Youth and leadership in Malawi: Historical reflective look at Chilima’s candidacy and Zodiak interview

Malawi Vice President Dr Saulos Klaus Chilima’s press conference on June 2 2018  was a waste but his interview with Zodiak Broascasting Station was the worst. I want to give a brief analysis of the TV interview he gave Zodiak. However, while listening to his interview, I made a very frustrating observation that Chilima is faithfully following the path of a series of failure of youths in the politics of our country.

Chilima: To run for presidency

Younger politicians have always failed to get the political leadership of this land each time they have tried for a hundred years now. Therefore, I will give you the historical background of how disappointing the youths have been and finish with the analysis of the interview. I just want to attempt to give you a comprehensive picture of how Chilima’s imminent failure to get leadership of this country will simply be a sad repetition of our sad history.

Towards the end of the interview Chilima himself talked about youths like MasaukoChipembere and Aleke Banda. To their list, we can add others like Orton Chirwa, Kanyama Chiume and the Chisiza brothers who participated in the independence struggle up to 1963 and formed part of the first cabinet. But what he did not tell us possibly because he has never thought about it, is that these young men miserably failed to get leadership of this country when they tried despite having participated in a successful independence struggle of 1953 to 1963.

What we usually ignore is that what caused the Cabinet Crisis from late August to early September in 1964 was a failed seizure of power by young politicians in the cabinet. They wanted to overthrow the old Prime Minister, Dr. Hasting Kamuzu Banda who was this time above 65 years of age. Malawi had become a democracy in 1963, but as of 1964 the young politicians had figured that Dr. Banda was betraying democracy. After failing to reason with him, the young ministers entertained the idea to overthrow him and replace him with a fellow youth, Orton Chirwa. On 8th August 1964, the youths chickened out and failed to use the vote of no confidence motion in an emergency sitting of Parliament in Zomba to depose Dr. Banda. After failing, and things turned against them, they fled from the old man into exile.

While some of the young cabinet ministers were running away into exile, one of them, MasaukoChipembere remained and dared to be brave. He went into the bush. He had decided to depose Dr. Banda through a military coup. Therefore, together with other young politicians like Member of Parliament George Ndomondo, they mobilized an army of guerrilla fighters. They camped and trained in the bush near Malindi and in the night of 12 February 1965, Chipembere attempted a poorly planned coup d’état and failed miserably to capture Dr. Banda who is in Zomba. He had failed to cross Shire River at Liwonde to go to Zomba as he moved with his guerrillas from Fort Johnston (Mangochi) due to poor planning and without contingencies. His guerrilla fighters were arrested and executed and other died in the fight. Young Chipembere later simply sneaked out of Nyasaland into exile having only succeeded to get his men killed and jailed.

But these youths were not the first to shamefully fail to get leadership of our country at a critical moment. The first one was Reverend John Chilembwe in January and February 1915. What most Malawians do not take into account is that John Chilembwe was a youth. He was just in his 30s when he begun to struggle against colonialists and he was younger than Chilima, at 43 years of age, when he led the poorly planned and poorly executed coup against the colonial government. I am sure, he is the one that cursed all youths of Malawi that have attempted to take over this country after him because they have  all always failed with exactly the same reasons that made him fail.

Just recently in the previous elections of 2014, Honorable Atupele Muluzi, President of UDF joined the young men in history and tried to get the presidency in his mid-30s. He advanced a very relevant campaign massage of “Agenda for Change.” But alas!  Just like the other youths since Chilembwe, Atupele got thoroughly beaten by a group of grandfathers of roughly a minimum of 60 years of age – about twice his age. One of them was a grandmother. They did gang beat him thoroughly and threw him down to the forth position. What an embarrassment.

Now, when you critically analyze the incidences that have led to the failure of youths to lead this country since Chilembwe, you will notice that they all failed because of the same reasons as follows:

(1.) They overestimated themselves: They were all not a match to their opponents. They did bite more than they could chew under the circumstances.

(2.) Poor timing:  all their attempts to get leadership were impatient and  they acted hastily.

(3.) They had no proper strategy: all of them just like Chilembwe had poor strategies or no strategies at all. Of course they had plans, but their plans lacked strategic and tactical thinking.

