Muckraking on Malawi ‘fault-finders’

You don’t have to speak truth to power, because they know it already; What you do is join with the people and try to find the truthNoam Chomsky

Death is the inevitable consequence of birth. Although death is inevitable for any living thing, one wonders why this monster takes certain people in their prime.

If I could do deals with death I could have asked him (I am assuming such a mean character must be male) to spare one homo sapien a while longer – one Du Chisiza Jnr. Look, my friend Du was the avant garde of the nascent Malawi theatre. At only 36, the actor died decades too early.

I am remembering this special friend from Karonga today because of one of his stand-ups that has inspired today’s talk.

Peter Mutharika: Should not expect everyone to be  his hand clapper even when he is amking a cartoon of himself

Peter Mutharika: Should not expect everyone to be his hand clapper even when he is amking a cartoon of himself

You see, pro-democracy campaigner Chakufwa Tom Chihana was at his peak this other period. If truth be told, Simbi ya Moto’s heroic return to Malawi from a dissidents’ conference in Lusaka, Zambia, in March 1992, was the harbinger of the multiparty politics we are enjoying today.

The Catholic bishops took the cue from Chihana and, on April 6 that seminal year, spoke truth to power with their epoch-making epistle, Living our Faith. The rest, as they say, is history.

Suffice to say, however, Chihana – although businessman-cum-politician Bakili Muluzi beat him to the seat Hastings Kamuzu Banda had warmed for 30 years – became the king-maker anybody could ignore at their own peril.

Inevitably, because he grew too powerful, he was not short of critics. But his ardent supporters could not fathom anyone raising a finger at someone they believed was the next best thing to have happened to the human race after Jesus of Nazareth.

So, during one of his stand-ups at the French Cultural Centre in Blantyre, Du made a joke about Chihana and quite a few in the crowd did not like it…

…Upon which Du said, “Some people get angry on behalf of Chihana!”

That sent the auditorium into stitches.

But, jokes aside, Du’s observation remains true today.

Look, when he raises issues most patriotic Malawians think the leadership could have done better, President Peter Mutharika’s apologists go all over the place accusing the Muckraker of being a ‘fault-finder’.

Fine, but I would like a discussion on whether the ‘fault’ I find is no fault at all.

Besides, I would like to suggest that ‘fault-finders’ are actually important to civilisation.

If you do not agree with me, imagine yourself sick. If you go to a doctor what you are doing is asking the physician to find out what is wrong with you so that they can find the right medication to fix it. That is ‘fault-finding’, if you get my drift.

If the doc finds the ‘fault’ they prescribe the right medication and fix it and you are back at your desk at school or at work. So what is wrong with ‘fault-finding’?

Similarly, if your car is making strange noises; it cannot pull, the engine is misfiring or it is over-heating, you go to a mechanic to ‘find the fault’. If they find the fault, they fix new plugs or cables and your jalopy goes back on Kamuzu’s M1 gliding at a cool 120 kilometres per hour.

So what is wrong with ‘fault finders’?

So you see now, anyone with their heart in the right place, the grey matter between their ears working properly, will agree with me that if there were no ‘fault-finders’ amidst us in the form of doctors or mechanics, for example, we could have been dropping dead like mosquitoes sprayed with Doom; our cars could have been packing up in the middle of the highway never to move again.

There are ‘fault-finders’ in all facets of life that makes the very life possible.

So ‘fault-finders’, like the Muckraker or whatever form they come in, keep our democracy alive. If there were no ‘fault-finders’ like Chihana, the Catholic bishops and Muluzi, our beautiful Malawi could have been a failed state like Somalia by now.

Indeed, if there were no ‘fault-finders’ like the media and Billy Kaunda (yes, remember Agalatiya?) Bakili Muluzi could have gotten his ‘sad term’, wrongly referred to as ‘third term’, and sunk the ship we call Malawi.

Again, if there were no ‘fault-finders’, the Big Kahuna could have taken us off the precipice.

Joyce Banda, too, was stopped in her tracks by agile ‘fault-finders’; thus ‘cashgate’ was exposed on her watch.

So, what is wrong with ‘fault-finders’ checking Peter Mutharika?

‘Fault-finders’ have the thankless job of shaping up leaders to do well. If leaders do what they are supposed to do, the Muckraker has no business clapping hands for them for that is what they are handsomely remunerated for.

If leaders take the wrong turn – like needlessly being away from base for extended periods of time and sleeping in obscenely priced hotels, the Muckraker will fault them for he is so patriotic he does not want them to fail.

The Muckraker will continue to be irreverent to authority as well as being loyal to the flag.

Hand-clapping to authority even when they are making cartoons of themselves make them grow big headed they forget they hold power on our behalf. We have to constantly hold their feet to the fire, as it were, so that they always remember we employed them as malinyeros to steer the ship to the Promised Land.

Speaking truth to power is not a crime in a democracy; it is part of the game, we just have to live with it – whether we like it or not.


*The article appeared in the Sunday Times newspaper

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38 thoughts on “Muckraking on Malawi ‘fault-finders’”

  1. bingiza says:

    Your article is quite rich with facts which am sure you fully researched to compile.You are are a gifted writer nowonder you are contracted to a very reputable radio/tv house.’Muckraking’

  2. kholowa mkabudula says:

    Yeah! nothing wrong with fault finders, good let me find one in your article you liar, are those people mentioned in the story MALAWI MESSIAHS?

  3. Nzawa says:

    Tenthani, I think we the readers of your column have spoken right. Not that we are APM apologists rather Tenthani’s apologists. As you suggest I thunk we are the right doctors and we have found fault in you which we have prescribed the right treatment and you need to get healed which we believe you are cured. Don’t pretend that you are not cured. We want to continue enjoying your column as we have done for years but We dont want to read of one person(APM) week in week out otherwise you are sick too. Some of us buy a copy of the newspaper just to read your column as we do with DD Phiri’s column days. I am not a good writer so bare with me.

  4. johnM says:

    My only problem with this article is your comment that without Chihana and Muluzi, Malawi would have been a failed state like Somalia. If anything, Malawi is a failed state now and in some respects Malawi was more of a state before our friend Muluzi took the helm

  5. azeez says:

    Bravo Mr Tenthani. We are in a democratic country, zoopa zinatha kale.

  6. hst says:

    Yes, you should keep it up, just be consistently constructive.

  7. jemba jemba kapachika says:

    the malawi country needs people like tenthani who can speak the truth without fear
    koma uyu asafenso ngati robert chasoa pliz dpp killers are u hear me (wicked party of killers DPP) DAUSI ,PITALA NDI PATRICIA

  8. zowona says:

    when leaders are angered by critisim know that they have selfish motives

  9. Omama says:

    Tenthani will be the DPP News Strategist in office of State House and Ndata Holdings. Keep it up man.
    Omama oluona

  10. FCK says:

    Call a spade by its name, what Tenthani was saying is not wrong and nobody should see any offence in it eather He was saying what is true in APM Leadership and character, instead of helping APM to listen to the views of Tenthani and be positive you hand clappers are busy castigating him, am sorry to say most of you who have spoken against Tenthani are blind and cannot see what he is actually seeing which other people are also seeing which you hand clappers can’t even see, you had clappers can’t even see that APM is a tribalist hence he should be checked because he is fueling federation in Malawi, you can’t even see that he has spent K400M on a trip he could reduce his entourage to reduce costs when there is no medicines in our Hospitals ,you can’t even see that the three months which his predecesor proved but here we are nothing up in his 100 days he has done that you can show the nation he has done, hand clapping will not help us we want people of Tenthani’s courage to take the bull by its horns no fear or favour.

  11. Yona says:

    one of the biggest mistakes of DPP is nepotism evidenced in gvt, msb, macra

  12. Atamusi says:

    Keep finding faults,Raphael. But am not sure if its only APM you can check! Before everyone else,find faults in yourself,Raphael. Don’t hate those calling you a “fault finder” for that’s the fault they have found in you. You shouldn’t have come here to defend yourself while blaming others on the same, you fault finder! Your fault finding mission is slowly making you easily forget facts. We all know who started it between the bishops and Chihana,and you write your article giving wrong information. The editors saw it,but they didn’t want to find faults. We have seen it and you will be happy to call us fault finders…

  13. Yona says:

    One of the biggest of DPP is nepotism which is evident in government, MBS, Macra etc

  14. vindere says:

    This guy, the Muckraker is out of this world. He is so good,he makes me cry. We need more people like this who are not afraid to speak the truth to shape this God Forsaken country. Bravo Mr Tenthani..

  15. BigMan says:

    There is nothing wrong with criticism as long as the criticism is based on truth and facts. Criticizing a president for attending the UN meeting and staying in a hotel is not fault finding, its small minded, petty and downright pathetic. As can be seen in the media, Peter and his entourage are not on a picnic, they are working hard for the country and if you have been reading the news you would have witnessed the fruits of that labor.

    So to continue falsely criticizing the president on baseless and untruthful nonsense as if the whole purpose of the trip has been to have an expensive party in the most expensive hotel room in new york whilst doing no work at all is not something that any right minded person even from the opposition as is the muckraker can truthfully support. It is no longer criticism or fault finding when all you are talking about is untruthful. It becomes mere opposition propaganda. It’s tantamount to barking, barking, barking and barking some more…..for nothing!

  16. mike Fletcher says:

    Great writing let them who have ears hear

  17. The Patriot says:

    Leaders change but the Muckrakers changeth not! The same DPP supporters who seem not to like Ralph now were the same who applauded him when he was “fault finding” the PP government. It is so amazing how power makes people hate criticism. The people in power want to abuse taxpayers money and resources without anyone criticizing them. Democracy is free speech and if our leaders cannot withstand criticism then let them quit.

