Malawi VP Chilima is the reform he is pushing

Let me begin by an honest admission: I get irritated whenever I get assigned by my bosses to cover ministerial functions.

Chilima making his powet-point presentation

Chilima making his powet-point presentation

The irritation has to do with how I grew up, I guess. My father always taught me, by showing not just talking, the precious value of time. He was always on time; at work, church and the farm. As a result, I learnt to keep time. A lesson from childhood, they say, remains stuck to your brain like glue.

That lesson cultivated in me a man who is dangerously impatient with people who don’t keep time.

This is why I passionately hate covering ministerial functions because most Malawian ministers, I can even testify this in a court of law, do not keep time.

So it happened on Tuesday last week when my editor, Ephraim Munthali, assigned me to cover the interface between Public Service Reform Commission and the private sector. Vice-President Saulos Chilima was guest of honour. The function was starting at 8.30 am and he was assigning me around 7.35 am.

I could not believe when, after stepping out of the car, I saw the entire security detail of Chilima already packed outside the hotel.

So this guy is already here? That was my immediate question. I ran to the venue of the meeting.

I found three other journalists sitting at the lounge—waiting. After a wave of greetings, Pilirani Phiri—the veep’s personal assistant—joined us though visibly dejected. He complained about the veep’s arrival when no one from the private sector had arrived.

My immediate response was not to blame the private sector’s lateness. Rather, I expressed shock that Chilima came on time—something quite unusual with senior government ministers. My earlier feeling of irritation to cover the function, immediately, got washed away. I became inspired.

At around 8.47, the private sector, one by one, started to arrive. The room was all packed by 9:15 am. Then Chilima trooped into the room unannounced—traditionally a senior government official’s arriving is announced so that we all stand in advance.

He came carrying his laptop bag—traditionally everything about senior government officials is carried by a congress of his or her security detail and personal assistants.

He went straight to his desk, unpacking the laptop from the bag. As we stood in honour of his coming, he told everybody to sit as he made his way to connect the laptop to the overhead projector. There was a visible aura of surprise

Then he spoke: “Welcome ladies and gentlemen, can Mr Kaferapanjira lead in the introduction of members present; as I work out the technology issues here.”

Chancellor Kaferapanjira, chief executive officer of the Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI), began by apologising—something which I know is a usual job for ministers. Whenever you go to minister’s function, they always begin their address by apologising for coming late. But on Tuesday, we saw the private sector apologising for coming late. What a way to teach and reform the people!

The organisation of the meeting too, was quite against tradition. Chilima was his own master of ceremony. He did not read a prepared speech, but gave a PowerPoint presentation that, judging by the masterly of its flow, was prepared by him. He remained in the meeting, agreeing and disagreeing with the private sector on various issues until it was over.

I am not trying to make a hero out of Chilima. I am just celebrating the kind of leadership this century demands. It’s good he is chairperson of the reform commission because he is pushing reforms with actions, not words. He is the reform.

  • The article first appeared ‘On the Frontline’ in the Nation newspaper.
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65 thoughts on “Malawi VP Chilima is the reform he is pushing”

  1. It shows the caliber of our private sector.

    Mr VP as soon as you are through with public reform, embark on private sector reform. There is need to sweep it clean, if we seriously want to develop our nation.

  2. Nambewe says:

    I watched on TV this meet ,you mean to tell me even Prof Chikaonda turned up late?The faces that were there ndi ma him apa town amatama ndiye mukuti sadziwa nthawi?Shame no wonder a Malawi sititukuka.

  3. sayimoni bayisikolo says:

    We want the people who benefitted from cashgate get arrested.Your friends in China are even hunting people who ran abroad from corruption cases and are getting them back to answer charges and get arrested.Reforms without arresting cashgate thieves is not changing anything for Malawi.All cashgate thieves needs to be crushed with clubs like beetles.That’s what we want Mr Airtel Money.These talk talk of reforms are not leading anywhere.Time management is a new kid on the block in Africa.Ife tinazolowera kuyendera dzuwa kuno Ku Africa..zoyamwila kwa azigogo athu.Napepe.

