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Archive for September, 2011

When ambition becomes indiscipline

Once upon a time, in the land of flames, there lived a party that was upfront with democracy as it was united. It was even national in its representation in parliament. That yellow party ruled Malawi for a good ten years before it started getting tattered like curtains due to succession issues when the then leader was parking for retirement.

That is chronicle of the once-upon-a-time mighty United Democratic Front (UDF) of Malawi’s former President Bakili Muluzi. The handpicking of  Bingu wa Muthalika; a rank-outsider, to be the party’s torch-bearer in the 2004 elections marked the beginning of the end of the united front.  Today, UDF remains a two-districts’ party in parliamentary representation. The rest, as they say, is history.

Being in the wilderness for almost seven years one would think the yellow party picked up its lessons and would let democratic processes flow back into the party. But nay, I was wrong.

Barely 24hrs after Austin Atupele Muluzi, MP announced his intentions to compete for nominations as Presidential candidate at the party’s convention; the execuitve has cracked its whip on the 33-year old law maker: suspending him for what the party’s Director of Research, Humphrey Mvula calls ‘Indiscipline’.www.zodiakmalawi.com

For starters, Atupele is the son of the fomer President Bakili who ruled Malawi for a decade and led UDF for a little longer beyond 2004. Atupele has been a law since 2004. His performance as a parliamentarian is subject for another day!

On September 29 2011, Atupele alunched what he called a ‘New Agenda for Change’ at Blantyre’s Mt Soche Hotel. It is in this address that he bemoaned the lack of democratic processes in chosing political party leaders. He empahsized on the need to ‘pursue political party reforms to allow for freedom of exchange of ideas, transparent election of leaders and responsiveness to party membership’. Atupele Muluzi- New Agenda for Change And in the end, he declared his interest to run for the party’s nominations as presidential aspirant at their forth-coming convetion.

But alas, this has earned the ambitious politician the whip from the UDF’s old guards. Now tell me; who in this world of the Obamas, Cameron, Sarkozy is mandated to thwart young people’s ambitions? Do they want to tell me that political ambitions are only for the old? What happened to ‘democracy’ in their name? Or are UDF trying to go with the Malawian fashion as defined by the Malawi Congress Party(MCP) and Democratic Progress Party (DPP)?

I can forgive MCP since they have never confessed to be democratic; at least going by their name; but DPP and UDF? No way!

In Atupele’s own words: ‘… I believe the power to elect a presidential candidate for the UDF party rests in the hands of the people through a free and fair process’. How I wish the UDF executive could heed to young Muluzi’s belief. W

The irony of it all is that the current crop of UDF executive blamed Bakili for imposing wa Muthalika and thereby disintergrating the party. But with their actions, are they not further weakening the already sinking party? Will the youth, who are known of being ambitious, with the ‘disciplinarians’? Only time will tell!

Looking East? A Shocking tale of going mainland

A few days, I stumbled on a 2008 report on a case study on Chinese investment in Malawi. Much as report was done almost a year after the Southern Africa country dumped its long time friend, Taiwan, for Beinjing; it makes an interesting mirror into whether landrocked Warm Heart of Africa is getting a fair deal from the Eastern friend.

For example, in 2006 alone Mainland China exported into Malawi a total of MwK3.6billion worth of its products while Malawi exported a meagre MwK173million of its products like tobacco, tea, coffee and timber etc to China. But that is on the surface of it. In the same year 2006, Malawi’s total exports to the world stood at MwK90.9billion; meaning that what our country exported to China was a mere 0.19%.

Accoring to the study, by April 2008 the Malawi Investment Promotion Agency (MIPA) had registered 50 Chinese firms as investors in Malawi. The sad part is that, by the time of the report almost half of these were either reported to have shut down or changed physical addresses without the knowledge of MIPA as required.

Since May 13 2008 when Malawi and China signed the Memorandum of Understanding after the establishing diplomatic ties in December 2007, one major Chinese promise is yet to be fulfilled: the famous Karonga-Chitipa road. And at the time of the report, ‘no tangible aid has been transferred from mainland China to Malawi except a mere pledge of aid amounting to US$ 270 million for a period of five years which is yet to be disbursed’. This pledge is incomparable to the actual amounts that the GoM has been receiving annually as aid from multi-lateral and bilateral official development assistance (ODA).

Is Lilongwe really benefiting from Beijing?

Further read the study here: Study on Chinese Investments in Africa- The Case of Malawi

The Report that Malawians Ignored

On March 4 1997, a Committee of Eminent Persons presented a report to the Council of Ministers of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA). It was a review into the operations of the regional bloc being headed, then, by Dr Bingu wa Muthalika as its Secretary General from 1992 to early 1997.

I reproduce, herewith, the report which was to haunt Malawians for chosing to ignore it a decade later when the then CEO of COMESA, ascended to the Malawi’s state house. Report of the Special Committee of Eminent Persons on the Operations of Comesa

‘Defections are good for intra-party democracy’

Malawi Congress Party (MCP) President John Tembo says he is not moved with party followers who are living the party to join or starting their own parties. He was speaking when he opened a women caucus meeting funded by Centre for Multiparty Democracy (CMD) on September 2 2011.

This was his first reaction since Sunday when Dedza Centra MP, Sosten Gwengwe, announced his defection to the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) of embattled President Bingu wa Muthalika

“It is not strange for people like Gwengwe to leave the party and it is healthy for the democracy in the party”, he said. He also assured the women gathering that the party shall remain intact even after some people have left to join or form other parties.

He however applauded women in the party for keeping the party’s four corner stones of loyalty, obedience, discipline and unity; saying it was pleasing to note that no woman has defected to other parties which he said is a clear indication that women are a pillar of the party. He then urged women in the party to start discussing issues that can help build the once mighty MCP.

Ironically, the late Mrs Kate Kainja-Kaluluma and Margaret Maimba left the MCP and joined the DPP and UDF respectively.

The Leader of Opposition in Parliament also distanced himself from rumour that he was asked to be included in Bingu’s yet-to-appointed cabinet as a way of building a government of national unity. “Accepting a ministerial position is corruption of the highest order” said Tembo. He did not elaborate.