Friday, May 10, 2013


President Dr Joyce Banda on Thursday unveiled what she described as a multi-tiered grand strategy for promoting women potential in leadership positions.

The Malawi leader urged the enthusiastic delegates to the World Economic Forum for Africa to adopt a three-tiered strategy comprising:

·         increasing the number of female graduates in relevant profession; 

·         getting results in agriculture and various other fields essential for economic growth and finally;

·         integrating women in decision-making and leadership positions.

“All these issues considered together will form the basis of Africa’s grand strategy towards the promotion of women’s potential in leadership positions,” she told the delegates in her keynote address during a session on Working Women: ‘From Talent to Leadership in Cape Town’.

“Tier one is where mentorship is most critical and this is to do with our ability to support young women to develop the necessary skills, and embrace their talents in their preparation as emerging leaders,” she informed. 

She said the second tier is for creation of support mechanisms for women to actually enter into the leadership spaces. This, she said, support can be in form of creation of women’s visibility, training, resources, linkages and affirmative action to promote women.

The President said the third tier is where women have entered the leadership spaces and they need to be supported to stay on in these spaces. 

“This requires strategic support in order for us to deal with the structural barriers that subtly or explicitly want to disengage women from leadership spaces,” she explained.

Appreciating the efforts the continent has made in pushing for the entry of women in leadership positions, the Malawi President however said her reflections this far have taught her that it is not enough to advocate for women’s entry alone, as there is more to be done and help the women to stay in the leadership positions.

She said she is concerned about the constant pressure that women get to drop out of positions of power, a development that she said starts from young ages.

“Young girls are forced to drop out of childhood by taking on adult responsibilities, adolescent girls are forced out of school to get married, women parliamentarians are forced out of their seats, and it’s shocking that these pressures are even subjected at women in my position.

“So the question I want to pose to all of you gathered here, is what can we do to support women’s entry into leadership positions, and what can we do to help women at all these tiers, and ultimately what should we do to secure women’s stay in these positions?”  

She informed that there is need to strengthen women leaders’ ability to keep together in their countries and across the continent and create the permanency of women in leadership positions at all the levels.

The President said she strongly believes that the rise of African women in leadership can only be sustained by greater involvement of capable women.

Africa, she said, needs women in all sectors, social, business and political sectors. “We need to multiply and amplify the women’s voices. We must ensure that Ellen Sirleaf Johnson [Liberian President] Joyce Banda and Nkosazana Zuma [African Union Commission Chairperson] are not the first and last women to occupy these spaces. Then we will be back to square one,” saying the rise to power of these leaders was far-fetched 18 years ago during the Beijing Summit, probably the first most remarkable global forum for women empowerment.

“But as women we are thrilled that our dream has become a reality. Therefore I want to pay tribute to the women and men that have demonstrated the political will, and the determination to support women’s entry into the utmost high offices.” 

She said to match her words with action, she has appointed women into high positions of Cabinet Ministers for key sectors, Acting Chief Justice, Chief Secretary to Government, Deputy Inspector General of Police, Heads of Diplomatic Missions, Solicitor General, two Deputy Reserve Bank Governors, Justices of the High Court, Principal Secretaries for key ministries, Chairpersons and CEOs of strategic statutory corporations. 

Monday, May 6, 2013


Last weekend, Malawi News carried an article through which the international community has expressed clarification on remarks made by President Dr Joyce Banda when she visited Zimbabwe a couple of weeks ago. The Malawi leader intimated that Lilongwe might undertake the land reform programme as was the case with Harare in 2001. 

It seems the statement has attracted some attention not because it is wrong but because it was made while she was in Zimbabwe. The very ground where the world's largest land reform took place. Close to 6,000 white farmers have been replaced by 250,000 black farmers.     

Those in the worry with Zimbabwe's land reforms do so on technicality grounds not on the premise of a wrong policy.

For honesty's sake, Zimbabwe is not about Mugabe. It is about the people; it is about sovereignty and self-rule. Zimbabwe is probably a good example of how neo-colonialism should be handled, without any apology. 

It is not Zimbabweans who created the land problem in the first place. Mugabe wasn't there when a royal charter named Cecil Rhodes' British South African Company (BSAC) ruled the land as a commercial company in the 1890s.

