Saturday, October 24, 2015

Press Statement on Allegations of Treason Against Fomer President Joyce's Banda's Son, Geoffrey Kachale Banda



    1. I would like to express my deep disappointment over reports that appeared in The Daily Times of October 22, 2015 and other news outlets that said the DPP government, through a National Intelligence Bureau (NIB) report, has implicated my son, Geoffrey Kachale Banda, in an alleged plot to bring down government through unconstitutional means.

    1. The report also implicates other distinguished Malawians such as President of the Malawi Congress Party and Leader of Opposition in Parliament, Dr. Lazarus Chakwera, civil society leaders and health rights campaigners Ms. Martha Kwataine and Mrs. Dorothy Ngoma, among others.


    1. I have taken the liberty to issue this statement, as a mother, with a view to challenge the NIB and the DPP government to substantiate these allegations and many other allegations against me and my family. I have personally endured untold political persecution and abuse in the past year and half at the hands of the DPP government and I would not sit back and look at some misguided government institutions and individuals transfer that misery onto my children.

    1. Geoffrey is an entrepreneur who lives abroad. As far as I know him, he has never expressed any interest in politics and any attempts to link him to politics are as futile as they are ridiculous.

    1. I wish to state, categorically and without fear of contradiction, that the alleged NIB report as quoted in the media is not based on any proven facts but mere conjecture and political witch-hunting. 

    1. The allegations against my son are not only false and malicious but a desperate attempt by the DPP government to further pursue a hate-campaign against me, personally, and my entire family. These allegations are devilish and unfair; purely intended to damage and injure Geoffreys personal character, reputation and standing in society.

    1. Memories are still fresh that on December 4, 2014, the DPP government alleged that they had handed over CCTV footage to the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) that captured meetings between chief cash-gate suspect, Mr. Oswald Lutepo and me. This was an apparent attempt to implicate me in the cash-gate scandal.  However, State House security officers have confirmed that CCTV cameras at all state residences have not been functional since the time of the former President late Bingu wa Mutharika. The ACB has been demanding for the alleged CCTV footage for five times without any success.

    1. President Peter Mutharika himself has also made serious allegations to the effect that I had planned to kill him when he was arrested on alleged coup plot charges in March 2013.

    1. President Mutharika claimed fake doctors had been hired to poison him while in police custody and that he has sworn affidavits of the alleged fake doctors. President Mutharika further said he would use this information when the right time comes.

    1. On May 9, 2015, at the memorial of late President Bingu wa Mutharika at Ndata Farm in Thyolo, the DPP government claimed they had evidence that I had killed President Bingu wa Mutharika and that I must therefore be taken to court. These claims are extremely serious and expose me to serious danger.

    1. It is shameful that the DPP government has chosen to abdicate on its constitutional duty to govern the country and that it has chosen to pursue a cheap political vendetta against perceived political enemies. It is sad that the whole government has decided to use state machinery and resources to victimize its innocent and vulnerable citizens.

    1. I wish to state that my family and I will hold His Excellency President Mutharika and his government responsible should anything harmful happen to my son, Geoffrey, and any member of my family.
    2. I wish to call upon the civil society, the clergy and the diplomatic community in Malawi to keep a watchful eye on the DPP government to deter any attempts to return the nation to dictatorship through disrespect for human rights and bad governance.

    1. Our memory is fresh of people who have been mysteriously killed and their cases have never been investigated. These include an Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) top official, Issa Njaunju, who was brutally murdered in early July 2015; Cassim Julius, a policeman on duty in March 2013 in President Mutharikas area at Goliati in Thyolo; 20 people killed in cold blood on July 20, 2011; Emanuel Kafere, an entrepreneur killed in Zomba in March 2012; and student activist Robert Chasowa in September 2011, among others. 

    1. Since we attained our democracy in 1994, Malawians have displayed admirable resilience and remarkable ability to resist any dictatorial tendencies by previous leaders and governments.

    1. I call upon Malawians to continue that spirit to fight for freedom and democracy. As a country, we must say NO to the use of force and state machinery to persecute opposition leaders and citizens.

    1. As Malawians, we genuinely believed that we had turned the page and gone beyond the brand of politics where politicians or their agents would just pick and choose to slander and victimize individuals they did not like based on political expediency.

