Malawi govt nepotism revisited: Mutharika and his crimes

It appears Malawians like to make conclusions out of selective information on important subjects that ought to be thought out carefully. This is the case on nepotism.

Not a Lhomwe government: President Mutharika and vice president Chilima at Mulhakho event

Not a Lhomwe government: President Mutharika and vice president Chilima at Mulhakho event

Some people say Northerners are nepotistic as if all Malawians from the North qualify for that label. Others want us to believe that President Peter Mutharika is nepotistic. But these conclusions are often based on incomplete analyses.

Recently, Nyasa Times blasted Peter Mutharika, branding his reign as “the most nepotistic in Malawi’s history.” Unfortunately, the argument was a complete distortion of the sermon Archbishop Thomas Msusa gave at the consecration of Bishop of Mzuzu Diocese John Ryan.

Msusa rightly said nepotism is not good for national development and someone hastily concluded: “Therefore, President Mutharika is nepotistic.” This is a serious accusation and it cannot go unquestioned.

President Mutharika is a political leader who has gone every mile to avoid nepotism. He has attempted to distribute key appointments across the regions and has at times gone against political norms to achieve equity.

If Mutharika was nepotistic, he would not pick Saulos Chilima, a Ngoni non-politician from Ntcheu, as Vice-President. Mutharika could as well have picked a fellow Lhomwe.

Government has three arms: Executive, Judiciary and Legislature. Yet to some people, Mutharika still runs a nepotistic government though the three branches are headed by Malawians from different ethnic backgrounds.

No one can say we have a Lhomwe Government when both the Legislature and the Judiciary are headed by northerners.

Richard Msowoya is Speaker of Parliament. Although the Speaker was not appointed by Mutharika, the President was fully aware that it was not his ethnic blood running the second branch of Government when he appointed Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda, SC to head Judiciary. There are Lhomwe judges that Mutharika could have picked.

The balance of powers in the Executive defies the nepotism theory. Some powerful ministries are headed by able Malawians based on their competence rather than blood lines.

The Ministry of Justice, one of the top-most ministries, is headed by Samuel Tembenu, a Chewa from Salima.

The Ministry of Finance is not headed by a Lhomwe, but Goodall Gondwe from Mzimba in the North. Mutharika appointed Ronald Mangani, a Yao from the Eastern Region, to the powerful position of Secretary to the Treasury.

Let us also say it was nepotism for Mutharika to appoint Lucas Kondowe, who comes from Mzimba, to head the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB). This is one of the few key positions Mutharika has appointed in the last two years.

It is important to appreciate that Mutharika left intact most of the appointments made by Joyce Banda to run to the end of their contracts.

Among the few appointments Mutharika has made is that of the Accountant General William Matambo who comes from the Centre. Can we say this appointment was also nepotistic?

One recent appointment Mutharika has made is that of deputy chief secretary Lloyd Muhara, who was a judge until his appointment. Was this a wrong appointment just because Muhara is a Lhomwe?

The fact is that it would be completely naïve to think that Mutharika should not appoint qualified Lhomwe people just because they are Lhomwes. What matters is the balance of power.

The fact is that nobody says anything when Mutharika appoints  people from any other part of Malawi. That one is never a crime. But it becomes an issue when the President appoints from the Lhomwe belt in spite of the fact that the President is also appointing people from other regions.

The case of Muhara is even more fascinating because the actual post of Chief Secretary to Government is not in the hands of a Lhomwe. Muhara is there to deputise George Mkondiwa. The very Chief Secretary to Government and head of civil servats is not a Lhomwe.

Another significant appointment Mutharika has made is that of the vice-chancellor of Malawi University of Science and Technology (Must). He  appointed Professor Address Malata who is a Chewa from Nkhoma in Lilongwe. She is the first female vice-chancellor and she leads Malawi’s academic beacon. Yet we still want to accuse Mutharika of practising nepotism.

When Professor Address Malata was appointed, some of us were expecting to see commendations being heaped on the President. I expected at least women groups to openly commend and encourage the President.

But I have also noted that we have lately gone into a media tradition of looking for obvious critics to assess every appointment decision the President makes.

When it is a good decision and that we find no fault, we stay quiet.

The moment we spot a weak point, we all go up in arms against the President.

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mmmmm,what brother Winston Msowoya means is that not any high position,for instance,anyone can be a President,Vice President,Minister Of Home Affairs,Minister of Regional Afffairs so on and so forth,but to be the Minister of Finance,you have to be a faculty and unprecedentedly well versed in financial dealings that’s why your presidents have been handling Gondwe with respect and admiration for over 10 years and think how many Presidents he has served? Since independence,we have had only two Finance Ministers with credible standings late D.K.Chisiza and G.Gondwe both HINYAS and yet,Northerners are the most hated animals.Chisiza was killed by Banda’s bloody rogues… Read more »

Imagine the country went Rwanda way, which tribe would be more scared?

Winston Msowoya
G.Gondwe was appointed to the Ministry from Bakili’s era not because he was a Yao,but because of his magnificent merits which you can not get from the South and Central Malawi,Bingu also ended up appointing G.Gondwe because of his vast knowledge in his profession and now Mathanyula depends on G.Gondwe for his brilliant handling of government finances and not only that,the IMF,EU and other international bodies,have highest respects for Gondwe’s brilliance in handling Malawi’s struggling economy which a Chewa or Lomwe couldn’t have managed to this day.Nipotism and tribalism go hand in hand and the ramifications are treacherous and divisive… Read more »

ur discussion is one sided … u did not dig into mulakhos in high posts. try that & we will see how u will conclude ur story

Vin Mongu

This is one of the most stupid articles I have ever read here. So what do you benefit from this article. indeed there are “akapilikone” everywhere. just by appointing address malata from Lilongwe and accepting recommendation from JSC for Andrew Nyirenda and Parliament voting for Msowoya APM is not nepotistic. Check his cabinet, how many of your kind are there and how many from central? Check the senior Govt officials are then write this stupid article again. Sychophants!! U need stoning!

I have carefully read through this article with interest. I have liked the way the writer has presented his arguments. Few corrections though 1. Saulos Chilima a Ngoni from Central Region was appointed to be a running mate and eventually a vice president because APM wanted an appeal from the central region and from the youth. It was not out of good will, just strategic. This explains why we hear that the inner circle in DPP is trying to strategize on how to handle succession after DPP learnt a bitter lesson in 2012. Under normal circumstances you expect the vice… Read more »

Mukuti chani kodi? Great reasoninv though. So why is he refusing to shed off appointing powers for some key positions. I also know some names sounding like they come from Viphya yet they are from TA Nkhumba or somewhere in the vicinity.


Nyasatimes is this a story or a feature….let the writer declare his interest lest he be perceived wrongly.
He has raised some truths but smelling fishy

Achimphamba Oyera
“There is no Chewa, no Tumbuka, no Yao, no Ngoni or Lhomwe. You are all Malawians”. That is the endoctrination that we got from the Father and Founder of this nation. When Malawians got the second Independence the leadership focuses on resuscitating a sense of belonging to a tribe. There are groupings in town hiding under the cover of keeping culture and chikhalidwe. Where were all these celebrations that are coming now: Mthetho, Mhlakho, Kulamba, and so on. We Malawians have chosen to go on a self destructive path as a nation. We were on the global village as a… Read more »

Well written comment.Thats what Malawi needs

Mndambala Boy

Mwana wa Njoka iwe…………………

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