Malawi university dons hit out at Mutharika’s gagging remarks: ‘Threat to academic freedom’

President Prof Peter Mutharika has received a barrage of criticism over his remarks that the academia must not waste their time commenting on trivia in the public domain, but should instead invest their time in meaningful research.

Prof Garton Kamchedzera: Threat to academic freedomAct

Prof Garton Kamchedzera: Threat to academic freedomAct

Kanyongolo:  Federism is not dirty

Kanyongolo: Federism is not dirty

Dr Danwood Chirwa: Malawians have been fooled and believe Mutharika  is professorial material

Dr Danwood Chirwa: Malawians have been fooled and believe Mutharika is professorial material

Sunduzwayo Madise: MSB sale, cashgate, ghost workers all trivia?

Sunduzwayo Madise: MSB sale, cashgate, ghost workers all trivia?

President Mutharika and First Lady with the Vice President Saulos Chilima at the Unima dinner event

President Mutharika and First Lady with the Vice President Saulos Chilima at the Unima dinner event

Kayini: Faults Mutharika's remarks

Kayini: Faults Mutharika’s remarks

After Center for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) swiftly accused Mutharika for attempting to gag University of Malawi (Unima) dons, the college lecturers and professors have added their voice of anger to their Chancellor.

Speaking on Saturday night during a fundraising dinner organised by Unima for its golden jubilee celebrations to be held in September, Mutharika implored on lecturers to “do more research which should get published in international journals” other than commenting on trivia in the public domain.

Barrage of criticism

In reaction, Unima law professor Garton Kamchedzera described Mutharika’s remarks to dissuade them from commenting in the media as unfortunate.

“The development only shows that the University of Malawi Chancellor [Peter Mutharika] does not understand the vision of UNIMA,” said Kamchedzera on Capital Radio on Monday.

Kamchedzera said Mutharika’s statement “displayed lack of appreciation on the role the university plays to society.”

He said: “I do not take President Mutharika’s remarks seriously because they do show fundamental misconception of university role to society.”

Kamchedzera said President Mutharika displayed “lack of appreciation of what academic freedom entails. He cannot tell the academia what they should do or not.”

He continued to say Mutharika “does not appreciate that there is need for an interface between the academia, the private sector and public sector in general”

Added Kamchedzera: “It shows the President as Chancellor does not fully understand the mission of his own university which is teaching, learning, research and outreach. “

He said what university dons speak in public domain is based on analysis.

Constitutional law expert Edge Kanyongolo, who is an associate professor of law at the Chancellor College, also took on Facebook to fault Mutharika on his remarks.

“On my part, may I suggest that Presidents should focus on governance- for example, dealing with toxic bank loans, mustering the courage to go to Parliament to answer questions from MPs etc- instead of wasting time commenting on comments. Incidentally, many Unima academics I know are quite capable of walking and chewing gum at the same time,” wrote Kanyongolo.

His post attracted comments from other opinion movers and shakers.

“As a professor himself, he might recognise it as the duty of academics to stay abreast of and comment on current affairs,” commented Diana Cammack, political governance activist.

London-based economist Watipaso Mkandawire  wrote: “One can now understand why after years of being a university lecturer he [Mutharika [has been detached from society. He spent his time publishing things irrelevant to society.”

‘Not professorial material’

A South African based Malawi law professor Danwood Mzikenge Chirwa also commented: “By the way Peter published very little, less than 10 recognised articles in a career spanning about 40 years. What he lists as books are compilations of instruments. He was awarded the professorship somewhere in 1977 not based on research output or excellence but confirmation of tenure, which is common in the US. “

Chirwa stated that Mutharika had no research output worth talking about by that time.

“It’s a pity Malawians have been fooled and believe he is professorial material. He isn’t and cannot be based on his academic outputs, both teaching and research. He also held no notable academic leadership post, eg Head of Department, Deputy Dean or Dean. It is thus understandable that he speaks as if he knows nothing about higher education, for he’s always been a dubious scholar,” Chirwa said of Mutharika.

What trivia?

Similarly, Happy Kayuni, a politics lecturer said on Capital Radio, Mutharika should be aware that academia role as researchers is to disseminate information.

Kayuni also said Mutharika was senseless by saying the dons should not comment on trivia.