  4. Du says:

    Mr vp exactly time is a comodity than be put on trade.


  6. ine mmalawi says:

    ok ,where wil be the change,nonse kumeneko mwalandira ma allowance,bt what u havent disclosed your plans,you would hav beter asked civil service themselves thy are able to tel where it needs ammendments ,it 2n only take 5daz ,what a wastage you are doing now

  7. Mtupatupa says:

    I dont see any story worth news here, though Saulos Chilima is championing change in the public service, though change starts with one person but how many public workers has the public service have? Suposse the Public Service have 130,000 workers, you mean that the VP will visit them all, in tens or one by one to narrate his vision? There is power in unity, if the Public Workers themselves would want the change, it could have been better, all in all Malawians lets be in time always

  8. kate says:

    Bravo Bwana VP. You are handsome even in the head. However I and my Children jokingly call you ‘MR MONEY’ each time we see you on TV since you are an Airtel guy. WELL DONE BOSS!

  9. jupiter says:

    Nkhandwe yake Imeneyo ingapereke mpando kwa angoni kaya ochewa?…kkkk mwina..kodi izi sankangofuna vote.????????

  10. Hon. Chilima ndi amzeru.Mwana mbuu make mbuu.mukafuna kuona chilima onani Pro. A.P.M.

  11. Frodo says:

    the strategy is to keep people fixated on applauding this public service reform gimmick while the plundering of state coffers continues unabated. what we need is public accountability, period. we should be swiftly delivering true justice by recovering the hundreds of billions siphoned already and arresting those responsible. elsewhere, this could have been the starting point. with its high levels of illiteracy and lack of basic civilisation, this will remain a stupid country full of stupid citizens led by crooked leaders

  12. insipired says:

    He is just the 1 our country needs. God gude him throughout the way.

  13. saini says:

    keep up VP time management

  14. MCP Propaganda says:

    Chilima 2019 Boma! He has my vote without any doubts!

  15. richard says:


  16. BOB says:

    When i see him i see government

  17. Zachisoni Phiri says:

    Keep up honourble

  18. ifeyo says:

    Next shld be a malawian well deserving not from de north, central, or south.

  19. Seko says:

    It is good that the media has identified his conduct to highlight the need for change. Justin Malewezi was very good at that. Even when he went to address party meetings in most rural parts of the country. He could wait for an hour before people showed

  20. Amin Kambani says:

    Time is money

  21. Chabecheker says:

    Visit the courts to instil time management in the court system as well

  22. kd says:

    Angoni ur just wasting ur time dziko lino silidzatheka …. all our standards are thrown to dogs

  23. aphiri says:

    Even Peter knows that saulos is sharp . But the problem with Dpp he is from Central so they can squeeze him up to zero. Osati za atupele Ali ziii. Saulos just stock womanising .kuli aids ilibe kuti ndi ndani . U LL rule us one day. I like u though

  24. Masoapatali adaongola Mtengo. says:

    I agree. Chilima keep it up. Thanks to God for giving us such a sober leader.


  26. sothini says:

    It shouldnt be @ beginning but through out.
    Very impressive, but a gap remains wider civil service to private sector, Marginalise please the VP.

  27. Mngoni weniweni says:

    @ Kadakwiza, sorry to say we don’t need a president from the north in the near future! May be after 100 years from now it will work! I mean after the northerners change their selfish manners. After all, we do vote to put the president on the seat. So as far as we vote, we from the centre & south will always choose m’bale wathu not wa ku mpoto! Kaya tavanaaaaa? I hope I’ve made it clear!!

  28. Mngoni weniweni says:

    It’s high time this ” ya boma imavuta kupeza koma ukalowa walowa” mentality come to an end with this govt. Chilima has shown that with political will, our country can move forward for the betterment of our children! Osamangoganiza za lero lokha ngati a Tcheya ( Bakili), who made sure he got his cut from every move he made in regardless of what 2mo will bring! He (Bakili) even planted a seed of laziness among Malawians with his useless handouts. Za bwino zonse a Chilima!!!

