Tragedy of indecisiveness: Malawi-Zambia ‘maizegate’

Our learned lawyers are busy, on social media, debating the merits and demerits of the High Court in Mzuzu decision to grant an injunction restraining Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Minister George Chaponda from executing his duties.

 The feeling out there is that President Peter Mutharika is protecting Chaponga.

Well, it’s their field—we, the lay, should just sit, listen and learn a jargon, a lie and truth here and there.

But, to a governance scholar like me, the whole issue is not so much of a legal tussle we should be debating its merits and demerits.

The fundamental issue here is President Peter Mutharika’s leadership style of being indecisive whenever a pressing issue arises on his desk. He appears a leader on the terraces—arms folded, eyes popped out—just watching things happen on the pitch.

He does not appear to be in control of the nation. He appears tired, demotivated—almost resigned to fate. We are in a big problem.

Consider the maize issue. I do understand the scale of the scandal to the nation, but I don’t think it is that critical to grip and hold the entire nation at ransom the way it has done. I do not think it is a hot scandal that can put the government at the heat it has done. No.

The scandal, (assuming it deserves to be called so) when it broke, only demanded a decisive leader to make right things. All you needed was a decisive leader, at the onset of the scandal, to stamp his authority, bring confidence in the system by being seen to be doing something.

He could have set the right agenda by bringing confidence in the citizenry by, one, pushing aside Chaponda and Admarc boss Foster Mulumbe; and, two, immediately ordering the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) to investigate, not instituting a commission of inquiry.

Pushing aside Chaponda and Mulumbe does not mean the two are guilty.

As somebody who has worked in different international institutions and also well-travelled, Chaponda knows better that when the public opinion is against you, it is noble to step aside and give room for thorough investigations.

Unfortunately, typical of him, the President chose to sit on the issue while it culminated into a crisis.

Even at a crisis level, something that pushed him to assemble such a rambling commission of inquiry, the President is still indecisive in dealing with Chaponda who, according to public opinion, is the symbol of what is wrong in the maize deal.

Out here, the feeling is that the President is protecting Chaponda. We feel the President is failing to execute his duty to relieve Chaponda of his duties and pave the way for smooth investigations. This is why some people have even gone through court to remind the President that he is failing Malawians by choosing to be silent on Chaponda.

His silence on Chaponda, I should underline, is deafening, destructive and a strong symbol of an indecisive leader failing to do what is right.

The challenge is that the more he remains indecisive on Chaponda, the more trouble he creates for himself and his government. Malawians are not sitting idle on this. They have shown the zeal through that injunction and, trust me, every day the momentum is growing to the cause. It might turn nastier.

However, I still believe all is not lost for Mutharika. He has everything at his disposal to do right things. All he needs is to be decisive. He needs to make a decision driven by public interest. He needs to sacrifice some people for the sake of progress. He is the Head of State—and he needs to act as one. –Source: NPL

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Peter Chiswipa

My poor Malawi, how will the villagers survive if AMENEWOWO are pocketing our very own tax money? Anyway poti zawo zinayela kale!

Yankho Yapuwa
Chatatata as learned as you have made us see here you need to appreciate one fundamental fact of good governance. When there are allegations of misconduct against an individual, they step aside to allow for investigations without the possibility of the accused’s interference. Common sense dictates that course of action. Just for argument’s sake – if you owned a company and you employee was accused of some financial malfeasance, do you want to tell us here that you will leave them in charge while you conduct investigations? Like seriously? Lets put politics aside and demand transparency and accountability from these… Read more »

……and you are calling yourself governance scholar….governance scholar my foot!!!!

chisoni wa chisoni

Ngati sagonja iwagonjetse ndi cardiac arrest if they do not know. Malawians are angry like 2012.


Pajatu mtundu uwu umati mukhitho sapepesa,siufuna kugonja

No Sir/Madam APM is decisive. By not firing Chaponda he has shown that he is not moved by public perception that is based on malice. If APM fails to fire Chaponda after he is found guilty by the Commission of inquiry Only then can you accuse APM of indecisiness. While not being judgmental some of us were surprised that Justice John Chirwa had been appointed to the bench. He is so dull and nepostic that the only country he can work in is Sudan. Being my classmate and fellow lawyer the appointment of JC was a great mistake just as… Read more »

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