Mr Goodall Gondwe, do we accept any World Bank loan?

So now everybody loves the World Bank. The comment in the Nation does not look at any of the World Bank policies, it just loves the money. But the Breton Woods Institutions are not always the best for Malawians. If you read this report page 16-18 you see that they caused a lot of hardship for us with their loan conditionalities.

The same you see in this report on page 22-23. Quotation:

“Because of these conditionalities, thousands of Malawians starved to death,
the government was denied its policy space, our National Assembly positions
were disregarded, the World Bank disregarded advice and its own findings of the
Poverty and Social Impact Assessment (PSIA) and when our government recently
reversed the programmes, the World Bank opposed.”
Collins Magalasi, Head of Policy, Action Aid International Malawi

These institutions are accountable to their financiers, the biggest by far being the US. So they promote policies that are good for the US and other developed countries, not necessarily for us. Developed countries want cheap raw materials and markets for their finished products, like they have used us since the first days of colonisation. Now they are neo colonialist, not having to shoulder the burden of subjecting us with the military, but doing it cheaper, with Breton Woods institution loans that we have to pay back. We should be critical of their policies instead of accepting everything because there is a loan to be had.

Of course for some people in government it is a good idea to have money floating around, so they can operate (compare Cashgate) and the consequences of the conditionalities are for the population.


Our government is mostly dysfunctional. It is an organization that first of all engages with itself. It keeps itself going, but the primary function of government seems to be mostly forgotten: services to the population.

  • Security? Low standard
  • Judicial system: s l o o o o w and low standard
  • Education: low standard
  • Health care: low standard
  • Administrative services like passports, drivers licenses, permits, registrar general etc: low standard


Now if government is so concerned with itself, you would expect the organizational standard to be high. But the opposite is the case: the administration is so chaotic that donor after donor withdraws because their funds are not traceable.

A number of years ago Malawi was called a failed state. We all felt that was over the top and Taxpremature. But since then the standard of governance has only deteriorated. A government that does not serve the population, but that keeps itself going at the cost of the populations tax payments without rendering the services the population is entitled to is called a predatory state: the state predates on us, and does not give anything worthy in return.

saulos-chilimaWhen coming into office, Vice President Saulos Chilima started working on the issue: the Civil Service Reform Programme. But before long it got obstructed and hijacked and it became no more than an Increased Revenue Collection Programme (squeezing more money out of the tax payer). And of course the donor initiated programmes were also put under the umbrella, like the unbundling of Escom. For this the Millenium Challenge Corporation paid a lot of money, but again the administration was so bad that they stopped funding. Anyway, government calls this donor programme “civil service reform” (while Escom is not Civil Service, it is a para statal, but who cares? Not this government.)

After a year Chilima got totally side tracked by the DPP elite, and now he has zero power left. The civil service is not being reformed to render services to us, the tax payer.

African culture in the Mau Mau Revolution.

A contribution by Charlie Companyero

The Mau Mau Revolution was one of the greatest upheavals in African history. It was the expression of centuries of resistance to authoritarianism among the Kikuyu people, the native inhabitants of Kenya. Except for parts of Uganda, which had a system of rule by hereditary despotic chiefs, all of the East African tribes lived in radically democratic societies prior to the coming of the white man. Originally governed by a king, centuries ago the Kikuyu through popular rebellion literally abolished the State, substituting a voluntary society. According to Jomo Kenyatta, a founder of Mau Mau, the new system had such rules as: “Socially and politically all adult men and women should be equally full members of the kenyattatribe, and thereby the status of a king or nobleman should be abolished. It consisted of a federation of councils, beginning with the members of the family (the basic economic unit of land ownership), extending to the village, then to the district, and ending on a national level. The right to recall representatives from the different councils was absolute; “. . . in fact, it was the voice of the people or public opinion that ruled the country.” The Kikuyu stateless society “continued to function favorably until it was smashed by the British government, which introduced a system of government very similar to the autocratic government which the Kikuyu people had discarded many centuries ago.” The British imperialists appointed chiefs to overlord the people and set up a tyranny resting on centralization. Kenyatta helped form Mau Mau to destroy this, for: “In the eyes of the Kikuyu people, the submission to a despotic rule of any particular man or a group, white or black, is the greatest humiliation to mankind.
The Kikuyu anarchist tradition which culminated in the Mau Mau Revolution has been best described in the book by Donald L. Barnett and Karari Njama, Mau Mau from Within: An Analysis of Kenya’s Peasant Revolt. The latter author being a major participant; virtually all other works on the subject were written by white racist sycophants of British imperialism. Early in the work Darnett queries:

