It is John Kapito’s research



Consumers’ Association of Malawi (Cama) boss, John Kapito, is making headlines. Not because he is organising a demonstration to protect the exploited consumers but because he has just released findings of what he called a research into the maizegate. Ordinarily, the findings cannot be a problem but because the so called research only talked to Admarc officials and “some banks” and ended up exonerating the same Admarc which is one of the suspects.

But I think members of the public might be unfair with Kapito. They expected Kapito to be transparent and methodical in his purported research. What the public is missing out is that they are dealing with a different John Kapito from the one who stood up to Bingu and organised anti-establishment demonstrations. That was the John Kapito who declared that even if no-one joined him on the streets, he would protest alone at a risk of “meeting Bingu on the streets.”


This time around, this is the John Kapito who announced that he was tired of fighting for indifferent Malawians. He also made it clear that he would no longer risk his life for the public good.

So the new Kapito decided to do what would please him. He rose up one morning, sat behind his desk and came up with his results.

For starters, the new Kapito told an inquiry by members of Parliament that the purpose of his research was to find out if indeed the imported maize was delivered to Admarc. To him inflating prices of the imports did not matter as long as the maize was delivered. He then confessed that he “was told two different figures.” This meant that there was no conclusive finding on this research aim.


Perhaps exhausted by the salvo of questions from the MPs, Kapito changed his version and said that his research aimed to find out if money was paid to the supplier.

Now here is the catch: Kapito says he did an in depth desk research, talking to Admarc and banks but ignoring the public and media houses! He claims that he went beyond what was in the public arena, right on his desk.

Kapito is not telling anyone the sample size of his research: their levels of understanding, political affiliation or where he found them. He is not even revealing how he identified his interviewees and the mode of interviews. Did he send questionnaires? Were they face to face interviews or did he do them electronically? Who were members of his team? Did he partner any credible researchers or institutions?

Most importantly, who funded his research? Who paid for the bills for the researchers he claimed to have sent to Zambia? Who did they meet in Zambia?

Members of the public have punched holes in Kapito’s research based on these yawning gaps. It might be a problem that the public did not know Kapito all along. They might have thought that he was representing their interests when in fact, he might have been raising his leverage.

In the 90s, Kapito spoke tough on minibus fares. Did the public find out if he was not a player in the minibus industry? At the height of the spy-machine debate, Kapito swung like a pendulum: speaking against the use of the machine then arguing that it would put operators on a short leash: Was there any motivation in his mood swing? Did he propose to anyone any figures to enable him back up the use of the spy machine? Was his proposal successful? If so how many millions were involved?

Did the former president, the late Bingu wa Mutharika, have any names in mind when he said that some human rights activists would bash his government so that they should be silenced with some millions?

But do we have a good reason for hanging John Kapito? We never followed him to the streets when we thought he was fighting for our cause; he never hid his disappointment with us and he declared that he would now go his own way (adzipanga zake). So it is his desk where he conducted his research? It is his sponsors that bankrolled him. It is the outcome of his research that he has released. Yes he is playing in the public domain but it is John Kapito’s research.

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