Thursday, January 31, 2013


It cannot be disputed that a ballot paper is one of the most important elements of any election. It therefore comes naturally to politicians that their positioning on the ballot paper can play a role in how the electorate executes their voting duties.

We are reminded of how former President, late Bingu wa Mutharika settled for “Bingu” as his ballot name and resultantly appeared on top of the list of candidates in 2009. Some pundits viewed this move as a deliberate ploy to coax the voters who are believed to offer preference to those on top.

When Bingu made his decision, some quarters attacked him of initiating a sinister ploy. The noise however did not change a thing and the election went on as planned. The departed leader carried the day.

Recently, the issue of ballot papers made headlines again after Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) submitted a proposal to the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs for some amendment that include the banning of first names and epithets on the ballot paper during elections.

ANDERSON or FRIDAY?: His name has been revisited for obvious reasons
The issue drew mixed reactions from several quarters but opposition parties ended up with strained eyebrows as they raised them higher than anyone else. To them, the proposals are aimed at giving President Joyce Banda electoral favour as she will appear top if the new arrangement is implemented.

This is where it dawned on me that over the past couple of years names have been tampered with without the masses noticing. Peter Mutharika changed to Authur Peter Mutharika and Friday Jumbe metamorphosed to Anderson Friday Jumbe.  

I still wonder why Atupele needs an addition of Austin as the former suffices to be top of the latter. (May be the lad can be excused out of the whole name-changing game)  

There is a strong feeling among politicians that top spot gives them prominence and visibility. This can be disputed from many angles as it might also reflect failure to civic educate voters on exactly what they need to do to vote for them.

Countries like Ghana have their own way of doing things. Names of party candidates are thrown in a lot and a draw is conducted by electoral authorities to position candidates.  
KAMUZU CHIBAMBO: Can he win an election if he was to be top of the ballot paper?
Whatever the criteria used, truth remains that winners are not determined by where they are positioned but what and how they sell themselves to the voters in form of manifesto.

If candidates do their homework right, they can dictate the voters’ actions regardless of their position on the ballot paper.

Sarcasm has it that candidates worth winning an election can still win even if their names are absent from the ballot paper.

Sarcasm localized; Even if the whole ballot paper has Kamuzu Chibambo on it, I don’t expect him to win an election because those who want to vote for Joyce Banda, James Nyondo and Mark Katsonga will simply boycott the election. (I don’t think First Past The Post can be applied with Chibambo’s 200 votes nationwide)

All MEC is trying to do is put things in order. You don’t want one dude to wake up and decide that he will be called Alibaba or Amtchona just because they want to be on top. Everyone must use their official names. That’s sanity at its best. 
Do voters really care whether a candidate's name is top or bottom of the list?
Having said this, Malawians must just stick to electoral rules and play their game in accordance to the Constitution. To have someone questioning MEC’s proposals just reflects an act of fear and unpreparedness.
MEC is independent that is why some weeks ago President Banda reversed her decision on Khumbo Kachali’s role at the institution. That same independence that the President observed is what has made the institution independently present their proposals so we must respect it as such.

Those who are not ready for the 2014 battle should just say so not wasting time blaming President Joyce Banda for a decision made in a meeting she was not part of.

Let 2014 come and let the best candidate win.

Thursday, January 17, 2013


Several hours ago, the country was featuring nationwide demonstrations organized by Consumer Association of Malawi (CAMA) during which they presented a petition to government for it to look into specific economic and governance issues that are affecting the citizens.

This was the first civil action on the streets of the country since the July 20, 2011 protests that claimed 21 lives. It was against such a barbaric background that many people viewed any street action by the citizens as a big gamble.
Close to a thousand protestors marching peacefully on January 17
The outcome, however, is a great symbolic leap in as far as civil rights are concerned. It sends home a point that Malawi has taken a turn for the good within the past 10 months in which the country has changed regimes.

Nine months into her Presidency, Joyce Banda is proving to be an ideal leader every Malawian can look up to for emotional shelter, motherly love and wisdom.

When the idea of nationwide demonstrations was being hatched months ago many people were busy reminiscing the July 20 scenario.

July 20 demonstrators filled Victoria Avenue to voice their concerns against the Bingu regime
But the President played her cards well and analyzed issues within a specific trend.

Was she going to confront the organizers, was she going to use the Presidential voice to gain sympathy or instill fear?

Joyce Banda chose a different path altogether and it took many by surprise. She let the constitution go unhampered and gave people a nod they never expected. 

This time around there was no repeat of intimidatory scenes as was the case on July 19, 2011
“Kwa amene akufuna kupanga zionetsero asiyeni apange, ine sindingawaletse chifukwa ndi ufulu wao” (those who want to demonstrate can go ahead; I have no powers to deny them their constitutional right). This is all she could say.

It was in sharp contrast with the period preceding July 20 period when late Bingu wa Mutharika called upon his supporters to defend him; a time when when he christened them as cadets on May 15, 2011 and gave them a new role to be his development and security apparatus.

