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Desperado: Raphael Tenthani’s Muckraking on Sunday

Desperate times

call for

desperate measures

Obert Skye

It is no doubt our government is desperate and running scared. In fact  Peter Mutharika is currently rueing the day his big brother plucked him from the quietness of a university don’s life somewhere in Missouri where he would bury himself in books while puffing on his favourite Cuban cigar.

Look, you have to feel it for Peter; the poor fella was forced into public life, again forced to marry just to be like a ‘normal person’, a thing he had resisted for a good three decades after losing the belle he got from somewhere in the Caribbean.

The world is crumbling around poor old Peter. As William Butler Yeats wrote more than a millennium ago, things are falling apart around Peter, the centre can no longer hold.

If little kids are not putting up boulders on the highway to his hilltop palace, Judiciary staff is seeking a slice of the cake that is not even there.

As if that is not enough for the septuagenarian, university students in Mzuzu, Zomba and Blantyre are up in arms crying for increased book and upkeep allowances. Come January their lecturers, too, are set to join the picket line.

Meanwhile, the main civil service is watching the whole tragi-comedy from the terraces, waiting to pounce…on the same man’s head!

Peter got away with being an ‘absentee’ minister when things halted for a good eight months during that needless academic freedom stand-off that birthed one Jesse Kabwila as a ‘woman to watch’.

And indeed Peter was nowhere to be seen when his eccentric big brother went berserk, needlessly running out of town Her Majesty’s top envoy.

But, while in his other life he had an elder brother’s shadow to hide under, now Peter is on his own, his head exposed for anyone to knock on.

The buck now stops at his doorsteps, unfortunately. He is now, after all, the CEO for Malawi Inc. 

And the Cabinet and the village of advisers and aides he painstakingly assembled are not helping him at all.

This is how I mean…

I know it is a tried and tested tactic to deflect attention whenever things are not going right but, by Jove, at least you have to do it cleverly and properly.

Look, how does one spin that government has surrendered to the graft-busting body incriminating footage without warning the bureau? To whom did Kondwani Nankhumwa surrender his famed CCTV grabs at the Anti-Corruption Bureau when both the Director and Deputy Director are not aware of the exchange?

Besides, in what capacity was government getting involved in criminal investigations surrounding ‘cashgate’? I thought the ACB was supposed to be independent of pressure from anybody, be they State House or Capital Hill? Is Nankhumwa trying to confirm Bingu’s rather unfortunate statement to one Gustave Kaliwo that, “How can you be independent from the one who appointed you?”

Now that the ACB has called government its bluff on those fictitious CCTV images, how will we move on from here?

In these administrative snafus, one is tempted to ask: “But where are the administration’s strategists?”

The rate at which this administration is blundering is mocking Peter’s 40 years as a university don in perhaps the freest country in the whole wide world.

Look, you do not have to be an 007 or a Hercules Poirot to realise that if you have to involve another entity to spruce up your image that entity has to be taken on board in the scheme of things right from the conceptualisation to the execution of the plot.

Just how do you drag a sensitive body like the ACB into a plot without at least alerting its leadership?

I am scratching my head as to where these folks deposited their brain before embarking on such a kindergarten plot.

I know governments the world over survive on lies – euphemistically dubbed ‘propaganda’. But if you have to lie please lie cleverly for goodness’ sake!

Return the loot, ma’am

These are indeed not good times to be Peter Mutharika.

While a man is having a bad day at the office, at least he expects solace in the better half at home. After a harsh memo from the Board of Directors and threats of cancellation of deals by trusted clients, a CEO needs to go back home, get into boxers, put feet up and be lied to by Madame that he is the cleverest technocrat that has ever walked the earth.

But not poor old Peter! While he is getting rapped left, right and centre by angry donors, disgruntled civil servants and excitable students, First Lady Gertrude Mutharika decides to open up another needless battle front for the poor guy.

Angoni Getu’s Beautify Malawi Trust (Beam) is a noble cause. It is indeed high time we stopped littering everywhere, relieving ourselves in bushes or on trees and polluting rivers.

But how could the First Lady ‘steal’ money from her own ‘children’ clinging on to life via funds the National Aids Commission (NAC) get from donors, especially from the Global Fund?

If Angoni from Khwisa did not know, funds from NAC are open for application to any organisation in Malawi if they meet prescribed requirements. The First Lady’s Beam, is – of course – a bona fide Malawian organisation. But its ToRs are nowhere near fighting the pandemic for crying out loud!

As a patriotic citizen, let me school the Mother of the Nation that NAC’s money is for HIV and Aids fight, finito! Nothing to do with getting dirty in any of our wretched neighborhoods!

The K5 million Beam got from NAC was for the launch of a charity whose ToRs are to do with cleaning streets and rivers, nothing to do with HIV/Aids.

How the launch would somehow fight the killer disease escapes me.

If what my friend Collins Magalasi would want everybody to believe that it was actually NAC that invited Beam to come up with a proposal is true, then the President should not hesitate to send the board, management and staff at NAC packing for they do not understand what NAC is there for.

Of course, I know that in recent times there have been leadership challenges at NAC. Some people were sent on forced leave, others were hired on ad hoc terms.

But the Honourable First Lady must rise above these petty office politics at NAC.

She claims to have sent a ‘standard letter of proposal’ to NAC. Angoni Getu should not have sent any letter – standard or otherwise – to NAC in the first place. What happened to those millions she raised for just sweeping a market in Area 36 in Lilongwe and the Mzedi dumpsite in Blantyre? 

Mme. First Lady, help your husband spruce up the battered image of his desperate administration – return the NAC money. Launching an organisation that will improve sanitation and environmental management does not come close to fighting HIV/Aids.

After all, you raised several times more just by getting dirty in the streets of Phwetekere and Kachere. Why should you spoil your good-self’s image by clinging on to a measly K5 million your Beam did not even deserve? You can raise a whopping 50 times more just by getting back to Phwetekere to get dirty again.

Peter has enough on his plate. Please reduce my president’s headaches by doing the needful – return the loot, ma’am!

After all, K5 million is nothing when you consider that some gullible business types will pay twice that much just to be flanked by you and your husband at some phoney charity event.

Do the needful, ma’am!

The Maravi Post has over one billion views since its inception in December of 2009. Viewed in over 100 countries Follow US: Twitter @maravipost Facebook Page : maravipost Instagram: maravipost    
Raphael Tenthani
Raphael Tenthani
Raphael (Ralph) Tenthani (1 October 1971 - 16 May 2015) was a freelance journalist from Malawi. Tenthani was a BBC correspondent and a columnist for The Sunday Times. He was a respected journalist in Malawi well known for his popular column, "The Muckraking".[3][4] He was well known for providing political analysis on topical issues. He had been the subject of controversy for his candid reporting on political issues. He was very critical of the crackdown on journalism during the Bingu wa Mutharika administration. He was also a columnist for Associated Press, Pan African News Agency, and The Maravi Post.

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