Saturday, 14 June 2008


By Andekuche D Samalani Chanthunya

The interpretation of Section 65 by the Courts have once again sparked the debate of whether its time to commit ourselves to a government of national unity or not. Those who advocate for it say it’s the only way to escape the looming crisis should the speaker decide to evoke controversial section.

At a time like this, two Malawians would be of great help. The first is Kamuzu Banda, who is late and Bakili Muluzi whom unfortunately is still in party politics. That mere fact reduces his influence and since he is caught in the power tussle too, Malawi can not benefit from him at a time we need him most.

In any negations each party brings forth its proposals and both compromise. It is ever a ‘win-some, loose-some and indeed some people have to swallow their pride. What will be interesting to note is what each Malawian parties will bring to the table, putting in mind that at the end of the day, the country needs to be served.

A GNU of convenience will neither strengthen government nor ensure economic growth. Such a marriage will only serve the interest of a few people who are desperate to be part of a government regardless of whether the government is successful or not, so ling as power comes to their finger tips.

Suppose the four parties meet. Will the UDF accept to be part of the governments’ tough stand on corruption when they already failed? What has changed within them? Will MCP accept the second Vice Presidency knowing they can be dismissed at the will of the president? When clearly they are the largest party in parliament? Being the largest parliamentary party will the bow to UDF who will obviously insist on maintaining the first vice presidency arguing on a first come first serve. Will the DPP be ready to give up the Ministries of Finance and Agriculture to MCP? And without those two ministries, can the DPP claim to be in-charge?

The UDF will insist on occupying the Ministry of Justice and the Attorney ‘Generalship,’
What then will happen? Will the fight against corruption, which helped attain debt cancellation, continue? Will the president agree to consult MCP and UDF who, in the name of job security, will demand total consultation before hiring and firing public officers?

The problem in Malawi is not Section 65, and the solution is definitely not Government of National Unity. The problem is lack of party ideologies and personal principles. The solution is the reformation of the political system in our nation. Politicians have to understand that parliament does not belong to the president or to the speaker the Mps or the political parties. Parliament belongs to the people of Malawi and it is they who fund it whose interest should be served.

A coalition that brings individuals together can never out do a coalition where policies are brought together and woven with principled and dignified individuals. It’s the latter that produces a common goal which unfortunately is well ahead of the sleazy politics that haunt us.

The next elections are only two years away. If and when we decide to bow down to a GNU, it will take a year to agree on sharing power and another year to settle down. At the rate we have been going lately, we need a whole year battling through elections campaign.

The best way forward is to let government get on with its job. As for Section 65, government MPs should relish the opportunity to take on the UDF and the MCP considering that they have the massive achievements of the past two years to show to the voters. The opposition should concentrate on party reforms. Let me make it clear that by reform I don’t not imply the removal of John Tembo or Bakili Muluzi as leaders of MCP and UDF respectively, it will be almost impossible however, to put through any reforms with the current leaderships in the two parties.

Thursday, 20 September 2007


By Andekuche D Samalani Chanthunya

The constitutional conference of 2007 agreed that presidential candidates must posses a minimum of a first degree This many believe will help the nation as people with such qualifications will find it easy to understand complex issues that frequent the presidential in tray.

Many people, me inclusive, believe that university education grooms you to be able to present and argue as well as pursue ideas in a coherent manner. It is also tailored to make one understand and look at a picture in a broad perspective and this works to the advantage of those with such high qualifications..

We have a good example here in Malawi, where our first head of state had a PhD. Though he was a brutal dictator, others continuously argue that his economic drive was sound and result oriented. Our second president, a non graduate, is said, and rightly so, that his understanding of anything policy wise was terrible. His successor, an economics PhD graduate has so far proved that he is visionary and has a passion of concrete policy.

It is understandable therefore to conclude that graduates will obviously perform. Some people give an example of John Major as a reason not to barr non graduates from aspiring for the high office. But everyone who knows British politics and the politics of the conservative party will tell you that Major is the prime minister Britain should never have had- talk about Black Wednesday. But you will also be told that Oxford graduates like Tony Blair, Margaret Thatcher and Atlee made serious reforms that built their nation economy strength by strength.

Arguments about whether a presidential aspirant should have a degree or not usually go in favour of those that support the argument. And it’s perfectly understandable that such should be the case because in every society, education is valuable. Good jobs, nice cars and good lifestyles are always an incentive that teachers from primary through universities promise students.

However am a great believer in Social Justice its values. Social justice is about fairness. It is about bridging the equalities gap between the poor and the rich; the educated and the illiterate; the privileged against those who never had the opportunity. Social Justice is about facing reality no matter how dull or bright it looks.

The only argument which must be advanced is that barring non graduates from running for presidential office is against the principle of social justice and that consequently undermines the theory of democracy which we should be promote promoting.

As a nation we need to understand that unless we are able to create a scenario where all our children have an opportunity to go to university or get a degree this policy will always be discriminatory against the poor. We should also be able to provide a second chance to those who did not have the opportunity to go to university.

