Scary movie Malawi : The re-run

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.” – Charles Darwin in “Origin of Species.”

There is a joke about a simple, dense villager who goes to watch a western cowboy film. As they are sitting in the cinema, another movie-goer bets him that the main actor will fall-off his horse. The villager, wanting to appear savvy, takes the bet and loses as the cowboy does, indeed, get unhitched. Afterward, his friend admits that he has seen the movie before to which the villager replies, “I have also seen the show before, but I didn’t think that he would fall off again this time!”

The July 20 protestors

Well, Malawians are being treated to a re-run of sorts as we witness similar conditions and events that obtained under Bingu wa Mutharika – aid withdrawal, strikes, demos, financial scandals – (some involving spouses), a state wedding! – and watch Peter Mutharika’s indecisiveness, reminiscent of his time as a minister under his brother’s regime. He displayed a total lack of leadership during the “Academic Freedom” saga that lasted nine months when he was Minister of Education, flip-flopped as Foreign Affairs Minister after British envoy Cochraine-Dyet was unceremoniously expelled from Malawi as persona non gratia and oversaw the passing of ridiculous laws as Minister of Justice.That was then, when he was a mere minister.

Now, with an avalanche of strikes in all arms of government, a number of financial misjudgements bordering on impropriety and morally reprehensible salary increments for himself and others of the political elite – albeit now reversed after a public outcry – we find an embattled President Arthur Peter Mutharika displaying the same characteristics of someone out of his depth. Most interesting is that the recently installed Chancellor of the University of Malawi, now President, again faces a stand-off with members of academia and support staff of the university who have gone on strike. Last time this happened, Peter Mutharika literally fell off his horse and proved incompetent to deal with issues; will he fall-off again this time around?

In all fairness, Peter Mutharika gives the impression of a leader that has the ideas to actually transform Malawi. He is a cool-headed technocrat with an impeccable academic background and displays a refreshing level of disdain for grandiose political theatrics and melodrama that Malawians have gotten so tired of; it is a huge blessing not to be bombarded with the unceasing blare of presidential convoy sirens day-in, day-out with attendant “party colours” everywhere and nauseating radio and TV regurgitations and re-broadcasts about a president’s each and every vacuous event and vitriol against political opponents at every given opportunity.

We now have a leader who is putting in the time and making the right noises pertaining to investment and growth, and who can deliver given the chance. It’s just that he carries the unenviable baggage of being a brother to someone who almost brought Malawi to its knees and an inherited legacy of, and suspected participation in, alleged abuse of state power and resources for self-enrichment which makes everything that he does suspect.

In addition, his laid-back personality and leadership style, coupled with observable inexperience with African jungle politics and an eerie palpable fear of publicity and controversy for a politician, may make him the president that never was. With rising discontent, on-going strikes and threats of demonstrations by civil society, Peter Mutharika needs to start thinking short-term continued existence if he is to realize his grand ambitions of transforming the country before his term comes to a pre-mature end. One can only hope that, should the heat becomes unbearable, the survival instinct does not turn him into a despicable despot like his brother. Fingers crossed.

There is every possibility that the momentum to demonstrate frustration with President Mutharika’s administration will gather pace and evolve into a political cat-and-dog fight given that the ill-advised salary increments have somewhat back-fired. Opposition leader, Lazarus Chakwera has been caught with his pants down and quickly needs to redeem himself. His moral compass and credentials as a leader are under a microscope and prospects of the party that he leads, Malawi Congress Party (MCP), as an alternative government-in-waiting are being seriously questioned. As part of damage control, the embarrassed MCP leader may opt to go on an aggressive offensive against the DPP administration in an effort to restore his soiled image.

Meanwhile, the fact that President Peter Mutharika’s DPP government is in serious trouble is not lost on the still-bitter former ruling party, Peoples’ Party (PP), who have re-grouped and restructured in an apparent bid to re-establish themselves as a formidable political movement. However, the absence of their leader, Joyce Banda, who has gone into what can only, unofficially, technically and constructively be declared as self-imposed exile, is a crucial disconnect.

