Boarded off! Tenthani’s Muckraking on boards appointment

“Courtesy costs nothing, but buys everything” -Hazard Ali Ibn Abu-Talia

So, finally, President Peter Mutharika has woken up and realised he has to fill up parastatal boards. But, just like his predecessors, he has packed the boards with names taken from the drop of the hat, no consideration of competence or relevance.

John Kapito

John Kapito

Of course there are a few exceptions. However, I wonder how – and why – a perennially loss-making parastatal requires a 15-member board. What is that crowd going to do other than milking an already thin cow?

I am happy, though, for a few friends who have made it to the boards. Of course, most of the appointees I personally know and talked to confessed they have no idea what they are going to do on these boards apart from, of course, signing for fat allowance cheques for attending two-hour meetings.

By the way, all of the appointees I talked to confessed they were never consulted; they just heard of their appointments from the media.

Good people, just how do you assign people jobs without the courtesy of checking whether they are available or happy or competent to serve in those capacities? What executive arrogance is this!

I know most Malawians will have no qualms about ‘eating’ freebies just for just sitting on some board. But what is wrong about a State House or an Office of the President and Cabinet call to check whether the Muckraker is available to sit on the National Herbarium Board? At least I would be able to tell His Excellency, “Thanks, Sir, but no, thanks, I am allergic to flowers; why don’t you try me on the Malawi Book Service Board so that I can read all the Malawi books from Kathyali Psipsiti to Mkwatibwi Okhumudwa?”

The President should not tantalise himself into thinking that by appointing people to some board he is doing them a favour. No, Sir, this is not a privilege; these are bona fide Malawians who have the right to serve their flag in whatever way they competently can.

Having said that, let us now interrogate the characters that have been placed on these boards. There are quite some interesting faces appointed to some boards: wannabe politicians who never realised their dreams to be in Parliament or councils; priests and pastors whose role on the boards I am yet to be convinced of;j ournalists whom I must say very little about; and, of course, civil society loudmouths who have to be silenced – or rewarded – in one way or the other.

It will be interesting, for example, to see how John Kapito carries himself forward. I spoke to him; he wondered how this “small post” as chair of some water board will shut him up when a “bigger post” at the Malawi Human Rights Commission failed to do the same.

Of course I remember the consumers’ self-appointed high priest annoyed Bingu while at the Commission so much that the Big Kahuna actually confessed when Kapito and his commissioners bade farewell to him, “I’m shaking your hand because I have to, otherwise I can’t greet you in the streets.”

I know there are some people who will say they see nothing wrong with appointing activists, chiefs, priests, journalists or politicians who cannot count beyond their fingers to all manner of boards. But why do we have these boards in the first place? Are they creations who serve no purpose so much so that any Jim and Jane can sit there, even literally?

But I thought boards are meant to give broad policy directions to the technocrats doing day to day management? Imagine the CEO of Escom waltzing lyrical about the connection between the Liwonde Barrage siltation and power generation at Nkula. How will my good chief react apart from being bedazzled by the apparent madness of this engineer? He may even doze off in the middle of the presentation!

Let us come to my friends in the civil society who have made it to the boards. Like Kapito, those I have spoken to say they will not be shut up. But, c’mon! These fellas who claim to speak for all of us do so because of some detachment from the establishment. That gives them freedom to stand on a high moral ground and say whatever they say.

But when they become part of the establishment, what can we expect? Look at one Atupele Muluzi and his ‘Agenda for Change’? Before being lured by the Cabinet position, the UDF leader was a breath of fresh air. But where is the change agenda now if not done and dusted?

And Billy Banda comes here to say, by being appointed to some board, he will be representing people better. C’mon, if Airtel or TNM come up with some funny competitions to cheat people will my friend Billy, sitting pretty with fat allowances at the Gaming Board, raise a finger? Fat chance!

Again will John Kapito lead a demonstration against the decision by the Southern Region Water Board to ‘steal’ the Mpira-Balaka Rural Gravity-Fed Water Project from villagers in Ntcheu and Balaka? Fat chance again!

And look at how the appointing authority tend to misplace people. Look at Steven Duwa, for example. The dude has been in election issues more that Justice Maxon Mbendera and Willy Kalonga. He has been a thorn in the wrong place for the judge and Willy.