Uncle Bob was only a 3-month foetus when the land gained self-governing status in 1923. He was only a 7-year old kindergarten chap when the white minority government drafted the harsh Land Apportionment Act of 1930. To add salt to injury during World War II, the Rhodesian administration allowed a massive migration of their European brothers into the country and in turn evicted (I mean EVICTED) more than 100,000 Zimbabweans from their ancestral land. Tens of thousands of British World War veterans found themselves on land that had been snatched away from indigenous people.    

From that background, we must understand that the independence struggle in the 70s was aimed at reversing these evil acts. I guess there is nothing wrong reclaiming what is yours. Whenever Mugabe and Ian Smith (Rhodesia Prime Minister) were locked in heated meetings, the former always demanded the reversal of the land reforms as a vital ingredient in the independence cake.

The colonialists made sure they signed a treaty with the first independent government on avoiding any radical land regulations. The colonizers feared that letting go power and land at the same time would be detrimental to their long time hold on the economy.

So, Smith and his British masters promised that land was going to be given back but did not put anything in black and white. 1980 came and independence was attained minus the land issue. Zimbabweans were waiting for their land; Mugabe was obliged to explain to his people on what was going on but London remained quiet.

This is where things got wrong because even after giving Mugabe all the state authority they failed to rectify the land issue which was pertinent in the eyes of the nationalists. Haven't you wondered why Zimbabwe received extensive positive media coverage in the 80s and 90s? It was all part of the dilly dallying by westerners. They thought this positive coverage was going to wipe out the memories of the struggle; land struggle in this aspect.

You will therefore agree with me that any issue that clocks 30 years without being addressed is a bomb waiting to explode. There had to come a time when Zimbabweans had to dust the files and ressuccitate the land issue. No two ways about it.
And 2001 was only an explosion of a bomb that had been pressed for long. What changed the whole ball game was that Mugabe's cohorts led by one Chenjerai "Hittler" Hunzvi invaded the white owned farms while their leader was on an official State visit to Fidel Castro's Cuba.

Whether it was a premeditated move which Mugabe knew before his departure or not, we are not here to speculate. The raid sent shock waves across the world and Mugabe's name was blacklisted. In the momentum of the act Chenjerai died of a sexually transmitted infection but his remnant troops made sure they never lost focus. The deal was done and the state followed with proper regulation on how the land was going to be divided among the indigenous people.

According to Tony Blair (British Prime Minister when the land seizures happened), his government wanted to have a hand in the whole reform process. But Mugabe gave his conditions as well, "just give me the money I will do it myself". The West started playing hide-and-seek due to what Blair calls trust issues. The West suggested that the money be given through United Nations Development Program (UNDP). Uncle Bob wasn't ready for such vague arrangement. Then the sanctions started and the rest of the story is there for all the world to see.

The land reforms were then coupled with the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Program which demanded that foreign owned establishments give up 51% of their stake to Zimbabweans. Another necessary blow to the West. In shame they created myths around Zimbabwe's story and sadly the Western media took it script by letter.

Coming back to Malawi's scenario, President Joyce Banda is simply asking genuine questions on behalf of the populace. 

Where is our land? 

When are we having it back?

How can we have it back?

We might not be as bad as Zimbabwe but we are surely not very safe when it comes to land distribution.

It pains me to see traditional leaders in the tea growing districts of Thyolo and Mulanje always begging for some piece of land from tea company owners for simple developments such as construction of a health centre or nursery school. Where did we lose it and why?

Fellow countrymen and women, our land cannot be given to us by an act of goodwill, absolutely not. It is ours and we need to manage it well.

What is independence if our own land is sold like tomatoes to Indians (most of who hold British passports), Chinese, Lebanese and Burundese? Have we gone to sleep such that 50 years after independence we still see nothing wrong with how we manage our greatest resource?

The international community is still trying to probe whether President Banda said she will execute land reforms just as the case of Zimbabwe. I am in support of such an action because I know she only meant the positives of Zimbabwe will be imitated. We don't have to raise a Chenjerai Hunzvi who will invade people's homes, No. All we need is an overhaul of our systems with regards to land management.

If land management is not overhauled, the rich will get richer while the poor, who constitute more than 90 percent of the population will get poorer and more desperate.

Japan, Taiwan, Zimbabwe have done it and it propelled them to new development heights. Namibia, South Africa and Malawi are next. It is not about personalities but general populations.