One gets the impression that she is cherishing the moment when things will get so bad that she can take advantage of the popular discontent to miraculously resurrect as a messiah. The level of visibility and attention given to her by western institutions, and Peter Mutharika’s unwarranted obsession with Joyce Banda, speaks volumes and may be a precursor to the Chakufwa Chihana scenario where Dr. Kamuzu Banda was powerless to effectively muzzle and incarcerate him given the high international profile that he had built as a vocal opponent of his dictatorship. Both the MCP and PP, still hurting from an election loss that they clearly believe to have been manipulated, are likely to face the temptation to destabilize the DDP administration to their own ends using the current strikes and upcoming demonstrations.

Malawi is witnessing the re-making of a horror movie, combining scenes from the Bingu wa Mutharika era with additional scripts from the ever-shifting political quick-sand of the Malawi landscape. At that time, Bingu was the protagonist with his younger brother as the de facto “stand-in.”

This time, the sibling, Peter Mutharika, has assumed the leading role. Before this, in past films of “Scary Movie Malawi,” he consistently showed a high level of ineptitude and fell-off his horse time after time, thereby losing credibility. Will the script and his actions change in the re-make, “Scary Movie Malawi – The Re-run?”

The MWK 92 billion question is: Will Peter Mutharika stay on his horse this time around?

As an ardent movie-goer and patriotic fan of anything Malawi or Malawian, I am on the edge of my seat.

And I am not taking any bets!


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  • Chikavu Nyirenda is a Senior Lecturer in Banking and Finance at The Catholic University of Malawi and contributes, in his personal capacity, a weekly column, ‘Views from the Sunset,’ which is published in ‘The Daily Times’ every Monday.
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31 thoughts on “Scary movie Malawi : The re-run”

  1. moto mwikho says:

    Why don’t you take over, you armchair critic?

  2. Fallagain says:


  3. northern speech says:


    1. biti bonya says:

      Afiti inu mwayamba muphe mudyenso. Pachakuti pa amanu

      1. Aferazao says:

        Typical of DPP, kutukana and zikwanje. What a shame.

  4. Kenkkk says:

    Dpp will soon resort to its terror tactics to muzzle any dissent such as salary demands and strikes. Already its dpp youth thugs are on the match to violence.

  5. malume says:

    do you think that what you people are writing can devolop the country?whom do you think can change the country the president or all malawians?our problem as malawians we are just looking to one person tochange the country it will never done.keep writing,talking it will change nothing.

  6. Pension Nenereko says:

    Somebody has said Chikavu failed in business now is employed. That is what wise pple do if you know that is not your take then move elsewhere unlikely others who force themselves on Malawians as presidents but perform with untold mediocrity. Tell me which southern president has performed – all thieves re-running the scary movie indeed, putting all Malawians in shit

  7. johnmbuzi says:

    Dear all, lets all help to build Malawi. Politics will take this country no where…

  8. fathi slshehaab says:

    chiksvu writes well zats what tescherd fo have good harderiting and muxxle pupills.
    erll done..but as i sad esrlirr thode thst voted for apm sre didappointed more..i am not wotried did not think he eound be a miracle kid-bro to bingu style…
    ma advidors mukutsni? a bamusi mwati zii kuti mubeere ndi mkokomo ugwetsa mitengo kspene muli kogula zikwanje xochechera?

  9. believer P says:

    I believe the government z made of three branches including judiciary,so if u r striking being part of gvnt branch,to whom r asking,or did you see some donors pumping money into our budget,did u ask the parliamentarians if there was any specilation about the funds into our budget,why r u neglecting your own country?

  10. believer P says:

    I dont understand who z right between President & government,as well as who z president?& what z government?

  11. Mulhomwe says:

    I know Chikavu is not a prophet but you don’t need the spiritual gift of a prophet to know that things have already fallen apart!

  12. Atonga says:

    Chikavu you right this president will not reach 2019 somethng wil happen and that wil be the end of his stupid rule.and some one withempty head saying nonsese criticesing chikavu is more stupid than him.people are not happy with what is happening in our country.