  29. aliki says:

    That was great, Sau!

  30. Livulezi river says:

    Kuli konse, pali ponse & chili chonse chimene amapanga Chilima ndi ++++++++++++. When he want to do, he mean business. There are a lot of top & well paid govt dogs who at the end of the month contributes literally nothing tangible worth pointing that can benefit our nation. But when it comes to salary issues, they are busy mobilizing the juniors to act on their behalf.

  31. Livulezi river says:

    Hamba naye mwana wa mngoni!! Time management ili apo, what the public want from you this time around is seeing you implementing the salary harmonization! Mukangotero Angoni, ndiye kuti mwaithaaa !!!!! Ngati munkakwanitsa kulawilira 5 am kuchoka ku Nsipe kupita kwa Kampepuza kapena ku Mphate kwa a Eneya wa pansi kukagwira malo oyala maungu ndi mango, ndiye mukanike pano wa pa motokala?? Kikikikikikikiki!!!! Hape nyu yie a VP!!!! Timakunyadirani kuno ku Mangoni!!!!

  32. Angoni says:

    Ndimene angoni amachitila. Thumbs up

  33. Angoni says:

    Ndimene angoni amachitila

  34. Livulezi river says:

    Chilima, wayamba bwino Mngoni ! Peter knew what he was doing the time he picked you for VP. Chilima don’t disappoint the President, prove his choice on you was right! Remember, it is said, when a child washes his/her hands, he/she is entitled to eat with Kings. So there you are!!!!! You never know ukachita bwino adzakusiira bwanawo mpandowo!!!

  35. Mlomwe says:

    Chilima nd I deal and how I wish he becomes the next head of state [after Mutharika]

    He is my mentor!

  36. Kadakwiza says:

    Ndi deal, but the next president after Muthalika must come from the North, serious speaking. First president was from central region. Second Muluzi from east, Bingu from south, JB from east and now south again. If Malawians love unity government, the next president be from the north. Serious.

    1. machete says:

      Hahaha iwe

    2. Big brain says:

      Ki ki ki chihana came from the north mark ma words

    3. Wodala says:

      You seem to admit that quota system is ok?

    4. mmihavani says:

      Eee atumbuka inu kuti mukhale president ndiye muzatiphatu. Mwanyanya kuipa mitima ndi kukonderana. Department or company kungokhala mtsogoleri mtumbuka basi onse akhala atumbuka. You need to change and start accommodating others. Look at Total Malawi, Press Corporation’s Madeco, Press Properties, Northern Region Waterboard, Eastern Produce etc. Change first then we trust you.

  37. mocha says:

    Saulos is impressive… lets hope he wins at the DPP convention… oops!! DPP doesn’t do conventions

  38. Yobe enala says:

    Wow! Great Saulosi that! That’s what modern leadership is!

  39. mukhitho says:

    Its their own bulb to chew

  40. Webster The TechGuy says:

    hahaha! About the VP connecting the laptop, that’s what I’d do, too! He’s an IT guy, it’s his field…he still gat passion for IT. So, why not?

    1. l says:

      Clearly you don’t know him. His first degree is in economics but the went the marketing route

  41. vin mongu says:

    i like this man klaus. it shows that he was in private sector unfortunately the malawian private sector is not principled and not time conscious and they showed it with the meeting the VP. In general, we need the VP kind of people.
    I think APM is doing it well by empowering SKC and we have a visionary who can pick up if APM rests. this is the generation of leaders needed

  42. Webster The TechGuy says:

    Politics aside, I so much admire this CHILIMA guy….In five years the Civil Service should be completely transformed!

  43. Good man teach them, Mr VP

  44. Bekani says:

    Careful Ephraim, you do not want the Mlakho inner circle to squeeze this energetic technocrat. You know they are already very nervous about possibilitiea of the young man residing at Kamuzu Palace – any time!