The West can have their own worries about our land but we will not starve our people of their land just because someone thinks investors are going to be scared away. Let us reform our land distribution exercise Your Excellency. I stand with you on this one.  



Thursday, May 2, 2013


NOTE: This post will only mention three presidential aspirants namely Dr Joyce Banda, Atupele Muluzi and Peter Mutharika because they are sure of representing their parties in next year's polls, God willing. 

Without even waiting for the official campaign period which is commissioned by Electoral Commission some months before the polls, things on the ground a refusing to wait as all the major political players have jumped into the cage, ready for battle.

Almost on weekly basis politicians are navigating new grounds through which they can reach the electorate. Whistle stops, political and developmental rallies are among the many approaches undertaken.

However, political gatherings might not be the main determinants when the election approaches and might only amount to a small chunk of influence on the electorate.

The problem with attendance at rallies lies in the fact that nobody knows who owns that particular crowd. The same people who attend Atupele’s rallies are the same that will also attend a developmental rally by President Dr. Joyce Banda.

ATUPELE: Is age all there is to his Presidential bid?
The main difference though among politicians is the influence they have and the content of their speeches.

Influence in political circles must always be measured by reality on the ground in regards to people’s livelihoods.

This then draws the question on who is the most influential among our politicians? Who has the greatest reach?

Would people in Chitipa relate to Peter Mutharika the way they do to President Joyce Banda? 

How does Atupele register in the mind of a tangerine farmer in Mwanza? 

Between Peter, Atupele and President Dr Banda who has reached out to Malawians more than the other over the past years?

These questions cannot be swept under the carpet when we talk about influence. Hence President Banda’s passion for philanthropy long before she joined politics will prove a strong competence when the polls approach next year.

Records indicate that her Joyce Banda Foundation International (JBFI) has in its books 900,000 youths who are being helped in small loans and technical expertise to run businesses. There are also 200,000 women countrywide who are benefiting from several initiatives under the JBFI. Many more youths and women have been lifted out of poverty through this organization.

Malawians therefore will ask the same questions to Atupele and Mutharika. How do Malawians know them outside politics and presidential ambitions?

Will their connection to former rulers be of any importance in this game? I don't think so.

PETER: Are his credentials relevant to common Malawians?

Have they reached out enough in the past years or they are toiling now to familiarize themselves with the people?

Another aspect that gives Joyce Banda leverage is that she has the determining cards in her hands; she is the incumbent Head of State.

What gives incumbents advantage is the interventionist ability they hold in the eyes of the electorate.

Who registers problems with urgency and immediacy? The incumbent of course.

If people of Ntchisi have no food in their homes and are visited by the three candidates, Atupele and Peter are likely to say “When we get into government next year we will give you food” while Joyce Banda will bring the food with her and distribute after the rally. This gesture can also be displayed on many issues such as drugs in public hospitals, learning material in schools, safe water among others.

This interventionist leverage makes the incumbent easily touch the hearts of many people than other politicians and they are the same people who bring a great change on the electoral podium.

Therefore, next year’s election might see Joyce Banda starting with a substantial lead even before voting commences. She already has a host of people she has touched even before she became President.

What the opposition need to do is play a catch up game and they must play it wisely lest it backfires quickly.
DR JOYCE BANDA: The incumbency coupled with her long-time influence on Malawians might just determine her victory in 2014
For example, for many months the opposition have been concentrating on Joyce Banda’s handling of the economy thereby forgetting other permanent issues affecting the masses. 

This means that when the economy gets back on track (as it is being witnessed by statistics from National Statistical Office and Reserve Bank of Malawi) the opposition will have an empty plate and nothing to tell the public.

Time is now for Peter to stop dreaming of helicopters and helipads and realize that opening projects without sorting out the technicalities is a big weakness on anyone who wants to rule a country like Malawi. 

It is time for Atupele to realize that the real agenda for change is not based on age but substance. He has to realize that if he cannot say what he will do just because his party is yet to hold a Conference then whatever he says must be taken as irrelevant for the time being. Real leaders guide their people on what they want to achieve before throwing the ball in the people’s court for consensus.

Exactly a year before the polls, influence, incumbency and political substance must form the hub of political thought. If the other candidates can build enough influence and reach within a year that might be the greatest miracle ever to happen on any political field in the world.