Two of my former colleagues—Mzati Nkolokosa and Deogratias Mmana—lost their jobs in September this year at the hands of the Tonse administration led by President Lazarus Chakwera.
It is worth noting that at the same time, the Tonse Alliance-led government also cancelled the contract of Chief Director for Reforms in the Office of the President and Cabinet Seodi White.
But my interest today is in those fired from the Ministry of Information.
Mmana is an accomplished investigative journalist with a string of awards to his name resulting from ground breaking investigative reporting.
He actually started his reporting career at the Malawi News Agency (Mana), which falls under the Ministry of Information where he returned as deputy director after a stint in the private sector.
Nkolokosa, is not just a respected journalist whose strength lies in in-depth news analysis, but he has also made his mark in the academic world after his stints at Nation Publications and Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) from where he proceeded to teach at University of Malawi’s College of Medicine and the Polytechnic as well as many other institutions where he rendered his unique services.
He has even authored a book and I have benefitted from some highly intelligent journal articles he has published.
The duo’s firing—Nkolokosa as director of information and Mmana as deputy director—was a bitter pill to swallow for me.
Still, I understood the reasoning behind their removal as stated by Information Minister Gospel Kazako who said the two were not recruited in accordance with the law.
The other reasoning was that the two did not rise through the ranks at the Ministry of Information; hence, bringing people from outside when there were qualified career civil servants in the Ministry was not only unfair to the hard working public workers, but could also be a demotivating factor.
Of course, by the time they were making these self-righteous statements, President Chakwera and his Tonse gang had already brought in Zangazanga Chikhosi from retirement to become Secretary to the President and Cabinet at the expense of ambitious principal secretaries who should have been in line for the top most civil service post.
Still, I tried to understand, give the new administration the benefit of doubt.
And, of course, they were later to bring back General Timothy Nundwe as Malawi Defence Force commander to, as the President put it, right the wrong inflicted on him by his unfair dismissal from the armed service.
I tried, really tried, to understand all this too, until Tonse hired Chikumbutso Mtumodzi as director of information. Now I have nothing against Mtumodzi. In fact, our paths have rarely crossed. But what wrong is the President correcting on Mtumodzi?
Granted, Mtumodzi was once director of information during the Joyce Banda days, but is the administration saying there was something wrong in how he left the ministry several years ago?
Furthermore, if the recruitment of Mmana and Nkolokosa—who were handpicked in the same way Mtumodzi has been plucked—were irregular, does this new appointment become textbook simply because it is the Tonse administration doing the hiring?
If this disingenuous way of running affairs of State is what will be the modus operandi of the Chakwera administration, then we are in a worse scenario than United Democratic Front (UDF), People’s Party (PP) and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administrations put together because at least DPP, PP and UDF did not pretend to be nice guys when breaking the law. Hell, they could even raise a middle finger at us.
They were not even trying to defend it because they knew it was wrong and they knew people knew. They didn’t care, but at least they never tried to put lipstick on their pigs.
Chakwera and his administration pretend that they do not know this is wrong and think Malawians are gullible enough not to know that the new government is straying not just from the law, but from its own stated policies as well.
President Chakwera promised Malawians that he will be straight with them. But if this is his idea of being straight, then we are in for one long, meandering slog back to the business as usual way of doing things around Capitol Hill and State House instead of the business unusual route to the promised land that Tonse bored us to death with during the campaign.
Very little, if any, has really changed.