With his infectious smile and easy going approach, Joseph Mwanamvekha exude an aura of your typical politician who is expected to say all those things that politicians say and do all those things that politicians do. The man from Chiradzulu however packs more than just politics. He is realist; an economic engine and who is pioneering a mix of politics and eagle-eye detail akin to the hard work of the corporate world.
Joseph Mwanamvekha was born on 19th October, 1964 at Namathiya village in Senior Chief Kadewere a the foot of Chikangulu and Chitembele hills from humble Christian family. His father was a church minister at the village church. The young Joseph began to show brilliance from an early age at Masuku Primary School in the same district.
During that time, repeating a classroom was not surprising. In fact it was the norm among primary school students to repeat standard 8, sometimes even up to eight times before being selected to secondary school. The school journey of many students across the country ended at this point owing to repeating many times in Standard 8 and not being selected to Secondary School.
It was a different case for young Joseph Mwanamvekha because he never repeated any classroom, and would always take position number one from Standard one up to Standard 8. In 1981, he was selected to Chiradzulu Secondary School where he continued to take position one from form one up to form four before being selected to read for a Bachelor’s Degree in social sciences majoring in Economics at the University of Malawi Chancellor College in 1985. His academic stellar performance continued at Chancellor College where he graduated in 1989.
By this time, the industry may have gotten wind of the young Mwanamvekha’s academic hotshot status because he received job offers from four companies: the Malawi Investment Promotion Agency ( MIPA); the Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM); Lever Brothers, and EP&D, which is the Ministry of Finance’s economic affairs department. He went for the Reserve Bank of Malawi.
At the Reserve Bank of Malawi, Mwanamvekha was instrumental in the creation of a department called ‘Money and Capital Markets’, which is now called ‘ Financial Markets Operations’, which is responsible for analysing financial markets in the country and providing policy guidance to the central bank on monetary matters. This department was also responsible for the creation of the legal and financial framework for establishing the Malawi Stock Exchange; Malawi Stockbrokers Limited and Discount Houses. His team that time comprised of current Reserve Bank of Malawi Governor, Dr Wilson Banda.
Mwanamvekha worked for the Central Bank for seven years before moving to become Head of Treasury at the Financial Corporation of Malawi (FINICOM), which became NEDBANK and now MyBucs. This was the time he was a member of a group of economists that established the Financial Market Dealers Association of Malawi. Some of the members in that group were Willson Mlauzi; Chikabvu Nyirenda and George Patrige among others.
In 1998, Mwanamvekha became the first Chief Executive Officer for Continental Discount House (CDH), the first discount houses in Malawi, where he was also a minority shareholder. During his time at CDH, and together with Dr Khwima Nthara; Dr Perks Ligoya, Dr Wilson Banda and Paul Kwengwere established the establishing the Economic Association of Malawi (ECAMA,), an economic think-tank that has over the years been critical in offering checks and balances to government over economic matters.
From CDH, he went on to become Chief Executive Officer for government owned Malawi Savings Bank (MSB) from 2007 to 2009. Under his management, the bank expanded and was able to post a profit and paid a dividend to government; the first and only time that MSB made a profit since it was established in 1994. From 2010 to 2012, Mwanamvekha moved to the Ministry of Finance as Secretary to the Treasury (ST) where he also left an indelible record as the one who made it possible for civil servants to start receiving their salaries electronically through banks. Remember this was perhaps a single and most telling decision, which helped purge out ghost workers, an age-old problem that gave government some tithing headaches for a long time. It also helped save lives of people that were felling cash across the country who were constantly attacked by thugs.
When DPP took over power in 2014 under Professor Peter Mutharika, Mwanamvekha made it in the first Cabinet as Minister of Industry and Trade where he also left a mark of performance. Among some of the projects that he initiated at the ministry was the creation of the ‘buy Malawi’ concept designed to encourage Malawians to buy locally produced products and services. The objective of the concept was to stimulate economic growth by promoting local demand, and to prevent unnecessary forex flight from the country through otherwise avoidable imports.
It was also during Mwanamvekha’s time at the Ministry of Trade that government organised the famous investment forums that saw the convergence of investors from all over the world in Malawi to discuss and sample investment opportunities. During this time, the Industry Trade and Tourism published a compendium of investment opportunities cutting across all sectors of the economy to help investors make the right investment choices. This time, doing business index in Malawi improved by 10 steps, the highest this country has ever recorded at any particular time. So many companies were established during this time as a product of this initiative.
In 2018 Mwanamvekha was appointed Minister of Agriculture before he became Minister of Finance in 2019. Although his time at the ministry was brief, he managed to bring back donor support including the all-elusive budgetary support from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which had been frozen under the administration of Joyce Banda and the People’s Party (PP) due to CASHGATE.
Throughout the years, Joseph Mwanamvekha has proved that he is a performer; a go-getter and one who gets things done sometimes even under impossible circumstances. He has proved to be an achiever as a corporate executive in the corporate world; as a civil servant in government and as a politician. The best evidence is in Chiradzulu South Constituency where he is Member of Parliament.
The constituency has enjoyed exponential social and economic growth since he was elected MP in 2014. For example, in just five years, the constituency now boasts a bustling Namitambo modern market which is a new and growing economic hub for people of Chiradzulu and surrounding areas. The constituency also boasts of Chiradzulu TTC; Nsoni Technical College, Chikangulu Community Day Secondary School; Chimwawa Maternity Hospital and the newly refurbished and upgraded Muhasuwa Secondary School replete with a new laboratory and library; teachers’ houses, classroom blocks and all the amenities of a modern Secondary School.
There is also a modern Muyele Telecentre where young people access all sorts of ICT services to connect with the rest of the world. The new Namitambo mortuary is also part of the developmental initiatives that have come to Chiradzulu South Constituency under his reign as MP. The constituency also boats new Nkalo and Tchoda bridges. Mwanamvekha is Chairman of friends of John Chilembwe, a group of literati from Chiradzulu created with the objective of promoting the social and economic development of the district through various initiatives.
A confirmed philanthropist, Mwanamvekha has also helped put many children from disadvantaged backgrounds in schools across the Constituency and the district through bursary run by his Joseph Mwanamvekha Foundation so that they take a shot at their future through access to education.
Joseph Mwanamvekha is DPP’s Spokesperson on Finance and the economy and leading contender to replace Professor Peter Mutharika as the party’s President at its convention expected to take place soon. He is so far running a clean and smooth campaign, which is causing pundits and naysayers alike to stand up and look. As former President, Bakili Muluzi would say, this country has been run by politicians but now it needs an economic engineer. Mwanamvekha seems to be so much the economic Messiah that this country has been longing to realistically graduate from a perennial beggar into a bustling enterprise. His record continues to speak volumes.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :