Maverick politician cum entertainer Bon Kalindo has been in the south, centre, north, and recently west – if Mangochi can be categorized thus.
The Kalindo-led protests started like a joke.
The Blantyre demonstrations did not pull as large a crowd as hyped.
Nevertheless, despite naysayers in practically all media belittling Kalindo and, among other things, unfoundedly alleging that his motivation was personal gain, he was a disgruntled politician seeking attention to position himself to be bribed with a government position and despite the government hiring mercenaries to instill fear; people did turn up.
Silent amidst the nascent cacophony of dissent was President Lazarus Chakwera.
Blantyre done, Kalindo announced Lilongwe as the second setting for mass demonstrations. Now, Lilongwe has since 1994 been associated more with the currently ruling Malawi Congress Party (MCP). Save for some constituency losses in Lilongwe Urban during elections, MCP comfortably wins Lilongwe.
Therefore, the expectation was that Kalindo, contrary to Liverpool FC’s motto, would walk alone.
The presumed MCP supremacy in Lilongwe notwithstanding, Kalindo came, saw, and conquered. The crowd he marshaled was several times larger than the Blantyre crowd.
Rather than take notice, the MCP leadership attributed Kalindo’s ability to pull a protest crowd right in MCP’s backward to other factors.
Lilongwe City Council was the scapegoat.
”Hon Members, what happened today is a mixture of things. Let me say that the Lilongwe City Council announced that vendors at Nsomba Market should move to Area 25, and the deadline given was today.
The Mayor came in and stopped this two days ago, but the message was not heard till yesterday night.
This has angered most of the vendors, which is why they joined the demos. It was bad timing and a deliberate move [sabotage] to anger the vendors. This is one of the things that has affected all our plans today.
However, the Police have managed to stop the demos from proceeding to the capital city from Nchesi.
I plead that the management of Lilongwe City Council has to change immediately.”
This was an MCP stalwart cheating his colleagues who knew better on the evening of Kalindo’s successful quest in Lilongwe.
Let me recap:
• Kalindo rises and conquers Lilongwe.
• The best MCP can do, rather than evaluate what the hell is driving people to anti-Chakwera demonstrations when barely a year and a half ago the same people were pro-Chakwera demonstrators, is to opt for a fool’s paradise.
Does this ring a bell? Hell, yes. This attitude is precisely why and how:
1. Peter Mutharika and his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in 2019/20,
2. Joyce Banda and her Peoples Party (PP) in 2014,
3. Bakili Muluzi and his United Democratic Front (UDF) around 2003-2005 and before all these,
4. Kamuzu Banda and his MCP in 1994,
woke up one day to discover that Malawians had moved on.
In politics, a lot of things are lucrative. These are lucrative: corruption, duplicity, peddling lies, bootlicking, etc. In the short run. But in the same politics, one flaw is universally deadly and often partners pride to herald a fall.
This mistake is ruling politicians’ penchant to live in denial.
As if to prove this point, Kalindo went up north and again, pulled impressive masses who heartily participated in the growing anti-Chakwera crusade.
• Did Mzuzu protesters embrace the Kalindo crusade because some City official, desirous of sabotaging MCP, had irked vendors? The answer is NO.
• Did Mangochi protesters just this past week embrace the Kalindo crusade because some municipality official, desirous of sabotaging MCP, had irked vendors? The answer is another big NO.
Rather than wallow in escapism, MCP, in general, and President Lazarus Chakwera in particular, ought to do some honest soul-searching because, as Ayn Rand remarked, you can avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality.
So, when did the Tower of Babel start tumbling?
For me, this question is a no-brainer. When Malawians voiced their disapproval after President Chakwera announced that dodgy Cabinet of his and attempted to justify it, I knew that the dude had committed the cardinal sin of sowing garbage while expecting to reap anything other than garbage.
Because the garbage in garbage out principle applies beyond the internet of things.
Without the challenges posed by the Covid19 global pandemic, that Cabinet was underwhelming.
With Covid19 challenging even well-balanced cabinets, like the cabinet US President Joe Biden constituted, it is no surprise that service-delivery and leadership-wise, Chakwera’s GIGO cabinet – save for bursting our budget – seems non-existent.
I will not discuss the overused “prerogative” argument used by State House Press when justifying Chakwera’s lack of guts to overhaul the Cabinet.
I will, however, say this. Imagine you arrive home from work one day, and you find that your house is engulfed in smoke. Inside are your children, too young to save themselves.
Under the “prerogative” principle, you would have two choices. Either:
1. Take ACTION to save the children. This would be within your “prerogative”.
2. Take no ACTION to save the children, but rather mosey to a neighbour’s house and wait out the fire while hoping for the best.
This would also be entirely within your so-called “prerogative”.
However, there is a difference. Whereas:
Option (1) would prove to all and sundry that you are a caring parent who will do everything to ensure that your children are not harmed;
Option (2) renders you open to all sorts of derogatory adjectives.
Adjectives like incompetent, negligent, clueless, and unfit for any sort of responsibility that requires demonstrating a duty of care.
This is where we are at.
To this, add the fact that Chakwera took a whole eight months to fill critical vacancies in Cabinet, knowing very well that he had appointed an underwhelming Cabinet in the first place.
Imagine Arsenal FC is trailing in a do-or-die match. One or two players have been injured and are out. Yet the coach just stands on the touchline, nonchalantly watching when the remaining nine players are clearly overwhelmed, stressed, and conceding goal after goal.
What would Gunners’ fans say? How would they feel?
This is us and what we have been and continue to suffer.
Because ours is absent leadership that claims to feel our pain, has the power and wherewithal to reduce our anguish, yet is doing absolutely nothing about it while still drawing all the salaries and perks for supposedly “serving” us.
The discussion above is pregnant with lessons for those who want to learn how not to lead. I sincerely hope someone, somewhere, takes heed and begins to lead.
Please stay safe; I will see you in Part II next week.