Talking Blues: Mr President, shame on you too


Sometimes, wrote Friedrich Nietzsche, people don’t want to hear the truth because they don’t want their illusions destroyed.

Under the so-called Tonse Government, this behaviour is quickly becoming the norm. As I write, there are multitudes refusing to believe that the much-touted Tonse Philosophy was all a hoax despite increasing evidence.

Before I proceed, let me debunk the propaganda that just because:

  • the Tonse government has failed to immediately implement the universal fertiliser subsidy it promised;
  • passport fees have not been reduced as promised, and
  • a million jobs in year one promise is now being tossed like a hot potato onto laps of people who promised no one a job; the Tonse Government has failed.

I beg to differ. The Tonse Government has not failed. Not yet.

That said, some of President Lazarus Chakwera’s ill-advised decisions are creating a solid foundation for colossal failure and several indicators of impending public dissatisfaction are sending out worrisome red flashes.

Where can I start?

“No one can construct for you the bridge upon which precisely you must cross the stream of life, no one but you alone.”

These words of wisdom from Nietzsche also hold true for a leader wishing to succeed.

For Chakwera to succeed, by the end of his first hundred days, he should have – at a minimum – built a solid hierarchy of women and men capable of innovating our way to prosperity.

To deliver the ambitious Tonse promises, Chakwera needed a top-notch cabinet, sophisticated board members and parastatal CEOs that you could leave your wallet with and on return, find all the contents intact.

Today, I will not dwell on Chakwera’s cut and try cabinet again because I already dealt with that. The same applies to reports of bribe-soliciting senior Tonse ministers. Since they don’t have that much to do, why not finagle a bribe or two from contractors?

The thing is: while the higher a monkey climbs, the smaller he appears to those below; as that monkey climbs higher, the more he exposes his buttocks. The enhanced ‘buttocks’ exposure is why Tonse’s failure to ensure equitable and meritorious distribution of appointments, including a gender balance, as promised, is a serious matter.

Look here:

  • Which Malawian president has had people demonstrating at the time she/he should be basking in a first 100 days victory lap?
  • Answer = Chakwera.

Chakwera faced his first major nationwide protests on Friday. The demos, organised by the Women Manifesto Movement, were protesting Chakwera’s failure to fulfil the Gender Equality Act (GEA) requirement of 60:40 representation of either sex in public appointments.

While the GEA stipulates not less than 40 per cent and not more than 60 per cent of either sex in public service appointments, of the 54 filled boards, only 11, representing 20.37 per cent, comply with the law.

The NGO-GCN chairperson, Barbara Banda said: “We want to mobilise the women’s movement to make a stand against systemic discrimination in public appointments. We … are unhappy.”

I sympathise wholeheartedly with all the people, both women and men of goodwill, feeling let down by Chakwera’s hypocrisy vis-à-vis Tonse’s stated promise to “enforce and promote the 2013 Gender Equality Act to redress the gender imbalance in the employment and appointment of women in decision-making positions.”

Even before we talk about the broken law, a promise is a credit. Hence, Malawians are not necessarily angry that Chakwera lied to them; they are disappointed that from now onwards, they cannot trust Chakwera because his promises are proving to be lies. The dude is fast becoming an excuse generating machine and a hypocrite to boot.

You know what? Rewind to 18 November 2018.

The day before, the now evicted president Peter Mutharika had just reshuffled his cabinet, and a fiery Chakwera climbed an anthill to deliver a sermon titled “Shame on you Mutharika!”

Verbatim, Chakwera’s harangue was as follows:

“Looking at Mutharika’s new cabinet, it is clear not only that Mutharika is no longer listening to good and free counsel, but also that he has no single regard for Malawians, much less the willingness to listen to their plight and undo their perils.

So, today, I direct this message to President Mutharika himself, as a last-ditch effort to get him to listen.

Mr President, this cabinet you have just created is a shameful disgrace and an unprecedented insult to all Malawians.

First of all, Mr President, your new cabinet is divisive. You have now made it clear by the lopsided regional distribution of cabinet seats that you are a tribal President, not a national one.

Besides, you clearly have no interest in appointing people on merit, leaving our nation groping in the darkness of mediocrity.

So, for the sake of all the tribes and regions of Malawi, I say shame on you.

Secondly, Mr President, your new cabinet is oppressive to our women of honour. You have proven this by appointing only three women to a cabinet of twenty in a nation that has more women than men.

This you have done even though you are supposed to be a “He for She Champion” and a Law Professor who knows that our laws require at least 40% of female representation in decision making. You are now thus a Professor of Law-breaking,” Chakwera thus pontificated, as if in Mutharika‘s shoes, he would do better.

Today, Chakwera has apparently learnt something he was unaware of when preaching to Mutharika. According to Chakwera, there are now few well-qualified women in Malawi.

Really Mr President?

Remind me, Mr President, don’t you have in your cabinet men and women, in fact, a whole family plus change, without first degrees or discernible accredited professional qualifications?

Which qualifications or merit are you now talking about?

Nietzsche was indeed right: blessed are the forgetful, for they get the better even of their blunders!

I hear you Blues’ Orators asking:

“Mapwiya, with this hypocrisy, what will become of us?”

Worry not, since each cloud has a silver lining, even the rank hypocrisy abundantly demonstrated by Chakwera in so short a time is a blessing: it is a timely warning that we should not expect much from him.

As for Chakwera, I have two requests:

Mr President,

1) Revisit the Note of Shame dated 18 November 2018 which you wrote as Leader of Opposition.

2) When done, ask yourself just one question: Shame on who?

The wise, said Marcus Porcius Cato, learn more from fools than fools from the wise.

By the way, now that Chakwera has realized that there aren’t many “qualified“ women around, when does he plan to apologize to Mutharika for the note of shame of November 2018?

Mr President, shame on you too.