By C Sean Kampondeni

Having listened to the Malawi Vice President Saulos Chilima interview on Zodiak, I see an elephant in the room that is worth pointing out and that nobody is addressing: Gospel Kazako treats the powerful politicians and government officials he interviews with kid gloves.

He did that with the president in December and has done it again with the Vice President in July. The entire tone, body language, and focus of the interviews is like that of a man interviewing his bosses, towing the line and lacking any real moment of uncomfortable scrutiny.

He even gives the guests the luxury of controlling the narrative of the interview, depending on them to supply the facts, like how he asked Chilima if he is clean and free of corruption, so that it was Chilima himself who supplied information about his involvement in the sale of a house that was alleged to have connections to corruption.
Gospel asked the questions, but came with no facts of his own to press Chilima for an explanation.

Just on this subject of corruption alone, Gospel could have stated what the VP’s net worth was when he declared his assets in 2014, then stated what that net worth is in 2018, and then asked him to explain the difference, but he didn’t.

Gospel could have stated how much tax payer Kwachas the VP and his office has expended in four years and then asked him why Malawians must continue to foot that kind of bill for an office whose impact is negligible, but he didn’t.

Gospel could have named DPP corruption scandal after scandal in the last four years and how much Malawi has lost, then asked the VP for an explanation for his silence when each of them came to light, but he didn’t.

Gospel could have referred to the recent scandal of how his boss received a 2 million dollar kickback from a company that stole from Malawians through a contract to supply food rations to the police, then asked Chilima to state if and when he knew about that kickback, what other contracts we Malawians should review due to suspicions that they were fraudulent, and why he has said nothing about any of it until now, but he didn’t.

He could have said, “when you say that we must condemn those who have amassed millions by defrauding Malawians when we know they had nothing four years ago, why don’t you lead by example and tell us now whose inexplicable wealth you have the courage to condemn”, but he didn’t.

Instead, all Gospel could muster to ask the VP was, “He who condemns something must come with clean hands. Are you yourself clean? How far are you from corruption?”

Similarly, in December, Gospel’s question to the President on corruption was, “Do you think there is rampant corruption in your government and do you think you are winning the fight against corruption?” That is all. Just think of that. On the subject of a terrible evil like corruption that is killing our patients in hospitals by robbing them of drugs, killing our young people’s futures by stealing funds for books and classrooms, killing our national sovereignty by diverting taxes to personal and party accounts until we are reduced to depending on begging other countries, that is all Gospel Kazako could think of asking the two men who preside over what is arguably the most corrupt Administration in Malawi’s democratic history.

Now, the broader question is: if an immense journalist like Gospel is himself unable to properly scrutinize those in power, what good news is there for the capacity of ordinary journalists to do so?