Nyasa Times ‘Person of the Year’ goes to activist Charles Kajoloweka

Malawi flagship online news platform, Nyasa Times has named Mzuzu-baded governance and youth rights advocate Charles Kajoloweka  as its 2017 Person of the Year.

Kajoloweka: Is named Person of the Year

Announcing the 2017 ‘person of the year’, Nyasa Times editorial management  said the publication sought nomination from various reputable commentators and analysts to nominate and give reasons.

Nyasa Times said the 32-year-old Mzuzu University graduate deserved to be recognised for  its annual  prestigious award of ‘Person of the year’.

“Based on the nominations from dozens of analysts, Nyasa Times selected Mr Charles Kajoloweka as title holder of the Persons of the Year accolade,” the online publication said.

Kajoloweka is ardent front-line human rights defender, Founder and Executive Director of an emerging governance watchdog in Malawi named Youth and Society (YAS).

YAS’ mission is to promote and defend human rights and democratic governance in Malawi through capacity building, advocacy, and research.

Since 2015, Kajoloweka has risen to a prominent governance advocate in Malawi leading the ordinary citizens and the country’s civil society in pursuing controversial accountability queries in government through strategic public litigation.

Below are the three recent prominent accountability cases he has led:

In 2016-17, as an individual advocate, Kajoloweka led three NGOs namely Church and Society of Livingstonia Synod, Youth and Society (YAS), and Centre for Development of People (CEDEP) in demanding accountability from the Government of Malawi on the procurement of maize from the Republic of Zambia which was attended by serious and organized corruption at the height of a food shortage crisis that gripped the country in 2016. This corruption scheme dubbed “Maize-Gate” involved top public servants, business tycoons and one senior Cabinet Minister. This issue though started in 2016 went on in 2017 and its results dominated the media in 207 as will be seen below.

This high-level accountability advocacy among others registered the following:

(1) the suspension of Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, Hon. George Chaponda  by the High Court – following an injunction obtained by Kajoloweka;

(2) The President sacking the implicated Minister from the Cabinet;

(3) Former Minister, alongside two businesspersons Rashid Tayub of  Transglobe Produce Export Limited and Grace Mijiga Mhango, who also chairs the Grain Traders and Processors Association of Malawi—were arrested in connection with alleged corrupt practices during the procurement of maize, and are currently answering corruption charges in court pursued by the Anti-corruption Bureau (ACB);

(4) Dismissal of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and other top Managers of the state-grain trader ADMARC implicated in the scandal.   It must be further stressed that while the success to the maize gate was a collective effort with Parliamentary Committees led by Chidanti Malunga playing a crucial role in the later stages, it is in fact the litigation path taken by Kajoloweka and others (as mentioned above) which led to the obtaining of an injunction suspending Chaponda which was a critical juncture ( or great milestone and historical) in the whole maize gate saga as it led to great public attention on the issue and hence subsequent reactions from the executive and the legislature. It only required the boldness of an individual to lead such a legal path on such a sensitive issue.

Secondly, in 2017, Kajoloweka as Executive Director of YAS led four  civil society organisatons s namely Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR), CEDEP and Church and Society of Livingstonia Synod, and YAS in yet another controversial accountability struggle, challenging the looting (abuse) of public resources from eight state institutions by the ruling party, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) through a fundraising dinner dubbed “Blue Night”.

The advocate and others are currently pursuing this case is in the High Court of Malawi, Zomba registry. This advocacy campaign will go a long way challenging impunity and abuse of public resources and public institutions by the ruling political parties in Malawi as well as re-enforcing the separation of government activities from those of ruling political parties.

Lastly, in November 2017,  Kajoloweka as Executive Director of YAS together with CHRR is pursuing another high-risk accountability case in the Supreme Court of Appeal involving a Water pumping project by the Malawi Government through the Lilongwe Water Board – a state water authority.

The thrust of the case is that Lilongwe Water Board and other public institutions involved in the project flouted Environment Management Act and Public Procurement Act. YAS and CHRR believe that these issues are indicative of the rampant culture of flouting laws at various levels of public authorities and agencies which is often attended by corruption, hence must be challenged.

In summary, looking at the achievements he has done and then considering his age (a youth) Charles Kajoloweka is best suited for the Nyasa Times personality of the year.

The young man has not only been a blessing to the nation at large but also to the youth in Malawi that given the platform they can be able to courageously represent the interests of the marginalised and the voiceless. Kajoloweka background to activism can be traced to his days at Mzuzu University where he was the President of the Students Union.

Other individuals  which were nominated were  Chidanti Malunga – Chairperson of the Joint Agriculture Committee for hi is leadership role in maizegate scandal parliamentary committee.

Also nominated was  the Reverend  Dr. Felix Chingota- Chairperson of the Public Affairs Committee. PAC who  underwent the most stressing time in recent history but  he remained steadfast, focused and courageous despite a DPP-led propaganda to steer the ship from the right direction. He alongside Fr Peter Mulomole were a voice of the voiceless.

The Nyasa Times which has chaled 11 years, introduced the ‘Person of the Year’ accolade in 2010. The title is awarded to an individual who has influenced the year’s news for either positive or negative reasons and is decided by the editors of the online publication after nomination from its contributors, readers and other stakeholders.

Last year Nyasa Times named seven youthful Malawians  –  Wanangwa Msutu, Duwa Mvula, Milca Mphepo, Tiyanjane Kapalamula, Ruth Gondwe, Ivy Chilingulo and Kalolo Msaka -who set off on May 30 for a 362-kilometre 10-day charity walk from Lilongwe to Blantyre   to raise funds to buy medical equipment for the High Dependency Unit of Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH) paediatric ward

In 2015 Nyasa Times named Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Mrs Mary Dominica Kachale as its 2015 Person of the Year or notching 15 convictions in the ongoing Cashgate Scandal, and for remaining unintimidated by potential convicts who may probably be trying all they can to avoid jail.

In 2014 the title went to ‘Malawi Media’ and late journalist Ralph Tenthani for work in informing the masses during the year of elections, playing rightful role as public watchdog and also keeping the nation updated on cashgate scandal.

And the year before that,Nyasa Times named Consumer Association of Malawi (Cama) executive director John Kapito as person of the year because he consistently spoke against bad social, economic and political policies that impact negatively on consumer.

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Cadet Zombies
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Cadet Zombies

I think man of the year should have been Chaponda wa Dowe, being the most searched Malawian name on the internet in 2017.

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