Sunday, July 27, 2014


News that President Peter Mutharika has hired 30 private personal guards has come with mixed reactions mainly because it changes the long-time usual way of doing things.

I will not try to delve much into the issue as it deals with security at the highest level of our Statehood though I have a rotten bone to pick with Lot Dzonzi's men and women.

Our men uniform (law enforcers) must be asking themselves why for the past three years they seem to have lost touch with the country's highest office. 

Speculations aside, it cannot be disputed that Malawi Police Service (MPS) nearly brought this country to a sorry standstill starting from 2009 under the leadership of one, Peter Mukhito, now serving as State House Chief of Staff.

At a time when the nation needed a professional police force, we ended up having a group of men in uniform also serving interests of a political party.

No wonder when President Bingu Wa Mutharika passed on, power failed to shift to President Joyce Banda smoothly because those we trusted at the top in the MPS had jobs to protect and personal interests to massage.

That was the moment the Service started losing grip in as far as their efficiency at the most top level is concerned.

In the follow up of such a transitional stand-off, we saw men of integrity like former Army Commander, General Odillo, rising to the occasion by ordering the Military Police a.k.a the Red Berets to take charge of security details for President Joyce Banda.

Subsequently, the ever-tough Red Berets became a main fixture in the security detail.

Reports within the circles of power had it that with the Red Berets in the house, some policemen just developed a negative vibe thus leaking any piece of information they came across (even a greeting they mistook for a Presidential order)

For those who had information within Plot 1 during Dr Joyce Banda's rule will agree with me that if there was a contingent that leaked information out willy-nilly, then police officers rank among the 'nudiest' suspects.

One day, a malfunctioning helicopter on a helipad within State House had its picture sent viral within minutes of the anomaly such that the President's delay to a public function became news for those with small minds always itching for sensation.

Sometimes, private (or secret meetings) were broadcasted online even before the first prayer was exhausted. Also chief among the suspects were the many men in uniform (or suits) who were seconded to a place of privilege to serve the Head of State.

Now the coming in of President Peter Mutharika has even further pushed the MPS one step away from the core as the new leader has settled for his own private guards.

In the old days, a large contingent of the 30 would have been dominated by trained policemen but alas, times have changed.

Two Presidents in a row now have had personalized arrangements departing from the long-time tradition.

Though we can sympathize with the MPS here that it is not fully responsible for some of its delinquent chaps, still this conduct has left a lot to be desired. 

Interestingly, most of the leaked information was going (or being sold) to the opposition including the now ruling DPP. As such the party knows what the weakest link at Plot 1 was.

My plea to the Inspector General is that they should regain the confidence of the Presidency sooner than later. Failing which will reduce the credibility of our Police to kindergarten levels.

Bring Back Our Police, the cry goes.

Monday, July 21, 2014


As time progresses, calls for a Federal system of government are growing by day, more so for the past two months albeit with a very coincidental approach.

We are justified to question as to why people are calling for a federal system only after the much divisive elections? Recently, Justice Minister, Samuel Tembenu, labeled those who are propagating these calls as bad losers. 

The minister has a point as the first proponent of such a system were our brothers and sisters from the northern-region based political party, Alliance For Democracy (AFORD).

Yes coincidentally, the calls raised some questions as they were an immediate reaction to election results that sadly showed how as a country we are failing to move away from "ethnic politics"

Even Malawi Congress Party (MCP) President, Lazarus Chakwera, has encouraged exhaustive and extensive debate on the issue than just sweeping it under the carpet.

But wait a minute. Why are these calls mushrooming anyway? 

Surely it is about power and resources, that we cannot deny. I think these are laudable and credible justifications by those itching for Federalism. Nothing wrong with that.

Nigerian writer, Chinua Achebe, once said " A normal sensible person will wait for his turn if he is sure that the shares will go round; if not, he might start a scramble"

Other tribes and ethnic groups are also feeling entitled to the control of national resources. Be well reminded that those who control the state have the power to determine 

"who gets rich and who gets poor"

"Who produces what and where"

Who sells what, how and where"

And worse still,

"who suffers from what disease and where they receive their treatment"

Once you have State power, you have the key. No wonder elections have become one event we cannot do without. Everybody wants power and because we still think along tribal lines, then our tribal inclinations make us urge for power within tribal hands.

My underlying question is, "Are people really asking for Federalism as it is or a rotating Presidency? For the fact that these cries are coming at the back of elections, I think people are asking for the latter.

People know that those who have the Presidency can call the shots anytime, anyhow, especially on resources and allocation of development. Does it surprise you how a University which was earmarked for Lilongwe ended up on a personal garden in Thyolo?

In his book "POISONED WELLS, The Dirty Politics of African Oil", Nicholas Shaxson argues that resources (especially minerals, oils and gas) divide citizens against one another.

I agree with Shaxton when I analyse the situation here at home in the wake of vast mineral and oil potential under our own feet. Doesn't it make sense that calls for Federalism are coming first from the North? Isn't that the region where mineral exploitation has taken a huge leap compared to all the regions?

Furthermore, the country's first serious and attractive mine investment Kayerekera Uranium Mine is in Karonga. Despite the closure chances are that it might be reopened when other investors find it fit depending on uranium's prices on world market.

Coincidentally, it is also the Northern part of Lake Malawi might experience oil and gas explorations first after studies proved availability of these up there.

Just as is the case with people of the Niger Delta in Nigeria or inhabitants of Principe Island in Sao Tome en Principe, Malawi's Northerners are getting worried that their region is a bedrock of precious underground commodities yet revenue from these is used to develop other places more than their own.
So, what would be the best solution to this? 

Some three years ago during a public debate at Chancellor College, Peter Mutharika (now President) touched on this pertinent issue of rotating the Presidency among the regions and suggested that Malawi should look into this possibility as a way of building national cohesion.

May be at the rate we are going, rotating the Presidency can be a better option. As Chinua Achebe puts it, for those who think their turn is delaying, a scramble becomes an option.

This line of thinking has been tested and it works. More so, it cuts across many areas of life not only politics. 

Have you ever wondered why even the Football World Cup changed it's format from general to continental bidding? It was all to do with continents who thought their time might not come with the status quo and they simply expression their dissatisfaction louder.

The worst thing current rulers can do is close their ears to these cries, that will only aggravate the problem.

I have no problem who rules Malawi as long as they put the poor majority at the centre of their policies. 

However, if calls for change start filtering through, it is only wise to give an ear.