Screening the screeners: Muckraker on Malawi MPs qualification

Critics are like robots  at a Level Crossing;  while they are able  to stop other road users,  they cannot stop the train” -Peter Arthur Mutharika

In this analogy President Peter Mutharika takes himself as an unstoppable juggernaut that, like the train, cannot be stopped by robots (critics) because, according to him, he is “focused and knows his destination”.

Malawi MPs

Malawi MPs

Well, well, today Peter is not in the Muckraker’s sights. Suffice to say, however, like the robots at the Level Crossing, by checking him, critics – at least the Muckraker – do not want him to stop; rather they want him to stick to the right lane so that he does not crash under the weight of misplaced ego like his departed big brother.

That said, today I would like to call to order the 193 honourable men and women who are supposed to represent the interests of the 15 million of us.

The issue at hand is qualification.

Look, the political undertones notwithstanding, Paul Kanyama was likely to be denied confirmation as the Inspector General of Police ostensibly because of his education or lack there-of. Most opposition MPs have come in the open to say they could not confirm a guy in such top position who does not even have a first university degree.

Education, of course, is key – no doubt. But let us face critical facts. Kanyama joined the Malawi Police Force (as it was known then) in 1978.

Compare a Form 4 then and a Form 4 now. During that time, those who would make it to Form 4 were regarded as the crème la crème. They could pretty much qualify for all manner of jobs. But  most Form 4 ‘graduates’ these days can hardly speak English.

I would guess that in 1978, the police was hiring the bulk of its recruits from Standard 8. Those with a Junior Certificate would be looked at with envy, to say nothing about those with a Malawi School Certificate of Education.

And, again, there is that delicate balance between academic qualifications and professional experience. In Malawi we seem to worship academic accolades almost blindly. We seem oblivious of the fact that education is no more than a key with which to open doors of opportunities. What you do beyond those doors has to do with a critical balance of what you learnt theoretically in class and what you can practically do.

So a young man who passed through the Police Training College in 1978 armed with whatever qualification and rose through the ranks to the highest professional position of Commissioner of Police is qualified to head the now-rebranded Malawi Police Service. Commissioners are to the police service what cardinals are to the Catholic Church…legitimate heirs to the Throne of St. Peter – the papacy.

So Kanyama was one such individual who would make it to the political office of IG.

But then we talked about some of these issues last week. Why I am bringing up this issue again this week is to laugh at the hypocrisy of Parliament as the panacea of academic excellence.

Look, if truth be told, pretty much any Jim and Jane can qualify to be an MP. Ok, prospective MPs must have a Malawi School Certificate of Education but there is a proviso that in the absence of that magic paper you can still qualify if you can prove to someone that you can speak English and can write intelligibly in the same.

Now I know people who have never been inside the four walls of a classroom long enough to learn ABCDE but have worked as cooks for white men who ended up mastering the Queen’s Language. Indeed you cannot work as a barman at a club frequented by the English-speaking elite and fail to pick up the language.

And you do not have to be fluent, by the way. In fact, if fluency was key some PhD holders would fail the proficiency test. Look, my good friend Lucius Banda was thrown out of the august House because he had cheated on his formal education qualifications. But surely the self-styled ‘Soldier of the Poor Man’ speaks (and sings in) English far much better than some academics.

Now, how can such a motley crew of characters stand on a moral high ground and start questioning the academic qualifications of certain cadres who have a proven track record in their given professions?

In any case if we were a serious country we should have been having tough qualification requirements for MPs because these folks have the very life of the country in their hands. I will explain how.

Look, these folks have to legislate whether Malawi should accept Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), for example. We have proven farmers like Felix Jumbe and agriculturists like Dr. Allan Chiyembekeza in the august House who can make well-informed contributions to the debate. But how do you expect someone who does not even begin to understand what ‘genetics’ are to make a meaningful contribution to such a highly technical debate?

Dr. Jean Kalirani and Juliana Lunguzi, for example, can argue intelligibly on the dangers of allowing TBAs (some MPs are even asking, ‘who are TBAs?’) to continue delivering babies, so can Dr. Emmanuel Fabiano and Dr. Jesse Kabwila on legislating against the ‘quota’ system of university selection because they have ‘been there, done that’.

People like Patrick Makina, for example, have run state companies and can make sense of the wisdom – or lack of it – of making someone like Friday Jumbe run a government development bank.

Of course, there are many others in the House who are qualified lawyers, bankers, medics et cetera. But, if truth be told, the only qualification of the bulk of our honourable MPs is that they can transact business in some English.

Now you expect people like these to intelligently scrutinise the résumé of a veteran of more 30 years as a professional cop?

Perhaps we should have a national conversation about who should qualify to become an MP. If formal education matters for heads of the police or foreign missions, for example, why should it not matter for someone who will do the vetting of the proposed candidates for such positions?

