Monday, December 31, 2012


The day came, Zodiak Broadcasting Station was live at Chikoko Bay. Malawians were glued to their radio devices as the county’s Head of State engaged them in an interview that was moderated by award winning journalist Pilirani Phiri.

For 75 minutes, Pilirani asked his 10 questions, 4 people called and one person sent a text message and the President made effort to put matters in perspective.

Within that multi-faceted interaction, President Joyce Banda spoke for 69 minutes which translates to 92 percent of the time allocated for the program.

Malawians- just as they did before the broadcast-are still deliberating on the issues raised during the program and we know that the pondering will go on for days and weeks to come.

One view on an online social forum noted that the whole act sounded rehearsed from start to finish. True, leaders world over do not love going into an arranged interview without knowing in advance what is going to be said. What changes along the way is how the moderator takes grip and diverts the seemingly obvious course to an unfamiliar zone.

Some people made it clear before the program that they expected it to be handled with a tone and demeanor just like BBC’s Hard Talk or other similar programs. However, we think Pilirani did a good job though he was not the same guy we listen to every Sunday evening in “Tiuzeni Zoona” program. He is better placed to tell us why he shifted his presentation but the bottom line is that he planned his act and got what he was looking for.

On the other hand, the President did a good job. She sounded calm and confident as she tackled issues that had been burning on people’s minds for the past months. Some of these were the retracted appointment of Khumbo Kachali as overseer of MEC, the compensation packages given to former government employees who left their posts in the months after Bingu’s death, Nsanje World Inland Port, Ndata University (MUST) and economic reforms among other issues.

On Kachali’s appointment, the President’s answer brought her opponents to the edge of their toes before she retreated and told them how she is a listening leader who can take back tough decisions for the sake of serving the public.  

Another issue that had been troubling people was that of her external and internal travels. Some quarters have recently come hard on the President saying she is wasting public resources. JB dilly dallied on the main gist of the answer as she talked about her external trips which she counted to be 8 and quickly pointed that five of those were fully funded by the powers that invited her. 

Nevertheless, she remained on track and jumped on the contentious aspect of the issue from internal travels’ perspective. Here she prominently highlighted her philosophy as a President while stifling the question and addressing the clogging fears. She made it clear that she is ready to continue engaging the masses through official visits that are coupled with public meetings.
One area for which Patriots Forum give kudos to the State President is how she chose to look at trends rather than isolated occurrences. She focused repetitively on the period of 18 months she asked from Malawians so that she can turn things around before venturing on taking Malawi to the next step of economic development.

In the same vein she put it clear than in the period within 2004-05, Malawi was again faced with a situation where she had to make sacrifices in line with demands by the Bretton Woods institutions and other international cooperating partners. She sees the current set of reforms as another stepping stone to the dry land. Her advice though is that whenever we get past these reforms and are back on dry land, we must not to be derailed again by selfish motives. Forward ever; is her motto.

Another area scoring highly on the discussions now is how and why Joyce Banda reminded or emphasized that she is finishing a term that does not belong to her. We look at it as a smart way of distancing herself away from the effects of the mess created by the previous regime while stamping her authority on the successes that will emanate from her intervention. She is a politician, who can blame her?

She knows that it is now an open secret that those who sympathize with the previous regime are uncomfortable when the present ruling class reminds Malawians time and again who the source of the problems was? 

In politics they say “What makes your opponent flinch becomes your best weapon to crush him, leave him in shame while you find your next destination” The more it pains the former ruling party, the more it scores more marks; that’s the rule of the game I guess.

At the end of it all, people who were glued to the radio for 75 minutes had to make their own judgments on what they think Joyce Banda is doing as the Head of State.

She might not have answered everybody’s lingering question due to our varying needs and limitation of airtime but as Patriots Forum, we think that she used her 70 minutes well and kept her mind aware of the balance between many constituencies of the society she serves. The callers were civil enough as well.

At the end of it all, our democracy has been decorated and our civilized way of handling issues has been put in good light. Always for the good of Mother Malawi.