    1. Concocting serious criminal charges against perceived political adversaries is simply retrogressive and it only serves to worsen Malawis ailing political, social and economic situation.


    1. Instead of implicating my children; my entire family and other distinguished members of society in imagined crimes, His Excellency President Peter Mutharika and his government must consider a serious introspection exercise.  

    1. His Excellency President Peter Mutharika and his government must, instead, channel their energy on addressing the many pressing issues affecting Malawi, especially the rising insecurity and crime; impending hunger; water and electricity shortages; and the collapsing economy.


    1. Government should be aware that Malawians are eager to see a forensic audit finally instituted into the MK577 billion financial scam that occurred between 2009 and 2012 during the previous DPP government of the late President Bingu wa Mutharika.

    1. As the case is now, President Mutharikas government has shown no interest to expedite the audit even after the German government committed millions of Kwacha to facilitate the forensic audit.

    1. Recently, robbers broke into the residence of a German envoy and stole documents containing information about the MK577 billion Kwacha forensic audit. In the midst of calls for a speedy forensic audit into the MK577 billion financial scandal, an Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) top official, Issa Njaunju, was brutally murdered in early July 2015. Since that time, no concrete investigations have been carried out to bring the perpetrators to book.

    1. Malawians are keen to know who stole the documents at the German envoys residence. Malawians deserve to know who killed Mr. Njaunju. Malawians are still disturbed by governments failure to track down the people that burnt down a Malawi Electoral Commission warehouse containing ballot papers and other election materials one year down the road.

    1. Governments plate is already full and Malawians are demanding solutions to their daily problems. My request is that government must find a way of getting donor aid back to Malawi.

    1. Government simply has to comply with some of the issues that the donors want us, as a nation, to do. Government needs to institute a forensic audit into the K577 billion cashgate.

    1. Malawians remember that donors had walked away during the final years of Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda. When President Bakili Muluzi came in, he negotiated with the donors to return and they did.  Donors left again during President Muluzis second term.

    1. When Mutharika came in 2004, he brought the donors back. During his second term, the donors left again because of a myriad of governance issues that haunted his government. For instance, the British withdrew aid because he had proceeded to buy a private presidential jet while people were dying due to hunger; the human rights record was getting worse; and government had deported the British High Commissioner to Malawi, among others.

    1. Malawi was off track with IMF; two (2) million people were food insecure. When I became Head of State, I worked hard to bring the donors back.

    1. After cashgate was unearthed, donors withdrew aid and demanded that as a nation, we ought to implement several things to correct the situation.  As we all know, the K577 billion (US$1.2billion) scandal was the genesis of the subsequent abuse of public funds as discovered in September 2013.

    1. It is therefore imperative that the MK577 billion scandal is also thoroughly investigated. Donors are saying we must deal with it through a forensic audit. Donors will only return when they are satisfied that all their concerns have been addressed.

    1. We might also just find that people already convicted on cashgate charges of 2013 may also be linked to the 2009-2011MK577 billion cashgate.

    1. President Mutharika and his government must stop blaming the previous government for his failures as the three Presidents before him worked hard to normalize the situations instead of blaming their predecessors.

    1. 16 months have elapsed since DPP came to power and it is only prudent for President Mutharika to come up with a clear plan of action detailing how he wants to recover the economy that has collapsed under his watch.

    1. The DPP government must stop imagining that these problems can merely be wished away or that political witch-hunting is the solution. Malawians know the truth.

Joyce Banda

October 23, 2015

Sunday, October 18, 2015


By Humza Yousaf*

Today I am travelling to Malawi, for my second visit to that beautiful country.

I’m travelling there because next month marks the tenth anniversary of the Cooperation Agreement signed by the Governments of Malawi and Scotland, and while I am there, as well as meeting with a number of Government Ministers, I will visit some of the projects funded by the Scottish Government, and delivered by Scottish organisations.

It’s a great chance for me to see first-hand the enormous difference that the partnership between Scotland and Malawi makes to the lives of Malawians, and to meet some of the people who have benefited from the projects we support, and to hear of the impact that this work has had upon their lives.

Scots should be very proud of the work we’ve done with Malawi, and after ten years it’s very easy to see the real difference that has been made thanks to the cooperation between our two countries.

To mark the ten years of partnership, here’s ten ways Scottish Government funded projects have changed lives in Malawi.

1. Medical training

Since 2006, the Scottish Government has funded the Universities of St Andrews and Edinburgh to build capacity and strengthen teaching and learning at the College of Medicine in Blantyre. A combined total of over £2.4 million has been spent on 9 projects through which medical academics and professionals have contributed to the quadrupling of the annual number of medical graduates in Malawi from 16 to over 100.

St Andrews and Edinburgh have worked in close partnership with the College of Medicine to improve technology and improve the general quality teaching and learning, using Scottish expertise to make a profound contribution to Malawi’s only medical school.

2. Renewable Energy

The Scottish Government’s £2.3m flagship Malawi Renewable Energy Acceleration Programme (MREAP) is our single biggest International Development project to date, and has brought new energy access to almost 80,000 people in rural Malawi through a range of technologies including solar, micro-hydro, biogas and fuel efficient cookstoves. MREAP took a unique approach, with intensive levels of community engagement supporting the communities themselves to take decisions on their own energy priorities.

3. Cervical screening

A project in Malawi delivered by NHS Lothian in partnership with Nkhoma Hospital and funded by the Scottish Government has provided cervical screening to more than 10,000 women and raised awareness on the importance of screening among 33,000 people.

4. Meningitis awareness

Training delivered by the Meningitis Research Foundation is helping medical professionals in Malawi spot the early signs of meningitis in children. Thanks to the scheme health care workers are better able to spot the early signs of the disease and nearly 140,000 children attending primary health care were priorities for treatment by clinicians and received timely emergency treatment and referral to hospital when severely ill.

5. Vocational education

A project run by the Global Concerns Trust has given 106 adults with disabilities training in carpentry or tailoring and given 57 the tools they need to start up their business. Thanks to the scheme, 21 primary schools now offer extra-curricular vocational training, all within rural areas, with approximately 40% of participants being girls and at least 560 pupils have received some vocational training over the three years of the scheme.

6. Helping people earn a living

Another Global Concerns Trust project has given  62 people with disabilities vocational training, as well as training in business skills and HIV/AIDS. This training has helped people to earn a living, with an average more than fivefold increase in income for those trained.

7. Improving educational standards 

Link Community Development Scotland have been working with the Malawian Department of Inspection and Advisory Services (DIAS) to establish the new National Education Standards (NES) to support education inspection and advisory services in Malawi.

8. Improving the treatment of mental illness

Since 2010, the Scotland Malawi Mental Health Education Project has worked to improve the treatment of mental illness through the education and training of mental healthcare professionals in Malawi, particularly focussing  on improving the identification and treatment of maternal depression and post natal depression.  Its flagship achievement was to establish Malawi’s first ever Masters in clinical psychiatry at the College of Medicine in Blantyre. Further funding has enabled SMMHEP to roll this training out to community level. District Mental Health Teams that have so far trained over 100 primary healthcare workers to improve mental health in communities in 2 districts of Malawi.

9. Helping smallholders boost crops.

The James Hutton Institute has been delivering a project helping rural smallholders face up to climate change, establishing 100 Climate Smart Agriculture clubs which planted out 85,000 trees. As well as this, 2,000 banana plants were distributed to smallholders, and the project established of 480 home gardens and gave 30 farmers seeds which would thrive under changing climates.

10.  Scotland Malawi Partnership and Malawi Scotland Partnership

The Scottish Government has supported the Scotland Malawi Partnership (SMP) and its sister organisation the Malawi Scotland Partnership (MaSP), based in Malawi, for over a decade. Since then, the SMP’s membership has grown to more than 700, including  local authorities, universities and colleges, schools, churches, hospitals, businesses, charities, NGOs and community-based organisations all over Scotland.

Through the two organisations, more than 94,000 Scots and 198,000 Malawians work in partnership together each year, and each year more than 300,000 Scots and 2 million Malawians benefit from the activities of the SMP, MaSP and their members.

And that last example is important, because it underlines the partnership approach that lies behind Scottish development work, based on people-to-people to links supported through Scottish organisations.

