
The foul-mouthing, unparliamentary words that reduced our honourable members of parliament to rambunctious kindergarten kids born from ethically disoriented families became the most fundamentally degrading eyesore in the history of Malawi’s parliament. This being the case however, there is no convincing reason as to why the parliamentarians should apologize for whatever was said in the house was in response to the demands of the time. Even a patient understanding man would be emotional if the force needed to keep his emotions in control gets used up, and this is a simple fact of life.

However, our honourable parliamentarians have to be disillusioned and be taught a single, simple logic of logical argumentation: emotions and personal interests do not guarantee truth, what guarantees truth is reason and evidence. However hard and mad we can be on an issue or about someone else we should know for sure that that argument is doomed to fail but with mutual respect and selfless interests at heart every argument has a conclusion-an amiable conclusion. Having analysed what became the order of the day in the last budget session, it is convenient, safe and tenable to say that the parliamentarians in the last budget session should not apologize for whatever they said or did was in response to the needs and demands of the house then.