(4.) They did not hold the cards:  they all did not have control over events. They were only carried away by circumstances and acted re-actively. They had no position of advantage and they panicked.

When you look at all those four reasons of failure you will notice that Chilima already suffers from all of them: His candidacy is overestimated, it is poorly timed and he keeps timing everything poorly including press conferences and interviews, he has no proper strategy and does not hold the cards. He is panicking to act – exactly like all the youths that failed before him. And when you factor in his indecisiveness, Chilima could even be worse than the reverend Chilembwe.

Look at his press interview. That interview should not have happened at all. When you critically analyze the interview you will notice that it did not accomplish any political objective with respect to the prevailing situation where he has some people following him blindly and others undecided about him and of course a majority not interested in him altogether.  The interview did not yield any political advantage for Chilima. If anything it worked to his disadvantage because more and more people are beginning to notice that he is confused and uncertain about his way forward. In fact, the interview showed explicitly that Chilima is not making any progress.

Listen to his previous press conference, compare with the interview and consider that there is a difference of one month. Tell me that you see any serious progress. Looking at time which is not his side, Chilima has failed to make real progress on which his supporters and his movement can build a future. And I keep asking myself, why on earth did he give the interview?

Look, Chilima should not have given the interview because of the following reasons:

(1.) When Chilima he did the press conference, he had not resigned from DPP for fake reasons of procedure. But now he gives the interview a month later just to tell us that he has still not yet resigned. So what was he doing for a whole month? Is he telling us that a whole month was not enough just to write a one paragraph resignation letter which is not even needed?

(2.) He told the country that he will communicate his next move. But listening to the interview, he still has not made the next move. So why give us the interview? Just to remind us that you are not sure what to do next?

(3.) Much as he said that he is ready to contest next year, he is still not sure how he will contest. He is not sure about forming a party and he thinks he needs a coalition but he does not know with whom. So why give us an interview? Just to show us that you are confused?

(4.) In the interview Chilima talked about nepotism, corruption and transformational leadership. But people, I think we need to get very serious. He already talked about these things in the press conference and on church pulpits. And everyone already talks about nepotism and corruption every day. Does Chilima need to hold an interview just to tell us about things we already know and discuss them every day? Even the transformational leadership issue is very embarrassing. It is an old song that was started by PAC a couple of years ago. I have never seen a political concept so vague and lacking in meaning as the transformational leadership concept. The leadership of PAC itself failed even to define what transformational leadership means. Just like PAC, Chilima himself also failed to defined and articulate what the transformational leadership theory is all about.

(5.) Chilima said that he has been in talks with other political organizations and in 10 days he will seal deals with them. Come on! If you only have 10 days to seal deals, then why give interview before that? Why did he not just wait until the 10 days are over so that he can tell us concrete things about his way forward? That is pure confusion.

The problem with Chilima is that he has no slightest clue what a politician in his situation ought to do and when to do it to sustain the momentum which was building up and now is dying. Chilima does not know what his media appearance and communication means at this point in time when people are trying to decide if he is ready and capable of leading this country or not. As a result of his cluelessness, Chilima is ruining his chances with reckless and pointless press conferences and interviews.

Chilima must understand that of all the major contestants for 2019, he is the weakest. MCP and DPP are strongly established parties with structures across the nation. The parties already have a huge number of loyal voters who can’t switch loyalty while he is starting from scratch but has nothing until today.

Apart from that, these parties are already ahead of him in terms of conventions while he is still thinking that he will contest at a convention but does not know whose convention or whom he will contest with. Instead of getting serious, he is busy giving interviews just to tell people nothing.  I advise him to pull out of the race immediately otherwise he is here just to repeat the history that does not need to be repeated.

  • Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author
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muonosile
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muonosile

Mwanenabwino koma amenewo ndi maganizo anu, Chilima yemweyo

Watematema Mutu
Guest

MUFUNE MUSAFUNE THIS CHILIMA MUKOZA NAYE MKOZO KUTI WAWAWAWA. YACHILIMA YANYAMUKA!!!!!!

NyasaTimes reader
Guest
NyasaTimes reader

Mr Lyson Sibande, as a journalist you are in a class of your own. Si mphwepwa za majournalist till nazo pa Malawi panozi.

santana
Guest
santana

This guy is marvelous!!! Which school did you go to? Even the Brian Bandas cannot come closer to you in matters of great thinking. The Bandas and Kasakulas are good at making 1 hour noises on Times TV but nothing tangible. Let Chilima’s political advosors like MSUSA know that it is not all catholic faithfuls who can join the movement just because he is a fellow catholic. Take a leaf on what happened in 1994 when many catholics voted for Kamuzu and his MCP despite that Letter. Msusa should lnow that Chilima is standing on a political seat not spiritual… Read more »

Hlabezulu Ngonoonda
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Hlabezulu Ngonoonda

Not true that many Catholics voted for Kamuzu and MCP. Check the results as published in the 1994 government gazette notice. The results did not show which religious grouping voted for Kamuzu. Of course part of the central Malawi voted for Ngwazi but its hard to deduce that many were Catholics. For example, the population in Salima District is composed partly of 50% Muslims and partly 50 % Christians. The latter are split among various religious groupings such as Presbyterians, Seventh Day Adventists, Pentecostals, Catholics and Zionists. Msusa being alluded to is not alone in the matter. They are others… Read more »

kaitano
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kaitano

100% kikkkk! ubweleso.

GONANI
Guest
GONANI

As many recommendations as you may get, Lyson, I am telling you now that your analysis is completely misplaced here. Everybody has their own strategy.
My examples are U S A, Canada, France New Zealand and Spain. Youth vote base can easily spin election results in favour of a youthful candidate if he or she different and just as appealing these days. Mark my words – D P P will lose miserably in this coming election. and …just to remind you…… Chakwera is also youthful

Mpoloni
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Mpoloni

Well written piece… As a youth, I have followed Chilima keenly (because he offered some hope) but I have often found him lacking in many fronts. Probably he could do better if he was a bit patient just as what Bingu did with Muluzi. In that regard, he could quickly speak against those who tried to elevate him prematurely, and later remain neutral. His delay in response has put the likes of Masangwi and others (including himself) to the sword. I think.

Mwananyanian
Guest
Mwananyanian

IMHO, the piece is elucidating on several fronts: the most important and conclusive being that VP Chilima is tentative and indecisive, and maybe a bit naive politically too. And can’t win elections, even in an uneducated and politically unsophisticated country like ours, the way he going. He seems to be out of touch with the way things work locally; his tactics and strategy, or lack of thereof, seem like he’s been living in America or Canada or Europe for many years until recently. It’s actually hard to believe the reality is that he’s been VP over the past fours years.… Read more »

Muswahili Mambo Sana
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Muswahili Mambo Sana

It’s really a good analysis but still this is definitely discouraging we the young generation to participate into active politics by you the selfish elderly people , who can’t even stand up when you are in a group photo. The world is changing, don’t just look at Malawi alone , these things which you are trying to discourage the young ones it won’t work to your benefit at all . Let’s forget about Nyasaland which you are referring too ,whereby there was nothing like digital which we are seeing today , everything was done manually in those old years very… Read more »

Napoleone
Guest
Napoleone

Yeah! I like the analylitical skills of the writer. He is precise and to the point. I don’t know which party he belongs or if he has any political affiliation. He has given a deep analysis , well put, with good examples and defending his arguments. I totally agree with him and if I was his teacher, oh boy 99% was going to be given reserving the 1% for him to continue doing more research or observations that needed to add. For example, Chilima admitshim and Mutharika are the ones that talks of corruption. If so why not hold hands… Read more »

Manyozo
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Manyozo

as i do recommend facts the author outlined, i do agree with you in totality. all malawians need is a mindset change from top to bottom. even if we change leaders but if our mindset is corrupt as it is, we can not make progress as a nation. chilima has just shown a youth failure. having an opportunity to serve this country in a high position as a vice president it is an embarassment to the youth that he has nothing to showcase to the youth what good leadership is. indeed giving this country to youths like chilima there can… Read more »

Hlabezulu Ngonoonda
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Hlabezulu Ngonoonda

Spot on. Excellent. The analysis is indeed precise. Like a stingy lecturer at a certain public university, oooh I would award 95% partly because of an error in the sentence: “Chipembere … failed miserably to capture Dr. Banda who is in Zomba.” Cancel “is” and insert “was”.

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