  13. Martin says:

    Birds of the same feathers flock together. No wonder here.

  14. Concerned Citizen says:

    It is a long and mixed bag, next you write concentrate on one issue. There is no much sense in this post. Nyasa times, don’t just publish any thing that comes from university lecturers because not all are creative and intelligent, this one is an example of a dull lecturer.

  15. andrew yusuf says:

    Malawi sazatheka basi!!!!! Is it far that pple were voting for petre muntharika claiming that bingu was a hero on his tym ov ruling and u vote for his bro to continue his footsteps? So is there any differences wit his brother? I wonder y pipo learn to forget very fast. It will stay the way it is until 2019!!!!!!!

  16. John says:

    Umbulitu uwo. Munthu akachita raise argument, attack those points that bave been raised, offer better ideas, THATS IF YOU EVEN HAVE ANY, and show that you also have a little bit of a brain to see and analyse what is really going on around you. Blind loyalty is not going to take you anywhere. He has raised good question on the article, if you don’t agree, tell the public why, his surname or yours for that matter is irrelevant here.

  17. Kanyalufefe(hunter) says:

    Scary movie my foot. Hypocrite. that is the problem with sociopathetic minded people who do no see potential in what people from the south does. Scary movie my foot. Fotseki hapana fatchi

  18. Ms. says:

    A true Malawian will always ignore negative wishing from BAD

  19. Ms. says:

    A true Malawian will always ignore negative wishing from BAD

  20. Umbo says:

    Reporters who are being used by other parties like the author of this article to furnish the image of their country are equal to Suicide bombers, if this continues, we are all going to lose, and we will suffer for ever Kaya ndi Dyels kaya umbuli, kaya kutengela mtundu, wait and see, mukuyatsa Moto ndi ka sukulu kanuko ka zolemba lemba. You feel yourself too much because you can write to tarnish the image of innocent people as long as you want them. You will pay for that…..!

  21. Whoever you are, you called, ‘Truth’ If you were clever enough you would have crossed your index finger over those lips which reflect how devoid of substance your brain is. By any means you are far below the author’s intellectual league to even try and comment on his well nit article let alone content with him.

  22. Truth says:

    even before I read the name of the author I knew from the flow that it was from one nyikalander. how did you expect him to put his nose in Unima when there was a council and how did you expect him to say thank when the cockroach was saying stupid things. You failed to run businesses and now you are a worker. continue puffing chamba you stupid nyikarander

    1. brutsha says:

      Anybody who believes that Peter is the leader Malawi needs require mental checkup. To say the least Peter is a goof. We wouldn’t expect to evaluate him at impact indicator level given the short time he has been in office. But even input and output level indicator the dude is irrelevant and Malawi is in for chaos with such a clueless leader. His period of reign will as lean periods as we had during Bakili and Joyce. It makes me feel like better have a nation without the office of the president.

    2. phil says:

      Thus why u will be seeing the actor failing off the horse even though u ve been warned by my fellow nyikalander.

    3. Nyika Republic says:

      That level of empty headedness displayed in your comments is tantamount to hate speech and tribalistic. if anything the person in question is a graduate and can either choose whether to work or open businesses. Let’s learn treat each other as Malawians, ndiwe chizereza chomene and nyoko wakahula kubaba iwe Truth as you call yourself.

    4. Bololo says:

      Truth, nyikalander has given an opinion so nicely and flowing and understandale. and a Truth mukulalata waka, aaaah bambo TRUTH

    5. Timothy says:

      That is what Malawi has been reduced to, huh? People being judged by their surnames, and not the quality of arguments raised? Real pity. What is funny though is that the people who are at the forefront with insults contribute next to nothing to the debate.

  23. He is good for telling the society what he thinks so that people should be geared to the next level of service of which God of Abraham Isack and Jacob will never accept

    1. Where is your god asshole?Never talk about other people’s gods.Kupepela kumeneko!

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