Rare it is for me to tap the keys on my keypad in a move to exercise my birthright of freedom of expression politically.
However, I make this post an exception. Am human thus a part of me is political. For some time now, my observation is that Dr. Saulos Klaus Chilima, our very own vice president is not that much of a media person. I wonder if sanctions from above have been issued regarding his coverage by the public if not “ruling party” media house – MBC.
On the other hand, I am also asking my senses on whether this guy is putting the spiral of silence into practice.
Given that we are coming from a background full of “pathological hatred” (refer to honourable minister of Information Mr. N. Dausi for the meaning of “pathological hatred”, please) between the president and his or her vice, such a break on the VP’s coverage is capable of creating a conducive room for speculation from the public. One thing that needs to be understood is that silence can never be misquoted, hence every meaning generation from a silence counts.
For a quick reminder, we have witnessed bad terms between former President Elson Bakili Muluzi and his VP Mr. Justin Malewezi. History was so arrogant to repeat itself when Dr. Cassim Chilumpha was VP to late Dr. Bingu wa Mutharika (May his soul rest in peace). History proved to be brave enough by showing us the same sour relationship between Mutharika and Joyce Mtila Banda to a point that she got out of the DPP and gave birth to People’s Party (Chipani cha loko otsekula mfungulo uli pompo).
Much as intensity might not have been that much, but sixth sense was able to deduce the intolerance that had developed between Joyce Banda and Khumbo Kachali who was her VP.
I sometimes ask myself why the office of the president in Malawi includes the office of the VP. Be in the same boat with me here, I am not of the view that we should not have the VPs in office. No! Not at all! Rather, what I consider absurd is putting a dignified soul in there only to castigate it either directly or indirectly as the case has always been.
Whatever comes in between the head of state and the VP or probably the ruling party and the VP is never my concern. However, one clear thing is that such battles, if at all there are battles, they spill over and end up in the media.
Historically, MBC has been a tool through which venom from above has been channelled to the victimized VPs.
As usual, it begins with withdrawal of camera and writing pads from the functions of the victimised VPs to a point where it becomes evident as various figures get airtime on MBC only to issue hate speeches like missiles to the VPs.
I know that as a country, something monetary might have been saved as a result of the reforms whose mantle was manned by Chilima. I remember how some civil servants shivered when some guys were moving around with the headcount exercise.
What publicity has MBC done to that? Or the question should have been on the extent to which PR was done. I know that “creative” guys like Philip Business of MBC do exist and that they would have given such initiative the publicity it needed. Or maybe there were no resources for that.
Wait. Have I termed this piece “VP, Chilima and the Media” accidentally? No way!!! I have shared with you my observation on VPs in Malawi. Chilima is also a VP. I have observed that Chilima does not enjoy coverage as others in DPP led government do. By the way, you might need to remember as well that at the time when there were speculations that the State President was ill in the USA, it was not Chilima the Vice President that was in the limelight.
I am ignorant of the legal understanding in such situation, but a layman like me thought the VP was meant to speak to the citizenry, a thing that I believe most Malawians expected. I wonder if Chilima is indeed second to the president in command as I expect the VP to be (again, am not sure on the legal stand here, Lulanga Chipiliro, Chikaiko Yatuta Machika, or Kanyongolo Edge may enlighten me).
Finally, why the media? Well, let me agree with whosoever coined the saying that “the media creates, the media kills.” I challenge everyone here, the majority of things if not everything we have known has been known through the media. Pause a bit and give it moments of reflection. The funny thing is that behind every publication, there are editors. Even right at the time one is crafting a media article, choices are already made in line with the intended ideologies and propaganda.
There was a time when papers or news bulletins were incomplete without the mention of John ZU Tembo. What happened when the media switched attention?
Though debates in the media have been there regarding the magic bullet theory, I write to make a point that it is erroneous to completely ignore the magic bullet theory especially in a country like Malawi where in some remote corners, some people still believe that Atcheya is the president. Can such masses question what comes out of the media? And if not, can they understand that the medium is the message rather than the message itself?
Now, with Agenda setting theory, let us agree that the media put on the table what our brains should feast on. The media should have not been awash with Be forward’s 5-1 victory over Nyasa Big Bullets, Maizegate scandal, the wrangle at Chilembwe’s memorial service, Times Group’s Tax defaulting and everything that recently seemed hot including the bare baby bump of Dan Lu’s Emmie.
In fact, there have been other cases happening but their publicity has not been that much. You are still wondering as to why such is the case? That is the power of the media. Just as I already said, it creates. Thus, when I consider VPs in Malawi, Chilima and the media, my question remains: Do we have room for speculation?