  18. Mavuto Jombo says:

    We know what Mr. Tenthani is trying to do here: Pretend to be a fierce critic of APM; make so much noise so that APM notices you; APM tries to silence you by giving you a position in his government then you are happy and you shup up. We have seen that movie before. But really, mr. Tenthani, you mean there is nothing else you can write other than against APM? How about the corruption going in in the Malawi courts for a start? Cases just sit there for ever for rich people while poor people are thrown in jail for stelaing chicken? Maybe try to investigate the Malawi corrupt judges……

    1. QUEENMOTHER says:



  19. Bono says:

    No. 1 thanks for the correction. I like

  20. KUKHALA says:


  21. Kweramchanya says:

    Good analysis and beautifully written

  22. Tozer Tsono says:

    Leaders in Malawi, embrace democracy when campaigning for positions but as soon as they get elected, they become former president Dr. Hastings “kamutu bi” Banda.
    Leaders need their hand clappers and apologists. Journalist are the same on certain issues.
    They clap when they are favored too. None of the so called Chewa educated elite in Malawi nor the known muckrackers, like Ralph Tethani, have challenge the Quota system in Malawi. They too clap for the Presidents on select issues of personal benefit. People as bright as Peter Mutharika, know that too. That is why, criticizing leaders, while you are leaking their fingers, is ineffective. I challenge Ralph to inquire with Universities in the West or any country, where the muckracker and other educated elite attended, whether the Universities had a special Quota system for Malawians only from Central and South or not.

    Otherwise, Clap on Mr. Tethani.

  23. Fred says:

    Tenthani has once again displayed his duplicitous nature with this article. There is a HUGE difference between constructive criticism which is meant to improve performance, as opposed to constant fault finding which is designed to frustrate its receipients.The way Tenthani has criticised the president, and other officials, in the past is not constructive at all. It serves to humiliate, degrade,shame and humble them to his way of thinking, otherwise they should get lost. That is one of the things which is killing this country of ours. The other one is malicious gossiping, but that is a story for another day.

    A case in point,APM was seen to be fit enough to lecture and lead students at a University in the USA, but in Mr Tenthani’s eyes he is just a spendthrift who cannot fulfil election promises within the unrealistice short span of 3 months. He hasn’t even given the man a chance and he has already written him off. Can we blame APM if he then folds his arms in frustration and decided to give up? How many of us can perform to the best of our abilities with our feet ”constantly held to the fire?”

    Tenthani can fool some people but he can’t full all of us. He must not try to deceive the public that he is only doing a patriotic duty by writing scathingly critical articles when in actual fact they only serve to destroy the credibility, confidence and goodwill of those who have been tasked to lead us. Yes, APM is not perfect.But what is the alternative? A country with no leadership?

    1. zowona says:

      u are part of the thieves

    2. Alhomwe Woye!!! says:

      Look, you are trying to get angry on behalf of APM. The president does not sound like he is an a professor. We wonder how he was able to impart knowledge to his students. He cant even articulate his mother tongue nor the national language. What sort of professor is he who can not solve university problems (remember the university of Malawi saga). What sort of professor is he who left his dead brother to rot. What sort of professor is he who changed the name of his brother on death. What sort of professor is he who wanted to take over the country unlawfully, steal the ballot, burn warehouses etc! His blunders are too numerous. We wonder.

  24. Danny says:

    Ralph you are a good writer keep it up!Takunyadirani baba

  25. The Truthful One from the West says:

    I agree with you. In fact the only people who do not enjoy your articles are DPP handclappers. In fact Peter Mutharika’s dismal performance in the first four months is very worrying. His nepotistic and tribal ministerial and public service appointments are sparking calls for federalism and secession.

  26. Mapiyamulupali says:

    This is excellent, we need such type of writing that can pump sense in leaders that hold power on behalf of the common Malawians. Good leaders will utilize this and change

  27. Emmanuel says:

    Word! Speak the truth as the truth liberates. Keep in mind our dear brother Wole Soyinka stated in one of his interviews to with the British Library, “when you speak the truth, politicians call it subversive!”. Muck cracking continue voicing!

  28. M'ngoni wa pa Ntcheu says:

    I always like your insights in your writings Tenthani. Am inspired by your courage to pinpoint the fault without fear of numerous bootlickers and chickenheaded blind party loyalists who are making Mw a hell to live. Bravo Mr Tenthani

  29. Najort says:

    The bishops were the first chihana took courage from them that’s the only missing fact from your beautifully written article

  30. Man city vs chelsea says:

    Who ever is not in agreement with this article should go to the Doctor and ask what fault has his/her brain done.

  31. Moyenda says:

    I like this Muckraker guy for his articulate language. Art makes life beautiful. You are a gifted writer. Keep it up.

  32. cash gate says:

    Kumeneko ndiye kulemba

  33. Precious says:

    Dzimvere mumtolo!

  34. Craniwell Yabooka says:

    Chihana came to Malawi after the historic 8 March Lenten pastoral letter in 1992. Check your facts right Ralph. However I am happy with your analysis of what true patriotiism means. We are tired of hand clappers.

    1. John says:

      Fault-finder! Good for you!

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