Were there, it might now be asked, any peculiar features of traditional Kikuyu society which help explain this people’s independent response and, ultimately, revolutionary reaction to colonial rule and white dominance? The answer, I believe, is in the affirmative. It centers around two closely related aspects of Kikuyu society which were fundamentally incompatible with the imposed colonial system and conditioned an independent response to it. The first of these, a decentralized and democratic political system, fostered among the Kikuyu a deep-seated suspicion of the highly centralized, authoritarian system imposed by the British and a tendency to reject the legitimacy and resist the dictates of the latter. The second, an age-grade system wherein leadership emerged on the basis of demonstrated personal qualities such as skill, wisdom and ability, underlay the Kikuyu rejection of British-appointed ‘chiefs’ and their tendency to by-pass the latter and organize independent associations under popular leaders when the occasion arose to seek a redress of grievances.

In detail the Kikuyu stateless society: There was no “unitary or centralized political structure,” and within the Kikuyu sub-tribes political power was held by a number of fairly small and semi-autonomous geopolitical groupings. Disputes were settled and common affairs deliberated on by spontaneously formed councils. Each council elected a muthamaki, who had no personal power, unlike the life-term, salaried chiefs the British later imposed. “As the spokesman of a ridge councilor ad hoc bururi council, a muthamaki was not a ‘Chief’ in either the conventional or anthropological sense. He was the chairman and representative of a body which reached decisions through discussion and consensus and owed its authority to lower-level councils.

In brief, we have seen that the traditional Kikuyu political structure was decentralized and 300px-kar_mau_mauinherently democratic, with effective decision making and enforcement powers resting for the most part in numerous local hierarchies of councils within each sub-tribe. We have noted, with respect to this kiama or council system, that:
(1) councils were convened as the occasion demanded and reached decisions on the principle of discussion until unanimity was achieved;
(2) the particular council convened (sub-clan, village, neighborhood, etc.) was determined in each case by the scope and nature of the question or dispute at issue;
(3) composition was based on the principle of lower-level representation on higher-level councils,’ with the higher-level councils owing their authority to the lower;
(4) the spokesman or muthamaki of a given council, whether that of the village or the ridge — which represented the largest fixed administrative unit — was responsible to and acted in the name and with the approval of the entire body; and
(5) positions of leadership were achieved, within a system of age-grades or ranks, rather than ascribed and were limited in duration by the periodic accession to political authority of junior generation-sets.

The British imperialists, great “civilizers” that they were, imposed upon the Kikuyu the opposite extreme of totalitarian statism and economic and political slavery. Centralized, dictatorial rule was instated, and such basic freedom as speech, press, assembly, and the like were suppressed. Economic freedom was a luxury for whites only. The Kikuyu’s land was seized for the use of white settlers and the blacks forced to work as wage slaves; compulsory labor and taxation supplemented this, as the colonial administrators openly admitted, and provided as well, free construction and education funds for the privileged whites. Huge unused forest reserves were held out of production, from which the black masses were not even allowed to gather firewood. In 1936 the British ruled that squatters could have only one acre per wife, fifteen sheep or goats and no cattle, and there were all kinds of restrictions on the types of crops blacks could grow — all of this because the inefficient whites could not bear the competition of the efficient blacks. Government restrictions of every kind were enforced against blacks, from license fees to severe restrictions on freedom of movement. Blacks could not enforce contracts against whites, and were not allowed the right of inheritance or enforceable land titles, the better to keep them subjected to the white exploiters.

To a people so accustomed to complete freedom, such slavery was intolerable. Opposition was sporadic until the great peasant revolution of 1953-56, which set in motion the political forces which led to the lowering of that filthy Union Jack in Kenya in 1963. The anarchist heritage of the Kikuyu expressed itself not only in their willingness to bid for liberty or death, but also in the methods by which they carried out their tasks. There was a considerable measure of continuity, at least as regards certain major patterns, between the traditional Kikuyu social system and the structure and organization of the underground movement and guerrilla forces which emerged within the colonial context.
The basic cells of Mau Mau were the local villages, in which everyone cooperated in common tasks. The old council system, organized from the bottom up through consensual election of representatives, was reinstated. Local cell councils pressured the lingering to join, mainly by the threat of ostracism. Popular support of Mau Mau is revealed in that up to 90 percent of the Kikuyu population took the Oath of Unity.

While there was a Central Committee at the top, it mainly coordinated action and expressed the policies the masses desired. In practice, action was initiated by the local cells. In the first months there was no clear-cut division of labor, hierarchy of roles, or differential privileges, and leaders (who had no formal ranks) were selected by informal consensus. Later the Ituma Trinity Council was formed to give central direction to the movement; but just as the power of the local leaders depended on the loyalty their warriors were willing to give them voluntarily, compliance with its recommendations depended on the decisions of the local groups. A similar institution was the Kenya Defense Council, which was comprised of the leaders of the forest guerrilla groups. Enforcement of this council’s decision a, which were unanimously decided, depended on its members’ individual persuasive abilities, and expressed a decentralization of power and authority.

