Tembo talks about his family, a day in his life

Veteran politician and leader of opposition in parliament, John Zenus Ungapake (JZU) Tembo has spoken about his day-life and family.

Tembo, president of Malawi Congress Party (MCP), who was one of the most powerful and influential figures in the one- party state under dictator Kamuzu Banda, said he wakes up during dawn and retires early.

“I normally wake up two oclock in the morning and I read,” said Tembo during an exclusive interview with popular Zodiak radio. “I do have my breakfast at 7 am. After breakfast I go for a bath and prepare myself for the day’s work.”

He said he does most of his work at his office located in his Area 10 residence in Lilongwe and that during parliament he works from his office at the National Assembly.

“My wife is always quarrelling that I go to bed early because I wake up at 2am,” he said.

“So by 9PM or 10 PM am in bed. My wife stays late because she has got programmes on television to watch,” said the veteran opposition leader.

Tembo: Wakes up at 2AM

During the interview which was ably conducted by award winning journalist Tereza Ndanga, Tembo was asked about his children and he spoke highly of them.

Despite speculations that he sired so many children, Tembo mentioned of four children.

“My children are all adults now,” the septuagenarian pointed out.

“The first one is a lady. She is an engineer with a masters degree in engineering from Imperial College in London but now turned banker. Very brilliant girl.”

“The other one is a banker; she works for Citi Bank in London but is a lawyer with a masters degree in law and professional qualification from Oxford as a lawyer. But she is now in the bank,” said Tembo, himself a former Reserve Bank of Malawi Governor.

He further said: “Lawyers most of them these days, they cross because of attraction of career development. So she is in the banking field in London having done law including French.”

Tembo said the second born went to University of Strasbourg, the largest university in France where she mastered in French.

“When Europe was coming together English and French were two most important languages. If you have no French, you have no English; you won’t make much headway in Europe. And she saw [her] future in Europe,” the former teacher explained.

Tembo said his last born is in marketing.

“As a matter of fact he knows quite a lot. He is doing marketing for Nokia now,” he informed.

“And the first born you know is here, John, my name sake. He is here.”

Tembo said he was proud of his children: “Very proud of them. Very.”

Asked if he would want any of them to follow his footsteps by becoming a politician, Tembo sharply said: “No, they hate it.”

The conviction politician denounced the concept of dragging siblings into politics and pushing them to be successors in leadership positions.

“This idea of bringing up your children as part of your family as your successors is not a good idea,” he said.

“Politics is a career that should be personal on the basis of your feelings on the issues affecting people,” said Tembo.

He said political dynasties in succession are “terribly unusual.”

In his parting shot in the interview, the 78-year-old Tembo said: “I wish Malawi well; I think Malawi will one day be a country where people will walk freely without fear where the government and the people will be open to each other and parliament will represent the feelings of the people. Thank you.”

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