CHRR faults Mutharika for gagging Malawi university lecturers

Human rights campaigner at Center for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) has blasted President Peter Mutharika for attempting to gag University of Malawi (Unima) lecturers from engaging the independent media with comments on issues of public concerns, saying such a move would be tantamount to “censorship”.

Mutharika,  Chancellor of Unima: Tells university lecturers not to comment on 'trivia'

Mutharika, Chancellor of Unima: Tells university lecturers not to comment on ‘trivia’

CHRR's Munthali  (left) says Mutharika gagging university of Malawi dons

CHRR’s Munthali (left) says Mutharika gagging university of Malawi dons

Speaking at the Unima golden jubilee fundraising dinner on Friday, Mutharika who is also Chancellor of the university visibly appeared bitter with lecturers who comment on issues of public concern in the media.

Malawi media normally solicit independent views from scholars on their field of expertise.

But Mutharika in his speech made an indirect reference to UNIMA dons who provide analysis or comments to matters of public policy or concern, discouraging them from commenting.

“As University lecturers lets avoid commenting on trivial public issues, leave this to others who are fit to comment on such but not you,” said Mutharika, a former university law professor.

He gave the example of the rift of councillors and MPs as “trivial issue” which the academics were not supposed to speak on.

But human rights campaigner at CHRR, Makhumbo Munthali, observed that the President’s “unpleasant” statement would to a greater extent be viewed that the esteemed lecturers should only concentrate on their teaching or research rather than commenting on public or political issues as they normally do.

“This may send a wrong precedence if not corrected at this infant stage as the statement may be viewed as government’s attempts to limit civil and political space for its citizens in this case lecturers,” Munthali told Nyasa Times.

“Everywhere in the world academicians play a crucial role, depending on their areas of expertise, in positively influencing public policy as is the case in the country towards strengthening democratic governance using similar public channels like media interviews, columns,” CHRR officer observed.

“The President himself, with a rich experience teaching in the academia, should be in a better position to understand these simple basics,” Munthali added.

He said President Mutharika’s definition of “trivia” leaves a lot to be desired.

Munthali said Mutharika’s comments were unfortunate coming from the Head of State who should promote freedom of expression, academic freedom, scholarly vibrancy and debate.

President Mutharika, when he was Minister of Education under his late brother’s administration Bingu wa Mutharika, presided over an ‘academic freedom’ impasse with university staff for months.

It was political science lecturer at Chancellor College, Blessings Chinsinga’s interrogation by former Police Inspector General Peter Mukhito – now State House chief of staff – that started the academic freedom saga.

The then Mutharika government fired four lecturers, including Prof Garton Kamchedzera, Dr Jessie Kabwila-(now MP), Franz Amin and Chinsinga. They were reinstated after court battle.

Vice Chancellor  at that time Dr Emmanuel Fabiano is now serving as Minister of Education.

The late Mutharika appointed a commission of inquiry to, among other things, redefine academic freedom.

Professor of law Garton Kamchedzera argued that only the Constitutional Court, and not a commission of inquiry, could interpret and redefine academic freedom. The commission was stopped from proceeding with its mandate.

In his remarks, Unima vice-chancellor Professor John Kalenga Saka said that, among others, Unima aims at enhancing research and widening access to quality and relevant education.

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53 thoughts on “CHRR faults Mutharika for gagging Malawi university lecturers”

  1. Life says:

    Its unfortunate that Malawians continue to say and believe that Peter Mutharika was an experienced law lecturer. Yes, he had been in academia for a long time but that does not mean he was experienced or good. Students rated excessively poor this law “professor”. One can see it that the guy cannot be a good teacher. He might have written a few publications with the help of colleagues but individually is a weakling. A lecturer who cannot say five sentences coherently??? This guy is a joke. Having him as president is one of the indicators of how impoverished, mind, emotional and materially, the Malawian people are. He does not deserve to be paraded as a head of state. He has no clue whatsoever. HOW can a whole head of state fail to comment on important issues like the sale of MSB??? I know, come next election, the people of Malawi will demonstrate again their through stupidity by re-electing him…

  2. Mabodza says:

    Mhesha, Where there is no vision people perish! You cant run away from your country because is in Shit. We are Citizens of our own Country only us we can shape the future of our nation. We have the right to criticise, improve and implement what is useful and productive for us. Look how poor the health sector is in terms of qualified professionals, Mind you they are more Malawian specialist doctors outside the country than we do have, others have change nationality even. Omwe anatsala siopanda dzeru kapena kupusa! Its all about serving ones nation. Don’t shut up People when they are making useful noise!!!!

  3. Paul says:

    In the seventies and eighties there were four compounds in Mikuyu Prison: one for academics, one for diplomats, one for Jehovah’s Witnesses–oh, and one for actual criminals. It’s a tough row to hoe, being an academic in Malawi.

