David Makali: Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Veteran Journalist

August 13, 2019

Former Citizen TV journalist David Makali was earlier this year appointed to head the Taskforce on Government Information and Public Communication.


I am usually up at 6 or 7 am. I am not an early morning riser unless it’s called for. This is because I work late and consequently sleep late. My schedule is determined by the demands on my time. If I need to be up early, I will be up early. When I get up, I look at my communications in all platforms – from text messages to email to WhatsApp, and then I plan my day based on what I need to respond to. After that, I embark on the day’s programme. My days are always planned. I schedule things on my phone, walk around with a diary, and I keep time. It is a culture I have cultivated and it works well. It enables me to deliver and makes me predictable. I think a leader needs to be predictable for people to know what to expect and what is expected of them.

As chairman of the Taskforce on Government Information and Public Communication, I steer the taskforce to perform its mandate which includes reviewing the existing legislation and policies on information and communication to align the function with the requirements of the constitution, and to find ways on how to streamline the functions of information and public communication in public institutions to facilitate provision of information to the citizens and media in line with the government’s policy of openness and accountability.

I love what I do. The challenges we are facing include bureaucracy and the culture of secrecy in the government. The good thing is that there has been enthusiasm and goodwill towards our work, and the expectation of the government is very high. I would say there is also political will to fix the problem of government communications which has seen it suffer a lot in the public arena. For instance, there is a lot of mistrust in the public of anything being done by government, and this undermines service delivery and performance. There is the will to end this.

My leadership style is a mix of diplomacy, courtesy and candour. I am very forthright and outspoken. If I don’t like something, I will tell you. if I like it, I will approve it. With me, what you see is what you get. I don’t play tricks. If I say I’ll do something, I will. If I can’t, I will tell you so. I detest mediocrity.

I received my best career advice when I was getting into politics, and then I learnt it soon after from experience. Someone told me politicians are not worth dying for and I realised the truth in that statement because politics is full of betrayal. I walked in with my candid approach and realised that is not where I belong. I suffered the ultimate betrayal in my life in politics by people I trusted and believed in. I am not sure if I will venture into politics again, but I want to serve my country in a leadership position from a vantage point where I can change things.

The best career advice I’d give is choose your career carefully, believe in what you do and do what you believe in. If you run your career along your passion, even when it is disappointing or frustrating, you will keep on pushing because there is a thrill in doing something that you believe in. I have a passion for justice and creativity. Those are my areas of professional practice as well as enjoyment and investment. The passion for justice drove me to journalism, and I use journalism as my tool to fix what I see wrong in society, and it is what also led me to politics. My passion for creativity drove me to music. My investment has been in entertainment – I’ve run a record company, been a producer of several artistes, managed a band. I always find fulfillment in all those things because I am doing things I am passionate about. Another advice is to work for a leader or organisation with values you believe in. If your values clash with those of a leader or organisation, leave.

Outside work, I love live music. If something is happening in the live entertainment scene, people who know me will be quick to call me to ask me if I’m there and, in most cases, that’s where you’ll find me. I like sports, travelling and reading.

I am currently reading A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership by James Comey, a book that was a farewell gift from my former boss William Pike.

Source: Sunday Magazine

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