Written By Makoto Munthali
There is little doubt that the heat is on in the Malawian political landscape. And there is even less doubt that a plethora of things go down, without our knowledge..However, a slightly disturbing pattern has begun to emerge, a quite obvious one, regarding the man of the moment: Malawi Vice President and President of United Transformation Movement (UTM) Saulos Chilima.
Now, recent reports suggest that Chilima’s retinue is considerably worried about his mental health, and not without reason. It is no secret that UTM somewhat struggles to get the anticipated conceptual acceptance among the Malawian public. After his Homeric failure to take over the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) presidency, Chilima launched UTM with pomp and splendour, essentially pronouncing himself Malawi’s Messiah.
Well, we all like to think we can spot a fraud and tell a charlatan from the real thing, but sometimes prejudice, assumption, and years of indoctrination make it harder than we might think. Maybe it’s a fundamental feature of humanity, or maybe it’s a product of society, but for better or worse, people tend to see what they expect to see.
Nowhere is this more of a problem than in politics, where the mantle of elected office confers a certain respectability onto the men whose existence we would otherwise ignore. Chilima is a case in point, actually. Four months into the group’s media hyped existence and UTM is consistently failing to gain traction, while its popularity is dangerously waning.
What went wrong?
Well for starters, Malawians are not as silly as Chilima would like to think. While he was out and about, making bombastic pledges about how he would ‘give out free malaria drugs to all patients in public hospitals’, completely ignoring that this is already the case -as the government gives free treatment in public hospitals including malaria drugs- Malawians started to realize slowly but surely that the guy has no idea what he is talking about.
He is not even aware of the governance framework… of a government he is still a part of! So much for a VP! So, if at his level he is not cognizant of Malawi’s most basic realities, then why would any Malawian take him seriously?
All this is absurd and ridiculous but it points to a startling truth about our own world. The air of authority comes with the assumption of competence.
This is the essence of representative government. We give other people power over us and trust them to use it wisely, even when they’ve given us no evidence that they know how to do so, or even want to.
We perceive them as legitimate authorities because we expect them to be legitimate authorities. We rely on them because they are in charge, and being in charge, they must know what they’re doing, right? This is exactly Chilima’s case.
Chilima is in reality nothing more than a feeble-minded, simpleton debutant in politics, who is clearly out of his depth, making grandiose proclamations and inconsequential ramblings about how things would be different if he took the helm of the country and -what’s even worse- is that he expects people to believe them.
Chilima is in fact an unimportant, incompetent blowhard, who has merely decided that he wants to become President because the VP’s position wasn’t simply good enough. His demarche is not really based on his innate need to help his people, or his genethliacal call to change our society for the better. It’s not like Chilima is unsuspected of sinister ambition.
The fact that many of his rallies do not attract reasonable crowds, the registration of the UTM as an official political entity is proving to be a blow on an already ulcerated wound, and -last but not least- the fact that various of his acolytes are virtually unpopular, have driven Chilima to despair, as he realizes that the ballot prospects are getting dimmer and dimmer.
His close entourage even claims that Chilima is now resorting to too much drinking, thinking that this will alleviate his stress. This is actually a standard trait of an egotistical, over ambitious, narcissistic behaviour. When things go south, they are too pusillanimous to do anything about it except bemoaning their fate. An all-time classic.
By the way, he’s not even the President. What stress are they even talking about? How much do you expect that this kind of guy would last as President? Things are not even that bad yet and he is already attending some of his rallies while severely inebriated! (For example, at a rally in Mchinji recently, he was captured struggling to walk properly as he was too drunk).
I’m asking all of you: is Chilima the kind of leader that Malawi genuinely deserves?
Disclaimer: Views expressed in this article are not necessarily the views of the Publisher or the Editor of Maravi Post