Friday, December 28, 2012


When former President, late Bingu wa Mutharika, was hosted in an exclusive broadcast on BBC’s 'Africa Have Your Say' in October 2011, we envied the foreign broadcaster for beating our local stations on matters that had local significance. 

During the interview, Mutharika responded to questions from Malawians home and abroad who found way through phone calls to ask him numerous questions on issues that surrounded his leadership.

The contents of that particular broadcast aside, it was a milestone in the country’s public policy in as far as government-citizen relationship is concerned.

Therefore, news that Zodiak Broadcasting Station has hatched another initiative for Malawians to engage with the current Head of State is sweet to the ear and a scent to our democracy.

In this regard, Patriots Forum congratulates ZBS for this wonderful scheme slated for December 31, 2012 at 9am.

Though we do not know all the modalities surrounding this live broadcast we appreciate that finally Malawians will have a chance to deliberate issues, concerns, fears, highlights and hopes with the First Citizen.

Our appeal to fellow citizens is to treat this moment with utmost civility. We might differ on many issues in many aspects but when the Head of State gets on Zodiak on December 31, we will- under one banner of “Malawians” -be engaging in a meaningful discussion with our one and only President.

Besides the txt messages, consider yourself very privileged if your phone call gets through so it is imperative that you stick to the issues at hand and avoid impolite utterances.

In so doing we will set a good trend for all our future Presidents to open up to the citizenry for the good of the country.

Once again, thank you Zodiak for this opportunity. You are truly the best radio station.

God Bless mother Malawi.

Monday, December 24, 2012


I have, just as many of you, followed with keen interest the unfolding events of the past week in regards to Malawian politicians being on the move both internally and externally for both personal and political purposes.

As one politician left the country for the USA another was consolidating his stand in one of the country’s most populated regions. We thank God for diversity in political personalities and their varying views.

It however becomes an anomaly when a foreign politician peeps into our political room more than necessary.
I am bothered with how America’s President Barack Obama is always intervening in the affairs of our country; our politics to be specific.

Some of our politicians are always using him as a reference point to whatever they do. While one is saying he is Malawi’s Obama, another one is deliberately letting Malawians know that he is travelling to the US to meet Obama. Why we are being told I don’t know.

Without claims of friendship, President Joyce Banda, has still found an official opportunity to interact with the world's most powerful man.PIX BY NYASATIMES
There is nothing wrong with aspiring Presidential candidates in any country visiting other countries to add energy to their cause.

Even Obama himself visited Eastern Europe and key countries such as Germany and UK during his 2008 campaign. However, these sojourns were not from a blank view. He had taken Foreign Policy as one of the key aspects of his campaign.

To him a visit to Europe was to mend fences after George Bush had antagonized the two blocs through his wars on Iraq and Afghanistan. Eastern Europe had to come into play because Bush had used Eastern Europe states to create a buffer zone to alienate Russia militarily. He had to relate to what was going on in as far as FP is concerned.   

In short, Obama had a reason to visit Europe on political grounds. Simple.

As articulated earlier herein, I have no problem with one visiting the US and meeting Obama. However, I am bothered with the cohorts of this politician who are blowing his visit and impending meeting with Obama out of proportion.

If you choose to politicize his visit and try to instill a sense of political pride in it, then you have your left foot in the right shoe.

Even if a Malawian Presidential hopeful spends five months in the White House as a visitor to the Obamas, that would not move a single vote from elsewhere to his side.

A wise aspirant will labor to make merry with countries within the bloc such as SADC and COMESA. A wise aspirant will see Mr. Michael Sata, Mr. Armando Guebuza, Mr. Jacob Zuma, Mr. Jakaya Kikwete and Mr. Eduardo Dos Santos (you must know where they come from) as key elements in his political life among others.

Is his adulthood 'friendship' with Obama as strong as he wants Malawians to believe?
 Let us however keep in mind that politics in Africa creates little room for opposition personalities to conduct explicit deliberations with other statesmen lest they create a diplomatic rift in one way or another (Remember the Michael Sata deportation on March 15, 2007)

Furthermore, a smart aspirant will not tell Malawians that he owns a firm of 200 lawyers somewhere in the First World when he has nothing to show back home besides his residences. This egoism either by the candidate or his supporters is shallow and destructive.

As a country, we are surely dragging ourselves into this unnecessary attachment to America’s first black President without realizing how irrelevant he is to our politics, save for our diplomacy with USA. (Please don’t ask why I supported Mitt Romney toe-and-shoe in the November 6 elections)

Your fellow Malawians are the heartbeart of your political life not me
Fellow politicians and your cohorts, you might fool yourselves that putting Obama at the core of your campaign is going to intimidate your opponents. Nevertheless, what you are forgetting is that Malawian voters are decoding your emptiness in black and white as you fail to resonate with what they know and what is closer to their hearts.

Surely, this whole talk about Obama is cheap and getting out of hand. The American President is becoming an annoyance to Malawi but it is not his fault. It is just that some of our politicians have chosen to hide their fears behind him.

I always have had doubts why some of these politicians will not win in the 2014 elections, what I lacked was concrete proof; I think I have found one and that is poor calculation of thinking that Obama means everything to their political career.

Don’t even talk about John Kerry lest you elongate this post.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 20, 2012


Patriots Forum dubs 2012 as one of the most defining in Malawi’s history. It is a year which brought numerous delicate moments of national importance.

Our focus though will dwell on the brief period from April 5 to 7.

In the exquisite interiors of the State House in Lilongwe, death struck. President Bingu wa Mutharika was no more.

In a bid to keep power within the defying distance of the constitution,  Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) politburo hatched their own succession plan disregarding the provision for the Vice President as per constitutional requirements.

Malawians both at home and abroad were gripped with fear. Here was a political party with a parliamentary majority and at the height of its oppression of the citizenry devising ways to hold on to power through dubious means.

THE MOMENT IT ALL BECAME CLEAR: Joyce Banda sandwiched by Odillo (left) and former police chief Mukhito during her first official briefing at her Area 12 residence

It is heard that they planned to from a Presidential council which was going to facilitate new elections within a given period of time.

Our fear came from the fact that we would not trust the Police owing to the strong allegiance that Inspector General, Peter Mukhito, had with the ruling elite.

Within the dimension of power, phone calls were exchanged during the night of April 6 and morning hours of April 7 between then Vice President, Joyce Banda and some influential stakeholders.

The power card though was held by one man who was only few months in his new office; Army Commander Henry Odillo.

During the night of April 6, Odillo got a phone call from Joyce Banda.

She asked for assurance from the Army if they were going to leave the constitution intact.

Without haste Odillo gave the assurance.

In no time the State broadcasters, MBC TV and Radios, were sealed; the Vice President’s house in Area 12 was surrounded by a host of military personnel. 

MALAWIANS GRANT YOU THE POWER: Odillo handing the sword to signify transfer of power
We breathed a sigh of relief because we knew where real power belonged.

The 12 hours that followed saw Joyce Banda being inaugurated as the country’s Head of State, Head of Government and Commander of the Armed Forces in an emotional ceremony at the Parliament building in Lilongwe.

That signified Africa’s second woman President after Liberia’s Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

We will not be cosmetic with our opinion; without Odillo’s assurance and professionalism Malawi would have been in unimaginable political chaos by now.

He averted a looming social disaster and we take our hats off for him by crowning him our MAN OF THE YEAR 2012. 

Within the same vein, Odillo helped create history for Malawi, Africa and the world.

Joyce Banda’s ascendancy to the Presidency gives us pleasure as we cherish being the generation that has made it happen.  

Patriots Forum is hereby pleased to single out Joyce Banda as our WOMAN OF THE YEAR 2012. 
Banda's maiden inspection of the guard of honor as Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces
Malawi, let’s put our hands together for Army Commander, General Henry Odillo and President Joyce Banda as our personalities of the Year 2012.

Patriots Forum, for the good of Mother Malawi always.