  4. Kingster Bella says:

    C’mmon Mr. Professor! Who else can professionally comment on trivia public issues? I dont believe it! This is not coming from you Mr. Professor of law who has added value to international public policy.
    Wow! Really! this is hereditary. You would think, the calibres of the Muthalikas would be the first to promote democratic principles.

    Malawi will be the first country to discourage university lecturers commenting on public issues.. this is ridiculous..

  5. boston mlotha says:

    commenting on trivia what a waste of time

  6. gondwe says:

    Atumbuka inu mukhalira zonwezo zolimbana ndi Mutharika. You will never be on the driving seat. Mbuzi zenizeni inu. Ambiri kuda muli
    mbeee. Stupid

  7. Like it or not,we will keep on talking bwana!,untill you change,otherwise…….aaa,kaya!

  8. kenkkk says:

    Mleme, the problem is that if they chose a non-tumbuka to run human rights organizations,they will all fall prey to such corrupt regimes like dpp. Govt such as dpp would not listen to human rights issues,they will abuse human rights.

    So the so-called tumbukas are actually protecting Malawians from human rights abuse. Very few non-tumbukas can stand against the govt of the day if it is doing wrong.

  9. Mhesha says:

    Bingu told you that if you are marketable leave UNIMA and go….all because he saw a lot of trivia in you. Many of u remained put because you could not stand the stiff competition on the international job market place. All top universities are indeed famous for their research and publications of the findings. But you are busy waiting to comment in a news paper

  10. james alfonso says:

    Kkkkk, y is he himself commenting on this trivia, kkkkk

  11. moto mwikho says:

    Lecturers should have their priorities right. They have job description ; they are not NGOs or journalists. Their impoverished opinions add no value to shallow journalism.

  12. baby says:

    Mwapuya, zimenezo ndi zosatheka. Anthu ngati chisinga,as long as MCP is not on the driving seat, they will always attack u.

  13. Ezekiel says:

    Kkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk

  14. Jelbin mk says:

    Do other people think using their brains or what? Because I can see some commenting blindly they say the president was right into silencing the lectures then where is freedom of expression that goes along with democracy? I don’t wonder because most of the DPP blind followers did not go to school, you can agree with me by observing their Queen’s language I quote one of the cadets”no wonder why we are still there when Kamuzu received independence from colonial powers,as a result you leave everything in the hands on presidents forgetting that you also as our intellectuals have responsible,change your mind……….” This statement I understand must have come from a standard five drop out hence ignorantly commenting because he/she can not understand the word freedom of speech and academic freedom in their entirety.

  15. Nalimata says:

    Stinking and hell-bent CHRR. Is it a crime for the Chancellor to remind stupid lecturers like chinsinga to stick to research and show tangible research findings through reputable publications? Is university all about politics? Atumbuka you are missing a point. Mukuchedwatu!!

  16. kagolo chikaphonya says:

    His presidency is trivia as well

  17. MSANA WA PETURO says:

    The Muthalikas ndi mtundu wosatheka. Arrogance is their diet.

  18. Kadakwiza says:

    Malawi is in serious trouble. Malawi will start developing only when we will have a president from the north. I can explain why.

  19. Olobodoka says:

    Sureeeee……

  20. Achimidzimidzi says:

    My President is on the wrong side of democracy. So some Malawians are not allowed to participate in these debates.

    Hope the lecturers will come back to you with an answer.

    Wishful thinking basi.

  21. mleme says:

    Kodi ma human rights institutions onse anadzadza atumbuka okha okha? If it’s not this idiot called Munthali then it’s the other empty tin called Mtambo. Give us a break you silly fault finders from the North.

  22. nobel says:

    So the president listens and reads people’s comments on social networks? Why is he commenting on trivial matters not on sale of MSB? We have a joker here than a leader kkkkkk

  23. So he wants his unschooled mentors to be commenting on what he refers to as trivia. What a shame to you bigman? Wrangle between the MPs and Councillors is not trivia. Go back to your room.

  24. mfumusinyasa says:

    Ahh koma uyu akuti utopiayu ndi mbuzi ya munthu zedi. His comment is way out of relevance. Please write things that are pertinent to the topic under discussion osamangolemba bwekabweka. I like reading comments from both sides

  25. I hope nw mwachiona chifwamba bingu anali wabwino bwino nthawi yomwe peter kunalibe kungoti fike petro,zophana zidayamba nthawi yomweyo,ndee billy mayaya and your friends be active angazakuchiteni ngozi ngati okondedwa athu aja zuze,tenthani.

  26. Baba wa boy says:

    Malawians are very sad people.

    Your comments are concentrating on Muthalika as president, Was he speaking as president or chancellor?

