Don’t be egg shelled, Malawi academia told

Legal issues commentator and Justice Link Executive Director Justin Dzonzi has backed the remarks by President Peter Mutharika call for university lecturers to “concentrate on research [and] not commenting on public trivia”, saying the Malawi leader and Chancellors of the University of Malawi (Unima) was right.

Dzonzi:  Research remarks OK

Dzonzi: Research remarks OK

The President said good universities are known by their research; hence, he asked college lecturers and professors to raise the profile of Unima with research.

The remarks were made during Unima fundraising dinner and dance at the Bingu International Convention Centre in Lilongwe on Saturday night and attracted a wrath of negative reaction from Unima dons.

But Dzonzi said “at a pure intellectual level, the President being an intellectual himself there is nothing wrong with the statement.”

“If we are to going to start invention, if we are to come up with new ideas and so on and so forth then the universities are better places to begin that process now” said Dzonzi.

He explained that historically, local universities have produced very little in terms of new ideas in technology in different specialty areas and this could be as a result of lack of the spirit of research in the university.

“If you look at universities in other countries they have registered major break troughs in medicine, in law in and in whatever field most of the ideas have come from universities. I think the sentiments from the head of state were made in good faith and it is within his mandate to remind these institutions that they just don’t exist to provide jobs for those who teach or just qualifications for those who go there to learn, institutions that must develop ideas and be on top of research,” he said.

Dzonzi however said the reaction from the academic may have been triggered with the academic freedom fight keeping in mind that, that happened when Mutharika was Minister of Education.

“One can also understand the reaction from the university but I think our university experts should not be egg shelled, they should expect that the public is going to exert certain demands on them and they must live up to the billing because they are an institution that must develop to Malawi and is right to remind them”, said Dzonzi.

In 2011 when he was serving as minister of Education, Science and Technology, Mutharika was accused of indecisiveness after lecturers at Unima downed tools, demanding academic freedom after a spy was allegedly planted in a political science class and reported lecture examples to authorities.

Malawi Human Rights Commissioner Benedicto Kondowe said while there was nothing wrong with Mutharika remarks on research, his remarks dissuading the academia from commenting on important matters, was unacceptable.

Kondowe said Mutharika’s gagging remarks could “simply hinge on academic freedom that lecturers have.”

Government spokesman Kondwani Nankhumwa has the President does not regret making the research remarks.

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The Objective Person

Please you people with moron in your heads. Have you ever heard government mentioning of increasing the funds to 901 billion malawi kwacha so that 100 billion is ear marking institution of higher learning especially in the area of research? They (lecturers) are not supposed to go into their pocket in order to conduct research. Mr Dzonzi you can not ask your wife why has she not cooked beef today when you know that you did not leave money for the same. Ichi ndiye chikanundu chachikulu kwabasi.

kene wa kene
Malawi, from the research point of view, is not fully explored in terms of research opportunities, yet our universities seems not to take this opportunities despite having so many learned proffesors and ph.d holders. As a result what you see them involved in are petty talk-talks. No wonder media reporters always target at them as sources of opinions of trivial issues! This is shameful for our universities! I totally agree that our universities should spend their energies on productive and relevant research. Makamaka ndimaona kuti aziphunzitsi a ku chanco ndiye ali patsogolo in entertaining trivialities than the other universities.
Andrew E. Mtambo

Thanks Dzonzi, it was thought provoking article.

Biketi Edwin

We have to focus on education and leave our defferences


The two issues should not have been said together: Do research and stop commenting on trivial things. The two dont go hand in hand.

He should either have shouted at the Professor to stop trivia things, since he has funded them enough to do good research. How can a Prof in rightful thinking not do research if he had funded the UNIMA for such? Shooting ones own foot.


Thats right Dzonzi, these lecturers should focus on research. This was a great opportunity for them to push the president to establish a research fund. Instead, they chose to be defensive. These so called intellectuals are good at pointing out other peoples` problems. How can you grow intellectually if you don`t accept criticism? wake up!


May be the president being the chancellor should have communicated his vision and commitment towards research through a strategy paper and not through public pronouncements. The paper would have carried all the necessary details to achieve his vision including the issue of resources. That what leaders of organisations do isn’t it!


Educated fools. Graduating thieves, murderers,liars, whores, idolators, adulterers, simple, foolish, slanderers, jezibel, drunkard, ahab, oppressors, extortionists, liars, deciever, thieves, child molesters.

Optic Computer

I don’t think polical science and law lecturer can do research on global warming and ignore roles of MPs and ward councillors. I don’t think lecturers who comment on political and social issues are in engineering departments. Kupulumukira mkamwa mwa mbuzi.

As much as the president might have said it in good faith but the gvt is the culprit because all public universities lack adequate funds to do innovative research since gvt has its priorities upside down. For instance, we have seen that gvt is ready to bail out some unpatriotic citizens who defaulted loans instead of funding universities to do innovative research. I know some pipo would say lecturers should write proposals and get donor funding, but personally i think that would never bring the much needed change. if we need real change in our universities its high time gvt… Read more »

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