But look at where Peter has placed Steve. If he were to be appointed a commissioner at the Malawi Electoral Commission you would think Kalonga and his bosses would on their toes. But what is he going to do at Escom? Proof-reading load-shedding schedules

And some DPP apologist will come here with the hackneyed argument that, ‘But Atcheya did the same, so did the Big Kahuna and Ama’. But were we not promised that with Peter it would be ‘business unusual’?

If truth be told, boards have come to be sanctuaries to ‘warehouse’ political stooges or threats who, for one reason or the other, cannot make it to the Cabinet or diplomatic postings.

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18 thoughts on “Boarded off! Tenthani’s Muckraking on boards appointment”

  1. dopababi shopa says:

    Munthu wanjala amafanana ndi chinyama. Wankali ndipo akhoza kupha munthu. ukakhuta palibe chifukwa chokhala ndi mkwiyo. Panopa tapata mipando mu maboard osiyanasiyana ndiye tiyenela kuthokodza APM. Kulalata, kuyenda pa mseu kopanda chilembwe nzopanda thandaudzo. Ine pano ndi banja langa tidya bwino.

  2. hfty says:

    But you Ralph as the journalist was supposed to read the boards act (or whatever they call it) and tell us specifically what the act says, what it’s shortfalls are and possibly how it can be improved. Nanga nawenso ungobwera yaviyavi apa wondering with the rest of us what these boards are all about. Nowadays u are feeling yourself too much that you are losing direction. You have become fat wither our praises and u are turning into mose wa lero. Change ur ways

  3. madalitso chilombo chilombo says:

    eya fr. Tamani once again kkkk

  4. Cicero says:

    When you critically analyse the Malawian thinking fabric one tend to conclude that we are poor because our thinking is so poor. Malawi as country will never develop for the coming 250 years simply because Malawians reason as kindergatten learners. The East Asians Tigers of Singapore etc developed because of technocrats not foolish boards that include intellectualky challenged chiefs. Sorry thus gospel truth

  5. Andy Ndaonazino says:

    Where are we heading to as a Church?? I am sure some members of the clergy have been appointed in order to eat “blue scones” and be silenced in order not to speak for voiceless. Actually the number of the clergy from “that tribe” are majority. But I am not surprised to see the name of one high-ranking cleric who recently spoke against federalism being named chair of one corporation. I thought as a church we are supposed to be apolitical?? Our we ready as Judas to betray the poor people we are supposed to serve??

  6. Patriot says:

    Buying CSO’s silence.
    After 5 month since he is in Office, the only thing he can present to malawians is
    his Wedding and
    Mulakho.
    The rest is chaos upon chaos.
    Kwacha ndi iyo ikuthamangira ma K600 to a Dollar.
    Dizilo Petulo Palibe (posachedwapa)
    University fee 400% up
    Passport fee 320% up
    Basic needs (sugar, salt, washing soap, maize flower….) all going up crazy
    License fee up. Pano akutinso pakhale license ya Auto ndi yina ya Manual. Amene akufuna zonse azalipire K50,000. Ndi kuti pa dziko lapansi zinachitikapo izi?
    Mafuta akweranso mtengo posachedwapa to K958/litre
    Forex isowanso
    Ma bureau atsekedwa.

    SITIMA IMAPHWEKA AKAMAYENDETSA WINA.

    It took ONLY 5 month from God to show us that his leadership is a complete FAILURE.

    Tikunena pano aphunzitsi a nkhani nkhani sanalandire salary yawo ya October.
    Ena amene analembedwa ntchito miyezi 6 yapitayo olo 1 tambala sapnapatsidwe. Akungokundikira ngongole za katapila kumeneko.

    Now they say katangale athe. Zitheka bwanji izi? Popeza simukuwapatsa zawo ma kasu (civil servants)

    Kapena kuyambira Pulezidenti, Vice, Ministers, MP’s, and Councillors, mq board members of parastatures, ma high commissioners etc….Anthu amenewa AZIPATSIDWA MALIPIRO MOTSILIZIRA after ma Civil Servants onse atalandira zawo.

    No offense but this is the truth. And truth hurts always. That’s why DPP is buying silence.