    As chancellor he is right to advise his professors to concentrate on important issues and not trivia.

    We have contradictory laws in Malawi have any of these so called academic experts commented?

    But when someone dies, Oh they have been killed by government we need an inquiry.

    We have Bunda college of Agriculture, which can not even feed itself, but very good commenting about how government cant feed its people.

  27. kenkkk says:

    So the president can speak as well. The problem is that he is speaking on trivial things leaving out real issues of national importance which he runs away from talking.

    It is nonsense for apm to try to intimidate academics and curb freedom of speech regardless of whether or not the issue is trivial. Who defines what is trivial.

  28. zamkhutu Umbuli says:

    I am shocked that some people would like censorship board to come back. No one seems to be against our state president but some DPP Zealots think the president should be “feared” and not “respected”. This is very dangerous for our democracy!

  29. DOBO says:

    The president remark is an indication of fear of what happened to his brother in academic freedom senario whose. background is from comments from a lecturer.There is nothing to stop us commenting whether on trivial or not.What is trivial to the president can not be trivial to everybody.For example, rigging election in a democratic nation can be trivial to the president but not to everybody.

  30. Chikopa says:

    The President is right. Most of the contributions from the so called Lecturers are stupid, unbelievable and no-sense. Gulu la Chinsinga, Magolowondo, uyu mtumbuka wonyasa kwambiri waku Mzuni ndi Pof Kachedzera all talk the obvious without expertise. Next time please talk something which is well-thought and will contribute significantly to the country.

  31. Sapitwa says:

    The President is not stopping any University Lecturer to comment; he is simply expressing his views just like anyone else’s democratic right to their views.His concern I guess is that some comments coming from the guys who have no practical experience on what they comment on. They also tend to be biased instead of throwing their views to the public domain for people to make their own conclusions. That is where one can fault these UNIMA guys.
    Let those who have practical experience on issues comment rather than those who are so conceptual like these Professors.

  32. tuvitwana says:

    APM IS BIG mbuzi. THIZ ARE THE SEM ANALYSTS WHO RED OPINION POLLS WHICH SED HE WOULD WIN. PANO AWINA, HE DAZNT WANT CRITICISM. OFCOS, OLD AS HE IS, AKHULULUKILENI. STILL mourning BEN PHIRI KKKKK

  33. Bwampini wa APM says:

    Let the truth be told.
    1. The president erred in putting demarcations for lecturers. We are going back to the era of Bingu when freedom of expression and academic freedom was muzzled.

    2. The president erred in limiting the freedom of academicians may be he is supposed to provide a list of issues to comment on and those not to comment

    3. The president erred in closing the free thinking of academicians bearing in mind that he has been academician for a long time. I am beginning to doubt his intellect

  34. Kodi a Profesor Kahuma mwayambanso kusintha mawanga ngati Bilimangwe?Bwanji mukuiwala nsanga zomwe mudayankhula muli nduna?

  35. Think Tank says:

    The President should stop commenting on trivial topics as he has done. He should comment on issues as 92 billions and sale of MBS.

  36. Bongololo says:

    Mutharika is an idiot!

  37. Ntata Utopia says:

    CHRR trivia is trivia. To be honest these guys have much appetite in political issues and their expertise is questionable as they are mostly used to counterattack rather than building our nation. This is why we are poor till now with the whole UNIMA in existence since independence. To be honest these guys do not promote creativity and patriotism no wonder most of its graduates smaggle themselves a broad seeking greener pastures not putting their country first which educates them through scholarships and academic loans. Their expertise is needed of course but it should not always be political bias. The four lecturers were politically empowered to deal with Bingu for once and for all. How on earth a whole political professor lectures a coup d’etat and enjoys maxmum masking from CHRR, and yet CHRR was on the forefront confronting DPP gurus labelling them traitors because of time lapse from Bingu’s death to its pronounciation. CHRR’s neutrality is hard to believe as its personnel are always on the fight with current admnistration eg T. Mtambo. We need their expertise yes but they should refrain from being used as political missiles. To be honest UNIMA has failed us all as a nation and we are anquishing in unruly poverty because of their misguidance. The academic experts in other countries are true patriots who show love for their countries and they really refrain from commenting on trivial issues. They have gats and its hard to diverge them commenting on destructive things or not their field. We have resources and yet we are still failing because everyone wants to be heard and being proclaimed as a political hero. Had it been that Green Belt Innitiative was a political discussion oops many UNIMA professors would have an upper hand looking for journalists to echo their say.

  38. Sunga says:

    Ok.Tiziona.

