Memoirs of late Dumbo Lemani’s Personal Assistant: The making of Bingu’s presidency

“My first formal interaction with the late Bingu wa Mutharika was at the late Dumbo Lemani’s residence in Area 12, Lilongwe. I was serving then as Dumbo Lemani’s Personal Assistant.

Bingu wa Mutharika came by a minibus which dropped him at the gate. Adam – the late Dumbo’s chef – asked me if I knew the man!

In other words, the cook did not know who this visitor was and would have gladly spurned him away as cooks or domestic servants of high profile people often do with unknown or unexpected visitors.

Knowing this, I quickly instructed him to let the visitor in. I welcomed Bingu wa Mutharika and started chatting with him. I started by softening him up, with my admiration of his peculiar name, and later his exploits at the then PTA Bank (COMESA).

Late Lemani: King maker

Late Lemani: King maker

He looked into my eyes and seemed to like whatever I was telling him. I interrupted our chat, went to Hon Dumbo Lemani, who was dressing up in his room, to announce the arrival of the visitor. After this, Bingu and I continued our small talk. Within a short time, I was impressed with his line of thought on various issues.

We critically reviewed the day’s papers, and I was having a ball until my boss (Dumbo Lemani) came to join us. We had a threesome breakfast, with Bingu washing it down with a glass of juice.

After breakfast I excused myself, to let them talk business; but my boss would have none of this – so I stayed, and they talked, talked and talked.

Then came my instructions:

“Get his CV and draft a memo to HE recommending him for a job as Deputy Reserve Bank Governor. After that rush to Nthunthama State House where the ADC will give you an envelope for him.”

We agreed to meet in two hours time, to allow Bingu update his CV and for me to go collect the mysterious envelope from Ntunthama as instructed…

Hon Dumbo Lemani was rushing to make the morning session of parliament, but before leaving he gave me his last instructions. He was quiete a man of detail.

Since Bingu wa Mutharika had no vehicle, his Bineth minibus having just dropped him, I gave him a lift. We drove via my Capital Hill office, and then proceeded to Area 47 Sector 3 where I dropped him, after exchanging numbers.

Then I collected a large brown envelope at Ntunthama State House, and was about to follow Hon Dumbo Lemani to Parliament when Bingu called.  He needed  help to print some documents. And so, I turned, picked him up and drove to my office again.

There were two documents:

  1. his CV and,
  2. a press release dissolving his United Party (UP).

I re-worked on the wording of the press release  a bit. By the way, I was with late Dumbo Lemani on secondment from the then Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC).

During lunch break Hon Dumbo Lemani reviewed both documents, and instructed me to call the Director General (DG) of MBC.  I volunteered to drop the Press Release at Mema Studios, something which earned me a red eye from Hon Dumbo Lemani.

I had touched a raw nerve.

Repentant, I immediately called the DG, dictated the press release, and close to the 18:00hrs news bulletin of that day, the UP breathed its last, and seconds later, its demise headlined the news.

The next day, I started working with Bingu wa Mutharika on the memo recommending him as Deputy Reserve Bank Governor.  What followed, as they say, is history.

In bullet points:

  • The third term bid collapsed;
  • Hon Dumbo Lemani threw his massive weight behind Bingu against established UDF heavy weights;
  • The campaign for Bingu’s candidacy started in earnest;
  • the campaign for the State Presidency followed;
  • My own appointment as a District Commissioner – sort of out of the blue – followed;
  • The election and victory of Bingu as State President happened;
  • Then his fall out with the UDF,  and
  • all that jazz…”

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This is the end of Davies Saddo’s story, told as Malawians commemorate one year of the death of late President Mutharika.

© Davies Saddo

Wise One’s Note: I have made some minor edits and while all the errors are mine, the facts, are as told by Davies Saddo Esq. I am waiting for more personal assistants and other brave people who have served our leaders, to enrich our history by demystifying and clearing the mist, behind the decisions that have positively or negatively impacted Malawi

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