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62 thoughts on “Screening the screeners: Muckraker on Malawi MPs qualification”

  1. Mwana Wa Analiyera says:

    Not only MPs nazonso ndunazi ma qualification awo akuti chani enawa?

  2. General Aididi says:

    I made similar comments last week. It is very hypocritical that an MP wa Form 2 should be confirming a Diplomat Designate or Commissioner of some sort. Tangoyeserani suggesting that all MPs getting into the August House should have a minimum of MSCE and you will see how they will shout loudest opposing the idea. By the way, why should a form 2 drop out ( just because he is an MP) earn over MK1,200,000.00 and a Secondary School Teacher earn less than MK300,000.00? Where is the salary harmonisation Rt Hon Saulos Chilima?

  3. Alibe Matumbo says:

    mwadya fodya eti? kapena ndi wa DPP mnzanu?

  4. ganimunthu says:

    Kodi inu mbutli inu anakuletsani ndani kuyima kuti mukhale MP. Mantha basi nde lero muyambe kuwanena chamba basi. Asiyeni iwowo it’s only 5 years and you can change them. Jealousy people leave them

  5. wadu says:

    Akulu inu mumalemba very good propositions. Koma pa Bingu pokhapo – anakuswani makofi eti

  6. Chief says:

    What is needed is skill.If the government employed skilled personnel in all departments, this country could have been somewhere now.

  7. Seleman? says:

    At least minimum qualification is required so that they can understand the basics.

    Now game on.. the minimum qualification should be a first degree at least all aspiring MPs will try to get a degree….maybe from Sky. Shareworld, Exploits, Pentecostal, BIU, Catholic. or adventists in Mlanda..hahaha

  8. idi amin says:

    even me idi am not ejuqueted but I managed to write and speak. u see

  9. pijo says:

    Kodi nanga why was “that guy” appointed deputy minister of education??? Bola if he had gone to sports like chihana and leave education matters to the proffessors. How can someone who did not walk through the corridors of higher education institutions bring change? We as malawians deserve better.

  10. Kadakwiza says:

    For the first time I agree with Mr. Tenthani.

  11. Kes munthali says:

    The last few weeks you seem to be coming to your senses Tenthani. Be objective don’t personalise your articles too much, this is what is expected of you.

  12. Harrson says:

    This country doest nid educated pple. But pple with passion and who can deliver. Even u can go lilongwe depot there one take away inside the depot. Icaught if u think education is expensive try ignorance. That means educated pple hav failed us therefore try ignorant to deliver

  13. Capital "G'' says:

    i think rules for choosing legislators change.only those with MSCE and above be chosen to stand during elections

  14. Opanda mbali says:

    Lots of substance in this argument. Raphael, there is a lot of wisdom in your argument. Why shd an MSCE holder want to interview/scrutinise a PhD holder expecting to take a foreign service? Let this debate be opened so that the qualifications for the office of MP may also be reviewed because office of an MP is higher than that of an IG. So it may not be fair to ask for higher qualifications on lower positions and vise versa..

  15. Dzoneni says:


  16. Jones says:

    Education can not deliver anything wiouth experience. These MPs is part of jealous, stop give chance to everyone may be can have a talent benefit all Malawians.

  17. Gregory Gondwe says:

    Let’s think twice, we juniors we work hard while bosses busy at face book

  18. Okhrana says:

    Maphunziro apamwamba zedi ali ndi the type of work. Nzovuta, we have anyamata amatsiku ano with masters are failing t deliver. So mpolice mu atakhala ndi poyambira msce, plus tina tawo tija amaonjezerati. Even in education there teachers with masters, koma taphunzitsani goo, mavutotu

  19. aphiri says:

    Education is vital but not in Malawi. Here as long as u are connected to the ruling party that’s all. Kanyamas problem was his comments against other parties. He praised DPP too much so it was tit for tat

  20. victim Chamkhuni Lwazazi says:

    mps!!! Compare what they get and what they do! Each one should be paid
    based on merit – education. The majority of them are not educated but
    get much more than highly educated civil servant gets. By the way, are
    they also civil servants? Or are they public employees? Then the reforms
    should also deal with them.

    Some are educated, they know how to talk and win elections, contribution
    to the nation is zero or negative. They just reap the nation. And we
    are afraid of them coz bills would not pass. Eh!! get the recall
    provision back, not through them – they are an interested party. It
    should be another government machinery or referendum to decide to bring
    back the provision.

  21. Simeon Nyapala says:

    I know a certain honourable who has never gone to school. Yet you will find him winning because in his area he is repected. Tenthani pse you have started the ball rolling. Let us remove that stupid and archaic clause which allow the MPs to be in the august house just because of MSCE or that they can cheat on a certain test conducted at Polytechnic.

