Give us tough love the Magufuli way: Malawi have lessons to learn from new Tanzania President

For such a small country, Malawi likes its things big. Big cabinet, big number of civil servants, five big presidential residences, a big parliament and big cars on the big presidential convoy.

President of Tanzania Dr John Magufuli engages in press-up at a rally before

President of Tanzania Dr John Magufuli engages in press-up at a rally before

Anyone with any truth in them will tell you, though, that Malawi can run on half the number of civil servants, half the ministers, half the MPs and half the Permanent Secretaries it is using today. The president can run on two state residences and half the number of vehicles on his motorcade.

But it is mostly for political reasons that the government wants everything to be big. In the attendant confusion, politically-connected people stand to benefit because we know that the bigger the government, the greater the opportunities for big (and some small) corruption. So instead of reducing public expenditure by cutting down on its bloated bureaucracy, successive governments maintained a constantly ballooning civil service.

It is true that there is significant unemployment and underemployment in this country and people are looking for jobs, any kind of job, even the ones they didn’t go to school for. But the Malawi government can’t be the place to accommodate people who can’t be employed elsewhere.

Government workers need to understand that their wages don’t come out of thin air. For the most part, wages have to be earned in profits by the company they work for. The company they work for is the government of Malawi and it is broke. That the government has almost twice the number of drivers on its payroll than the number of vehicles it has, for example, is scandalous. What are the rest of the slackers doing at Capital Hill, without vehicles to drive? If you want a fine example of what happens when a government spends on the civil service more than it can afford, look no further than Zimbabwe.

President Peter Mutharika knows this and his irritation with a bloated civil service is evident. He told those who felt government salaries were too low to go and look for jobs elsewhere. Of course, upsetting civil servants is a political minefield in this country, but that’s to be expected.

I would say he goes right ahead and let vice president Saulosi Chilima move with speed on reforming the civil service. It is a poisoned chalice, we know, and reforms will be met with strong resistance, we know that, too. Even Chilima’s most ardent supporters have quite often commented how utterly futile and cosmetic his efforts appear to be so far. Nevertheless, it is a job that has to be done. John Magufuli, President of Tanzania, is leading the way by cutting the size and reforming his own service. He is showing us all that it can be done.

Saulosi knows better than most that we need to be globally competitive. No-one will come to open a business in Malawi just because they heard that we have a beautiful lake and a warm, friendly people. If we aren’t organized, cheaper or efficient and better than our competitors then our potential customers and investors will go elsewhere. It’s as simple as that. We can’t be a nation of slackers and still expect to be rewarded for that. Our leaders need to give us tough love–the Magufuli way–in doing the difficult but necessary things if we are going to succeed as a country.

If Saulosi Chilima can demonstrate that he can usher meaningful reforms starting with the civil service, he can use that momentum—and the gains from that—to [secure re-election of the Presidency].

Malawi’s next leader could have been Atupele Muluzi, but his supporters and admirers must feel betrayed that the young man is today eating and sleeping with the enemy while they are out in the cold and not even getting the crumbs.

Lazarus Chakwera could have been another, but the MCP has no clear alternative policies, its president has no political identity and the party has a damaged brand name and reputation to manage.

And in Jessie Kabwila, its spokesperson, the MCP has a big problem.

Far too often, Kabwila has said one thing and the party has had to come and clean after her. She gives the impression that the party she speaks for has no script from which its messages emerge. Or that it doesn’t know how strategic communication should be done.

Of course, the MCP fought a good bout in the last election and came close. But the next election will be fought on real issues, and won’t just be about removing from office a hapless woman who was clearly out of her depth.


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26 thoughts on “Give us tough love the Magufuli way: Malawi have lessons to learn from new Tanzania President”

  1. boston mlotha says:

    poor stuff with cheap political propaganda

  2. mphatso says:

    how I wish Malawi had such patriotic leaders……a President learn something from your neighbor for this is the way to go……poor malawi

  3. griffin says:

    My insight Magufuli is an exemplary leader Africa should learn lessons from, for example within his thirty days of work he have instructed government institutions not to travel outside the country as a way of minimizing expenditure, he has summoned ministries to cut their celebrations expenditure with 50% and the money be given to the ministry of health,he has laid off half of the state house staff as a means of saving,he is operating without ministers for a month in preparation to have alean cabinet,any corrupt officers are directly fired and he is strengthening civil Servants capacity through un noticed departmental visitation,Indeed Magufuli is a force to reckon with I wish Malawi and Africa should have such kind of leaders, I salute the Tanzanian President,my advice to the reporter pliz make aresearch and re write your article..

