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Letter to Ken Lipenga

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Dear Ken Lipenga. Sorry for using unorthodox means of communicating to you. I am sure this is a surprise to you.

I thought of writing you this letter for several reasons.

The first is to remind and inform you that on April 29, I clocked 26 years in journalism.

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I still remember you, Sir, then editor-in-chief of Blantyre Newspapers Limited (BNL) alongside late Edward Chitsulo, former editor of The Daily Times, and late Horace Somanje, former editor of Malawi News screening me through that interview to find out whether I was indeed the right person to join BNL as a journalist.

It is always fascinating to think now that you had confidence and trust in me that I would make it into journalism; here I am now, writing you through my column.

It is always good to think that I was one of the lucky four out of the 50 who came for the interviews.

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I still remember the way you left BNL. You quickly came into the BNL newsroom and bid us farewell and said you had just been fired.

This was at the height of pressure on the then one-party state to revert to multiparty system of government.

Well, the rest is now history. Afterwards, you became former president Bakili Muluzi’s trusted aide, then Information Minister. You also served in the administrations of late Bingu wa Mutharika and Joyce Banda respectively and became Finance minister; quite a powerful cabinet portfolio.

Let me stay on politics for a while. You have not been heard since you lost your parliamentary seat in Phalombe, are you still in Malawi?

The political landscape is now shaping up ahead of the 2019 tripartite elections, what are your plans?

Last time I heard of you, I think you were in People’s Party (PP), are you still clinging to this PP boat?

By the way, the PP founder Joyce Banda has not been to Malawi since she lost the election to President Peter Mutharika in 2014. Newspapers say she is in self- imposed exile in the US following her party and administration’s involvement in the infamous Cashgate, the K30 billion looting of public money at Capital Hill, the seat of the government in Lilongwe.

The former vice president Khumbo Kachali left PP. I am told he wants to form his own party. I do not know what for. Malawi has a good over 50 political parties, out of which four are active.

I do not know whether a new party would serve the interests of Malawians or the politicians who will run it. Well, it is their democratic right to form and associate with any party.

I will now turn to the four active political parties. The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) still commands support from the South. However, it is still using the youth, whom they call cadets to unleash terror on those critical of government including those in opposition, not good for a progressive and democratic party.

President Mutharika, who has stayed for over 40 years in the largest democracy in the world, the US, can do better.

The main opposition, the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) still commands large following in the Centre. However, its president Lazarus Chakwera still faces problems within the rank and file of the party.

He had to deal with Felix Jumbe. As soon as Jumbe was fired, we heard of Jessie Kabwila, then Chatinkha Chidzanja Nkhoma and now it is its Secretary General Gustave Kaliwo. Well, that is normal in democracy. People with dissenting views always pop up and clash with the leadership.

This reminds me of John Tembo. He headed MCP with a good dosage of strict discipline, probably that is why we seldomly heard of ‘rebels in the party.

However, Tembo has been quiet since he handed over power to Chakwera.

I plan to book an appointment and see him to find out what keeps him busy in his political retirement.

This is a person who knew how to deal with ‘rebels’ in his party.

Now, let me finish with the remaining two parties; the United Democratic Front (UDF) and PP.

UDF is a very interesting party. Officials of the party are not coming out clear and solid to tell us their stand on the alliance with DPP.

Instead, it is President Mutharika who is speaking on behalf of UDF, vowing that the DPP/UDF marriage is till death doth them apart, that is the Malawi politics.

The UDF spokesperson Ken Ndanga and party president Atupele Muluzi are murmuring something which is not audible, leaving UDF supporters confused and getting Lucius Banda more isolated than ever before.

Turning to PP, well, to be frank, it is in tatters. I wonder if the party will get half a dozen Members of Parliament in the next polls.

Well, I have talked much on politics. Let me move on to other matters now. Escom or Egenco or whatever you call it has minimised power blackouts.

This is very good news. Some two months or so ago, my old good brother, Bright Msaka, announced in Mulanje during the launch of Malawi Rural Electricity Programme that power blackouts will now be history and indeed it is now history.

Those who are in darkness are those who cannot afford the high tariffs. Things seem to be good, at least for now.

Thank you very much for taking your time to read this letter. Once again, thank you very much for turning me into a journalist and special mention should go to Alfred Ntonga, then BNL deputy chief reporter, for giving me excellent in-house journalism courses.

Greetings to Binton Kutsaira if you meet him. Tell him to come out of his political cocoon to see the exciting events on the political scene. Alliance for Democracy is now rebranding. They say they now want membership beyond Tumbukas. This is very exciting news. Ten powerful MPs from the North have already joined it. Thank you very much and have a great and blessed day!

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