Recently revealed as UTM party and Saulosi Chilima’s presidential election running mate, Michael Usi is as fresh a face to Malawian politics as they come. Typical to the unorthodox manner with which he has approached much of life’s challenges, Usi poked holes into the country’s political tradition by launching Odya Zake Alibe Mulandu network.
Explaining that this was a political philosophy aimed at empowering the many masses disenfranchised by Malawi’s politics of greed and elitism, the movement captured the imagination of many and made Michael Usi a politician of note almost overnight.
Michael Usi’s nomination as Saulosi Chiilima’s running mate in the forthcoming 2019 presidential elections has come to many as a surprise and caused a stir and perhaps mixed reactions. Many know Usi simply as the household name “Manganya”, the character he has portrayed for so many years in the long running TV drama series “Tikuferanji”, which he has consistently writes and directed since its inception.
The skepticism probably arises from the inability to look at Usi as none other than Manganya, the dramatic comedian who has made the country laugh for many years.
Michael Usi the politician, however, is undoubtedly one of the most accomplished running mates contesting for the presidency at the may 2019 polls. It will probably come as a surprise to many that when he is not making them laugh as Manganya, Michael Usi is a skilled a and talented development thinker and leader, with a PhD Youth Education and Mobilisation.
Hewas born in Mulanje on 16 December 1968. This is also where he grew up attended elementary school. Upon finishing secondary School, Michael entered Malamulo College where he obtained a Diploma in Clinical Medicine in 1991. From Malamulo, He joined ADRA Malawi as a programs Officer.
With ADRA Malawi, Usi worked at the cutting edge of the socio-economic challenges facing the country, gaining experience as community development practitioner. He has competencies in project/program design and management, organisation management, strategic planning and management, decentralisation of public services, human resource management, knowledge management, financial management, media development, advocacy, youth education, policy formulation, research, grant proposal writing, monitoring and evaluation, clinical medicine, public health and drama. He is serving in a global work group that advocates the education of rural youth in over 140 countries.
Usi has served ADRA Malawi as project manager, programs/communications/advocacy director and country director. In the 27 years at ADRA he designed and directed media and communications programs on radio, television and community. He has also completed projects and programs successfully for both local and international clients and donors.
It makes sense then, that someone so in touch with the plight of the disenfranchised Malawian can see politics as a path through which he can offer more lasting and sustainable solutions. It is because Michael Usi has spent most of his lifetime understanding Malawian challenges and communicating solutions to the people hugely affected by these challenges in the simplest ways possible that he could be trusted when he declared that the best philosophy to empower the poor in Malawi is for them to believe in their own ability and industry rather than handouts.
Odya Zake Alibe Mulandu literally translated means “There can be no crime for the person who earns all he eats”. The slogan, or philosophy, as he called it, is a rebuke to the current Malawian political culture of corruption and greed, and a general laziness and unwillingness to work.
For over 20 years of his career, Usi has been actively providing practical interventions to issues of corruption, hunger, culture and human rights, HIV and AIDS and many others to the afflicted in a way that helped them crawl out of their misery one step at a time.
To the socialites and academics, he is a man many will loathe and hate because while they think that the arts are useless and a waste of time, Dr Usi has used drama the make a name for himself while also obtaining a PhD.
Usi’s PhD was obtained through research and analysis and wasbestowed upon him by a renowned academic institution. It is not these honaris causa titles that people buy for themselvesto add clout and fraudulently impress the masses.
Dr Michael Usi believes that the country needs to re-invent the coountry’ political framework by revising the constitution so that power is not concentrated in the executing at the expense of all the other arms of government and in a Manner that compromises the country’s economic development as is currently the case. His initial formation of the Odya Zake Alibe Mulandu movement is a testament to the fact that he recognized the need for a new kind of intervention in the country’s socio-economic space – one that needed to be outside of the accepted traditions and one that focused on the most vulnerable.
“We must create a new economy that restructures Malawi on the basis of work and responsibility. Any restructuring of Malawi requires that we must return to a patriotism that understands the need for work and the need to earn what one consumes, not loot the government for one’s sustenance, nor simply wait for handouts from politicians”.
Vice President Saulosi Chilima, listening to Usi’s expounding of this philosophy, immediately recognized in him a brilliant brain that he will need beside him to transform the country. Chilima singled out Dr Usi’s “Odya Zake Alibe Mulandu” philosophy for a special mention at his first UTM launch rally at Masintha Ground in Lilongwe.
Usi’s path to political prominence has been unorthodox. He has gone from a reputable NGO operator to a community mobiliser through drama and art, to a member of a new political party, to becoming its vice president and presidential running mate.
Is he qualified for leadership? 27 years of leading successful social intervention programs at ADRA, a number of them as Country Director, testify affirmatively of his ability.
The real question is: Will Malawians, in the May 21 elections, allow Dr Michael Usi to bring his experience, ability and charm to the presidency and provide solutions to national challenges?Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :