Written by RAPHAEL TENTHANI
A letter, purportedly authored and signed by President Joyce Banda, went viral on social media recently. The letter, addressed to the Speaker of Parliament, said due to poor health the President was throwing in the towel.
Here is the full text of the said letter: “Mr. Speaker Sir, following recent bouts of high blood pressure and other health problems, I am unable to execute the duties of my office effectively. Following doctors’ advice, I hereby tender my resignation on health grounds effective immediately. I trust that arrangements for the change in leadership in accordance with the Constitution will be made as swiftly as possible”.
When I saw this purported letter I did not think twice. I knew on the face of it that this letter was fake, a joke that should not be taken seriously. I needed not call State House or anybody to confirm this because I knew – without asking anybody – that this was a prank.
But then other people took this obvious fake letter seriously, more so the State House itself that issued a press statement condemning it. Tusekele Mwanyongo, one of the many State House Press Officers, went ballistic, condemning the people behind the letter as “desperate confusionists who are bent on bringing disorder in this country”.
State House, according to Mwanyongo, viewed this as “a criminal act which borders on treason, particularly when the architects of the letter had to forge the signature of the Head of the State. The Malawi government will surely not sit back and watch whilst these misguided individuals cross legal boundaries to further their sinister motives”.
Mwanyongo said State House was not taking this sitting down. “The Malawi government, through appropriate law enforcing agencies,” he said, “is meanwhile taking all measures to investigate the origin of the letter, the source of these false rumours. The nation is being assured that all persons involved in this criminal, unpatriotic and malicious act will be brought to book.”
I would have dismissed my good friend Tusekele as “just doing his job” but Abiti herself, on her return from her sojourn to Equatorial Guinea, confirmed that State House – read government – was spending sleepless nights over the issue. She actually did one better: she dangled a K2 million carrot for anybody who springs up the author of the damn letter.
C’mon, good people, Malawi has enough problems to waste time on pranksters out to have some raw fun. The presidency thinks this borders on treason. What is treasonous about a nutty head poking fun at a leader?
I do agree that faking somebody’s signature is criminal but, hey – let us face facts - apart from having a big laugh, what did the prankster, or pranksters, gain? The President is still in office and enjoying good health if her daily road-shows are anything to go by. In fact she was hitting the skies for Malabo when this letter first hit the blog-sphere.
And the K2 million prize…does Mama Joyce appreciate that the devaluation and its floatation cousin have hit pockets so hard that she risks having two million Malawians claiming they know who authored the fake missive?
The President should just have laughed this off and continued with her programme to take Malawi out of the current economic lock-jam. As we near 2014 there will be more pranksters poking fun at the presidency. How many K2 million is she prepared to fork out?
If an individual successfully grabs the K2 million booty trust me we will have creative Malawians dishing out pranks every week to tease State House into staking out more K2 millions.
President Banda must know that many of her political opponents out there are envious that she is occupying Plot Number One. They will do all they can to disturb her.
She has to grow a thick skin. In this day and age when one can just flip open a laptop and start an online publication, Abiti will be bankrupted if she offers K2 million for every falsehood that comes up against her.
In Chichewa we say “Mbuto ya kalulu inakula n’tadzaoneni”. Not many people could have been aware of the fake letter purporting her resignation had State House and the President herself not commented on it. By reacting to it the way did, State House and President Banda actually advertised it for free.
Some things are better left unanswered. Actually by answering that fake letter conspiracy theorists are on the overdrive. Some are saying there is no smoke without fire.
I urge the President to withdraw the K2 million offer and laugh this prank off. We know she has not resigned and has no intention to. If she will someday feel too tired to carry on we will hear it from her not some loony with a laptop