Malawi: Chakwera's Honeymoon Is Over - Malawi Leader Wrong At the Right Time

17 October 2020

President Lazarus Chakwera's honeymoon is over and one clear thing is that he has been wrong at the right time. There is no better time to make serious mistakes than during the early days in office because if you listen hard you can rectify your mistakes.

It must be said at the onset that Chakwera came to the helm primarily because people were really tired of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) under Peter Mutharika. The DPP lost favour and Malawians needed a breather from their insolence and arrogance. Calling themselves a 'system', the DPP engaged a top gear of plunder, corruption, fraud and gross human rights abuses.

So, when Chakwera took the reins of power the expectation was that there would be a paradigm shift in the running of State affairs, than an inconsiderate and mafia-type leadership bordering on a spate of cronyism and nepotism.

Of late, Chakwera poked the hornets' nest when he did not abide by the stipulations of the Gender Equality Act (GEA) in appointment of women in boards. Some even took to the streets against the inequalities. Funny enough, the President still felt he could not be pushed towards that end as he feels we need a conscietisation on gender issues. In his view, Malawians don't understand gender issues as much as he does, giving an example of his time at the Assemblies of God, where the first female minister was ordained under him. But he forgot that he doesn't have 24 years at the helm!

And then, Chakwera had no mask on in Tanzania. Initially, he indicated that he did so because he was putting tradition and diplomacy first. That is to say, discussing bilateral issues was more important than the fear of contracting or infecting others with the coronavirus. Later, he changed tune, after an uproar that it was all because his entourage and the Tanzanians had rigorous tests! I find it difficult to buy into any of these.

Then, the Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) penned the President that it was worried that the cases that showed a mark of his fight against corruption during his early days as President were faltering. Here, the President indicated through his Executive Assistant Sean Kampondeni that it wasn't for him to squeeze investigative bodies like the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) and the police to speed up their work. Yet, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) who gives consent to the bodies to prosecute cases is under his authority!

It must be said, nonetheless, that while we are talking about cases dragging in the courts, have we looked at the other factors for the slow motion? Have we asked how far the paltry amount the Judiciary gets in the budget has gone to slow down cases? For that matter, have we looked at the infrastructure and human capacity gaps the courts face?

It is a given fact that some cases are sped because of the political strings. Yet others may be dropped when regimes change. When Tonse Alliance came to power, it dropped cases against HRDC leaders, while the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) dropped treason charges the midnight six including their leader Peter Mutharika when Joyce Banda ascended to power.

A tinge of hope is there that some of the high profile cases registered years back give us hope that justice may roll on slow wheels, but it comes, especially where there is a political will. Only this week Uladi Mussa was convicted in a case for issuing citizenships and passports to about 50 foreigners when he was Minister of Home Affairs and Internal Security. He follows former Mzimba Hora parliamentarian Christopher Mzomera Ngwira whose abuse of Constituency Development Fund (CDF) dragged for years.

While we are at it, the rain clouds are gathering, Mr President. As the storm continues to brew, he will realise that words are not enough. It is the hope that Chakwera will weather the storm match his words with actions.

Literally, the rain clouds are gathering and the farming community is waiting with impatient expectation over the use of fertilizers. The question is, why did Chakwera and his Tonse Government tell the populace that they were bringing fertilizer for all at Folo sauzande kwacha n'kathu, when they knew that was not for everyone?

But, like I said, when you are wrong at the right time. You can change this course, Mr President.

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