  4. Koma ????? says:

    ONE of the poorly written article with no proper meat to justify the title!. Where are the lessons from magufuli and what he has done. Shallow article….tell us what Magufuli is doing as some of the lessons learnt for Malawi and just bla bla bla… be explicit dude

    1. Ayobe says:

      “…there are none so blind as those who do not want to see”. It is clear from the first two paragraphs of the article that the major lessons from Magufuli are that an African government can cut out a lot of executive waste in order to save public funds and be more efficient.

      But true to DPP pigheadedness you do not want to “see” that reform is possible. This is why come 2019, this DPP government will leave the government much worse off than when they found it in June 2014.

      Reforms ought to start with APM himself. Why should State Residencies blow up 42% of its annual allocation in just 3 months? Mukhito is head of state residencies, in Malawi – what business does he have to be accompanying APM on all trips (both external and internal) when his mandate is to look after the numerous state residencies? Why should we have excess vehicles on the presidential convoy? Why should people like Mwanavenkha be travelling incessantly looking for “investors” who never invest in the country? This is just a snapshot of the sort of nonsense Magufuli would tackle head on.

      Magufuli has started his term one and half years after APM – but by the time APM winds up his term Magufuli will have achieved much more because he has the right attitude…

  5. Pple Who Are Selfish Always Talk Like That ‘we Can Run On Half Civil ..,half…’what A Joke We Are Already 14million And As It Is Ratio Remains 1:200 In Primary So With Ur Half U Wil Solve The Ratio

  6. BMW says:

    Article wasn’t properly written. No mention has been made of what Magufuli has done. We have to search elsewhere online to know what you’re talking about.

  7. Nyembezi says:

    Idriss,I don’t see what Magufuli has done. You are not focused enough. Show your readers what Malawi should learn from Tanzania. I don’t anything here. U just bash Chakwera and Kabwila.

  8. Koma Kumeneko says:

    Munthu wanzeru zake zabwino and ofunila malawi zabwino should see Chakwera as a sulotion to Malawi problems, i wonder anthu mukumatchula mpaka Atupele as next leader? Guys we got to be serious we our nation zibwana zachitika and its enough lets love our nation by chosing a right leader with vision and for now the only man insight is Dr Chakwera. Nanga zikuchitikazi ndizinthu?

  9. Kadakwiza says:

    This guy called Idrissah Al Nasser I think is not a Malawian. Names like Idrissah mainly comes from Chad. That is why this guy Idrissah Al Nasser don’t know much about our country, Malawi. He is a stranger. let me say, he is a foreigner. Malawi is in this economic mess because because of UDF under the leadership of Bakili Muluzi. Bingu came and made things worse. Come the Professor of all professors Peter Muthalika who made our economy at standstill. Nothing is moving. Running a government is not like selling airtime and Internet bundles at Air tel, No! It’s serious. So Mr. Idrissah Al Nasser stop praising DPP and your Muluzi. The next government will be formed by MCP.

  10. Chimunthu Banda says:

    Poor Idriss, you evidently need a physician to treat your miopic eyes. On the other I guess you an idiot being exploited this notorious trinity made up of peter mathanyula, atupere buluzi and mkaladi wa airtel. You mean you are too blind to see the hope of Malawians in Dr. Chakwera? May God sustain you until 2019 so that you see it. you are a miserable zombie idriss ali nassar

  11. Walks-By-Night says:


  12. gwaza says:

    What you are saying about inefficiencies, reforms and the bloated everything is true. But the last four paragraphs of this article have destroyed the good intent and preamble of this author. It looks he holds some vengeance with MCP and in particular Chakwera. It seems the author was somewhere lost in his good thoughts. I understand it must be due to fear as at times the author is evidently a bootlicker and is trying to impress by taking a swipe at MCP while still expressing some bitterness with his APM and DPP. Focusing much on 2019 election and ruling out MCP when you are at the same time exposing the inefficiencies of past and current governments is a misconception. Let’s seriously talk about reforms and what we should do learn from Magufuli

  13. Award Winner says:

    Ayamba kumene a Magufuliwa, asiyeni awumve kunona mpandowo muwone akusinthileni!

  14. Peter says:

    In Chakwera I see the vision. The way he declared assets before elections showed how no nonsense he is. That scared supporters and opponents. But I saw something which the others failed to demonstrate. He wanted to clean the house irrespective of the thoughts of others he wants a clean government and that scares those with a little darkness.

    1. Atsogoleri azidziwika kuti ufulu wamu dziko muno analipo kaya po thamangitsa ulamuliro wa azungu ndinso posintha zinthu Multiparty.Koma ponsepa zero nkumadziwika podya zakudya Mugabe ku Zimbabwe salora anthu otere sadziwa mavuto.Learn a lesson I support Chakwera as next president anthu akunjawa akutipweteka ifetu chimidzidzi tinavala.

