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Malawi leadership: Recalling atête-à-tête with the Muckraker and Wise One

George Chaponda
George Chaponda: named

Wise One’s Post Turtle: In the run up to the May 2014 election, I dared the Muckraker, “Sir” Raphael Tenthani (RIP) and the blogger, Wise One from the Eastin a debate.

My intention was to soften their conviction that Prof Peter Mutharika, were he to win, would miserably fail to govern.

In response to my arguments, whose thrust was that it was unfair to blame Peter Mutharika for:

  • the Academic Freedom Saga which happened when he was Minister of Education, and
  • theill-advised expulsion of the British Envoy which happened right under his nose at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs;

Wise One from the East countered that as far as he was concerned, if elected president, Peter Mutharika would prove to be the classic “post turtle”.

Post turtle demystified:

Naturally, I asked what this term means. A post turtle, I learnt, is a turtle that has been placed and balanced on top of a fence post.

Since it is common knowledge that turtles are not agile enough to climb a pole, everyone who sees one on a pole (or a post) knows that the turtle did not get there by itself.

Again, it immediately becomes clear that the turtle has no business perking on top of a post. And true to form, it soon becomes obvious that the turtle has absolutely no clue as to what to do while perking high up there for the simple reason that he has been elevated far too high beyond his ability to function.

The obvious outcome is that this leaves people wondering what kind of dumb nitwit put him there in the first place.

Looking back, late Raphael Tenthani and Wise One were dead right.

The present:

No-one in Malawi today can argue against the fact that Malawi has a post turtle for a president.

In the unlikely event that some doubting Thomases still exist out there, let me expound.Everyone knows that Peter Mutharika did not get where he is by himself. Just like a post turtle.

Secondly, it is obvious that Mutharika has absolutely no clue as to what to do while perking there simply because he has been elevated too high beyond his ability. Again, reminiscent of a post turtle.

This is why, to date, people are wondering what got into the heads, or rather the tummies of the Malawi Electoral Commissioners to put him there in the first place.

From the pot into the fire:

Enough about turtles, let me fast forward the clock to a time soon after the May 2014 election, the only one time I ever felt inclined to directly speak to President Peter Mutharika.

My message to him was succinct and straight:

You have been declared president with only 36 per cent of the total vote, meaning that 64 per cent of the people in the country do not approve of you being their leader. 

You therefore need to take steps to prove the doubters wrong as quickly as possible. To successfully do this, the starting point is avoiding the very people that sunk the DPP during the administration of your late brother.

If you take into your inner circle those same people, your already suspect popularity will diminish fast, and in 18 months, your leadership approval rating will be lower than what it was at the time of your late brother’s death.”

If Peter Mutharika took this advice, his choice of top aide did little to serve as evidence.

Everyone who has followed the Peter Mutharika administration from its nocturnal swearing-in can testify that his dependency on a personal assistant was a terrible case of bad judgment.

To his credit I must say, he has since broken the umbilical cord and parted ways with that particular assistant.

However, if anyone is about to celebrate this development, I would urge caution. Because, all he has managed to do, it seems, is the proverbial somersaulting from a frying pan into the fire.

Exit Ben 10, Enter “farty” Geo

The President, never known to be his own man, has now turned to his fellow geriatric, Dr. George Chaponda.

Chaponda, famous and duly registered in Wikipedia for defending what he thought and honestly believed was a law purported to ban farting in public, has happily assumed the role of puppet master.He is now pulling the strings and calling the tune for the puppet to prance around.

While this could be interpreted as a strategic move in that Peter Mutharika, like wise leaders do, is planning smooth succession and hence mentoring Chaponda; everyone who knows the sort of leadership Malawi needs knows that what Malawi needs is definitely not Dr. George Chaponda.

It is not that we are all obsessed with the desire to fart freely in public, no. But Doctor of Laws or not, Yale graduate or not, Chaponda’s failure to understand that the said law was not about farting but rather about mitigating against the ravages of Climate Change was, to say the least, worrisome incompetence. The warning bells are just too loud for any patriot to ignore.

If you share this school of thought, then brace for the worst because I have it on good authority that the recent cabinet tinkering was Chaponda’s “brilliant” idea.

And guess what, after the reshuffle,he engineered the Nchalo rally to serve as his launch pad.

Farty Geo: the Crown Prince or Prince of Clowns?

The rally’s sole intention was to unveil Chaponda as the de facto Vice and successor of Peter Mutharika. You may be asking, where then does that put State Vice President Saulosi Chilima?

We have been down this road before and by now, everyone should know that as per the DPP philosophy Chapter 1 Verse 1, the Vice Presidency is just escort to the colours, i.e. a ceremonial post turtle, if I can borrow this term. In Chichewa we say woyingitsa ntchentche.

This is what Chilima is. In case anyone is in doubt, the Chronicles of Atcheya reiterate this point by reminding the Chilimas of this world that wapakaliyala sayimba belu.

Never one to disguise his ambition, in the lower shire, Chaponda called himselfa “bulldozer” to the dismay of genuine bulldozers of the Magufuli calibre.

Chaponda was shamelessly at it, cheating the massesthat he performs in each and every ministry he is in charge of. Which performance? Farting laws? The diplomatic cash-gate that he was incubating in Addis?

Only Chaponda can explain.

As if that was not enough, at the opening of the tobacco sale season, the president, now showing all the colours of a true puppet, parroted Chaponda’s ridiculous bulldozer claim and, rather inexplicably, stated that there are some people who didn’t want him to put Chaponda in the cabinet but have failed.

Who does the president think he is fooling? Chaponda made that cabinet, therefore he could not have left himself out.

On the contrary, Chilima’s “reformer in chief” and “disaster mongering duties” all of a sudden, disappeared. These roles just vanished from that announcement. Was this an oversight?

Who else but a rival would have thus tried to pull Chilima even lower than he is now? Who else but George? Chaponda’s message to Chilima was loud clear, and Chilima would have to be daft to miss it.

Going back to at the rally in Chikwawa, the president’s assertion that Chaponda is the right person to turn things around in the Ministry of Agriculture, is something that can only come from a clueless person.

Was the president admitting his own poor sense of judgement since Allan Chiyembekeza was actually his own first choice for that ministry? And how long has the president known that Chaponda is the main man to drive the Agricultural Sector which happens to be the hub on which Malawi’s economy revolves?

Is the president playing the game of trial and error with the lives of Malawians?If we go back to the post turtle allegory that we started with, we are now facing an even gloomier prospect.

What we have in the case of Peter Mutharika and George Chaponda are two aged gentlemen trying to convince a sweet sixteen that they can still perform. And worse, here we are with two post turtles trying to elevate each other onto the top.

The only outcome we should expect, whether the turtles will manage the requisite acrobatics or not, is that whatever comes out of their failure will fall squarely on our heads.

And I can assure you, whatever it will be, is bound to stink and stick on this and future generations.

When all has been said and done, I can only agree that the legendary late Raphael Tenthani and Wise One from the East, knew the follies of Prof Peter Mutharika, than you and I did.

Here he is, condemning us to continue cultivating with hoes like early man as he pawns – for a song – tractors meant for the poor, bought with loans, loans that we will repay, to his goons.

For those of us then, who were there at the making of Peter Mutharika as DPP presidential candidate for 2014, it has never been necessary to guess whether or not he is actually his own person and in charge of the country. We know he isn’t. He has never been.

Raphael Tenthani, continue “muckraking” in peace!The mother land here is in deep trouble, one post turtle lined up after another!

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 Tenthanihttps://www.maravipost.com
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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