We benefit enormously in Scotland from our relationship with Malawi. For example, our recent Hydro Nation project has seen officials from both Governments working together and learning from each other on water management, governance and legislation. This knowledge sharing has informed new, updated legislation in both countries. Both Scotland and Malawi share an interest in water resource management, community management of assets and increasing public engagement, and we are learning from each other in these areas.

This unique partnership approach means Scotland will continue to learn from Malawi, at the same time as we share our expertise.

These ten achievements demonstrate ten years of benefit in health, in education and in energy. Many challenges still exist, but by working together we can help to eliminate poverty in Malawi.

*The author is Scottish Government Minister for International Development

Friday, October 16, 2015

Legislators’ Political Balancing Act

It promises to be a tasking five years in Parliament.
The legislators gave us a taste of what to expect in the just ended Parliamentary sitting,  as shown by Malawi’s new breed of legislators,  the likes of Juliana Lunguzi and David Bisnowaty, who tailored their measured speeches in such a way that their constituents may have shared their mental struggles and missteps along their way to a well-mapped out political path.
For example, Bisnowaty, the Lilongwe City Central Constituency Member of Parliament said there was need to conduct a thorough forensic audit at the Technical, Entrepreneurial and Vocational Education Training Authority (Teveta) before the government could oil the financial wheels of the institution. That was in response to Finance, Economic Planning and Development Minister, Goodall Gondwe’s proposal that the government be allowed to secure a loan amounting to K18.9 billion from the International Development Association of the World Bank.
Gondwe said the aim of the loan was to increase access to higher education through a Skills Development Project targeting Teveta, Mzuzu University, University of Malawi’s Chancellor College and The Polytechnic, and the Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (Luanar).
But, looking at Cashgate, the observation was reasonable. And Bisnowaty’s observation that Teveta cannot be funded through a loan because of the commercial nature of its activities is a spot-on observation.
Teveta collects millions from willing and unwilling companies and should not milk us dry!
Lunguzi, on the other hand, wondered how Malawi has remained underdeveloped 50 years after independence, lamenting that the only shining thing about Malawi was its stamp of poverty. It is a chilling, yet spot-on observation, yet again.
And there is legislator-cum-musician Lucius Banda! He seems to have come back to the august House with new ideas, telling the media the other day that he would not fly higher than the artificial wings of Parliament could permit him, and, this time around, asking members of the public to censure him should he go astray.
That is the way to go.  May be the Balaka musician is set to have his day in the political fields. He should have learned, during those would-have-been years he was no longer MP, that, even in our absence, the world still turns and that, when we have come back to ourselves, we discover that we have developed a greater depth of understanding and a sparkle of understanding that enriches the life of others.
Banda has turned to that old place, Parliament, with a sense of fragile newness. But he does not look at the Parliament building through the lenses of old eyes (after all, the legislators have moved from the old Parliament building that was the New State House and moved to the Chinese-built Parliament); he sees his new world freshly. It is an experience that has the potential to sooth his battered Parliamentary past and makes him an asset in the august House. 

Taming excitement
While the signs, from these early days, are that the legislators have started, somewhat, impressively, they must bear in mind that  being a representative of people with varying degrees of political, cultural, religious and sports affiliations is akin to a soliloquy- one man (use is generic, meaning, man and woman) on a bare stage watched by thousands of over-demanding constituents.
They (the constituents) will merely watch, and not participate, as the lone Parliamentarian stands in the big spotlight that is Parliament and the public broadcaster [MBC television] to tell us why he is there, who he is and what he wants and how he will get it and what it means that he wants it and what it will mean when he does or does not get it.
This is no mean task. It is part personal grandstanding, part theatre, part reality, but largely a political postulation exercise: a lie here, a truth there. Just like that.
But it will be a big mistake if our current crop of legislators falls into the trap of political postulation because, as experience has shown, Malawians are not as shallow-minded as previously thought. That is why they (Malawians) have voted the likes of United Democratic Front (UDF)’s Lilian Patel in (Parliament) again.
As one of the stand-out legislators during the hay days of the UDF, nobody thought her constituents would show her the back-door of Parliament through the ballot. But it happened, to the chagrin of the UDF.
And, again, against all expectations, her constituents have given her yet another chance. The hope, therefore, is that she has learned from experience, and new comers in Parliament can draw lessons from her experience and become representatives of their constituents, and not representatives of themselves.
Of course, it is not wrong to represent oneself; one just needs to strike the proper balance between representing oneself and representing the wishes of those one represents.

