Tuesday, March 14, 2017



The media play a critical role in national development, but this role has often suffered setbacks in the Malawian context due to the alienation of the media in the consultation, formulation and implementation stages of the policy cycle. An analysis of the situation reveals that this is because the media are left out at the conception, or problem identification, necessitating a paradigm shift that entails engaging the media from the conception, or problem identification, to the implementation stages if the media are to play an active role in the policy formulation and implementation stages so that their contributions are incorporated in national development goals.
A policy is a decision implying impending or intended action (Bauer and Gergen, 1968: 21). In analysing policies, two aspects are generally considered the most significant, namely, process (policy making) and content. According to Bauer and Gergen, the mass media are among the external groups which influence the policy process at its various stages. These stages include problem identification (articulation), policy recommendation (aggregation), policy decision (adoption), policy implementation, policy evaluation, and policy resolution or change (Fischer, 1991). Lambeth (1978) indicates that the functions of the media in the policy process include anticipating problems in advance of public officials, alerting the public to problems on the basis of official warnings,  informing the public of the stakes the competing groups had in solving problems, keeping various groups and the public abreast of competing proposals, contributing to the content of policy, deciding the tempo of decision making, helping lawmakers decide how to vote, alerting the public to how policies are administered, evaluating policy effectiveness, and stimulating policy reviews (Lambeth,1978 :12).
However, while the policy makers acknowledge that the mass media serve a number of functions within the context of government policy making (Olengurumwa, n.d.), the media are often left out of the conception, or problem identification, stage, as a recent policy development in Malawi attest. The Democratic Progressive Party administration, through the Malawi Communications Communication Authority has recently formulated a draft Communications Act (Broadcasting/Content Services) Regulations 2015 without engaging the media industry from the onset (Mpaka, 2015). According to Malawi News, the government is proposing a slew of provisions on how public, private and community broadcasting should operate. A clear indication that the media industry was not consulted from the onset is raised by Media Institute of Southern Africa-Malawi Chapter chairperson, Thom Khanje, who is quoted as saying thus: “This document has a huge bearing on our democracy and government should be as transparent as possible with it. It should ensure that all areas of concern are debated on thoroughly and recommendations adopted.”

