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Malawi | A new course for the Musicians’ Union of Malawi (MUM)

From the 15 to 18 October 2019, MUM, SMF and FIM organ­ised a work­shop in Lilongwe, with­in the scope of a union empow­er­ment pro­gramme which FIM and SMF are car­ry­ing out in Malawi with the back­ing of Swedish con­fed­er­a­tion Union to Union. Aimed at pur­su­ing the activ­i­ties engaged in line with the res­o­lu­tions of the December 2018 Congress, this work­shop took place in a dif­fer­ent atmos­phere from what had been sched­uled. Recently re-​elected union President, Chimwemwe Mangho chose to step down from his func­tions for per­son­al rea­sons in April 2019. 

Although union action has con­tin­ued at a region­al lev­el, as with the Women’s Desk, this sit­u­a­tion has cre­at­ed ten­sion lined with uncer­tain­ty. In par­tic­u­lar, the ques­tion was to know whether Gloria Kampingu, ex Vice-​President and cur­rent­ly act­ing President, could be main­tained in her func­tions up to the next ordi­nary congress. 

A plan was adopt­ed to pre­pare an extra­or­di­nary con­gress before the end of 2019

An in-​depth reflec­tion took place in English and Chewa, to facil­i­tate the par­tic­i­pa­tion of del­e­gates who had dif­fi­cul­ty with English. A plan was adopt­ed to pre­pare an extra­or­di­nary con­gress before the end of 2019. In par­tic­u­lar, the con­gress will have to update union rules, define strate­gic pri­or­i­ties and elect a new man­age­ment body.

MUM oper­ates in a very poor coun­try which has a high­ly casu­al music sec­tor. Despite this, it has many assets. The way it oper­ates is both demo­c­ra­t­ic and decen­tralised, with five region­al branch­es: North, Centre, East, South and Johannesburg (which brings togeth­er musi­cians from the Malawi dias­po­ra in South Africa). In addi­tion, it has sol­id rela­tions with union con­fed­er­a­tion MCTU and the col­lec­tive man­age­ment soci­ety COSOMA. Gender par­i­ty is tak­en very seri­ous­ly and its sta­tus as a union has enabled it to become more effi­cient and vis­i­ble. Despite this, it still has its work cut out to achieve a flu­id tran­si­tion after a peri­od that bore the stamp of a charis­mat­ic President.

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