These features of decentralization reflected the voluntary nature of both membership in and recognition of the Kenya Defense Council, as well as the prior distribution of effective power among groups whose members were bound together by strong leader-followers locality ties and loyalties … [The relatively weak Council] was advantageous since without significantly altering the existing distributions of power amongst the various leaders, it allowed for a considerable degree of cooperation among the latter in the planning and coordination of policies, rules and tactics. Another advantage of this decentralization lay in its allowing for a very high degree of flexibility of maneuver and individual initiative among the many forest sections.

Needless to say, the goal of Mau Mau was a return to the free economic and political institutions which characterized the Kikuyu before the coming of the imperialists, and it was fitting that their slogan was simply “Land and Freedom!” True, the complete stateless society of former years has not yet been completely reinstated, but one must not expect miracles. Kenya has done away with the worst iniquities of the State, those imposed by the British; while continuing to head in the direction of the old libertarian traditions, Kenya’s progress is impeded by the fact that several of the “educated” Kenyans were brainwashed by statist ideologies of the British and that neo-colonialism continues. The liberation of the whole African continent is an indispensable condition for the complete liberation of the masses from black elites and neo-colonialism.

Opportunity for AP Mutharika!


As our government fails to feed our hungry masses, the International Community comes to the rescue in the shape and form of Unicef and WFP. They distribute food and cash for the poor, where our government cannot manage due to a number of factors, Cashgate among them.

We thank them.

These organizations have strict and up to date codes of conduct. These codes of conduct mention treatment of women and girls. And they mention specifically that sexual exploitation of beneficiaries is illegal. These agencies must take their own policies seriously. After all, why have a policy if you do not enforce it? Let’s call them to action!

But even our own Chiefs are taking unfair advantage of the trust that International Agencies place in them, and engage in exploitative activities that fuel the spread of HIV/Aids. Now, our Chiefs are the custodians of our culture and tradition, but not harmful practices.

Ask them: Is respect for women and girls not part of Malawian tradition and culture, as much as respect for Chiefs?

Ask them: Does the Chief not have the responsibility to safeguard mental and physical health of his subjects?

Ask them: Is fairness and equal treatment of subjects not part of Malawian culture and tradition, as it is opposed to unfair favoritism?


Chiefs like these are at risk of being lured into immoral practices.

peter-mutharika11A few months ago our President ordered the prosecution of the Fisi Eric A. (full name withheld) for abusing little girls. This is very encouraging. Some petty souls then accused our great President of only acting when the international media (in this case BBC) are involved. This is surely not the style of our beloved President Arthur Peter Mutharika. He promotes integrity. He promotes patriotism. He promotes hard work. He surely will promote the prosecution of our predatory Chiefs and International Aid Workers, who abuse their power and our lovely little girls. President, we have faith in you. President, we are waiting for your intervention. Show your Good Governance!

Life was poor, nasty, brutish and short.

Today we read in the Nation that the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy II (MGDS II) has failed. The report cited objectively confirms what we on the ground already subjectively suspected: Malawi is not doing well. Government spending on development has been below expectation.

What is happening?

This government does not have a policy set out. They do not have a blueprint or utopia where they want the country to be in, say, 2024. What they are doing is: filling one hole with another hoping to finance the opulent lifestyle of the ruling class and maybe also pay government bills and salaries. But there is no direction where the country should be going according to government.

When trying to pay the bills, government does not set strong priorities (for instance hiring teachers, improving education, hiring doctors and nurses, operating budget for the police service). What happens is: those in strong positions on Capital Hill make sure their personal interests are covered. That means inevitable shortages (caused by corruption, inefficiencies and consequent donor fatigue) are pushed downwards to those with no power to influence payment priorities. Government suddenly lowered the allocation to education with 40% (!). The ministry did not downscale its own operations, it simply pushed the shortage downwards to the schools. The University subsequently tried to push the shortage downwards to the students (and their parents). The judiciary applied the law, and stopped the university from doing this. When petitioned the chancellor (who happens to also be President) just flatly refused to take responsibility. Now several universities are closed, and it is unclear when they will reopen. This is not conducive to development, on the contrary: in the 21st century our beautiful country cannot be competitive without a well educated work force. This is only one example, but it works like this across the government ironing board.

