Competence-based politicians


This paper attempts to address the question of recruitment of politicians in Malawi using the competence-based system. How do parties accept political representatives for their parties in Malawi? Do parties think of the competencies of individuals that their party is willing to hire? Should, we as parties, complain after two years that our politicians are failing us due to unskilled mindsets?

Let me attempt to answer some of the questions posed above.

Using competence-based system will make our politicians, people who join politics to change a country; not change their lives. They will work for the people not just their families.


Individuals with competencies achieve more for governments because they do more: rather than just talking politics without any focus on development.

What do our primary elections do? Endorse party loyalists, or discover skills in different individuals? I wish to propose that primary elections should sift, the would-be political representatives regarding their competencies.

Members of Parliament must have real people skills; understanding what development is and appreciate the African notion of democracy.


I know people are chosen on the strength of their party loyalty. This selection should add to the ability to public speaking, respect of the populace and the real ability to argue well without losing one’s cool. Politics is not for the novice.

Parties must have a selection mechanism to sift through people who want to represent them. This will reduce the number of politicians who bring to parties nothing but shame.

Key success factors of a normal Malawian parliamentarian should be:

  • Communication skills: The ability to communicate a message well and clearly across a variety of audiences.
  • Political conviction: All parties have their ideologies. A member of a party must have a flavour to observe party principles, and have public service. They must have integrity and courage in defending or disseminating beliefs.
  • Intellectual skills: MPs must understand what they are reading, learn fast, and sift complex information. They must sift through tough situations and bring about change.
  • Leading and motivating: A member of parliament must have the capacity to lead and motivate other people. An MP must be able to recognize other people’s contributions. Provide support where it is need.
  • Relating to people: Our politicians must easily reduce themselves and fit into any grouping – they must be ready to fit with any person from any backgrounds, they must demonstrate tolerance, approachability and the ability to inspire trust in others and make them love their parties more.
  • Resilience and drive: Just like an entrepreneur, our politicians must demonstrate the skill of resilience they must have the drive and remain focused even in times of real setbacks. They must face challenges, fight back and learn to win against all odds.

Parties should hold interviews before primary elections to sort out their would-be members of parliament. By way of illustration, when members are exposed to this type of selection, they will surely be smart workers since they have been panel beaten by the party and their constituents.

What are competencies in individuals? Their ability to execute their skills without any trouble and hesitation.

What this paper proposes is that parties should align themselves with people of different skills. Yes, skills such as communication, leadership strategic thinking and judgment, representing people, resilience and values, action and relevance recognition.

Most of all, parties should avoid people who are not trust worthy, honest and who do not love their country.

To conclude this maiden view, I wish to stress that our politicians such as MPs should have competencies, skills and knowledge required for their jobs. Till next time, ADIOS!

The author is an MA student (Diplomacy and International Relations) at Africa University of Guidance and Counselling. He writes in his own capacity.

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