This time around Joyce Banda did not call anyone by strange and provocative names such as ankhwezule and she did not send her party stalwarts to terrorize fellow citizens prior to the march. She did not send any chap to obtain an injunction in the night to suppress the voices of the masses.
Sad moments like the July 20 deaths helped Joyce Banda realize the need to leave the constitution intact
Instead she threw her weight behind the Constitution and focused on her official engagements job as she welcomed two Heads of State, AU Chair and Benin President Yayi Boni and Kenya President Mwai Kibaki. It is this kind of conduct by the President that facilitated a smooth consumer action across the country.

This Presidential behavior is a good learning process for all political leaders who aspire for the high office in future. Brute-like conduct begets brutality while civility yields peace all the time.

The Malawi leader just made sure that lives and property were protected and as Commander- In- Chief of the Armed Forces she ensured that the disciplined forces had enough equipment and proper instruction to handle the situation professionally.
Despite the drama that ensued among organizers days prior to 17th , Kapito (R) was allowed to proceed with his plan. PIX BY NYASATIMES
Many Malawians understand that if we want to recover from governance mediocrity of the past we must learn to coexist and respect the laws of the land at all times.

An important factor we can look at in future demonstrations is how it affects productivity and our economy at all levels. Even without traits of violence, it seems the demo card is being cherished by many workers who use it as a ploy to stay away from work. No wonder many stayed home either for fear of violence or just stealing an extra resting day from their employers.
Bingu's rhetoric and approach fueled the July 20 violence
As a country we must learn how to balance our constitutional rights and our responsibility to develop our country by staying at work and working hard at all times.

January 17 has surely gone and we love the fact that there was no intimidation, no hacking of online media sites like Nyasatimes, no injunctions and we are very sure there is not going to be a repeat of the Robert Chasowa scenario.

God Bless Malawi

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


Patriots Forum has noted with concern that there are other citizens of this beautiful country who choose to disregard the Head of State by calling her names and profaning her in despicable manner to say the least.

The height of these insults was evident on January 8, 2013 on a popular Facebook forum, My Malawi My Views after one member posted an article that puts Joyce Banda in bad light as a person, parent and Head of State. We still fail to understand why the post had to attract over a 100 comments before it was taken down either by the administrators or the one who posted it.   

In the midst of what we call “unnecessary and irrelevant post” one wise Malawian named Verson James Sonani posted on his timeline that;

JOYCE BANDA. is a human being like any
other, with strength and weakness.
However there must be discretion on
what, where and how we say. if we may
ask any contemporary figure to our
angelic parents, to explain what they did
in the past, l believe we would not want
to hear such deeds. Nevertheless we
love, protect and respect them because
of what God has made them to be to us.
and we cant change that. LETS RESPECT

The above is the kind of mindset we would love to see among all progressive Malawians. Though we exist in a pluralistic political sphere, we cherish wisdom at all times. The use of civilized and decent language in deliberating matters in the political arena is of paramount importance if we are to positively forge ahead as a nation.

Some of these insults are surely filtering through to the State House such that sometime last week President Joyce Banda had to remind us by quoting Romans 13:1-2 in a bid to bring us back on track.

The quoted scriptures read "Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves"

Are we sure we are going to wait for the Head of State to remind us of our moral obligation to treat elders with dignity?

If people can gather courage and say stupid things towards the Head of State it just reflects how rotten our society is getting morally and we need a very deep reflection.

Cognizant of the fact that we are a God fearing nation, our underlying values should always reflect in what we do and say in our homes, communities and various forums where we operate from.

Who in their wisdom find comfort in insulting a 63-year old woman who was chosen by God to lead a country?

As we shape our frontiers towards a better Malawi, an important ingredient is that of refraining from foul language towards those that hold different views and affiliations to ours.

Besides being a moral obligation to respect Joyce Banda, the constitution also espouses the need to treat her with utmost dignity failure which charges of sedition are justifiably brought forward.

Need we a reminder that those who insult the President of the land are arrested, charged and tried in accordance to the law?

How does one justify an attack on the President just because we are using the social media? Do we hide our dark side behind Facebook or Twitter just because we cannot easily be traced? What about one’s own conscious before they utter such ridiculous statements?

We might have different versions of what President Joyce Banda is to our society since her birth but we cannot surely use foul language in order to nurse our filthy egos.

Having said that, an argument will be raised to say the insults emanate from both sides of the political divide and in this case it is the PP and DPP cadres exchanging fire. Patriots Forum has observed that this is true and due to the focus of this post we would like to urge those who support Joyce Banda to equally refrain from profane attacks on other politicians.
As a forum, we believe it’s high time our government, through Parliament, looked into this matter critically. Let us have proper legislation in place to curb this cyber bullying towards the Head of State.

We believe those who really love the President will not conduct themselves in such a way that will draw irreverent feedback towards their leader. Insulting other political leaders is bringing our Head of State into such tit-for-tat behavior resulting in people taking away her dignity and the decorum of her office.

Let us remain civilized always.

We remain, Patriots Forum.