By Innocencia Chikuse
Undeniably, Ephraim Munthali, him of the Cut the Chaff column in the Weekend Nation, is one of the best analysts so far in the country. In common parlance, one would say that he is in the same whatsapp group with the likes of Mapwiya Muulupale of the Talking Blues’ Column in the Sunday Times, Golden Matonga of Politics Uncensored in the Nation on Sunday and Barrister Allan Ntata of Uncommon Sense in the Sunday Times. Brilliant minds.
Over the past three weekends, Munthali has been on fire…he brutalized President Chakwera with his ‘Lazarus Viwemi Dazi’ Chakwera…’criticizing the President for his Siku Transport travels within and outside the country, here today, there tomorrow article. Over the weekend, Munthali ambushed Minister of Transport Sidik Mia saying he has an oversized ego. Mia, that one who paved way for Chilima or Tonse alliance to take shape has an oversized ego, according to Munthali. It’s doubtful, in my view, that Malawians can agree with him on this assault on Mia. Mia is synonymous with humbleness and not pomposity as Ephraim Munthali wants to make us believe. However, this is not the focus of this article. The focus is the praise that Ephraim Munthali inadvertently or unknowingly showered on Mia’s wife Abida Sidik Mia.
Picture this: When Ephraim Munthali was writing, the agenda was to trim Sidik Mia to size.. Having finished the ranting and the swearing that his article was intend to achieve, he discovered that he had not finished the required word count for the article and he must have asked himself, “what should I do with the remaining space,” before he resolved; “I will use it to damage his wife, Abida.”
On Abida, he said the Deputy Minister is “overshadowing his boss, Kezzie Msukwa.” Now let’s dissect this; what Ephraim Munthali is actually saying is that Abida Sidik Mia has, over the past five months, performed very well…that she even needs promotion to become a full Minister because, according to him; she is more visible and proactive in the Ministry than her boss, Kezzie Msukwa.
When Ephraim thought that he was destroying Abida Mia by stating that she is overshadowing the Minister of Lands, he did not know that he was actually acknowledging publicly that Abida Mia is a performer she has always been and that his crude sentiments about her was a vindication of this well-known fact. And Munthali was right for every honest Malawian can attest to the fact that Honorable Abida Sidik Mia is a politician in her own right who has, for good reasons, been visible in the Ministry as a servant of Malawians. That Abida Mia has delivered for the past five months is not subject to debate for even the most brutal columnist, Ephraim Munthali, has acknowledged that fact only that he thought by saying Abida is overshadowing Kezzie Msukwa, it would mean pushing her to the crocodile infested Shire River for her to be minced and munched never to exist again.
Abida Mia, wherever she is, must be a happy Deputy Minister because to be unknowingly endorsed by columnists such as Ephraim Munthali by being a star performer as evidenced by her visibility in the Ministry is no mean achievement.
This notwithstanding, this overshadowing description must be put into perspective. I assert that Abida Mia, despite being an energetic and militant lady at times, is very respectful to her boss, Kezzie Msukwa. I trust Kezzie Msukwa can attest to this observation. I more often read on her facebook page saying “I accompanied my boss, Kezzie Msukwa to do abc or my boss, Honorable Kezzie Msukwa delegated me to Mzuzu to do abc.” This, to me, does not sound like overshadowing the Minister.
All I see in all this is a good working relationship which Ephraim Munthali is trying hard to destroy. It is quite sexist for Ephraim Munthali to insinuate and/or encourage Hon Kezzie Msukwa not to give his Deputy Abida Sidik Mia a chance to showcase her skills and capabilities for fear that he will be overshadowed. Quite primitive! Quite Medieval! Quite patriarchal! Be a stiwanist like Kezzie Msukwa, Ephraim! The time and day for sexist innuendos is long gone.