  45. Ntsibi says:

    I for one, am realy inspired by the VP’s conduct on this meeting. A good lesson to all both in govt and private sector. Time management and working is a big hussle for most Malawian people, be it in govt or private sector; bwana or floor engineer.

  46. yonayona says:

    Talk real issues bro’ just 4once!
    Dzuka malawi dzuka!!!

  47. captain solo says:

    lets emulate the style which the vp is leading not just pomp yourself as an island..bravo vp aphunziseni.

  48. John Wise says:

    That’s how articles are to be written, very interesting.

  49. If you happen to go to Mzuzu Mr Chilima i would love you as well pay a surprise visit at Immigration offices,you will see that ppl wait for the staff to alive around 9:00am instead of the staff waiting for ppl.Very ridiculous,they are ppl sitting in offices but they dont deliver to the public wich i see it against their conditions of work.CONCERNED MALAWIAN.

  50. cashy G says:

    Am not a diphiphi fan but I salute Chilima,he is one of the best modern young leaders so if he becomes our next true President,Malawi want regret,pure professional job in him,no politics

  51. Ministers are not bosses,coming late affects everything prepared on that particular day.If you were chosen with ppl to represent them,you are not a boss to them,but they are bosses to you.What is needed is to show a good example like what Chilima did on this function.Otherwise if you dnt cope up ppl will not stop critisizing you until your term ends,what follows is valueless nothing else.

  52. Bwampini wa Muthanyura says:

    Nice reading! Captivating! Motivational!

  53. bongozozo says:

    I just like the lines. Its like I am watching a movie and Sau is the main character. By the way I also like the VP handled
    himself. We need this and not the bigger than the world from presidents and some ministers. Imagine the VP connecting the laptop o

  54. bongozozo says:

    I just like the lines. Its like I am watching a movie and Sau is the main character. By the way I also like the VP handled himself. We need this and not the bigger than the world from presidents and some ministers. Imagine the VP connecting the laptop o

  55. Israel2013 says:

    I hope the other ministers can copy from him so that by and by we can become a changed society as regards time management.

  56. MBACHI says:

    Chilima teach them. Malawians when they say 2 oclock to them it means 4 oclock. I hope you are a different Malawian.

  57. Love Mulauzi says:

    You must be the change you wish to see in the world.-mahatma gandii.
    Show them VP.

  58. MZUZU says:

    Malawians will never have VP evermore like Chilima, enjoyable man. Baba gwirani ntchito yanu & reform pipo. I always salutes u, which VP presented the presentation using PC, z answer is ng’oooooooo akhumbo amangokhalira kunyula paliponse, akaka ulesi basi, malewezi palibe anachitapo kwa anthu nkukumbukapo. Am PP member but pa saulos po ndi dillu.

  59. Alufeyo says:

    You are missing the point the issue should not be keeping time but working. Bright Msaka that brilliant Chief Secretary and Lawyer put it right by saying being in the office is not the same as working. The problem with Malawi public service and private service is thay people are in the office but they dont work. If you go to most private companies you get irritated by lack of attention to customers coupled w0ith lack of speed with which service is dispersed. When i appeared before the public service reform commission i was shocked at the lack of preparedness on their part and lack of knowledge and appreciation of the public service. In reforming the public service we must never create a democratic deficit. How will the recommendations of the commission lead to productivity? What causes low productivity on the public service? Is the public service unproductive or ineffective? Mind you the ILO says the productivity of the Malawian worker (both public and private) is very low. More importantly successful reforms in the world have been those that have not been a one man crusade. The intention is noble but the approach very arrogant.

    1. mmihavani says:

      Alufeyo how arrogant is it? Can you tell us what arrogance is in their approach. I think you are a bunch of resistant guys who want to find faults and postpone the reforms simply because you are benefiting from the status quo. But what you should know is you can’t prevent it. The guy is a hard worker just accept that fact. What have you yourself achieved in life that is notable?

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