  39. VIZAULI IVI says:

    so u want silence the lectures! oooh noo! walemba mmadzi mphwnga iwe! ask ua br. (daniel phiri )bi ng o, wherever he is. he is going to lecture u on that ie(freedom of speech)koma mapulezident opanda manowa abale! shupit!i

  40. Patrick Muthema says:

    I support you Bigman. Sometimes when you listen to the so called expert analysis you cant help but laugh at how ignorant these so called lecturers are at the issues they comnent on. For one thing i know that most lecturers who just graduated from their Bachelors and went straight into academics are too theoretical and have no clue at the reality if things outside their classroom and often end up making laughable comments. They just embarrass themselves like Bigman has observed.

  41. Bekeshu says:

    Sometimes you wonder whether this chinsinga thing is a lecturer or simply a politician. If he is wise, he must listern to what his chancellor has told him.

  42. yaki says:

    Read this statement between lines you stupid human rights campaigner you just want to argue with the president on trivial issues shut up your mouth if you have nothing to say or to comment on

  43. chipembere says:

    y… malawi is no longer in the dark let them speek
    on our behalf what r u afraid of.

  44. Tili Chenene says:

    The State President was 100% right because these academia folk have become mouthpieces of disappointed fruitless plebians who dream of accumulating worthy through bad words

  45. Good advice from the president. Misquoting from this chrr thing. Ma lecturer muzitchuka ndi ma research amene mwachita othandiza Malawi osati tima comment towonetsa ubulutu wanu. Ntchito kuloweza zolemba anzanu basi.

  46. Mungakane Muona says:

    Yaaah let me support the president speech coz government is spending huge sums of money in engaging you in different researches so that you should come up with solutions to some of the problems mw is experiencing for mw to move from its state of impoverished country but you are always busy commenting on uselessly things no wonder why we are still there when kamuzu received independence from colonial powers,as the result you leave everything in the hands on presidents forgetting that you as our intellectuals you have also responsibility,change your minds please start thinking of future generations of MW

  47. Mungakane Muona says:

    Yaaah let me support the president speech coz government is spending huge sums of money in engaging you in different researches so that you should come up with solutions to some of the problems mw is experiencing for mw to move from its state of impoverished country but you are always busy commenting on uselessly things no wonder why we are still there when kamuzu received independence from colonial powers,as the result you leave everything in the hands on presidents forgetting that you as our intellectuals you have also responsible,change your minds please start thinking of future generations of ME

  48. BigMan says:

    The president was simply stating facts that the half cooked academics should stop embarrassing themselves and their profession by commenting on things that they don’t know! Being a lecturer doesn’t automatically make one an expert in analysis of all things public. Most of them end up just showing their political colors when they engage in unnecessary criticism (not analysis) on mainly political issues. Unfortunately the media which solicits their comments (not analysis) is even more intellectually empty than the clowns in gowns.

    And as has been demonstrated by this chrr clown, calling yourself a human rights campaigner doesn’t make you an expert in anything. That’s why most of them just bark, bark, bark and bark some more…. for nothing!

    1. Zikomankhani says:

      Kodi galu iwe ulipo? There is nothing wrong with ‘half cooked’ (actually the term should be ‘half baked’) lecturers commenting on the antics of half baked politicians. In 1993 we voted for this right and no one can take it away from us again the way Kamuzu did for most of his 30 year rule.

      If DPP and APM do not want to be criticised at all the best thing they can do is to relocate to Eritrea. APM has already successfully gagged CCAP Blantyre Synod, but if he thinks he can do the same with UNIMA he has got another think coming. As Malawians we will continue ‘barking’ long after his lacklustre presidency is over…

      1. Kanthu Ako!! says:

        You are missing the point!!

        If these academics spent half the time they spend on trivia, researching on good governance, we would not be complaining of bad governance, research on how to increase yield on food we would not be complaining of hunger, or haw to extract fuel on lake Malawi without damaging the environment, we would be swimming in fuel.

        That is the point.

        Talk is cheap and that is what your professors do,talk,talk,talk. All mouth and no trousers.

        Have you heard of the saying “Little things please little minds”

        1. Charlie Hebdo says:

          Reading most of the comments including yours leaves me wondering if you have been to a University and are versed with with different fields or faculties that exist at a University. Most of the time, lectures being quoted are law, political and social science lecturers and many a time on legal and governance issues. Who else is better suited to comment on these issues? Don’t we have trust in our universities? Honestly you don’t expect a law lecturer or a political science lecturer to be making comments on say for example, irrigation, a field he has limited knowledge of. How many times have you ever heard Polytechnic or KCN lecturers commenting on issues? Isn’t it because there isn’t much news regarding their fields of expertise warranting their comments or views?

          1. Kanthu Ako!! says:

            I am talking about research, you are talking about commenting on issues.

            I have been to more than one university, and University of Malawi has the laziest lecturers.

  49. Hon Banda says:

    Let freedom of speech prevail. We like your comments Bwana Chinsinga. Please do not stop.

Comments are closed.