However, the issue of whether the new legislators will be able to strike the necessary balance has, meanwhile, been left in the hands of the Court of Time, and, due to case backlog in the Court of Time at the moment, the ruling and judgement are expected five-year time!  

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Wanted: bass guitarist-cum-lead vocalist

Granted, it takes collective effort to generate the smoke of fire called music. This applies when one comes up with a song, the arrangement, or track.
In the book, The Poetics of Rock, author Albin Zak defines a song as “melody, harmony and lyrics, the components that can be notated and copyrighted. This is what is traditionally considered to be the ‘composition’; the arrangement as “the specific combination of instruments and singers used to realise the song in the studio”; and the track as “the timbre and space of the recording itself. Recordings can be copyrighted, but they’re separate intellectual property from the song”.
Once in a while, however, there emerges an individual who plays a number of instruments, including the lead, rhythm or bass guitar, while leading the vocals.
While the figure of a rhythm or lead guitarist providing leading or backing vocals has become a common sight in Malawi- bearing in mind the likes of Joseph Tembo, Paul Banda, Synoden Ibu, Collen Ali, among others- one hardly comes across a bass guitarist who strums the strings while playing the role of lead vocalist.
Snap surveys conducted by Weekender in the past five months have revealed that there is no well-known performer who plays the bass guitar while leading the vocals. From Alleluya Band, The Black Missionaries, Malawi Police Orchestra, Mathumela Band, Jupitters Band, Zembani Band, Heath Education Band to Adzukulu Band, the figure of a bass guitarist-cum-lead vocalist is a rarity.
Is this a national crisis?

Rare breed
Gospel musician Sweeny Chimkango suggests that playing the bass guitar while doubling as a lead vocalist is no mean feat, and that only rare breeds successfully execute such a task.
“However, the situation (lack of bass guitarists-cum-lead vocalists) is not only prevalent in Malawi. You will rarely come across multi-talented people who can ably do that the world over. Not that such people do not exist; they do. I have Cameroonian jazz artist Richard Bona in mind,” says Chimkango.
According to the Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians,, Bona is a bassist who combines the music of his native Cameroon with reggae and jazz to create a personal hybrid.
“His virtuoso technique and smooth sound are reminiscent of Jaco Pastorius, and his playing is often accompanied by his light and airy singing voice,” reads a description of the 47-year-old Cameroonian on the website.
Bona was born on October 28, 1967 in Minta, a small village in Eastern Cameroon, and has performed alongside well-known African musicians such as Cameroonian saxophonist Manu Dibango and Malian singer Salif Keita.
Chimkango says the fact that Bona is appreciated wherever he performs bears testimony that people appreciate his talent.
“I have watched his performances and they leave me lost for words. The guy is multi-talented and it’s not often that you come across such talent,” says Chimkango.
Veteran musician Synoden Ibu acknowledges that it is not often that one comes across a bass guitarist-cum-lead vocalist.
“I play all a range of instruments myself, but I feel at home when playing the rhythm guitar while doubling as a lead vocalist. Otherwise, I have a younger brother, Jameson, who can do that,” says Ibu.

Matter of taste
However, Ibu says not all artists can become bass guitarists-cum-lead vocalists due to a number of factors.
“People learn how to play instruments differently and this determines what they become. Secondly, people have different motivations when joining the music industry and not everyone wants to become a bass guitarist-cum-lead vocalist,” says Ibu.
Veteran musician Joseph Tembo seems to concur with Ibu. He says performers should not only be lauded when they can combine tasks such as playing the bass guitar and serving as lead vocalists.
“First of all, let me say that I used to play the bass guitar while playing the role of lead vocalist at church. So, doubling as bass guitarist and lead vocalist is not as difficult as we would want to portray it. At the same time, we need to realise that talents come in different forms. For example, it is a special gift being the lead singer; just as it is a special gift to be a bassist,” says Tembo.
He adds: “I know some foreign musicians who can play the drums or other instruments while leading the vocals. I have in mind Alick Macheso from Zimbabwe and Awilo Longomba from The Democratic Republic of Congo who used to play the drum before the world discovered that he had a powerful voice.”
Former Alleluya Band leader and music scholar, Charles Sinetre, says he cannot say much about what it takes to be a bass guitarist-cum-lead vocalist because the bass guitar is not his preferred instrument.
“My greatest instrument is my voice. People often forget that the voice, too, is an instrument. But I think it (playing the bass guitar and offering leading vocals) depends on one’s flexibility,” says Sinetre.
Sinetre, who can provide both backing and leading vocals, apart from playing a range of instruments, says every art can be perfected through relentless practice.