Therefore, it is apparent that the media are not involved in the policy conception, or formulation, process necessitating the need for more inclusiveness in the policy development process in Malawi. In this case, inclusiveness in policy making entails that players in the industry should be involved from the onset in the identification of a need, which, informally, implies a probe on that which should be attended to or resolved when something is missing, wrong or not working right, and action must be taken to deal with the troubling situation (Altschuld and Kumar, 2010: 3). Sometimes the word need is substituted with words such as problem, gap, deficiency, discrepancy, issue or concern (Altschuld and Kumar, 2010: 12). According to Altschuld and Kumar, a probe is done when a discrepancy is perceived— activities are not taking place in the way we think they should. Formally, need is the measurable gap between two conditions—“what is” (the current status or state) and “what should be” (the desired status or state”. Therefore, decision making occurs as a reaction to a problem or an opportunity (Robbins and Langton, 2003: 408). They describe a problem as a discrepancy between some current state of affairs and some desired state, requiring consideration of alternative courses of action. The two conditions must be measured and the discrepancy between them determined. Not doing so means that a need has not been directly identified. Inherent in needs is the idea that players must go beyond discrepancies to rectify factors causing needs (Altschuld and Kumar, 2010: 3). Therefore, the media industry should be engaged in policy formation interventions from the onset for it to contribute positively towards the policy formulation and implementation process.
However, the continued exclusion of the media at the issue or problem identification stage runs counter to principles of democracy since countries that have embraced egalitarianism— which entails that all citizens of a state should be accorded equal political, social, economic, and civil rights and privileges (Kurian, 2002: 105) — need to prioritise inclusion in policy development, and Malawi is no exception. Experience has shown that involvement of individuals conversant with their areas of focus may contribute positively towards attaining goals due to their cumulative knowledge, or literacy, in a particular context, in this case media. Hence literate thinking is viewed as the ability to think and reason like a literate person within a particular society, literally learning as socially based experiences (Langer, 1991: 17). The media could, therefore, contribute positively towards the attainment of policy goals once they see themselves as part of the process. It is, therefore, acknowledged that “The free press plays a critical role in the formation of sound public policy. The press produces a forum in which policy ideas and initiatives are tested and formed in the arena of public opinion” (Centre for Media Freedom and Responsibility, 2015).
It is only when the media are involved that they may not feel marginalised during the policy implementation stage, especially after experience has shown that if a decision maker faces a conflict between selecting a problem that is important to an organisation and one that is important to the decision maker, self interest tends to win out (Robbins and Langton, 2003: 411), implying that if communities of interest, in this case the media, are not involved from the beginning, or do not show interest from the start, they are more likely to lose out as policy makers enforce decisions that work to their advantage. Again, it has been proven that “groups tend to jump prematurely to solutions before identifying and prioritising needs or delving into what underlies them” (Altschuld and Kumar, 2010: 4). But, according to Altschuld and Kumar, needs, not solutions, have to be the concern, and groups must be kept on target, thinking first about needs. Otherwise, they warn, poor or unfitting solutions could be implemented at considerable cost of time, energy and fiscal resources. Secondly, exclusion of the media in policy formulation may lead to failure to address gaps, as it has been proven that it is possible for policy makers to mistake mere investigations in one or two conditions with needs assessment (Altschuld and Kumar, 2010: 4) especially when, in some instances, need is inferred or sensed— “Tell us what you think is needed” (a solution approach) — instead of “Help us to delineate discrepancies targeted for action”. Needs sensing is cheaper, quicker, and easier to conduct, but at best it is only about implied gaps. While of value, it falls short of what we see as a needs assessment (Altschuld and Kumar, 2010: 4). Thorough needs assessments are, therefore, important because they have an impact on what organisations do and how they change. Therefore, needs assessments must go beyond the technical aspects of procedures, which, although important, are far from enough (Altschuld and Kumar, 2010: 8).
This notwithstanding, some challenges abound in the policy making process because the press does not show interest. For example, “the press rarely follows the policy process to its conclusion. Rather, it leaves the issue at the doorstep of public officials. By the time a political issue reaches the stages of policy formulation and implementation, the press has moved on to another issue” (Burns, Peltason, Cronin, Magleby and O’brien, 2002: 238). According to Burns et al, when policies are being formulated and implemented, decision makers are at their most impressionable, yet the press has little impact at this stage. Therefore, lack of press attention to how policies are implemented explains in part why citizens know less about how bureaucrats go about their business.
In conclusion, the media can play a more defined and pronounced role in the development and implementation of policies but, in the current set up, this is not the case because the media are excluded from policy formulation process. The media are, therefore, playing a limited role in the policy implementation process, and their impact is minimal, though the situation can be reversed once policy makers become more inclusive and the media take a keen interest in policy issues.


Altschuld, J.W., and Kumar, D.D. (2010). Needs Assessment: An Overview. Los Angeles: Sage Publications.
Bauer, R. A., and Gergen, K. J. (Eds.). (1968). The study of policy formation. New York: Free Press.
Burns, J.M., Peltason, J.W., Cronin, T.E., Magleby, D.B., and O’brien, D.M. (2002). Government by The People: Basic Version. New Jersey: Prentice Hall.
Fischer, J.R. (1991). Functions of the mass media in the policy process. Canadian Journal of Communication, 16(1). Retrieved from http://www.cjc-online.ca/index.php/journal/article/view/589/495.
Kurian, G. (2002). Dictionary of World Politics. Washington, D.C.: CQ Press.
Lambeth, E. B. (1978). Perceived influence of the press on energy policy making. Journalism Quarterly, 55(1), 11-18, 72. Quoted in Fischer, J.R. (1991). Functions of the mass media in the policy process. Canadian Journal of Communication.
Langer, J.A. (1991). Literacy and schooling: A sociocognitive approach. In E. H. Hiebert (Ed.). Literacy for a Diverse Society: Perspectives, Practices, and Policies (pp. 17). New York: Teachers College Press.
Media and public policy: putting policy in the news agenda. (n.d.). Centre for Media Freedom and Responsibility. Retrieved from http://www.cmfr-phil.org/flagship-programs/other-programs/special-programs/media-and-public-policy/Media and Public Policy on July 14, 2015.
Mpaka, C. (2015, July 11-17). DPP plans crackdown on electronic media. Malawi News, pp.1, 3.
Olengurumwa, O. (u.d.). The role of the media in public policy. Retrieved from http://www.nationalbook.org/ on July 14, 2015.
Robbins, S.P., and Langton, N. (2003). Organisational Behaviour: Concepts, Controversies, Application.  New Jersey: Prentice Hall.  

