Malawi: Chakwera's 100 Days of Hope and Betrayal - Malawi At a Crossroads

(file photo).
5 October 2020

In 100 days, President Lazarus Chakwera has given us hope by not taking us back to Egypt but, at the same time, betrayed us by not putting us on a clear path to Canaan.

As the nation stands today, we are in the doldrums, at a crossroads where we are not sure if we should smile or cry.

Let's face it, before June 23, Malawi was in Egypt--the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) ruined the spirit of the nation to core.

Journalist Idriss Ali Nassah captured the six years of DPP and Peter Mutharika worse in few words when he wrote:

"They took Isaac Jomo to the UN General Assembly in New York; made Everton Chimulirenji vice president; gave Mulli K11 billion of our money; allowed Norman Chisale to be a self-imposed Prime Minister, had that nauseating airhead Steve Maseya pontificate nonsense on MBC TV, let Gertrude Mutharika and her son steal all they wanted; schemed to jettison the Chief Justice from office; had a thieving Cash Madam masquerade as a successful businesswoman; employed and promoted unqualified cadets at MRA, Escom, MERA, MACRA; spent years shamefully lying to Malawians that Gertrude Mutharika was a 'Professor'; turned my brother Mark Botomani into a blubbering, blundering motor mouth, Walter Nyamilandu into a beret-wearing cadet and Lloyd Muhara into an unthinking automaton."

When he got into office on June 23, President Lazarus Chakwera's job was clear cut: reverse every symbol of worse instituted by Mutharika's DPP and then put Malawians on a clear path to progress.

Riding on public goodwill, Chakwera took quick measures to bring sanity and confidence in the system.

He brought in new faces in the country's key governing institutions such as Reserve Bank; Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA), Malawi Police Service (MPS), the office of Secretary to the Cabinet and Government; brought back Nundwe to the military and secure the tenure of the Chief Justice.

Further, the 100 days also saw Chakwera's leadership reversing some key elements of lost Constitutional order of the country.

For instance, to enhance transparency and accountability, his government gazetted the Access to Information Law; the President appeared before Parliament to answer member's question; and State House started weekly media briefings.

Notwithstanding that, in these 100 days we saw also an interesting collaboration between Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) and police in apprehending those suspected to have taken part in the looting of public coffers, abuse of office and, also, any form of criminality.

Equally important is the move, in the first 100 days, by the President to restore dignity in our international relations by cementing relations with our neighboring countries through State visits to Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Through these moves, it is evident that Malawi is currently no longer in the Egypt of abyss and hopelessness where DPP left us. Chakwera has managed to take the country from fire.

But the question is: after taking the country from abyss of fire, where is he taking the country to?

To understand where Chakwera is taking the country to, is not, of course, to listen to his flowerily speeches; rather, to gauge who he really is. Gauging who Chakwera really is means paying strict attention to people he chooses to associate with through his appointments.

Through his many appointments made, it is becoming evident that most Malawians are beginning to doubt if, after being taken from Egypt, Chakwera has put in place the right team to put Malawians on the desired path to fair and balanced economic development.

His bloated cabinet, punctuated by a few technocrats here and there, left many uninspired as it was slewed for being nepotistic, gender imbalance and used as a tool to reward his political cronies.

Further, in his recent appointments of Board of Directors, Chakwera has earned himself a wrath of civil society organization for defying gender protocols. Some analysts have already questioned the president saying he has announced a clear intention to reinstate a system of government based on patriarchy and sexism in Malawi.

Not only that.

Scores of women continue to dance for the president at the airport, a relic of a hated past where women's role in politics gets narrowed praise singing without tangible consideration in the larger development matrix.

This list could be long. But everything about Chakwera's 100 days boils down to what I earlier said--in fact, it beautiful to end this article where I began.

In 100 days, President Lazarus Chakwera has given us hope by not taking us back to Egypt but, at the same time, betrayed us by not putting us on a clear path to Canaan.

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