To beat Covid-19, we should follow public health officials’ advice while looking forward with hope; the same ebbing hope that President Lazarus Chakwera and Vice President Saulos Chakwera kindled on 25 May 2020 at Njamba Freedom Park in Blantyre.
“Dr Saulos Chilima is an expert in economic management and development. We will leave affairs of the economy to Dr Chilima so that we create one million jobs, we provide good schools, good hospitals and other services to Malawians,” said Chakwera.
Today, one wonders: does Pres Chakwera remember these words? I too, was wondering. But thank goodness, I got the answer on 17 January 2021.
Addressing the nation, Chakwera made a flirting reference to “campaign promises”.
“We must all accept that the scale of the pandemic demands a change of priorities. This is important to say because some are still obsessed with politics, some who are still obsessed with cabinet appointments and reshuffles, and some who are still obsessed with campaign promises that were made on assumptions and in conditions that no longer hold.”
Allow me to digress.
A professor entered the classroom. He announced a surprise test. Students were shaken, and they sat nervously, waiting. The professor handed out the examination with text facing down.
Once everyone had a paper, he asked them to turn them over. Surprise, surprise! There were no questions, just a black dot in the centre of the paper.
The professor instructed: “Write about everything you see there,” and the students got busy.
Time up, he collected answer sheets, immediately read each one out loud. All students had defined the black dot and liberally discussed its central position. The classroom then fell silent.
The professor explained, “I’m not going to grade this test. But think about this: no one wrote about the white part of the paper. Everyone focused on the black dot”.
“This,” he explained, “happens in our lives. We are obsessed with the ‘black dot’ e.g. health issues, poverty, relationships, disappointments etc.”
“However,” he argued, “the dark spots are insignificant when taken in context. Yet, we often allow the black spots to overwhelm us. Forget the black dots in your lives. Count your blessings!”
President Chakwera is wrong to renege on the many promises Malawians voted him for on the flimsy if not laughable pretext that focus is now on Covid19 and that campaign promises “were made on assumptions and in conditions that no longer hold”.
Chakwera, like the black-dot obsessed students, is dead wrong.
With the right Cabinet and people around him, this need not be so.
If anything, the havoc caused by Covid-19 makes his delivering on that Super-Hi5 of his, the 1,000,000 jobs, hospitals and social services imperative. Otherwise, Covid19 will go, but chaos will haunt his government.
If he believes this is impossible, he should agree that he hired the wrong people, people with the mindsets of failures, and that his faith in them was misplaced. A Cabinet with the right men and women with a positive can-do mindset would never allow Chakwera to renege on campaign promises.
The question is: with allegations and increasing indications that Chakwera is ‘captured’, is there a way out?
King Arthur, a youthful royal, was ambushed and imprisoned by a hostile king and only spared from instant death by luck.
His captor eventually offered him a poisoned chalice way out. To earn freedom, Arthur needed to answer a difficult question. He would be given a year, and if after a year he still had no answer, he would be killed.
The question that Arthur had to solve was: What do women really want?
It was, as I have intimated, a poisoned chalice. A Gordian knot some would say. But, since it was better than death, Arthur committed to bring an answer by year’s end or die.
He was released and returned to his own kingdom. He got busy. Called and consulted everyone: princes and princesses, priests, wise men and even the court jester.
He widened the consultations to the commoners but still got no answer.
Finally, some people advised him to consult an old witch who possibly knew the answer. The drawback was that the witch was famous for charging extortionate prices.
The time drew nigh, and Arthur had no choice but to approach the witch. She agreed to answer the question, “for the right price”.
The old witch wanted to marry Sir Lancelot, a noble at Arthur’s court and his closest friend! Young Arthur was horrified. The witch was obscene, hideous, and she smelled horribly.
Arthur had never encountered a creature more repugnant and a woman so repelling.
He refused to force his friend to marry her and endure the pain. However, Lancelot, upon learning of the king’s predicament, insisted.
“Your Majesty, nothing is too big a sacrifice compared to your life, I will marry the witch,” said Lancelot.
A wedding was quickly announced, and the witch answered Arthur’s question.
“What a woman really wants,” said the witch, “is to be in charge of her own life!”
Arthur ran to his captor, delivered the answer and gained his freedom.
Meanwhile, Lancelot and the witch had a wonderful wedding. However, as night approached, Lancelot was psychologically steeling himself for a horrific experience.
After dillydallying, he entered the nuptial bedroom and boy, what a sight awaited him! The most beautiful woman he had ever seen was sitting there, patiently waiting for him.
An astounded Lancelot exclaimed, “How?”
The beauty replied that since he had been so kind to her when she appeared as a witch, she would henceforth be her horribly unsightly self only half the time and the beautiful maiden the other half.
“Which would he prefer? Beautiful during the day…or night?” she asked.
Lancelot pondered…. during the day, a beautiful woman to show off to his friends, but at night, in the privacy of his castle, an old witch?
Or, a hideous witch during the day, but by night, a beautiful woman for him to enjoy wondrous intimate moments?
Lancelot said he would let HER decide.
Upon hearing this, she sweetly told him that she would be beautiful ALL the time because he had respected her enough to let her be “in charge of her own life”, i.e. what a woman wants!
What is Chakwera’s way out? The answer is hiding in plain sight: Chakwera simply needs to walk his talk and allow ‘Lancelot’ to assist.
“Dr Saulos Chilima is an expert in economic management and development. We will leave affairs of the economy to Dr Chilima so that we create one million jobs, we provide good schools, good hospitals and other services to Malawians,” said Chakwera at that time.
What has changed?