Thursday, February 23, 2017

President Peter Mutharika's 'Tortoise' Pace

President Peter Mutharika, victor in Malawi's May 2014 Presidential Election, hits one as an individual not at ease with himself.
Many are the times he has, riding on the wave of anger, makes a statement he reverses the next day.
Take the case of beleaguered former agriculture minister, Dr George Chaponda.
The media wanted his (Chaponda's) head on the chopping board but President Mutharika stood his ground.
Which is understandable because, in all fairness, Chaponda might not have gone to Zambia on his own volition.
There was a Peter Mutharika in the background, pushing him on.
But when the courts granted civil society organisations an injunction stopping Chaponda from serving in his capacity as Cabinet minister, the president's silence, and inactivity, on the issue raised more questions that answers.
It, surely, pointed to a president who was out to trample on the very constitution he vowed to protect. What hypocrisy!
Well, the injunction was listed but, instead of being a source of relief, things have only gotten worse for Chaponda.
The Anti-Corruption Bureau pounced on his offices and house in the Capital City, Lilongwe, and came back with wads of cash amounting to millions.
Now, the wads of cash symbolise Chaponda's burden.
He was failing to take them to the bank because that would have been a physical burden
Today, in his heart, he has another burden: To convince an otherwise suspicious public to believe in him.
What a tall order.
But the President is the real loser.  


Government of Malawi


The Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development annually conducts Agricultural Production Estimates Survey. The objective of the survey is to assess the country’s agricultural production to inform planning and policy direction for the nation. The survey includes all agricultural commodities, thus, crops, livestock and fisheries. The survey is conducted in three rounds every year.

The first round is conducted from September of the preceding year to January of the current year. The first round estimates are based on farmers’ intentions on crops to be grown and their related hectarage. The results from the first round may not conclusively inform the ultimate agricultural production as farmers’ intentions can change in the course of implementing respective farm activities; weather conditions and related parameters may also change in the course of the agricultural season. Nevertheless, results of the first round provide early warning signals on national food security so that policy makers in the public, private and non state sectors can make informed decisions regarding impending food situation.
The second round is conducted from February to March and focuses on verification and adjustment of area measurement for crops grown by the sampled agricultural households. Results obtained are used to determine crop area planted for the season. Results of this round are normally released in April every year.
The third round which is normally considered as the final round is undertaken during the harvesting period from April to May. The third round mainly involves weighing of the harvest to obtain actual yield for crops. The third round indicates the national food basket and determines the food deficit or surplus.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development has finalized the first round of 2016/17 Agriculture Production Estimates Survey. The results show that national maize production is projected at 3,220,712 metric tons, which is 35.9 percent higher than the 2015/16 final round estimate of 2,369,493 metric tons.
Rice production is expected to go up by 41.5 percent. Production of sweet potatoes is projected to increase by 27.6 percent. Millet and sorghum production will increase by 118.6 and 79.3 percent respectively. However, wheat production is projected to drop by 6.4 percent.

The results also show that productions of groundnuts, beans and pigeon peas are expected to increase by 22.2, 15.0 and 19.7 percent, respectively.

For major cash crops, tobacco production will decrease by 36.6 percent while cotton production is expected to go up by 7.6 percent.

In terms of livestock, the population of cattle has increased from 1,470,895 to 1,508,299 representing 2.5 percent increase as compared to the final round for the 2015/16 agricultural season. The populations of goats and pigs have also increased by 5.0 percent and 14.6 percent.

