Talking Blues: DPP now an endangered species

It was supposed to go the other way round.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) parliamentarians were supposed to go to town on President Lazarus Chakwera during the Presidential Question Time organized under Section 89(4) of the Constitution.

Chakwera was supposed to be the hunted and DPP the hunter.

From Chakwera’s first jab, however, it was clear that DPP had come woefully unprepared.

By the time Chakwera had fully taken matters into his own hands and was freely landing wicked body punches into the poorly defended torso of the disorganized DPP, there was no doubt that DPP’s game plan had fallen asunder. As Mike Tyson rightly reiterated, everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.

This allowed Chakwera to land avalanches of unreciprocated barrages of jabs, hooks and wicked combinations of body punches spiced with clinically delivered head blows to stamp paid on DPP.

Right now, DPP’s image bears a strong semblance to that of a boxer who had just lost a one-sided fifteen round bout which – for some reason – the referee did not stop when it was evident that the fighter was unfit.

As you all know, on this column facts always come first and hence for those who missed the story, let me retell it, factually.

Chakwera appeared before Parliament on Thursday where he corrected Nankhumwa’s false assertion that DPP had set the pace of development.

”After all, Malawi is neither the Singapore nor the Europe that the DPP promised. One of the reasons that Malawians fired his party from the government is because it significantly slowed the pace of our development,” Chakwera charged.

Chakwera also trashed Nankhumwa’s accusation that the Sona did not articulate the issue of risk allowances for teachers, saying it should be left to the government to deal with.

”It is, therefore, amusing that even though he was a Cabinet minister a few months ago and supported the budget presented by his party, he did not, that time, have the insight to include the risk allowances for teachers that he is now advocating for. His clarity of vision is only useful for looking back at his own failures and has no help in looking forward,” Chakwera retorted.

Chakwera then defended his pet project, the controversial MPs official residences.

”The people of Malawi will pay over K2.7 billion in housing allowances to the members of this House during this term of office, yet not a single member has stood up to say that they would like to forfeit this allowance to go towards their constituents.

”From this double standard, I discern that the objections to the provision of an official house for MPs are not motivated by a desire to save money, but a desire to keep Malawians paying MPs’ housing allowances indefinitely.

”My proposal would cost the Malawian taxpayer nothing and save the taxpayer billions in the long term, so I am amazed that there are members here who believe it would be better to keep costing the taxpayer billions and saving the taxpayer nothing.”

According to Chakwera, his administration can walk and chew gum. It is hence capable of building mansions for MPs concurrently with teachers, nurses, soldiers, and civil servants houses.

Chakwera also discredited claims that the June 23 presidential election divided Malawians, saying it is the DPP that attempted and failed to divide the country along tribal lines.

Chakwera also clarified on his reduction of presidential powers, saying he will not be responsible for the appointment of Director-General of the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) but that Parliament will be entrusted with the responsibility.

In his response to the Sona, Nankhumwa also queried the absence of Electoral Commission (Mec) commissioners who were nominated by then-governing DPP; a matter which Chakwera said is being reviewed by relevant authorities and according to the law.

On completion of the Cancer Centre in Lilongwe, he said his government, through the Ministry of Health, is working on modalities to ensure that a contractor is recruited to finish the remaining part of the project.

Reacting to Chakwera’s defence of his planned policy and legislative intentions, ACB director general Reyneck Matemba welcomed the move and wished the office of the deputy director of ACB is also equally safeguarded from political interference.

Private practice lawyer, doyen Kamudoni Nyasulu, a leading financial crimes expert and a reputed anti-corruption prosecutor also applauded Chakwera and emphasized the need to ensure the independence of all governance institutions apart from the ACB.

Nyasulu said apart from appointment modalities, equally crucial in ensuring the security of tenure for governance institution is safeguarding against presidential overreach in the removal of officers.

Following his parliamentary performance, Chakwera is basking in praise from practically all quarters.

With embassy, boards and other appointments still pending, hundreds of Malawians from all walks of life are not wasting any chance to hip praise on Chakwera on some pretext or another.

Since Chakwera is not active on social media, rounds of applause are conveniently being directed to his surrogates in the hope that they will whisper something favourable into the big man’s ear.

In my studied opinion, no one should celebrate DPP’s disgraceful performance.

DPP’s evident unfitness as main opposition should be a cause for concern.

Although there are several reasons, I will only cite two.

Firstly, given a choice of one party and multiparty, I have no doubt that we would all vote for multiparty. Now, for the plural politics we are enjoying to work, we need a strong DPP.

Secondly, despite DPP parliamentarians poor show in Parliament, they are still being paid.

Id est, on top of the billions they squandered when they were in charge and pretending clueless Peter Mutharika was the best thing since sliced bread, they continue drawing hefty parliamentary allowances and other perks.

At a minimum, therefore, I demand that they begin earning their keep by serving us as a worthwhile opposition to put Chakwera in check.

They have an option, DPP can snooze its way to extinction.