Musicians Union of Malawi president, Reverend Chimwemwe Mhango, observes that countries such as South Africa are not short of artists who can strum the bass guitar while captivating the audience’s attention with a melodious leading voice.
He cites Joyous Cerebrations, a South African outfit, as one such group.
“So, this is not something that cannot be done. It just takes people who want to become versatile. At the moment, I just feel like many instrumentalists are stuck on [specific] instruments. By this, I mean that people have settled for one set of equipment and decided that that’s what they will pay attention to. In music school, voice is regarded as an instrument, too,” says Mhango.
Mhango backs his point by pointing at a number of local musicians. He says Lulu can play the lead guitar while serving as the lead vocalist, and that Skeffa Chimoto is a vocalist who knows how to play the guitar.
“In gospel music, however, you will find that artists such as Mlaka Maliro, King James Phiri, Allan Chirwa, Ethel Kamwendo Banda are at their best when they are the lead vocalists and others are playing the instruments. So, it depends. It is something to do with choice, other than lack of education,” says Mhango.

Future of the guitar
Ibu says while computer programming threatens to steal the limelight from the guitar, the instrument is billed to remain an integral part of music in the country.
“A lot of people are running away from the guitar but, fortunately, we have a few people who cannot imagine life without the guitar. These are the people who will sustain the legacy of the guitar in the country. It is unfortunate that we rush for the latest technology that is introduced, abandoning things we have held dear for years,” says Ibu.
Balaka-based Sinetre does not feel that the guitar is under threat, too.
“The tendency to use studio software, where musicians depend on keyboard-facilitated bass, can best be described as laziness and childish. I, therefore, see the guitar maintaining its place in music,” says Sinetre, adding:
“The decision to use the guitar or not depends on the genre. In jazz and traditional music, you cannot do without the guitar. In fact, it’s hip hop artists who are relying too much on software. Otherwise, I believe most people still believe in the role of the guitar.”
As computer software continues waging a war against the conventional guitar, Mhango sees a long-drawn draw game.
“All instruments are important, and their use depends on the circumstances,” he says.
It will surely take a great amount of software effort, it seems, to displace the guitar from the stage.

Churches Should Give To Ceasar, Too!

