BLAISE Compaoré —Beautiful Blaise—as he is fondly known doesn’t have that craggy, stony and fascinatingly fierce look of most of our African Presidents.
He looks amiable: and seemingly amiable people are dangerous. For 27 years he had managed to veil his utterly heinous deeds under that easy face. He had nearly three decades of sheer bliss making Burkina Faso a grand but drab orchestra that had no choice but let him be the sole conductor.
He even went away with the killing of Burkina Faso’s golden boy Thomas Sankara in the 1987 coup. “It was an accident,” he maintained. Some Burkinabés believed and still believe him. He even got himself endeared to the not-so-easy-to-impress Western world.
But just like most African leaders who often get drunk and stagger with power he thought the Burkinabés are dead to the world and would snore praises and grant him his wish to rule till apocalypse. He was wrong, very wrong.
Compaoré’s crazy idea of clinging to the presidency until all Burkinabés are wiped out from the face of the earth so that his shenanigans are kept safe to himself gives me a feeling of déjà vu. But this is about something closer to home.
After a decade at plot number one Bakili Muluzi couldn’t just let go of it. He attempted to juggle the constitution to his fashion but failed. Obviously, apart from his generosity and rich sense of humour that we miss today, people had had enough of his time.
Somehow, he still got his way by heavily campaigning for his surrogate Bingu wa Mutharika who Malawians could only show their disdain of him by giving him something about 32 percent of votes only. Still he won.
After his stellar performance, Bingu became big headed and lost his way. But knowing the mess he had created and the grave need to hide it he had to drag or shove his sibling Peter to the presidency. Bingu, obviously was convinced that having little brother calling all the shorts he would be protected.
Joyce Banda just came to complete the list of our own Compaorés who just can’t accept that their time at the comfy seat is over. After knowing she had wrecked the country big time, JB could not easily accept the idea that the writing was on the wall. Her last move was embarrassing. Blubbering some sections of the law and what have you in order to book herself a bit more time in power. So you see now that Compaoré is just a member of the grand club of leaders who just can’t let the hot seat go?
But maybe we cannot understand these leaders since we have never been anywhere close to the comfort of the presidency.
You see, we all have a feeling to convince ourselves that we are better than others. It happens even in the professional world. I will speak about my field. There is a tiff between the older and the upcoming generation of journos. Those who have been around for sometimes will tell you with a scoff that journalism lost its way. “Journalism was journalism during their time”. But the younger generation will laugh out loud and point at what they claim to be flat and easy stories that graced the front pages of that time such as: “H.E Opens Trade Fair”, “HE Open Bus Company” or “HE to Attend Independence Celebrations”.
When JB somehow lost his way and started making one blunder after another quick and constant, Peter and his blue cronies went about town telling impressionable Malawians that he they were better than her since they had the magic wand that will turn the country in a blink of an eye.
Five months on, Peter and his hangers-on have nothing but drab rounds of excuses. Their ineptitude that has all along lurked beneath the hollow, false assurance of a better Malawi has been exposed.
Peter’s overzealous minions—who are very ready to get angry on his behalf—will tell you five months are not enough to get a country up and rolling. But then Joyce Banda, terrible as she was, within five months managed to give us a fresh breeze from the foul stench the Bingu-led DPP gave us.
Recently the Kwacha has just tumbled headlong and we expect stinging rise of prices. Well, had it been that we had a President who is eager, hence promising, then we could have thought these tough times are just ephemeral. But then Peter has proven to be dosing, unwilling and obviously disinterested.
And with the glaring failures that are all over his managerial resume then we must be afraid, very afraid. During his demised brother’s days APM gave us a raw deal when he was Minister of Education, he was always nowhere when he was Minister of Justice and a celebrated blooper as Minister of Foreign Affairs. If he failed to fit in the smaller ministerial robes then obviously the bigger and baggy presidential robe will make him look and feel awkward.
The hope on which Peter built his campaign is fast ad steadily turning into despair.
Just a few days ago there was this stunning and obscene rise in passport fees. A staggering 320 percent raise of K48, 000 is perhaps the greatest mockery of our time. Most Malawians do not even earn half that amount.
This reminds me of the Bingu-led DPP. When it was cornered by donors who folded their purse after being unimpressed by its atrocious human rights record, The DPP had no choice but to choke us with the Zero Deficit Budget. The end was a stinging fundraising campaign hiking passport, road traffic and whatever fees they thought they could. As they say old habits don’t die easily, now that we have the Zero-Aid Budget we must expect more hikes.
These five months will soon turn into a year then two, then three then four then five only to realise we have wasted another half decade. We must also be careful with Peter’s seeming quietude because we might be thinking the old man has locked himself somewhere thinking about the nation yet he is asleep and snoring heavily.
But then we must just get used to this. The MCP, UDF,DPP, PP, and again, surprisingly, the DPP found itself back in power yet we are just stuck in the quagmire of privation. Let us spare the accusing finger on those we give power to govern us since every time a chance avails itself for us to change things we miss it.
The situation we are in is what we deserve: just some fruits of our folly.
*Madalitso Mussa’s Tales of the Times articles appear first in The Daily Time’s Newspaper