By Duncan Mlanjira
On 14th of January, 2019, Deputy Permanent Representative/Deputy Ambassador of Malawi to the United Nations, Lot Thauzeni Pansipadana Dzonzi, attained the mandatory age of 60 years and just like every public servant working with the Malawi government, it was time for him to retire.
He is now back home and says his four years and four months as a diplomatic for Malawi at the United Nations was a vast work experience fulfillment.
In an exclusive interview, the former Inspector General of Malawi Police Services, says he had the opportunity to work in a multilateral environment where he rubbed shoulders with diplomats and leaders from around the globe.
“I took part in meetings, discussions, debates and negotiations covering a wide range of subjects. This gave me a broad and in-depth understanding of issues that are tackled at global levels, be it human rights, sustainable development (both economic and social, international security, diplomacy and politics among others.
“It was like attending college tutorials on a daily basis. On a lighter note; you always had to be mindful of the essential aspects of diplomacy; protocol, cholesterol and alcohol.
“There were plenty receptions, luncheons and dinners to attend. It was essential to remain respectful of protocols, careful of your food intake to avoid cholesterol; and in my case keeping away from alcohol in respect of my Nazarite vows,” says the senior citizen, who is also a deacon in the CCAP Church.
The retirement comes after 32 years of government service, 28 years of which as a law enforcement officer and 4 years as a diplomat.
“What a privilege it has been. As I have said, I was in the Malawi Police Service for 28 years, a journey I started in July 1987 as a teacher/constable at Police Secondary School in Zomba and ended on 22nd November 2014 as Inspector General of Police at Area 30 in Lilongwe.”
Lot Thauzeni Pansipadana Dzonzi comes from Chithonje Village, Traditional Authority (T/A) Malenga in Ntchisi District and he attended primary schools at Mahlabezulu and Mpopoma in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia).
“Then I went to Likuni Boys Primary School in Lilongwe District. In 1976, I was selected to Robert Blake Secondary School in Dowa from where I was selected to the University of Malawi, Chancellor College at Chirunga in Zomba in 1980.
“I graduated in 1984 with a Bachelor of Arts. In 2004, I graduated from the East and Southern African Management Institute/Maastricht School of Management (ESAMI) with a Master in Business Administration (MBA).”
He is married to Godfrida Chisambo whom he has three children; Njabulo, Naomi and Chifundo and on November 22, 2014 he was appointed by His Excellency Prof Arthur Peter Mutharika as the Deputy Permanent Representative/Deputy Ambassador of Malawi to the United Nations — a post he assumed on 6 April 2015.
“In short, I have had four years and four months of work experience fulfillment where you felt you were self-actualizing, operating right at the top of Manslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.
“My most memorable highlight was my trip to Astana, Kazakhstan where I went to attend the Astana World Economic Forum in 2016. I was impressed by how in a period of 23 years Kazakhstan had moved from a Least Developed Country to a Middle Income Country that was launching a development aid assistance programme aimed at assisting other developing nations.
“It offers countries like us hope and optimism that it is possible for us too to take on development strides. I also cherish the two years I was the vice-chairperson, representing Africa on the Commission of Social Development.
“It was both humbling and exhilarating experience to know that you were not only representing your country but you were also representing your continent. Nothing can be sweeter than that.
“New York is a metropolitan city, hence its population is multinational and cosmopolitan. This being the case, your experience living there does not give you a ‘truly American feel’ (if there is anything of that nature).
“You find yourself in an overcrowded train yet you are alone. Everybody minds their business. They are characterized by hard work and grit because dollars do not grow on trees there.
“New York, like the rest of the North-East of the United States is mostly secular and less religious but I went to a beautiful church, Scarsdale Community Baptist Church, where I had most of my friends. I became a licensed minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
But he had to call it end of the journey in public services having attained the mandatory age of 60 year on January 14, 2019 and served 32 years in government.
“It is said that you can remove a man from Ndirande but you cannot remove Ndirande from the man. So too, you can remove a man from the police but you cannot remove the police from the man. I remain a policeman to the marrow.
“You can imagine what 28 years can do to you. I hold fondly my initial years as a teacher at Police Secondary School. I had the privilege of not only teaching but also was able to identify potential in some of my learners and helped them channel their energy in the right direction.
“I now enjoy the satisfaction of every teacher when they meet their student who had made it in life. The other highlight lasted for just six months was attending the officer cadet training at Police College in Zomba.
“Police College is also a place where they do not just take horses to the river, they also force the horses to drink. What I value most is the lessons on the importance of collaborations, it is said that iron sharpens iron.
“My policing career was sharpened mostly by three squadmates in SQUAD37: Gustave Kaliwo, Paul Kanyama and Rodney Jose. Of course Ndirande had an impact on me.
“A retired officer who had visited my office, Hajji Kunselema, taught me a valuable lesson: ‘Always respect those senior to you, you are a police officer. Respect those older than you even though they are junior in rank to you.
“Respect people for the work they do, even that office messenger that keeps your office sparkling clean. I have cherished this throughout my life.
“The final lesson I cherish is about change in management. How long does it take to transform or transition? Think of a number, multiply it by two, add five, double it, in other words it takes a long time. It calls for persistence, patience and perseverance.
“What do I remember most as Inspector General? To me it was the opportunity to provide motivation and inspiration to many police officers. Showing them that they can be better than what they were at that moment.
“For the youth who aspires to be a police officer, I would say, pursue your education to the highest standard possible, this would be a strong foundation for you. However, when you join the Police Service, always remember that those you find there though they do not possess a piece of paper called degree, they are graduates from the university of life, learn from them.”
Dzonzi says in his 32 years career as a public servant, he has had the privilege of visiting many countries — South Africa, Swaziland, Mozambique, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, Niger, Taiwan, India, Colombia, USA, United Kingdom, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Kosovo and Monaco.
As a diplomat he has visited Egypt, Ethiopia, Kazakhstan and Maldives.
“My plans for now and the future are to work with a project I have called AGENDA 2031, whose project theme is ‘Passing the Baton to the next Generation’ and my goal is to harness the African youth population bulge that provides what is termed ‘the Democratic Dividend’.
“My goal is to impact one million youths and train 250,000 across the continent in the next 12 years.
“Ambitious? Yes, but don’t they say, ‘aim for the stars, your arrow might not reach them but you definitely can hit the top of the trees. We are the blessings of Africa and the journey begins in Malawi.”
In August 2017, Dzonzi was interviewed by PeaceEver TV in a programme aimed to bring Malawi to many people’s attention, including investors, doctors, academics, and any other group who are interested in the country’s infrastructure development and future growth.
With PeaceEver TV outreach director Nadia Tian, they discussed the Agriculture Business Summit held by the Malawi Mission at the UN a few days earlier, the potential investment opportunities in Malawi as well as the government’s effort in prevention and cure of HIV/Aids.
One of the reasons why PeaceEver TV paid close attention to Malawi is because of the tremendous effort that the government has put in to prevent HIV/Aids and the TV programme was hoping to attract more attention from doctors and academics to further develop the living conditions of Malawian people.
“The economy of Malawi is predominantly agricultural, that include tobacco, sugarcane, cotton, tea, corn, etc. The infrastructure of Malawi is under vast development, and there are many natural resources of Malawi’s tourism. These all make Malawi an attractive place for foreign investment,” PeaceEver TV had said on its website.