  15. Juma Mike says:

    That’s your survey and thoughts but according to moist Malawian they don’t see any future in the DPP governmet the only hope for the Malawians is MCP and Chakwera watch the space

  16. Bingu says:

    I can see the cry of Ali Nasser in the article. We goofed as a nation by trust a man who did not have an idea of managing a ministry to run a nation. Some of us who had reservations in his leadership qualities said it countless times but the handclapping and boot licking men and women did not listen. The good thing though is that the challenges we are facing now are universally applicable to all regardless of who you casted your vote for. However the sad thing is even in such expereinces we still have the loyalists who are prepared even to surrender thier wives for a bate in support of such mediocre performance. I think literacy still remains a big problem that is hindering progress in development.

  17. akuntinji anamuona says:

    Mr Idriss Ali Nassah.

    Let me comment on your child like dreams.Do you really know Malawi? Have you ever worked in Any Government? and if yes on what position?

    I think you got wrong on your assumption on civil service.If you could have the pupil teacher ratio of Malawi, you could descipline your mind and write better. Do you patient doctor ratio of Malawi is far by required standard? Do you know that these gaps exist due to existing vacancies.

    Where do you base your thinking that Malawi can run with such number of civil servant? Do realise running government is not like managing an Ngo or private company?

    Are you in Malawi or abroad, it seems you don’t adequate research when you are writing.

    It will be an insult to civil servants labelling them as lazy people. What you should know a reform can be done to improve efficiency, it’s normal and you personally need a reform programme.

    The argument to say Malawi has got bloated civil servants, where did you get information? Or you based on the wage bill? Or you were misled by wellpaid IMF staff?

    Baba you can do better than this nonsense. This time around you should be mature and give us well researched articles not this child article.

    I mean what sort issues can we learn from Dr John,the President who is just knew trying practical side of His dreams, and you tell us learn from Him, are you ok in your head?

    You mean with your qualifications, you can’t write better?

    Malawi destiny is in God’s Hands. Don’t think your self interest will direct us. Malawi will remain Malawi.

  18. Khuth'upa o'Machemba says:

    In o’Chakwera as leader, MCP has no political swagger.
    And in Ms Kabwila-Kapasula as spokesperson, the Party has a formula for miscommunication; and even wasted opportunity of capitalizing on other Parties’ big mistakes. Because she projects herself, willfully or otherwise, as an uncaring, bossy and arrogant, over educated and uncompromising individual. She may be a good person and teacher, but a politician she is NOT. (Too bad) the fact is that in our highly patriarchal society, a woman politician like that will just pull her party down, down and down. Some people may say, “how about her nemesis, Ms Kaliati?” Don’t get me started, and don’t go there! Different to the nth degree.
    Since the dictatorship, MCP has more than disappointments after each loss in general elections. It has provocations. The Party cries foul, predictably always; next time they should cry “kwak, kwak” to live up to their party logo, the black cock. The days are over when MCP can just walk in imperiously and grab power, just like that! They should up their game to the level of the competition.
    Next time, we’ll make sure, before the results are announced, there is medical supervision available; for the anticipated heart attacks.

  19. thinktankmalawi says:

    There was no rigging…MCP is a central region party….they have to work hard to be a national party…this nonsense about rigging must stop….

  20. XXXXXXXXXXXX says:

    These kind of writings are the ones putting Chilima at odds with the big man. It may easily be construed as if you are saying Chilima would be a better president than the incumbent. Please stick to issues Idrissa other than antagonising the presidency. The DPP gurus are reading your article with keen interest!

  21. Kuntaila says:

    Chakwera ndi dhilu! Nasser you are an idiot pokhapo poti Chakwera has no ideology. Ife tikudziwa anatibera koma sadzabanso tatulukila ma strategy onse mphwanga

  22. Rich CJ says:

    Mmmmm! Thisis what we call teaching. The main problem here in Malawi is that our leaders have no heart and indeed have no soul. They talk more but they perform much much

  23. karen lazaro says:

    Mr Nassah,….this sounds like you are losing it. there is nothing to salvage from Peter and Chilima and no matter what you think, the issue of re-election of this duo is a non starter however you may try

    again, you must not think that the absence of a weak candidate as JB in the 2019 race will advantage peter…on the contrary it will advantage those you may not love so much…the issues are in simple demographics and also in the so obvious poor way your party is performing…

    watch this space..rigging wont be acceptable and will be punishable by the most , of aggressive means

  24. CK20 says:

    Yes malawi

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