From North Malawi: Can Monica Chakwera save the First Lady title 

A wife to a President is supposed to be what she is: a wife; nothing more.

Monica Chakwera: Malawi’s First Lady
His Excellency the President Dr Lazarus Chakwera and First Lady Monica Chakwera
First Lady Monica Chakwera

This, of course, should be the case because, during elections, presidential candidates appear on the ballot paper with their running mates, not spouses.

To mean, spouses—either wives or husbands, are not, legally, part of the presidency. The presidency involves the President and their vice.

Over the past decades—especially when wives of the presidents, trading as First Ladies, started to appear on the scene in 1994—there has been debate regarding their role in shaping and influencing their husband’s style of governance.

Of course, there wasn’t much talk when Malawi’s first, First Lady, Annie Muluzi, and her subsequent, Patricia Shanil Muluzi, were at the State House.

They both managed the Freedom Foundation Trust.

It  must be underlined that the two kept quite a low profile figure—always shying away from being on the frontlines.

In fact, even when Bingu wa Mutharika’s first wife, Ethel, occupied the State House until her demise in 2007, her display—just like the previous two, was more motherly, choosing the background than being on the frontlines.

However, much of the public interest in the role of First Ladies in shaping and influencing their spouses’ style of governance hit the spotlight when Callista Chimombo married Bingu wa Mutharika in 2012.

For the first time in the history of First Ladies,  Malawians were shocked to see a First Lady go wild spitting vitriol in public, attacking anyone deemed to be political agitators of the Head of State. Callista even called the civil society organisations to ‘go to hell.”

Further, Malawians started reading headlines about huge sum of money from State agencies being channeled to finance unexplained charities ventures run by First Ladies.

With Callista, the office of the First Lady had taken a wrong turn.

The coming in of Getrude Maseko, former President Peter Mutharika’s wife, didn’t helped matters at all. In fact, it only deepened the calls for Malawi to consider regulating the office of the First Lady.

Unlike the loud Callista, Gertrude was quite. However, through her Beautify Malawi initiative, tongues wagged regarding alleged billions coming to her fold—all unaccounted for.

She also made headlines for becoming an overnight billionaire, with a strange accumulation of several unexplained properties in the country, yet she doesn’t have a job.

Arguably, Callista and Getrude have transformed the office of the First Lady from that motherly perception, as displayed by the first three First Ladies, to an avenue of political arrogance, corruption and primitive accumulation.

This is the office that Madame Monica Chakwera, Malawi’s first, First Lady from the North, inherits. She has inherited an office with a complete damaged reputation.

The question is: Which route with the new First Lady take? Will she, like the first three First Ladies, play the background role? Or, like the two previous ladies, go on the political frontlines to use the office for self-enrichment?

For the little we know about Madame Chakwera is that she is from Mwazisi in Rumphi; nothing much more than that—apart from, once, being mayi busa [wife to church leader when Chakwera was heading Malawi Assemblies of God].

From the little than we know, against a background of being a wife to a person who has, for years, been a public figure, it wouldn’t be an understatement to speculate that she is a low key woman.

In the eventual days as we begin to know her better, the only advice we can give her is to learn from the best and the worst examples of her predecessors. She has a choice to build or destroy her husband.

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Malinyero
Guest

Kikiki koma ndiye u first lady waphwekatu. Ndi pedegu Monica yemwe?

James Phirj
Guest
James Phirj

Role of first lady across Africa is a problem. Most have foundations which clearly creates a conflict of interest with the elected government as the resources donated to the foundation and their use are not generally transparent. Why should a parastatal such as Escom donate to a first lady foundation? Even private company donations are problematic as they are clearly a means to curry favour with the ruling party. The African Union makes matters worst by hosting Summits of First Ladies. First lady entourages on foreign trips can get expensive. First ladies or gentlemen are spouses to presidents and just… Read more »

Happy
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Happy

Madam Monica Chakwera has been always a mother figure. I being a member of AG, I know how she has been supportive to her husband as a wife. She is a woman.

Ndadabwa
Guest
Ndadabwa

My advise is she should have a translator like other foreign First ladies, e.g China etc. She can speak in Chichewa and somebody translate into english. Chichewa is also a fantastic language. So am convenced she will manage

Sand
Guest
Sand

Mwinithako, reciprocate your mind set. Dirty mind you contribute is Dirty, we know you’re one dpp cadets but some of you have realised what dpp was doing wrong. Pls your chances of putting Malawians into your armpits is chronicles. Don’t be like you’re the best than anybody. The form your own political party since you’re the best. Reformation that’s what we are speaking now. Being a lomwe as you’re, it’s not that other tribals should be like idiots to yours never.

Steven
Guest
Steven

Be mindful that Dr Chakwera’s Wife is a well Educated person/woman. She is a Chartered Accountant and she knows her boundaries concerning her husband political standing in Malawi. She has helped her husband, Dr Chakwera in Assemblies of God leadership for 24 years, but have you heard her any voices or dirty mouthings towards her husband Religious leadership role? No she remained quiet until today, she has occupied the First Lady position of Malawi, so don’t just judge her too soon. She is a well respected woman, but let’s give her a chance before starting to anticipate our evil wishful… Read more »

Simon Chirwa
Guest
Simon Chirwa

Balanced article with good advice but addition of region of origin was unnecessary

Juan
Guest
Juan

Simon chirwa, the region or origin emphasis is also biggest wrong i have picked up. We should deceit from promoting regionalism neh.

Mkaika
Guest
Mkaika

Kumainyadira mitunduyi adada Chirwa. Mmaona bwanji aNgoni paliponso pamajiga, pakabaza, paokala, paminibasi, etc Angoni this angoni that.
Inu ngati mukuchita manyazi kungolozedwatu kuti ndinu atumbuka nanga dzina lanu linakakhala Simon Mtumbuka nde mutazikhwezatu. Be proud of your tribe and region aise.

ganizani banda
Guest
ganizani banda

Am Zambian and following events as they unfold in Malawi.It is not appropriate to mention her origin because that will bring tribalism and regionalism

mafumu akazi
Guest
mafumu akazi

this better than others. will not help us.Tsankho lekani tsopano. Ife tikanena za kukongola muziti tayamba mwano. Write constructive issues.

Kambewa chisale
Guest

The writer of this article must be be sacked because he is trying to divide us as Malawians.
I olso have evidence that you are getting kickback from Dpp to damage The current President.

Kambewa chisale
Guest

Foseki
Your title of this article is shit we are all Malawians. Iwe you are tribalistic

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