Fish production for capture fisheries has increased by 8.4 percent and aquaculture fish production has also increased by 46.7 percent. Overall, fish production has increased by 10.0 percent.

For more information, please contact the Secretary for Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development.

Erica Maganga (Mrs)
13th February, 2017

Saturday, February 18, 2017


The Board of Commissioners (hereinafter referred to as ''The Commission") of the Competition and Fair Trading Commission held its 47th Meeting in Lilongwe on 3rd February 2017 to consider and adjudicate over cases relating to unfair trading practices, anti-competitive business conducts and mergers. These cases were brought before the Commission in accordance with Section 8 of the Competition and Fair Trading Act.
In total, the Commission considered and adjudicated over a total of twenty-seven (27) cases. This statement provides a summary of the Commission's determinations of the cases.
For more information, contact Mr Lewis Kulisewa on 0999960235 or email lewis.kulisewa@cftc.mw



The Commission ordered Spice Emporium Shop in Limbe to pay  a fine of five hundred thousand Kwacha (MK500,000-00) for deliberately supplying products likely to cause injury to health and failing to comply with consumer protection statutes.

Investigations carried out by the Commission established that Spice Emporium Shop were deliberately supplying expired products which were likely to cause injury to health or physical harm to consumers. The expired products included non-carbonated soft drinks and spices such as Everest Bar Bhaji Masala, Everest Royal Garam Masala and Everest Pani Puri Masala. This was contrary to Section 43(1)(e) of the Competition and Fair Trading Act which states that:

"Á person shall, not in relation to a consumer, supply products which are likely to cause injury to health or physical harm to consumers, when properly used, or which do not comply with a consumer safety standards which has been prescribed under any written law”

Further, Spice Emporium refused to comply with instructions from the Commission's inspectors to remove the expired products from the shelf, thereby subjecting unsuspecting consumers to increased harm.

By refusing to comply with consumer protection authorities set by Government, Spice Emporium violated Section 6(1)(d) of the Consumer Protection Act which obliges business enterprises to cooperate with Government authorities in the execution of policies relating to consumer protection.

The Commission ordered Be Forward Company Ltd to exchange the non-runner motor vehicle it supplied to Mr Daniel Likugwe with a motor vehicle in good running condition.

Investigations conducted by the Commission showed that, in 2013, Be Forward Company Ltd supplied a non-runner second hand motor vehicle to Mr Daniel Likugwe, contrary to indications at the time of purchase, that it was in perfect running condition. The vehicle, which was purchased at US$3,200 was delivered without an Engine Control Unit (ECU). This was clear-cut misrepresentation which resulted in the consumer suffering substantial consumer harm and a blatant violation of Section 43(1)(b) of the Competition and Fair Trading Act which provides that:

"Á person shall, not in relation to a consumer, engage in conduct that is likely to mislead the public as to the nature, price, availability, characteristics, suitability for a given purpose, quantity or quality of any products or service".

Further, by excluding liability on a defective motor vehicle, the company breached Section 43(1)(b) of the Competition and Fair Trading Act which states that:

"Á person shall, not in relation to a consumer, exclude liability for defective products".

The Commission further ordered Be Forward Company Ltd to refund all the related expenses incurred by the Complainant in trying to fix the problem.


The Commission has authorized the proposed takeover of Metropolitan Health Ltd by MedHealth Ltd.
This follows an application for the authorization of the proposed takeover of 100% shareholding in Metropolitan Health Limited by a local company MedHealth Ltd.
Analysis of the information gathered by the Commission shows that the proposed takeover will simply result in change of ownership of the company without changing the market structure or any other competition factors. Further, the proposed transaction will ensure that the business of Metropolitan Health continues to exist in Malawi, hence sustaining and maintaining same levels of competition on the market.
Accordingly, it was unlikely that the transaction will result in substantial lessening of competition in Malawi.


The Commission has ordered Telekom Networks Malawi Ltd (TNM) and Super League of Malawi (SULOM)to follow international best practices in its sponsorship arrangement for the Super League football tournament.

Investigations conducted by the Commission showed that the sponsorship agreement between the Super League of Malawi (SULOM) and Telekom Networks Malawi (TNM) contained clauses which had the effect of restricting competition in as far as advertising and football sponsorship was concerned.

