[Dedicated to the memory of Professor Robert Kamwazamchenga]
On a hot and dusty afternoon, Gogo Sinsamala explained the point to the Chief Mourner almost with tears in his eyes. He was pointing out that the old Chinese farewell, “may you live in interesting times”, was created with times like the present Malawian times in mind.
We had just returned from the funeral of a senior member of the Bawo Club, Professor Robert Kamwazamchenga, a brilliant man with delectable humour and quiet wisdom who had always brought his own brand of warmth to the Bawo Club, whether we were enjoying Abiti Mwenye’s sour brew, or living it up on modern lagers from town [an indisputable inspiration to the Chief Mourner, the passing of Professor Kamwazamchenga had caused the Chief Mourner to observe 40 days of private mourning and leave of absence from his other mourning duties- hence the missing Chief Mourner reports].
Kamwazamchenga had himself been partial to chicken Kanyenya, but he was never afraid or too Christian in his own eyes to bring bakayawo to the Bawo club, knowing there are those at the bawo club that enjoy this particular brand of delicacy.
“You see, Chief Mourner, there have never been in the history of this country, more interesting times than these”, continued Gogo Sinsamala. “Even while we were bidding farewell to our beloved Professor Kamwazamchenga, interesting events were unfolding at State House and at Capital Hill.
‘Do you recall that before we went to the funeral, I had informed you that you were being considered for the post of Acting Budget Director at the Ministry of Finance while the current director is on sick leave?”
The Chief Mourner promptly informed Gogo Sinsamala that he clearly remembered this conversation. The near murder of Amai’s Budget director, Chingolo Piyo had left a vacancy and, according to Gogo Sinsamala, an astute man was needed to feel it.The Chief Mourner had frightfully choked on the mouthful of wa Masese he had just seeped and it had taken a while, Abiti Mwenye’s skilful caressing of his back not withstanding, for him to finally settle down.
“You are no longer being so considered,” Continued Gogo Sinsamala. “New information now reveals that Laughter Kambala may have been wrongly implicated.” Gogo Sinsamala was poking the fire with a stick. He the pointed the smoldering twig at the Chief Mourner and there again was seriousness in his eyes. “Chingolo Piyo, Amai’s flamboyant and rather crooked Budget Director, had almost been dispatched to meet his maker with bullets from three hired Ntchetunzas. We are now certain that those three Ntchetunzas may have been hired by Solid Ubepo, a close friend of Amai, and on instructions from Amai herself!”
Strangely, apparently to keep his mind clear, Gogo Sinsamala was refreshing himself with Thobwa this time. This underlined the seriousness of the matter, for the Chief Mourner could hardly recall a time when he had ever seen Gogo Sinsamala prefer thobwa over Abiti mwenye’s legendary sour brew! And the surprise was in line with the surprising information he had. Gogo Sinsamala went on to reveal to the Chief Mourner that it was no accident that through Amai’s machinations, Laughter Kambala was being kept incarcerated for days on end for no real reason other than the fact that he had tried to have his badly stinking suits laundered in Mozambique and Tanzania after Rapid Team Laundry had rejected the offending outfits.
According to Gogo Sinsamala, patriotic Bawo clubbers needed to wake up, read between the lines and understand the underlying issues in the puzzle. The questionable moves were as follows:
1. The appointment of a deputy police Chief by the name of Iphani! If this was not a clear signal of what Amai had in mind for Laughter Kambala, and all others like Chingolopiyo, who would dare expose her, then what was?
2. The house imprisonment of Chingolopiyo from the day he was shot. Gogo Sinsamala’s insight was that contrary to the story fed to the public, Chingolopiyo was not being given state protection. Chingolopiyo was under house arrest. What suspect of mafia style looting was ever given state protection to the tune of millions of Kwacha? Amai was spending the money to ensure that saw no evil and spoke no evil, lest he would expose Amai and reveal that she has been stealing from the very evening she took the presidential oath.
3. The protection of Solid Ubepo. Now, Solid Ubepo as all Bawo clubbers know is the crook that was being used by Amai’s Party to siphon Billions from the government coffers. According to Gogo Sinsamala, It was at Ubepo’s company that his workers would daily go to banks in the morning and evening to withdraw huge sums of money, which was then handed over to Amai and her party officials in clandestine midnight hand-over meetings. The evidence, though circumstantial, is compelling, for instead of Ubepo being charged with attempted murder- as he had been fingered by 2 witnesses-, or being charged for stealing- as he had paid billions by government without delivering anything-, Ubepo had been charged with staying too long outside Malawi. But the clincher, as Gogo Sinsamala revealed, was that none other than Amayi herself had then paid his bail, of MK50 million!
4.Then there was the case of Pako Kanundu, the bagman whom police deputy Chief Iphani was pressing hard to falsely implicate Kambala as the hirer of the three Gwenembe assassins that had practiced their shooting on Chongolopiyo. Gogo Sinsamala insisted that it was no vain talk that immediately after the shooting, Amai informed the nation that she knew who and what the motive behind the attack was. Amai indeed knew, and now that the waters seemed to be reaching round her neck, she was sparing no money nor effort to ensure that Kambala, Ubepo, Kanundu and indeed Chingolopiyo were all in her radar and under her control one way or the other!
What has made these times the most interesting times in Malawi’s history, however, according to Gogo Sinsamala, is that Dr Mudzafa Zaeni, a somewhat controversial political analyst from the University of Mpatse Abwile claimed recently that in spite of the violence that erupted in Mangochi over pork sausages, in spite of the unprecedented looting happening at Capital Hill, and in spite of a president deep to her neck in the looting of state coffers, there was no crisis in the country.
Gogo Sinsamala then urged the Chief Mourner to record for posterity this wonderful quote from Dr Mudzafa Zaeni:
“There is absolutely no crisis. A looting crisis is defined in politics as the worst form of stealing and pillaging of public funds. Now, my studies have shown that although there was looting here, the proportions are not catastrophically sufficient as to be referred to as a crisis. Finding the loot in car boots and bedrooms is not enough. It would be a crisis if the police were finding money in these people’s living rooms, toilets, refrigerators and kitchen pots. The stolen loot was used to buy pork sausages in Mangochi, thereby increasing pork sales and making pork traders wealthy. It was also used to pay for Solid Ubepo’s Bail, in which case, it was returned to the state.
What happened here was a breakthrough. Had it not been for the Cash Gate, would we have known where Amai got the money she has been using for all her personal projects? Would we have known what her children are doing and why their wealth and fortune have multiplied overnight from owning a small bar to owning big trucks and international companies?
As you can see, we now know why Amai’s government has been unable to do any development projects and why her children have been putting on weight.”