  22. Chipatso says:


  23. Kaka says:

    The problem is how parties recruit their aspirants. How can people like Mbaya make it to parliament. The guy has been in parliament for ages but can’t contribute anything sensible

  24. kalyoto says:

    Please people was khumbo kachale there when this debate took to the floor of the house? Surely he should have stood up in defense of kanyama saying wisdom and not intellect matters in all political leadership . Academic qualifications is not a guarantee of an astitude leadership . When the 10 point plan of Dr mathews chikaonda failed was it because of under qualification ? Malawi please start appreciating your fellow citizens .

  25. Nawonso aKanyama zaka zonsezi osapanga ka Upgrading?…Basitu mwayi wagwera m’chewa wa ku Lilongwe ophunzira bwino dzimaMasters kuchita kuti awiri phiiii..Inu munangoyera ngati zenizeni

  26. MMALAWI says:

    We need to separate two issues here: Qualifications of MPs and Qualifications of Heads of Govt departments who require confirmation by Parliament. I agree with Ralph that we need to raise the minimum qualifications for one to enter the August house so that we can have people who can fully understand and meaningfully to the issues discussed there. I however don’t agree with his suggestion of hypocrisy. Heads of govt departments have to have certain minimum qualifications and for someone with a mere MCE to head the police service in this era is a mockery of educational qualifications. Education has to be valued together with experience. Both are requisite requirements. MPs can demand for the nominee’s high qualifications even if they don’t have high qualifications themselves. Kanyama should have been rejected because it clearly shows that he doesn’t have initiative as he stayed all those years without improving himself academically!

  27. Swiswiri Mbewa says:

    At least a degree from accredited institution would do as minimum for our MPs.

  28. zaine says:

    Malawi becareful! Kwabwera matenda otchedwa graduate ndiye aliyense akufuna kukhala graduate kaya zobera kaya kugula bola ndikhale graduate basi. Ma IG osaphunzirawo ndi amene akhala akuchita bwino mu history ya police tiyeni tione a Lunguzi, a Ailoni kodi anthu amenewa anali ophunzira kwambiri? koma bwanji zintchito zawo? Super! This graduate syndrom must stop. Ntchito yathu siifuna ma graduate. Ma graduate ake azaza ku immigration ndi ku police azaulimiwa. Akuthawa zintchito zawo zaulimi uko kumazalimbanira ntchito za anthu osaphunzirafe bwanji? Akabwera kuno mukwapasa zimipando zonona asanaziwe ndi ntchito komwe ntchito izitu ndi zamagazi ndichimodzimodzi ndi yolima magraduate chokani mutionongera ntchito mukachita masewera tizingokulozani.

  29. Education is vital indeed, however not everyone who is educated can deliver. Kamuzus cabnet and his civil service was not full of educated people nut they delivered. infact what we see today was the work of those with ordinary qualifications. Today the civil service is highly qualified but the delivery of service is as if only the Jc holders are there. Now can you tell me its education that delivers? look at the people in cashgate , its full of the so called educated ones in different fields include law!! is it the type of education or what? Can someone convince me that indeed a degree is what matters for one to deliver?

  30. Dickson says:

    This is a very true story which need to be looked into.

  31. Ladings north says:

    Mbuli zimenezi choncho ana angamalimbikire school? Pangani za minimum qualification zo ine ndikamatcha nao ngati Kuli kumatcha mabulutu amenewa akuononga dziko

  32. chilombo says:

    Zowona. Ma lawmakers athu ambiriwa ndi mbuli kuposa ine

  33. Nkasai says:

    From today minimum qualification for M is a first degree

  34. Dick says:


  35. Nganga Bulawayo says:

    Ukunena zoona Mbwiye. This explains why some MPs have been in Parliament for years but can’t utter a word in the chamber. They only speak during tea break and during noisy interjections. Ka school ndi kofunika ndithu. Che Kanyama nawo he was talking too much. That was the major problem!

  36. I think we should also look at the voter who puts an MP onto office and not a critic. If the voter is satisfied thats ok coz these positions are about charecter, is about sacrifice and denial not papers. If you cant share what you have you cant get it.

  37. Chimbirazowa says:

    Tell them.

  38. M'ngoni wa pa Ntcheu says:

    Well said, those in authorities must take a step, this is food for thought

  39. brutsha says:

    Yes! Yeeeeeesssss! Tenthani.

  40. Kasenye says:

    Kkkkk, Zachisoni MP Wa Kasungu North North East Samatha Nkulemba Komwe. Ngangale Mumfunse Kuti “How Are You” Mutha Kuseka Abale. Zachiso, Nde Sithole Ameneyo!

  41. special advisor says:

    Commissioner Kanyama did not see and utilize opportunities to better himself. That puts to question his leadership qualities. It’s like that guy who buried his talent in the ground. Therefore, not inspiring at all. Just drop this topic. Qualifications of our MPs are getting better. What I still don’t agree with is the numbers. I think we can do with half the current number. And, definitely, we need to jack up the educational requirements as well. Not only that but insist that an MP should have a house, chicken, goats and a garden in his village. Then we need to take them to Mapemba so that they understand the difference between a chief a councilor and an MP.

  42. nachisale says:

    Ralph thats very true. I have personally followed the confirmation ofa lot of people in our august house and most of them have been rejected not that because they dont qualify but purely which side the majority of our mps in the public appointment committee belong to. Capable men and women rejected.people with intergrity and who could help this country and some of them who have been confirmed useless ones just because they belong to the party where majority of our mps belong. we need to visit ourlaws otherwise this does not make sense at all. a phd holder sitting before a jc holder and expect to be confirmed? Thats the biggest joke

  43. mxii says:

    Mwalemba nzeru although u contradict urself on English language as a point of measure. On 1 hand you yourself use it as a point of measure in the 1st paragraph or thereabouts and then you dismiss the same English as a point of measure, which is which?

  44. gunners says:

    This is classic Mr Mulkraker you deserve two shots at Pa Sikwese courtesy yours trully

  45. KUKHALA says:


  46. ganimunthu says:

    You got it wrong on this one. Ralph. We never said no to him because of that. No no it is because he was sick and we knew it. He just confirmed it. He had retired and got his money already and…… dig deeper Ralph he did present himself there

    1. Tengupenya says:

      Is parliamentary committee on public appointments discriminating against sick people?

  47. wafika says:

    Well Written Bambo. I had my own reservations on the legislators arguement. A proffessional is a proffessional in his field. A Phd holder in economics will not urgue competently in Engineering. What More Medical And Security. If it had something to do about his past background, there would have been no excuse. was he involved in the Chasowa or Chanco stand off when A. P. M. was Edu. Min?

  48. Yonah Matemba says:

    I agree entirely with you Mr Muckraker. Hypocrisy of the worst kind. My father (RIP, 1993) joined the police in 1961 with a standard 6 qualification, as most cops did at that time, and by the time of his early retirement to join a multinational company he had gained all qualifications including a UK degree and risen through the ranks and one time one Mr Kanyama was his most junior. So to agree with the muckraker, to deny Mr Kanyama to head the force on the basis of a lack of some university qualification is laughable, especially by MPs the majority of who lack the very qualification they say Mr Kanyama lacked. Hypocrisy of the worst kind.

  49. Kasim says:

    Bravo well written. Most malawians feel like it’s a degree that matter. It’s how you you use the knowledge acquired for better use. Most graduates are danderheads

    1. Kk says:

      Hey Kasim, read the article again. And read the comments, perhaps that will help you understand the gist of the article. Being educated is good for the mind to understand things better.

  50. Natalia says:

    At least you have written the article using your both Brain and Pen today.

  51. udzimba Ngwalero says:

    I would’nt fault the MPs for bringing in the qualification card on Kanyama. I would however blame Kanyama for forsaking education. He was supposed to upgrade as he was climbing through the ladder. This should be a lesson to many of us who seat on their laurels and enjoy positions that will eventually be unattainable because of lack of appropriate education. In today’s world you have to be better educated to be appointed to those all important positions. Sadly Kanyama did’nt think so over the years and the repercussions have been more biting. If we think education is not important for occupancy of such high positions, what are we trying to tell our children?

  52. Israel2013 says:

    Kweni ukuneneska nadi iwe.

  53. Mngoni says:

    Excellent thoughts Ralph, we got a bunch of uneducated mps who are there spoiling this nation because, they do not know what it is that they have to do in the house just causing some unnecessary noise.
    Its high time we started sending educated people to August house.

  54. the other side says:

    Thanks Ralph for bringing up this issue. Am appalled by the move parliament wanted to make on Kanyama. As you have rightly said, most of these folks are on parliament because they can speak the queens language. The minimum qualification is MSCE and we expect these guys to formulate laws and legislation for this nation. I think its high time we raised the bar for qualification of an MP to diploma level, nothing less and nothing more. These not so honorable folks are poorly qualified but get monthly salaries equivalent to the annual salaries of graduates in the civil service.

  55. Majid says:

    An article for you Lhomwe’s who seem bent against Tenthani and his writing!! EXCELLENT ARTICLE, at least Tenthani will not be sworn at for criticizing APM!!!!

  56. kaphaizi says:


  57. freespch says:

    Furnish us here with names and qualifications of all the MPS. Latest Tuesday. They say if you live in a mud house don’t throw stones.

  58. Overseer says:

    Very interesting topic. For the first time i agree with your observations and i encourage you to be focused and write more.

  59. zoona says:

    zoona ma qualifications a ma mp aunikidwenso azingoti uyu is not qualified to take up this position pamene the majority in the august house are in the same catigory (osaphunzira!)

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