35 For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; 36 I was naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me [with help and ministering care]; I was in prison, and you came to Me [ignoring personal danger].’ — Matthew 25:35-36
In the 31 years that former President for Life Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda ruled Malawi, he also commandeered and controlled people’s actions, behaviors, values, and a host of other lifestyles. His exit from power following the 1993 Referendum when Malawians chose multiparty over the one party state under the Malawi Congress Party (MCP), Malawians have blossomed into a wide and wild variety of people. Some of these are recognizable, others not, and many more extremely bizarre. Of these, among some of the traits Malawians are exhibiting, that was not in volumes during Banda’s rule, is corruption and rampant thievery up and down the spectrum of the Malawi population.
To be fair, there are some that would argue that Banda’s Malawi was armed to the teeth not only with a wholly obedient, subjective, loyal, and Party-Card-holding Police Force (now called Service), Police informants, Malawi young Pioneer para-military, the MCP Women’s League (all women in Malawi), and the area, village, district, and regional Party chairmen and their committees. Keeping law and order, peace, and calm was a national institution; it was expected of every citizen. In 1994 when Malawians threw out the one party era, they threw out these valuable principles; like throwing out the baby and the dirty bath water.
In the previous discussion, consideration of how vile Malawians are behaving when Malawi parliamentarians, MACRA board members, and even religious leaders are trampling all over Malawi’s laws, many with impunity. This week’s discussion will show some examples of steps being taken by Malawians in corrupting the country. The laxity is symptomatic of there being no one in charge of the country; no one fears anybody; and most of all no one is able to police anyone. Three examples suffice in the dialogue.
A video is making the rounds about a scheme that village-based peoples have devised. They dig up dirt, dry it, and mix it with lime. The mixture is put in bags and sold as fertilizer; needless to say, at lower prices than the real fertilizer. This brings to reminds one of another scheme at the dawn of Malawi democratic culture when a minister in the Muluzi cabinet set up a scheme that had a group of daring young men scale up electricity supply transformers and remove oil from the transformers, and decanted it into Lever Brothers cooking oil bottles. They sold the oil to fish and chips (kanyenya)sellers.
The schemes pry on the poverty and vulnerabilities of local poor Malawians that are trying to survive in hard and difficult economic times.
The monster of the scheming Malawians is that of former FDH Bank CEO, who during the 2019 presidential elections lined the pockets of the three leading presidential candidates, current President Dr. Lazarus Chakwera, Vice President Dr. Saulos Chilima, and former President Professor Peter Mutharika. This was according to evidence tendered during his trial proceedings. The court case was not for lining the pockets of the politicians, but for attempting to bribe the panel of five Constitutional Court justices that were set up to hear the 2019 election fraud case that was brought to the court jointly by Chakwera and Chilima. The bribes were to ensure a favorable judgement outcome for then President Mutharika.
But the justices informed the Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda about the attempted bribe; the CJ straight went public with it, blowing the horn that Malawian judges will not be swayed, bribed, manipulated. For this criminal act (attempting to bribe the five judges), Mpinganjira was sentenced to two concurrent nine year prison terms, with hard labor.
It does seem apparent that while a sizable part of the population are trying to manage their lives, obeying the laws as far as possible, there are some that are mimicking some persons in the higher echelons of the society. There are many Malawians in three high levels that are behaving badly, there is no one to “police” and monitor them (no Kamuzu to dismiss anyone from his or her job), no political party chairman or chairwoman to file people into law abiding and law fearing citizens, and most important of all, the Malawians that show flippancy and disregard for the rules, go unpunished. Is there any entity in Malawi that Malawians fear, reverence? The once fearful and revered traditional leadership system is suffering under the weight of political manipulation, the ACB is a toothless bulldog with a harmless bark. The Malawi nation is in great need of exacting again the rule of law, an empowered and well-paid Police Service in the same way the military is better-paid, and raising the pay packages of justices to be comparable to ministers and parliamentarians.
In conclusion, Mpinganjira and other fledging millionaire Malawians, should take a leaf from the life of former Dr. Joyce Banda and her roadmap to fame and glory. There was no short-cut, no scheming, and definitely no delivering of fat envelopes to any politician.
Joyce Banda quit a lavish job in corporate Malawi and started a business. When she saw hardships she had in the cut-throat world of business, she established an NGO to help herself and other women in Malawi. The organization met the needs of Malawians and soon earned the notice of the international community. She was awarded money. She established a school for girls in Blantyre and one for boys and girls in Zomba, an orphanage. She then helped men and women get into businesses.
The five items outlined above, earned her local peoples respect and notice as someone they want in Parliament. She won a seat in 2004, appointed minister of Gender, foreign affairs minister, and finally vice president. Amongst her achievements in these portfolios are the gender policy, advanced the push to ending child marriage, worked with traditional leaders to ensure all pregnant women delivered their babies in a health clinic, center or hospital; this led to reducing maternal mortality. As foreign affairs minister, in one visit, she signed a memorandum of understanding with China, ending Malawi’s forty-year friendship with Taiwan. As vice presidential nominee, she ensured a landslide victory for Bingu wa Mutharika in the 2009 presidential elections.
This is the self-less journey one Malawian, who came into money and ploughed back into her community. Fame, fortune, and glory followed; but more importantly, she entered into corridors of decision making and effected change for vulnerable, power and sometimes disenfranchised Malawians.
If you are a Malawian who has come into fortune, you are swimming in money, please do the right thing: invest some in uplifting the lives of vulnerable Malawians by establishing labor-intensive companies that create jobs. Fame, fortune, and glory is guaranteed. By ensuring that you choose the option for the poor and vulnerable people in the society, you are on the path to national fame. Poor people may not have money, but they have a vote.