Malawi youthful MP ‘massacre’ English, ignite debate for Chichewa in parliament

Calls for government to allow members of parliament debate in vernacular Chichewa are growing louder after a video clip circulating in social media platforms show a young legislator Fyness Magonjwa speaking in grammatically incorrect English.

Magonjwa (R) with deputy police chief Duncan Mwapasa

The 25-year-old,   the youngest of the members of Parliament elected on May 21  in the 2019-2024 cohort , from  Machinga South East Constituency was giving an interview to the national  broadaster MBC after an official handover ceremony of a bridge from a contractor to her community.

A transcript of Magonjwa’s interview can loosely be like this; “They are walking towards to travel at the same bridge. So the way the bridge has started to maintain we are not to take it for granted because we have been waiting for 15 years it wasn’t easy.

“We can just say thank for the leader of Professor Peter Mutharika the way they have handled this world, the way they are making their aaaa what can we say….”

The interview has gone viral in social media platforms with some people telling her to consider going back to school while others saying her lack of English proficiency does not mean she is not intelligent enough to handle parliamentary business.

Magonjwa attended both primary and secondary school in Mangochi. She is currently studying for an advanced diploma in public health.

Dowa east MP Richard Chimwendo Banda says he will introduce a motion in parliament to allow the legislators either debate in Chichewa or English.

“Chichewa should be made official language too apart from English. Language should not be a barrier for the members of parliament to participate freely in parliamentary business in the House,” said Chimwendo Banda.

But lawyer Justin Dzonzi says allowing members of parliament to debate in Chichewa in the House would be difficult because all the laws are written in English.

“Introducing Chichewa will not help matters. We need to have members of parliament who can speak, write and understand English,” said Dzonzi.

The Republican Constitution says a person shall not be qualified to be nominated or elected a member of parliament unless he or she is able to speak and read English language well enough to take active part in the proceedings of parliament.

Magonjwa defeated seven other aspirants and according  to Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC), she amassed 8 108 out of the 30 497 votes cast.

Magonjwa is affiliated to Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

A firstborn in a family of four children, Magonjwa grew up in Machinga, experiencing first-hand the challenges faced by the rural Malawians she will represent for the next five years.

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Nabanda
Guest

This shameful girl should go back to school. I believe she is a Tippex MP, I pray the courts should also remove tippex on MP’s as well. Shame!

JIGGIES
Guest
JIGGIES

Izi ndi zija zoti term yanu ya u Mp ikatha and simunasankhidwenso anthu adzakuonani mukugulitsa Kaunjika pa nsika wa Kampepuza…………… Go back to school.

Achiswe
Guest

Neither Chichewa nor any of the other tribal languages found in Malawi has the vocabulary necessary to cope with the science and technology of the 21st century. During colonial times many English words were adopted by Malawians because they did not have their own words, such as sukulu, belu, chalichi, buku, etc; So many everyday objects do not have a Chichewa word for them. English is a very flexible language, much more so even than French which is constantly adopting English words and expressions. Our parliamentarians must of necessity be able to speak and communicate in English in order to… Read more »

Oscar
Guest
Oscar

Achiswe and your friends be careful what you wish for. As implied by the final sentence of this article, those who are best equipped to serve the public are those who have experienced firsthand what the public have been through.Are you sure you want people to be excluded from parliamentary matters simply because they have not grasped the language of our former (current?) oppressors? Why not accept them into parliament first (as the chosen representatives of their communities) then proceed to sharpen them to be the best they can be. There is a reason why her people chose her above… Read more »

Chittanooga
Guest
Chittanooga

Note: We have had the word “Mkachisi” for the English word “church”.

Dennis
Guest

Tippexed MP-not a surprise!

Clement
Guest
Clement

Please do not blame the honourable lady for speaking poor English. She is a product of of a poor education system. This is an indictment of the education system in Malawi. A form 4 Certificate person should be able to speak good English. As for those who advocate local languages should be spoken in Parliament, to the best of my knowledge there are 13 languages in Malawi. If each language has an MP and spoke in their own language, it would require 12 translators so that those who speak the other 12 languages understand. If you workout how many translators… Read more »

Chittanooga
Guest
Chittanooga

Proper to state when that poor education system existed. Is from 1964 to 1984 or is it from 1994 onwards when the yellow regime was ushered in government. But during the Kamuzu era, education standards were very good. I remember at a secondary school in Lilongwe we had a student in Form 2 from Sierra Leone. Yet in his home country he was in Form 5. In Zomba, at a certain primary school located between Zomba Catholic Sec School and Sir Harry Johnston Primary School, we had a student in Std 7. In Zambia he was in Form 2. Surprisingly… Read more »

Bantu Chiula
Guest
Bantu Chiula

As a Country we need to modernise our thinking more specifically let’s demonstrate our PRIDE in our mother tongue, it’s one of the Bantu languages spoken by two countries! The majority of Malawians don’t speak English and even if they do it’s not grammatically correct but better than English people have lived in Malawi for 30year who can’t even have a conversation in Chichewa. I have seen many Foreign leaders from Asia, Eastern Europe, Russia and many more who don’t speak any English when the visit English speaking countries BUT they are very proud and comfortable to stand on a… Read more »

john
Guest

And for me Chichewa is not my mother tongue..Being Malawian has nothing to do with Chichewa fluency

Angoni apaphata
Guest
Angoni apaphata

Tsopano amene mukulimbikira zoti kudziyankhulidwa chichewa Munanva bwinobwino mmene amawechetera chichewa ku machingaku? Kapena kudziyankhulidwanso chiyao ku parliamentiko? Then we will be needing translators for our own parliament chifukwa kukhala chinkhonde, chilomwe, chitumbuka, chikhokhora, chisenga… etc

Favour of Yahweh
Guest

Khamula, please do not attack innocent lady. If your intentions is to destroy her, then you are not achieving anything. Character assassination is not good. What matters is that her constituency believed in her and have all confidence in her. We even see mistakes in your writings. The problem is when the mind is blind the eyes don’t see good things in other people and that is what you’re doing. She has qualifications that were acceptable for her to compete for the office.

PATRIOT
Guest
PATRIOT

IT IS ONLY IN ONLY IN MALAWI WHERE THE OFFICIAL LANGUAGE OF THE COUNTRY IS REFUSED IN PARLIAMENT JUST BECAUSE THE LAWYERS ARE TOO LAZY OR TOO IGNORANT TO INTERPRET THE LAW INTO CHICHEWA. ADZONZI ZIMENE MWANENAZO NDI ZA MKUTU, KU KHOTHI BWANJI TIMAKAIMILIRA MCHICHEWA. MWATANI KODI? TIKUPATSANI NKHUKU TU NGATI MAN OF THE MATCH AHHAAHHAAHAHAHA

john
Guest

Chichewa has never been nor will it be my mother tongue

Alarakha Alimahomed
Guest
Alarakha Alimahomed

Come on give her a chance she will pick it up in time, looks intelligent and young enthusiastic
At least she had the guts to speak. Although the grammer was bit bad but people understood the debate. I think everyone should encourage young canditates to play more active part in politics