“What does he mean on trivia?”

Mutharika gave the example of the rift of councillors and MPs as “trivial issue” which the academics were not supposed to speak on.

But Kayuni said “the example Mutharika provided is not trivia.”

Law scholar Sunduzwayo Madise also queried Mutharika: “I think it is I who will decide what trivia is for me and what is not; thank you Professor. And what is wrong with commenting on trivia? What is trivia anyway? Is MSB scandal trivia? Is cashgate trivia? Are ghost workers trivia? Is the budget trivia?”

CHRR’s Makhumbo Munthali who was first to react on the matter said Mutharika’s comments were unfortunate coming from the Head of State who should promote freedom of expression, academic freedom, scholarly vibrancy and debate.

The University of Malawi carries out theoretical and applied research in its five faculties of law, humanities, education, social sciences and sciences at Chancellor College.

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caswell Thom Mbalinga
Guest
caswell Thom Mbalinga

I wonder why many misguided Malawians would support a politician who rush at the Academia as if he is fooling standard two learners. Malawians now are aware that they have been clapping hands for a wizard who is ready to bewitch them. Mr. President, when are u going to reform the civil service to start performing, like what Dr. Kamuzu Banda did. Remember you failed Malawians when did not deliver as a MINISTER when you facilitated in several unprecedented closures. Our memories are still fresh, dont remind us.

caswell Thom Mbalinga
Guest
caswell Thom Mbalinga

I wonder why many misguided Malawians would support a politician who rush at the Academia as if he is fooling standard two learners. Malawians now are aware that they have clapping hands for a wizard who is ready bewitch them. Mr. President, when are u going to reform the civil service to start performing, like what Dr. Kamuzu Banda did. Remember you failed Malawians when did not deliver as a MINISTER when facilitated in several unprecedented closures. Our memories are still fresh, dont remind us.

dzomweudya
Guest
Do what I say do not do what I do. Honestly, I do not see any sense in all those calling themselves Dons on this issue, simply because my parents were not that educated, just like my village headman but they have been and still guides me, and am far much better in almost all angles apart from umunthu (Wisdom). I feel sorry that Malawi is yet to produce wise dons at home as well as abroad, because I challenge the fool in Dons to come up in the open and claim that they dresses down thier elders in public… Read more »
John Mwandira
Guest

Intellectual battle

Nantchengwa
Guest

The arguments by the so-called professors are disheartening and expose deep academic flaws in the people entrusted with the noble duty of shaping the future of this beautiful nation towards prosperity. How can a well-learned man argue that because APM never produced enough journal articles in his long span of career does not have the audacity to make such an invitation? Shameless!!!

kenkkk
Guest

Nantchengwa,You are a bootlicker who knows nothing about peter’s academic performance but keep on praising lies and distortions that are being fed to ignorant people like you. What Chirwa said about peter is 100% correct and most people on the know know the whole story about peter’s exaggerations about his academic achievements.

Wa Chakulemeza
Guest

The comments of most of the UNIMA dons are emotionally connected to politics becoz of personal dislike of certain people in our society. Look at the names of most of the critics.

max
Guest

The President’s remarks
deserves serious thought. Our
unima ranks the one of the
lowest in terms of quality and
relevance. Who is to blame?
One wonders hw much improvement wud hapen if
they wud stick to their core
duties rather than standing on
an anthill, bellowing their
biased verdicts on anything in
the name of comentators.

KUKHALA
Guest

MBUTUMA -PETER MUTHARIA WOYEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE

Mmeeee!!!!!!
Guest

Mbuli za ma lecturer. Zi atumbuka zokha zokha. Go home(north) and form your republic. Just imagine what type of a country will it be( Noisy CSOs,Noisy CHRR, Noisy lecturers,noisy politicians,noisy bwenubwenus……..noisy tumbukas) Muzizangokhalira ma Demo daily.

Dambudzo Mwasanya
Guest

Malawi is led by crap people.The Unima education is crap.The combination of the two is a disaster for Malawi.Malawians loves titles alot.Malawi is full of useless professors and other fellow academician who are just good at memorising things that do not benefit the impoverished Malawi.So shut up.We need people who can transform Malawi than having useless squabbles.

wpDiscuz

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