At the moment we have free primary education. Technically the most we can say is all presidential aspirants must poses a primary school leaving certificate. Since secondary education fees are quite high and government does not provide bursary for it, it will be unfair to punish those who did not manage to go to secondary school. What’s worse is that this policy also sidelines the thousands of school leavers who do not manage to go to university, not because they are dull, but because the intake at the University of Malawi is low. The policy being proposed can only come into play if, and only if, our university is able to accommodate everyone with promising results.

As I argue this, I have in mind a relation who got 22points at MSCE but didn’t make it to university. Had his parents not been able to send him abroad for further education he would never have had his degree and therefore would never have qualified for presidency. Can this be fair?

Many people are able to go to private institutions like the Malawi College of Accountancy, Shareworld and the other universities which have sprung up over the past decade. It can be argued that parents who send their children to these institutions foot huge tuition and examination fees. Only a small fraction of these people are from the middle class, the rest are the rich. The losers are obviously the children of the forgotten majority workless class in this country.

To the extreme even if a man is a drunkard and his wife a lazy good for nothing woman and due to this they haven’t educated their children. And among those children one grows to be charismatic and in tune with the needs of the people and is broad enough to stand against the forces of darkness, should the nation really just abandon them even though the people are on his side?

Many people who support barring non graduates from contesting for the presidency have got their judgements affected by their dislike or hatred of Bakili Muluzi. This issue should not be trivialised by personalities, it should be about the idea to be fair to everyone who is willing to be a brick in the building of the Malawian destiny. Ofcause some will argue that we cant all be winners and that life isn’t fair, and they are right, but our constitution should be fair, it’s one of the most important reasons why it exists.

Malawi should be watering its democracy to grow and not building barriers of privilege to divide ourselves, especially if that division is over classes. Anyone, graduate or not should be allowed the opportunity to serve our nation in that great office because who ever will do us a great service will not be identified by the certificates they have, but the works of their hands and the trails of development they will leave behind. After all to be a good leader you need two things, to be a good listener and be able to identify people with talent and skill to do a good job.

I am a progressive, I have made my stand, I want a fairer nation, its time you make yours.

The author is a student at Nottingham Trent University, UK.

Tuesday, 13 February 2007


For Peter Chupa,

It erupted
As though
It was just a dream.

Phoo! Phooo! Phoo again
“whats goin on!???”
our breastless women asked
“ The world has become crazy!”
men talked
“ help me pleaaseeeeee”
the hungry children cried
“tinchotsatu uyu,”
said the jobless men
“Makala asamuka muno mu Ndirande!!”
Phoo mumsika

Phoo! One more time.

Had you been there
You would have believed
We were eager for change.

But dear Brother
You came too late, too slow
To catch up with our pace

Will you rid off your ignorance?
To understand better
Its not just good governance
But POVERTY as well.



Twenty four of thirteen
he stepped his foot
and left the chair
he held from a victory
in a once in a decade
twenty four of thirteen!!

For Iqbar Omar after his resignation

Saturday, 10 February 2007


In his article to the UDF News of 1st June 2005, titled ‘UDFs Record of Economic Development’ Sam Mpasu wrote about the achievements of the UDF in the last ten years and the short falls of the Bingu wa Muntharika government in the past year.

Whilst Mpasu is entitled to his democratically given opinion, I beg to prove that he too is being economical with the truth. Mpasu tried to paint the rosy picture that UDF never had.

Sam Mpasu observes that half the people in Bingus government came from UDF and rightly questions why they are only speaking now. He also reminds us that the president was Deputy Governor for RBM and later Minister of Economic Affairs.

It seems that Mr Mpasu has since forgotten what happened to people who spoke against Bakili Muluzi when he was in power. Because of the economic woes that befell on the nation, people had to survive, people needed jobs. Is it not Sam Mpasu himself whom when appointed minister from speakers position said Muluzi was simply trying to get rid of him because they had disagreed? So no one would have spoken out then, for though there was freedom of speech there was no freedom after the speech. It is an undeniable fact.

It’s obvious that in its ten year rule UDF did some good. But it did a lot more harm and that’s what people, like I am arguing over. Mpasu says UDF inherited a lousy economy and believe that they handed to the Muntharika government a stable one. It’s understandable that Mpasu should think like this, he was employed during all the UDF years.

It is true that free primary education was a good idea. But its implementation was lousy. The question however is, what was the purpose. If it was to show off a good idea, fair and fine but if it was meant to educate people then it was flop. My point is no one employs a person because they have a General Certificate for Primary Education. The qualification attained in primary is useless in these modern times. Secondary school fees went up during the UDF rule to around K3000.00 per term which means the poor couldn’t afford it. University fees went up to K25 000. Bottom line is that only the rich could get good education whilst the people were blinded by free primary education. How good is free primary education then in such a scenario?

In 1994, I was 13 years old learning at Chimutu Primary School in Lilongwe. When I returned to register to vote in 1999, I found a standard eight teacher who kept breaking his English. He translated every Chichewa word into English. I asked the headmaster who had considered me one of his favourite students and he said ‘government sends them, what can I say.’ Now if this teacher had gone through some ‘ambitious training programme’ that Mpasu boast about then the programme should be questionable.

No one can ever argue that Masaf was a good programme, but like Brown Mpinganjira observed, ‘UDF politicised it too much.’ My understanding however is that MASAF funds are a loan, which will be paid years from now. Many of Masaf boreholes have since dried; many schools blocks have crushed and roads have disappeared. The worry of most of us youths is that we will have to settle that debt and yet the structures will be long gone too. Had it been that the structures built were durable, I would not have argued we would have been clapping for muluzi too.

For Mpasu, to stand on a platform and boast of achievements made in the north whilst only mentioning of Mzuzu is I believe an insult to northerners. Mzuzu is the smallest district in northern region. But then it only shows what UDF did in ten years of government in the north. Yet Mpasu expects us to think UDF did well.

Whilst it’s important to accept that investors came into Malawi, it is also fair to realise that many people lost their jobs due to the more than 39 company closures in ten years. These however do not cancel each other out. The banks that Mpasu mentions opening in Malawi have employed people with good education. But how good is that if we can not educate our people to that standard. More over Portland Cement, Import and Export and David Whitehead, each employed more than 3000 people, I doubt the banks reach a thousand considering technological advancements. It stands to reason that only the rich benefit and the poor continue being poor.

Once again Sam Mpasu writes like a pure Muluzi loyalist who has blinded himself off reality. Which people have been empowered? Many people have gone into huge loses cause of minibuses business. Only those rich enough or perhaps lucky have been able to make profits out of minibuses. I suppose Mr Mpasu has never attempted to venture into this business.

‘Government departments and parastatal organizations opened their doors and supported indigenous Malawians with supply contracts.’ One wonders here what Mpasu means. This is how Malawi ended up with many corruption scandals starting with Feildyork, to the Education scandal, Apex cars, the Demat Story, the ID scam etc. Only a hand full of people, who were able to dish out bribes and those ready to take bribes benefited from this system. Mpasu, himself being one. Malawi lost millions of money through this irresponsible system.
Once I argued with the then Deputy minister of finance, Phillip bwanali. He like Mpasu thinks vending has helped Malawian youths. That’s absurd. I have never met a person who went to school because he wanted to become a vendor. I have never met a person who proudly calls himself a vendor. Just because Mpasu sees the vendors in towns does not mean they are making money. He should take time to talk to them and realize just how much money they earn a month.
The UDF government promised vendors loans which never came. But even if they did, loans without training on how to run a business is useless. It solves nothing. It has no long term benefits.
Its funny that Mr Mpasu decided to measure UDFs ten years against a one year period of the Bingu wa Mutharika administration. He even argued over the one billion small business loans. Sadly a man of Mpasus status should be in a position to know that such a program can not be implemented in a year and its benefits can not be seen immediately.
Lastly, Sam Mapsu writes about UDFs usual claim that there is a lot of political witch hunt. The fact of the matter is that the UDF top gurus want us to believe they are innocent. A year after leaving office, the UDF top heir still have not come to understand the public mood in Malawi.
Bingu can not arrest anyone. He neither has the physical nor the political powers. So it’s improper to blame him for the arrests. The fact of the matter is many people believe Bakili Muluzi and others are guilty of many corrupt acts. Muluzi and his henchmen believe they are not. In such a dilemma, they should go to court so we can hear what JUSTICE will say.

Andekuche D Samalani Chanthunya


Politics has always fascinated me! I have always wanted to be part of the group that controls the way things should be like in my country. Someone once accused me of being too ambitious. But like John Major wrote in his autobiography, ‘ambition is not obsessive.’ I suppose that’s why I see nothing wrong with it.

Sometimes people ask me, ‘why politics?’ They never understand my passion to serving the people of my nation. The excitement of making things better for the poor, the orphans, the disabled and indeed the environment.

Others say ‘Politics is dirty!’ I take tine to remind them, lawyers keep criminals and rapists out of jails, that doctors help in abortion and judges receive bribes. Pastors cheat on their wives, marketers fool consumers, and journalists sell their papers on cheap propaganda. IT specialists are hackers, celebrities are immoral and athletes use drugs. In a nutshell, every profession has its Judas.

Some say, ‘politicians are liars.’ I beg to differ. I personally see nothing wrong in with holding information for public good. Even doctors say ‘he is going to be well’ and pastors say ‘He was a good man’. Some things are best left unsaid to ensure stability.

Once in a while, I meet people who say ‘wow, that’s an honourable career.’ I look them with heartfelt joy and surprise. I tell them that everyman has one destiny and I hope they have seen theirs.

Andekuche D Samalani Chanthunya