Politics has been one of our major preoccupations, sometimes to the detriment of productive talk.
One consequence of the increased discussion of politics since the marriage between Malawians and politics in 1994 is that significant ideas about religion occasionally become glossed over with the unexamined justification that the Gospel is universal, and spirituality should be left to govern itself.
The consequence: Fear and myopic thinking have quickly replaced careful analysis.
But, the truth be as clear as a cloudless sky, all self-serving religious leaders should be confronted with the inexorable fact that money belongs to Caesar, even if it’s done to achieve a general good, and that, even when generated for God’s purposes, part of it should go back to Caesar.
What am I driving at? Well, that time has come for tithes and funds generated by religious groupings to be taxed!
You see, it’s funny that religious groups, which teach us about how good life shall be beyond the veil of this life, are treated by our governments as if they are already in, eer, for lack of a better word, the heavens.
We all know that the central theme of religious thought and practice is the idea of eternal rest. What the church suggests, subtly of course, is that we all have one general problem: the chance of missing out on eternal rest.
The church, then, cleverly, suggests that the solution to this problem is ‘discovered’ by either getting initiated into religious doctrine so that our souls may be extricated from their self-imposed corruption through spiritual rebirth, or discarding prospects of a good here-after by embracing worldly things.
Predictably, human beings have been hooked to the first option and abandoned rational thinking at the slightest mention of hell. I think the fear of hell has left our policy-makers so thoughtless that they can only watch as some religious groupings become obscenely rich without suggesting that, perhaps, it is high time these institutions started contributing tax to the national pulse.
That is why, I guess, they don’t pay taxes from money generated through tithes and other offerings. The truth, however, is that the religious institutions and Malawi (as a country) are tied together in our awareness of personal existence.
Actually, the heavens and the earth are not two extreme, irreconcilable opposites. The relationship between the two is organic because their focus is on the human being, the very same human being whose main weakness is to go bad when not embalmed.
Our location and the location of the religious institutions are inseparably fused. But I fail to understand why these simple truths are scarcely understandable by us today. By this, I mean our policy-makers.
Come to think of it. Why should a bachelor like me, too resource-whipped to manage a girlfriend, be over-taxed when religious institutions, with their buildings and vehicles and tonnes of funds generated through tithes and other coerced offerings, are left scot-free?
Are our policy-makers so cowardly that, in their fear that they may miss the train to the heavens, they have become blind to the mountain of banknotes piling up in religious institutions?
I think it high time they pulled the brakes on fear and embraced rationality; especially now that religion has become a medium-scale enterprise. Yes, enterprise. There is money in this ‘business’ as evidenced by hordes of Men of God driving fancy cars.
Six years ago, I laughed my lungs out when some church leaders suggested during budget consultation meetings that the government needed to re-introduce duty-free status on vehicles meant for church use. Why should religious organisations get everything for free yet obedience to their doctrines requires followers to contribute in cash and kind?
Your guess is as good as mine.
And there lies our problem. The burden of underdevelopment lies, in large part, on our obedience to fear. We focus too much on the unknown while neglecting the world around us.

Saturday, October 10, 2015



A time of reflection is a decisive moment. It is a time we commemorate the past, and a time we decide our future. It is a time we put ourselves in the mirror of time, and a time we ask ourselves the deepest questions of our existence.

The title of my address is “Reflecting the Academe”, because I want us to get to the bottom of your well-thought-out theme.

The theme of this occasion is very inspiring – a time for celebration and reflection!

Since it was invented by Africans in 970 AD, the university has always been driven by ideas. Writing in a book called Uses of the University, Clark Kerr
observes that:

The university started as a single community – a community of masters and students. It may even be said to have a soul in the sense of a central animating principle.

Yes, a university must have a soul, its driving principle, the academic spirit. A university grows when this academic spirit grows. A university dies
when its spirit dies. This time of self-reflection must begin with the question: what is the academic spirit that characterizes and identifies us a university?

What are we known for? Or, what must we be known for in the next fifty years? Times have been when University of Malawi was a household name in the region. And we aspire to return those days when our graduates were
accepted without question in leading universities of the world. As Robert Kibbee argues, “The quality of a university is measured more by the kind of students it turns out than the kind it takes in.”

Given both our output and the role played in nation Bbuilding, University of Malawi deserves to be celebrated by all Malawians. Let us agree: this
university has done us a great service, and a great honour! And I believe the best is yet to come.

And we also agree. The University cannot continue to be the same way as it has been. It is only logical to redefine and rebrand ourselves in order to be
relevant to the future. How you do that: the choice is yours.

I am aware of the debate for the autonomy of the colleges to devolve and grow into separate universities. To be a federal system or not to be – that is the question! Decide, manage the decision and take responsibility of the destiny you aspire for.

Government cannot interfere in that debate because we respect your academic integrity and autonomy to make your decisions. The choice is

All I can say is that our Government is open minded and receptive to informed change. Our Government is not afraid of bringing change to
Malawi. You called for a transformation government, and here it is! We are ready to brave  the decisions this country has always shelved and  deferred. Because that is the only way to make a different Malawi, a better Malawi for all!

That is the only way to change and improve education. Not that there won’t be challenges. There will always be problems in any country at any time because this earth is not in heaven and humans are not angels.

We can only make life better, and we can certainly make Malawi better if we do our best. We cannot say we have a bleak future because we are passing
through challenging times. We cannot say we have a dark year ahead because one night has come before daybreak. Life is made up of days and nights. Likewise, I believe the University has a bright future in spite of the thick mountains of challenges you are crossing. What matters for us is to make
brave choices in deciding our new direction.

