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Jessie’s little joyride

“When you judge others,

you do not define them,

you define yourself”

Earl Nightingale

Jessie Kabwira
Jessie Kabwira at Loggerheads with Lazarus Chakwera

From the onset, let me declare that I find nothing fundamentally wrong with the acerbic MCP Publicity Secretary Jessie Kabwila hitching a ride on Peter Mutharika’s chartered presidential jet. After all she is a bona fide Malawian and, as she so eloquently stated, the jet carried Malawians.

Well, take heart that both Peter and Jessie were for austerity measures before their current status. So whoever hatched the idea of chartering a jet for the President was probably asleep when both Peter and Jessie went to town on Ama’s “well-wishers” private jet excursions.

But, I am sorry, my dear friend Jessie, the stunt was politically – and principally – misguided, if not dead wrong.

I will tell you why.

But let us get a few issues out of the way first.

So Peter continued his mission of disavowing what he vowed? Remember the other day the good ol’ prof promised that no one would lose their jobs based on politics?

We knew then, as we know now, that that was a blue executive lie.

Of course, it was not long before he vindicated us for, one by one, he started replacing – read firing – officers appointed by his predecessor, Joyce Banda.

Not that we were surprised but he needed not to have lied to us about it in the first place.

Now Peter has started recalling (read firing) diplomats and replacing them with his blue-eyed boys (well, not exactly his, but his brother’s.)

Of course, there was a vacancy in Brussels for the good lady who was our face in the European Union had quit her post on her own just before the elections to try other things.

But if Peter were true to his words, why replace Bernard Sande in London, Charles Msosa in New York, Stella Ndau in Pretoria and Earnest Makawa in Beijing?

Ok, ok, he has what he calls a ‘business unusual’ programme. But if he wanted to replace diplomats to fit his agenda, why bring back people who perpetrated his late brother’s ‘business as usual’ programme?

I have no qualms with Charles Namondwe heading back to the Orient or Brian Bowler to the Big Apple.

But how do these characters fit into Peter’s ‘business unusual’ agenda when they were at the core of Bingu’s ‘business as usual’ agenda?

If Peter’s agenda were truly different need he have not looked for his own people? Does this not confirm the notion that Peter is not his own man? That the old man is just continuing from where his eccentric big brother left?

Just look at the faces in his Cabinet and tell me if you do not read Bingu all over them.

But, of course, let us not be too hard on Peter; the guy had been away from Malawi for over 40 years until his brother asked him to come back to help him on constitutional matters.

If truth be told, political positions were forced on Peter; that is why he fumbled the ‘academic freedom’ odyssey when big brother tried him at Education and failed to guide Bingu on how to handle the Fergus Cochraine-Dyet debacle when brother-president ware-housed him at Foreign Affairs.

The presidency was equally forced on Peter; that is why he has to make do with the people who helped his brother fail and fall.

Enough of Peter’s reluctant presidency; let us get back to my good friend Jessie.

Jessie is a fearless activist; she fears no authority, that is why she took on Peter Mukhito, Bingu’s trusty top cop who the President dubbed ‘the best police chief ever’.

The academic freedom issue started as a ‘blinking contest’ between the police chief and the academician over the little issue about a youthful lecturer and lecture-room spooks.

Mukhito, I am sure, was not sure what he was up against in Kabwila. I am sure he was not sure how to handle her and needed his boss’ protection…which he got in that seminal ‘A Mukhito sapepesa’ (‘Mukhito will not apologise’) speech.

But little Jessie toughed it out until the President helped the ‘best police chief ever’ blink.

When Jessie declared she was eyeing politics and a parliamentary seat on an MCP ticket in her ancestral home of Salima she was embraced as a celeb; no wonder she was made the public face of the oldest party in the land.

Now Jessie and her MCP have never accepted that Peter Mutharika won fair and square the May 20 elections. In fact, as an English Language lecturer herself, she has been using all the choice words to tell us how Peter and the Gang cheated their way to power.

How then, on a sunny August day, could sweet little Jessie find herself on a joy two-hour ride with the same Peter from Mosi-o-Tunya to Lilongwe?

And, if the picture of her alighting from the chartered jet is anything to go by, she might have been sitting – or on the same aisle – with Peter Mukhito, him she so vociferously fought.

It will be interesting how the conversation between the poster-girl of academic freedom and the chief violator of the same went.

“Hey, Peter, remember me? This is Jessie!”

“Hey, Jessie! I know you, naughty girl?”

And then the conversation went into a whisper…

But the point is: Jessie took a wrong turn. Perceptions matter in politics. The two-hour joy-ride from Victoria Falls – Mosi-a-Tunya, if you like – might have been innocent.

But it will be taken into the context of what Jessie has been ranting about Peter and the stolen elections.

Ok, the jet might have been chartered by Malawian tax payers, carrying Malawians. But who was it chartered for? The same dude who stole an election according to Jessie? And whom Jessie has not endorsed?

Tell me something else, my good friend Jessie! This was a case of classical bad judgment if you seek my honest view. After all Jessie went to Harare on a different assignment, meaning she must have had a return ticket.


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