No priorities which leads to the powerful taking care of themselves and pushing the shortages down to the powerless. This looks suspectly like the bad dream of Hobbes: the life of man, poor, nasty, brutish and short. According to Hobbes, we need governments to stop this type of life. This classic realization from the 18th century (!)has not reached the current crop of leaders at Capital Hill.

Discussion between Companyero and Chilembwe (fireworks!)

John K. Black:

We have together here Charlie Companyero, and Chilembwe. Both are important members of Liberation Movement.

Chilembwe: Hi, let me tell you: all members are important, and all members are equally important.

Companyero: Hi, John, Chilembwe, I am glad to be here.

You have different thoughts on some of the points of Liberation Movement, so with this discussion we can expect some fireworks I hope.

Chilembwe: Hahaha, we are good friends and we agree on the Big Issues of Liberation. We have some different ideas about details of the way to get there.

Companyero: I am glad to be your friend, Chilembwe. And John, too.

Black: So who wants to start outlining the different principles you follow?

Companyero: We do not follow different principles, we have different ideas on strategy and tactics. Chilembwe wants to form a political party out of Liberation Movement. I think it is fine to form a party, but I think we should keep it separate from Liberation Movement, so I can contribute to the Movement without having to get into politics.

Chilembwe: Of course the Party will be separate from the Movement. The movement is organized in a way that functions perfectly for a Movement, but not for a political party. There you need representation, inevitably you have to deal with that at the moment you enter Parliament, or maybe even the Presidency.

Companyero: Hahaha, you think big!

John: Hahaha. So here you agree, but can you tell me a bit more on the differences between your viewpoints?

Companyero: We agree on Liberation Movement. In his interview with you Chilembwe explained very well how we organize, and how everybody of good will can be Liberation Movement, simply by organizing his or her own section. A Soviet, or a club, or any other type of organization. You simply have to support the idea of horizontal organization, and you are in line with Liberation Movement. You cannot be top-down, and horizontal at the same time. So out of horizontal organization follows equality between all, and follows the whole program of Liberation Movement. And within that paradigm we can have different approaches, like between Chilembwe and me.

Chilembwe: This is an interesting answer, Companyero, and a good one. You have spoken wisely! Instead of answering the question on differences, you emphasize the similarities. And that is what we need.

There is one small difference, and that is that apart from working with Liberation Movement, I am going to form a political party along the lines of Liberation.

Companyero: The trouble with a political party is that you cannot have a party with a polit bureau, and a board, and elected representatives with car loans and housing allowances, and at the same time be egalitarian, as Liberation Movement has as its most important principle.

Chilembwe: You are a dreamer, Companyero, and we need more like you. Come u with the most beautiful ideas of how the world should be. But at some point you need to be practical. Praxis is what we need. And practicality means that you are dealing with State power. If you demonstrate peacefully, the State sends gunmen with live ammunition, and they shot 20 people dead in 2011. The same DPP party that has State power now. So you need to do something about that. If we take over government we can prevent that type of thing from happening.

Companyero: You think only in State power, in hard power in physical violence. But when you start getting involved in the systemic violence that the State imprints on its citizens, you get involved in the logic of power, and then you will be forced to do the same things yourself. You need to create an alternative with no powerful and disempowered people, but with everybody egalitarian. That is not possible in a State. And once you run the State, you get to do so by means of an organization that is built on violence, hierarchy, top down commands, and all the corruption and abuse that that type of organizing engenders. We need to be different, but when people are part of that organization, they have to follow its logic.

Chilembwe: your alternative is very good, but it does not solve the Big Issue of oppression and violence. You can do small things without irking the State powers, but when you get to be influential they will unleash their violence on you. You need to be prepared. And then it is better to be on the command side, so you can command the violence to stop.

Companyero: You cannot command the violence to stop, because a command is a form of violence. This is a contradiction, like: “This sentence is untrue.” If it is true it is untrue. But if it is untrue it is true. So if you use a command structure to order equality, you are contradicting yourself.

Chilembwe: We will never agree on this. If you want to improve the country, you need to have the power to do so. And if you do not want to grab power by violent means, you have to reform the State from within.

Companyero: You cannot reform the State from within, because the State is built on inequality. If you reform it, it ceases to be, and you lost the power, because the power apparatus is dissolved.

Chilembwe: Dissolving is better than fighting. But before we get to that point there is a lot of room for improvement, and a lot of need for improvement. Urgently.

Companyero: You cannot improve by being as evil as your opponent. Then you are the same, and you are only another player in the field of oppressors.

Chilembwe: See? We disagree.

Companyero: That we can agree on.

Black: I think the different ideas have become a bit clearer. Thank you both.

Companyero: Thank you, John.

Chilembwe: Thank you both.