Idriss Ali Nassah, Author at The Nation Online The Nation Online

Chilima’s brave new world

Increasingly, it is becoming clear that Vice-President Saulos Chilima does not have the luxury of infinite time. The temperature is rising and he is going to have to show his hand, sooner rather than later. He is going to demonstrate that he wants it all-more than anyone else-or, like United Democratic Front (UDF) youthful president…

T he detonation set off by former first lady Callista Mutharika had many people excited, no doubt. First, you have to admire her bravery and brutal honesty. But the emerging discourse is troubling. It seems that what she said has been reduced to this simplistic notion: Malawi’s problems will be fixed by replacing an exhausted…

Mutharika’s smoky power plant

Speaking at the commissioning of diesel generators in Blantyre, President Peter Mutharika sounded full of confidence in a future of a country living, literally, in the dark. “This is the beginning of the end to Malawi’s economic stagnation,” he boasted. That was quite an amazing statement. There is scanty evidence—if any—of a country whose economic…

  Its early days yet—and a long way to the general election of 2019—but it feels like the campaign is in full swing. Malawi Congress Party (MCP) is excitable and, understandably, impatient. In the blundering of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is an opportunity and the party fancies itself as a government-in-waiting. For MCP, 2019 cannot…

Bleak options for 2019

  It has been three years now and Peter Mutharika can hardly be called a success. But then we all knew it, didn’t we? Coming into the 2014 election, the pensive were aware that not once in his years as a Cabinet minister in the government of his brother Bingu wa Mutharika had he shown…

  A blackout on my first day back home in December lasted all of an interrupted 19 hours. A recent report on electricity access in Africa stated that the country  has 14 million people living without electricity. For those lucky few with access, supply is not guaranteed even if one is ready to pay for…

  It was chilling—wasn’t it?—when it finally sank that High Court Judge Michael Mtambo had found Ralph Kasambara, Pika Manondo and McDonald Kumwembe guilty of conspiracy to murder one Paul Mphwiyo mainly on the basis of call logs and cellphone activity. In many ways, what Justice Mtambo had done was to ignore a precedent by…

Idriss Ali Nassah Just the other day, Prophet Shepherd Bushiri threw a good K44 million of his own money down the drain. He donated it to the Football Association of Malawi (FAM) ostensibly to assist those perennial losers called the Flames, the national football team. If it is winning that Bushiri was after, he may…

I once wrote about a friend of mine who did a spell as a young doctor in the main hospital in Mansour, in 2005, at the height of the Iraqi insurgency against the American invasion. When he came to visit in 2007, he said our hospitals were like Sunday picnics by comparison. Down there, his…

  For many Malawians that I know, the freedom to criticise the government of their country is not inspired by some nebulous self-righteous urge to “promote” a Western agenda, or even the more dubious desire to earn a trip to the United States. The reasons have absolutely nothing with being pro-West. The reasons are largely…

  If, at the start of 2016, you expected your Finance Minister to deliver a forecast bristling with real hope, laced with the absolutely necessary reassurances for a jittery nation, you were to be disappointed. “The fate of the economy is in God’s hands”, Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe said. It…

  For such a small country, Malawi likes its things big. Big cabinet, big number of civil servants, five big presidential residences, a big Parliament and big cars on the big presidential convoy. But it is mostly for political reasons that the government wants everything to be big. In the attendant confusion, politically-connected people stand…

  Listening to Presidential press secretary Gerald Viola—who is supposed to be the lead singer of the Peter Mutharika praise choir, talk to Times TV last week, you would think that all of Malawi’s problems started the day Joyce Banda sold off Bingu’s beloved presidential jet. I cringed with embarrassment at that interview. While Viola…

  You are not doing too well, Mr. President. Your press conference last week was a disaster. What most of us find annoying about politicians—and you have started to do this with frequency now—is that they do not seem able to give a straight answer to a simple question. Your shouting and banging on the…

  Two weeks ago, I arrived in Blantyre on the same flight with a couple of Malawi government ministers and officials who were coming back from the Sadc Summit in Botswana. There they were; calling themselves ‘honourable’ and feeling quite self-important sitting in business class while stealing poor people’s money. Malawian politicians steal from poor…

If, as projected, the population of this country hits 30 million in 2030, we desperately need a fresh new way of looking at things or we will end up in one big sinkhole, all of us. The need to change our ways has been evident for many years now. Each year, well-meaning economists have given…

I am sorry you missed it, but President Peter Mutharika was in terrific form and did your country proud at the African Union Summit in Johannesburg, South Africa, last week. Here was a leader in his enchanting element; chairing crucial sessions, articulating his vision, deconstructing the challenges, provoking thought, challenging responses, proposing solutions and taking in…

Take our cities back

Chileka International Airport in Blantyre is a farce. Earlier this year, the runway developed gapping potholes so severe planes had to be diverted mid-air to the safety of Kamuzu International Airport in Lilongwe. Then president Joyce Banda rushed to Chileka to inspect the patched potholes and to promise the construction of a new airport. She…

life in a dynamic news organisation is often breathtaking. An unhappy Goodall Gondwe walked into my former editor Vynn Phiri’s office one day to complain about a story one of our reporters had done on him. He wanted to meet the offending reporter, but when told that the reporter worked in the Lilongwe office he…