LILONGWE-(MaraviPost)-The Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (CDEDI) has questioned the leadership of President Lazarus Chakwera and the Tonse Alliance following the contradiction between the President and the Minister of Education on the proposed dates for the re-administration of the recently cancelled Form Four examinations.
The caution follows a decision by Chakwera to reverse a decision made on Wednesday by the Minister of Education, Agnes Nyalonje, that the cancelled Malawi School Certificate of Education (MSCE) should be re-administered from March 9, 2021.
But President trashed this through a public address he made on Thursday morning at the Kamuzu Palace and has instead directed that the examinations be re-administered not later than January 2021.
However, Chakwera’s decision has attracted a backlash from the civil society, which believes that this style of running government is dangerous, shows lack of direction and has the potential to bring chaos and anarchy.
In a statement issued on Friday, CDEDI executive director Sylvester Namiwa wondered where Nyalonje would have taken the authority to declare the day for the re-administration of the examinations if not from the appointing power—the President.
“We believe that the Education Minister’s announcement earlier had the blessing of the very same President who reversed it; hence, our reference to an experimental style of leadership, which the Tonse alliance administration is happily branding as a ‘listening government.’ Had the administration consulted widely after the cancellation of the 2020 MSCE examinations, they would have come up with a proper timeframe and modalities for re-administering the examinations to avoid a backlash as has been the case,” reads the statement, which Namiwa has signed.
He said Chakwera’s directive that the Ministry of Education and the Board of Directors for the Malawi National Examinations Board (MANEB) to investigate and fire the MANEB top management before the results for the commission of inquiry are even known, leaves a lot to be desired.
Namiwa argued that the President’s reference to ‘clearing the rubble’ by removing everyone who is connected, or is affiliated to the past regime of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is cause for worry for every Malawian who loves peace and unity.
“The President’s remarks are a threat to democracy and freedom of association which is enshrined in the country’s constitution. CDEDI is, therefore, made to believe that the leakage of the 2020 MSCE examinations was a deliberate ploy to get rid of the MANEB top executive. This experimental style of leadership, which is branded as a ‘listening government,’ is being used as a weapon to get rid of everyone who is not seen to be a sympathizer of any of the Tonse alliance partners, specifically the DPP sympathizers,” he said.
“If Dr. Chakwera were indeed a listening President, then he would have listened to the public outcry over the way he assembled his cabinet which mostly comprises his friends, family members and cronies. On the country, the President vehemently justified his action by claiming that he was after quality and expertise, and that the Cabinet Ministers would be assessed after six months from the time they were appointed. Using the very same justification, why can’t the Tonse administration give the current appointees in various positions the benefit of a doubt by monitoring their actions, other than referring to them as a rubble worth being cleared off, simply because they are DPP sympathizers?” asked Namiwa.
He said Chakwera’s fierce defense of his Cabinet simply shows that the stakes were too high in his decision, and that he had vested selfish interest in the team he had assembled.
On reports that President Chakwera has directed his Secretary to Cabinet (SPC), Mr. Zangazanga Chikhosi to fire the Acting Chief Executive Officer for the National Oil Company of Malawi (NOCMA), Hellen Buluma, because of her alleged affiliation to the DPP, Namiwa described the move as a violation and breach of people’s right to freedom of association.
He argued that this is a pointer that the country is fast heading towards dictatorship where only one-party reigns supreme.
“CDEDI, therefore, believes that the Tonse alliance administration will continue persecuting its political foes on the pretext of a ‘listening government’ through its experimental style of leadership of appointing people, only to fire them later on grounds that there is public outcry. This is very sad for democracy in Malawi and should never be condoned.
“Dr. Chakwera recently organized a cocktail for the youth on the very same day the country’s Vice President, Dr. Saulos Chilima was set to deliver a public lecture on Mindset Change, an event that was announcement weeks before the President’s cocktail. Using the same style of experimental leadership, Dr. Chakwera cancelled his cocktail on the pretext that he had listened to public outcry for him to cancel his event so that he attends the Vice President’s event. Is this how this country is going to be run?” he asked.
He appealed to Chakwera and the Tonse alliance administration to tread cautiously by avoiding social media propaganda and using it to brand his administration as a listening government, at the expense of respecting people’s right to freedom of association.
He added; “We are reminding Dr. Chakwera that Malawi is a democratic state where its citizens are free to choose any political party or grouping, they intend to join or be associated with.
“Our expectation is that the President should invest all his energy and time in uniting the country, and not dividing it along political lines. Dr. Chakwera should concentrate on making sure that he delivers his litany of campaign promises, and not wasting time on propaganda which won’t move the country an inch on the developmental index.
“CDEDI is further reminding Dr. Chakwera to show his commitment on his ‘clearing the rubble’ slogan by acting on the State House and Crossroads accommodation bills saga involving his officers at the State House, failing which then his campaign is just but a lip service one,” Namiwa concluded.