After a thorough analysis of the information gathered during investigations, the Commission concluded that, while the Sponsorship Agreement foreclosed football sponsorship as an advertisement platform for TNM competitors, its effect would not likely result in substantial lessening of competition in the telecommunication market. However, the sponsorship agreement was found likely to have negative effect on the development of football in Malawi.
Accordingly, in the event that the two parties agree to renew the sponsorship at the end of the current contract, the Commission ordered that the proposed agreement should be submitted to the Competition and Fair Trading Commission for assessment of compliance with the Competition and Fair Trading Act.
Further, the Commission ordered the Sports Council of Malawi to consider developing guidelines for sports sponsorship, particularly, football taking into consideration best practices from other jurisdictions to prevent sponsors from taking advantage of the weak bargaining power of sponsorship recipient.

Charlotte Wezi Malonda


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Ministry of Agriculture Offices On Fire in Lilongwe

When an opposition Member of Parliament contested Parliamentary results after the May 20 2014 elections, Malawi Electoral Commission went up in smoke-- destroying all evidence that would be tendered in court.
Today, the issue is about Maize-gate. The scam involves the importation of maize from Zambia, by Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation, at exorbitant prices.
Now, just when the Commission of Inquiry instituted by President Peter Mutharika to investigate the deal on Saturday submitted its findings to the president, Ministry of Agriculture offices in Lilongwe are on fire.
The fire is raging at Capital Hill, raising suspicions that someone is up to something.
With the Democratic Progressive Party on song, Malawians know that this path is all too familiar!

Friday, January 27, 2017

Rihanna in Malawi!

What a lucky week for Malawi.
In a week when US pop star jetted into Malawi, another star, Rihanna, is in Malawi right now.
Madonna was reportedly seeking to adopt two more children from Malawi, namely David Banda and Mercy James.
Judiciary spokesperson, Mlenga Mvula, confirmed the development during the week, saying Madonna had filed an application whose results would be out in two weeks.
But the artist denied this in a statement, saying she was in Malawi to visit some of her projects.
And, just in the nick of time, in pops another US artist, Rihanna.
Rihanna, who is in the Central Region of Malawi, has been playing with school kids during the day.
She seems happy in the company of the children. She is seen sitting on the ground in pictures posted on social media.
It, really, has been a wonderful week for Malawi.
A concoction of Madonna and Rihanna-- influencial women united in fame, and in the double 'n' ending in their first names!
Below are some of the pictures trending on social media. 

Friday, January 13, 2017

Malawi Government Closes Down Times Group

The Malawi Government, through the Malawi Revenue Authority, has closed down Times Group.
Times Group is Malawi's oldest media house, established in 1895.
Officials from the revenue collection body have seized vehicles, closed down Times Radio, Times Television, The Sunday Times, The Daily Times, Malawi News-- media outlets of the company.
Times Group publications have been publishing stories about the maize scandal, in which grain marketer, Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation bought maize from Zambia on exorbitant prices.
Meanwhile, officials from MRA are on the premises, chasing everyone out of the company.
Times Radio is meanwhile playing music, while Times TV is not broadcasting live.
MRA claims Times Group owes them money.
The notice came Thursday evening and, instead of waiting for the company to respond, they have seized company property.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

No More Rogue and Vagabond

Since 1964, Malawi Police Force [now Malawi Police Service] officers have been thieves who have survived on money stolen from the poor.
A stranded man, powered by nothing like money in the pocket and whatever little was kept there, could be cornered by corrupt police officers who would demand some money or take the poor individual to a police cell.
The money involved in the corrupt practices is usually called 'Ya Udzipulumutse Wekha' [Save Yourself Dues].
Meanwhile, the rich and affluent continued to drive posh vehicles in the dark of night; unperturbed by police and whatever sense of justice remains in the corrupt nation called Malawi.
It was the poor who were the targets of systematic theft.
Which is why Tuesday is a momentous day for Malawians as the High Court in Blantyre has ruled that rogue and vagabond is "unconstitutional".
Hail justice!