I saw it coming-the sacking of army chief General Henry Odillo. I also saw it coming—the removal of Hawa Ndilowe from the top job of being Malawi’s top civil servant.
Of course what I didn’t see it coming was the fact that Hawa would be demoted and given a diplomatic post to Tanzania—that of high commissioner.
For how long, I don’t know, but Hawa, the woman who wielded ernomous power at Capital Hill—or shall we say who also run the country during the time of president Joyce Banda—will have to start reporting to one Willie Samute—who has taken over her post.
This is the irony of life.
Let’s start with Odilllo. He was a career soldier, having risen through the ranks to become General. Not a small feat. I can shed a tear for Odillo. Here is a man, a true Malawian, a patriotic Malawian who if he had wanted, could have been a military leader of this country. Malawi could have been a military state, just like Egypt.
But Odillo, between the fateful April 5 and 6—when President Bingu wa Mutharika died (he actually died on April 5) was offered on a silver platter the job of president by Peter Mutharika and other cabinet ministers including Goodall Gondwe.
The ministers were desperate. They did not want Joyce Banda, who had fallen out with the ruling DPP and Bingu, to assume power because she had started her own opposition party although constitutionally she was still vice president.
Odillo—that’s why he will be my hero—said no to such offers. They wanted him to temporary handle the leadership as things could sort themselves out-or as they tried to see the best action to block Banda from going to Sanjika and Kamuzu palaces.
Odillo could not be cajoled. He put his foot down, to the amazement and frustration of the ministers. They could not understand Odillo why he was not grabbing the opportunity that Nigerian soldiers—given that chance- could rush to grab.
Odillo simply said the question of succession was constitutional and a political problem which should be sorted through political solution. Full stop.
Two days later, Joyce Banda was installed as president. The rest they say is history.
Dont you think Odillo is a hero for refusing to stage a military take over? Of course Mutharika has revenged because that action alone resulted in the six ministers and other top officials being charged with treason, which you know is punishable by death. Of course the charges have been dropped—all because Mutharika won the chaotic poll.
If anything, Mutharika, if he wanted, could charge Banda for trying to annul the election using a constitutional provision that did not hold water and was challenged. This was after JB realised she was losing after one spirited and expensive campaign whose money one would not tell from which heaven fell to earth as mana.
JB is mad wherever she is for losing an election that everybody else thought she would easily bag home. But God-or shall I say Malawians—had other ideas. They waited for the big day to show the exit door the second president in Malawi to lose an election after Kamuzu Banda in 1994. Such is political life. Politics is a jungle.
Both JB and Hawa Ndilowe—of course promoted by JB to become the first woman chief secretary to government—represented gender equality and power.
They formed a nice pair of women achievers. But when Cashgate was exposed, the two found themselves defending themselves, saying its exposure was a “breakthrough”—to quote Hawa- as it will lead to the end of high level graft.
JB even went further to say she took a political risk to start a graft fight seven months before elections.
But what Malawians—some say Malawians are stupid because they don’t react to hot issues like Cashgate- did not approve of the “breakthrough” was that Cashgate happened in the corridors of the powerful office of the president and cabinet—which Hawa headed. Billions of kwachas were stolen through this office. How on earth?
Yes, that’s why I say I will not shed any tear for Hawa. She has a lot of explaining to do to Malawians. Go and have a holiday in Dar salaam, but know that you owe Malawians some explanation on the devilish Cashgate.
Yes, I feel good that I have chested this out. Freedom of expression, they say. And I was simply exercising it. What do you say?
I am sorry if I have harshly judged Hawa, but I would love if she responded to this posting.