    1. Momo sam says:

      Mwayiwala zina bro,lawlessness,no courts,we are doomed again malawians,history is repeating itself(munthalikas)

  7. bypartisan says:

    I was a Board member of one of the strategic utility organization in Blantyre. There r a million problems in the board but one of the GREATEST problems was to get approval from Government, if the board makes a strategic decision which requires urgent implementation forget it-u will not get it! Government is the slowest decision maker, some of our strategic plans have been gathering dust for the past 2years and this costs money! When government puts three or four professionals in a board they can make the board tick, a clear example r those boards which r now making profits for government(check 2012 to 2014 Board performance reports).

  8. chams j says:

    Nothing but the whole truth. Do we really need all those board chairs etc with our troubled economy? Plundering resources at its best. I salute you Tenthani, just like Edward Chitsulo, George Kasakula, you are among the few journalists whom I put in high esteem. I don’t miss reading your impartial and analytical articles. Keep it up please

  9. Now Tenthani tell us where should the President get the people to sit on these boards? Outside the country? Uk, US, Zambia, Japan or from your family? Foolish boy you are. Kagwere uko!

    1. Greencardless Malawian says:

      Hahaaaaa! Winawe chilungamo chakuthimva pakhosi….pepa…

    2. There are many competent Malawians, capable of running the affairs of parastatals as board members. There are the George Partridges and Thom Mpinganjiras of this world. You mean John Kapito or Chief Ngolingoliwa is better qualified to sit on the boards than these personalities with a proven track record of corporate governance? It is such reasoning that will keep Malawi at the current level of development for the next fifty years. It’s now time for business unusual.

  10. wokanaboard says:

    As much as I agree with Raphael and Thindwa’s views on Capital FM Sunday Round table discussion I have bad news! The names sent to State House by the Statutory Corporation and OPC for approval are completely different to the list which was released by State House. We know it is the prerogative of the Head of State to appoint boards but why bother Statutory Corporations and OPC in compiling a list of professionals to take up board appointments when u know that there is another list which has already been prepared by the Ruling Party?

  11. Muchizi John says:

    The parastatal sector if well managed can bring a significant turnaround to our economic development. It’s one sector that successive governments have knowingly decided to brutally frustrate its growth and purpose for political consideration. Like it’s been correctly observed by Ralph parastatals are nothing other than warehouses for political and tribal colleagues. Parastatals were created at independence to foster economic development, to create jobs, to fill in gaps in sectors that private sector had no capacity to invest like electricity and to bring forth the private sector practices in the delivery of public sector services. To achieve these objectives the organizational arrangements were modelled along private sector arrangements where you have boards of directors to manage on behalf of owner [s]. The practice is a complete departure from the original thinking. Today parastatals are controlled by capital hill and boards are a mere symbolism of private sector practice. Besides lack of autonomy to manage boards are staffed with individuals whose qualifications are political considerations only. People have no idea about business management and some can’t even speak the queen’s language. In some boards business has to be done in chichewa because don’t understand English. The appointment of parastatal boards is purely on the basis of nepotism, tribalism, political patronage and politics of appeasement. Like Billy Banda and one Mambala [trade union activist] being appointed for speaking against federalism on TVM. And people wonder why Malawi is the only country in SADC that is steadily underdeveloping. How can a strategic sector like this one be given to political scavengers and marauding hungry hyenas like the Billy Banda’s. This sector is very important for the future of this country and needs technically competent, dynamic and foresighted leadership in boards of directors.

  12. Benard says:

    Kapitok is lying. He was only vocal towards the end of his contract or tenure at MHRC. So his noise was strategic, to make Bingu appoint him to some other job. He should not lie. He is an opportunist this one. If the former president had jgiven him a job he would not have been vocal against her. We will see. Right now SRWB has 1001 problems let him solve those problems and end the water shortage in in the Southern region.

  13. rational says:

    Sir Tenthani, I can see that you are struggling to discredit the appointments. Just admit, APM has come up with boards that are competent to transform the parastatals. U have looked at tribes and ethnic representations, only to find that the appointments have cut across all ethnic groups, you have CSOs, you have professionals, you have politicians and people of all walks of life. Is this not what we have always wanted. I find it funny that your only attack now is that: people were not consulted. hahahahaha

    1. Greencardless Malawian says:

      How can an incompetent leader have an eye fora competent board choice leat they outshine him and reveal his incompetence for all to see

    2. Voter says:

      @ Rational

      stupid

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