Our Government is committed to support the university in creating an environment that is conducive to teaching, learning, researching and
service to community. We will continue to provide cushioning measures to afford all Malawians the  chance to access university education. The Higher
Education Students Loan and Grants facility now allows needy students to apply for tuition fees and upkeep allowances as loan and/or grant.

This policy also supports public universities to finance their services in the spirit of cost-sharing as we move with current trends in higher education globally. This is the time for the change we have always aspired

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen!
As we move with the changing times, the University needs define itself and find its mission. We must choose what we want to be known for.
Contemporary reflections of a modern university range from being a Teaching University; a Research University; or the Entrepreneurial University – also called the Corporate University.

These conceptual categories are based on the three core functions of
a university, namely, teaching, researching and community service.

Notably, research is at the anchoring centre of the functions of a university. Research is more than  collecting and recycling the scholarly views of
others. Research is about developing new ideas and new knowledge to re-engage those we teach, and the communities we serve, in calibrating new
perspectives and solutions to human situations.

Where this academic culture thrives, we do not publish for the sake of promotion, or to ascend to the professoriate. In the truest spirit of the academe, we do not publish for academic renown. We publish because we value sharing our new ideas, new knowledge, new perspectives and new solutions with the rest of mankind.

This is how academics have lighted mankind’s path of knowledge to wisdom. And celebrated are those who thirst for this sacred duty to mankind. For this is what makes academics celebrated citizens of the world. Let us all be proud of them.
As I have emphasized before, we must celebrate our teachers because “Teaching is the one profession that creates other professions.”

In the spirit of celebration and reflection, ladies and gentlemen, let us all stand up for a moment and clap hands for the academics who have performed
their duty to our society for the last fifty years.

[Standing, hand clapping]
Thank you very much. [Audience sits down]

And I thank you for your attention.
May God bless everyone and Mother Malawi!

Friday, October 9, 2015

MISA Malawi Statement on APM Attack on The edia

For immediate release
Friday, 9 th October 2015

The Malawi Chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA-Malawi) is concerned with the remarks made by President Arthur Peter Mutharika (APM) against the media during a press conference he addressed at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe on Thursday, October 8, 2015. During the press conference, the president described the media in Malawi as “irresponsible” and “agents of the opposition” for criticizing his trip to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York, United States of America over the size of his entourage, hiring of a private jet and the level of expenditure incurred in the wake of economic problems prevailing in the country. 

The president even asked for an apology from some media houses over stories on the trip and fell short of specifying what action he would take should the apologies not come forward. As if that was not enough, Mutharika’s Press Secretary Gerald Viola also attacked one unspecified radio station, accusing it of having a hidden agenda against the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government. 

We find the remarks by the President and his press secretary retrogressive and a threat to media freedom and freedom of expression. We are surprised that the president decided to target the media with unreasonable attacks instead of responding to the issues at hand and providing information Malawians are looking for regarding the trip to the UNGA. Attacks on the media are attacks on democracy and should not be condoned. MISA Malawi would like to appeal to the President and the State House Press Office to desist from being in the forefront in attacking the media for doing its job. 

The media has a duty to report and inform Malawians on matters of national importance. We believe the President’s concerns could easily be addressed by ensuring that government is proactive in disseminating information and enacting the Access to Information Bill (ATI) and ensure that Malawians have accurate and relevant information to make informed decisions. Secrecy and lack of information, as has been the case with the president’s trip to the UNGA, only creates room for speculation and rumor mongering. 

The trip by the president to the UNGA was funded by tax-payers and Malawians have every right to know how their money is being spent by those charged with the responsibility of managing the resources. And the media has constitutional duty of holding the government accountable in the way they use public funds and how they are governing the country in general.

We therefore appeal to the State President to always be transparent and accountable as he discharges his duties. He should also respect the role of the media in providing checks and balances on his government. Where he has concerns, they can be channeled through relevant media bodies for their review and adjudication. 

The approach taken during the press conference at State House creates an impression that government is taking systematic steps to suffocate the media, thereby strangling our young democracy in the process. That cannot be condoned in a democratic Malawi.