He is still politicking, even when some families have yet to be found. Even within all this chaos, all he thinks about is the political posturing. Statements he wants to send to unsuspecting masses desperate for leadership in a time of trouble.
The news that Malawi President Lazarus Chakwera is inviting former heads of state to a roundtable meeting must be treated with the contempt it deserves. It is a useless meeting done for political expediency. There will be nothing useful that will come out of it. A few photos, spam comments from paid party vuvuzelas online on unity and what, and that will be it. Nothing tangible will come out of it.
We should not forget how we have ended up here. We all knew Cyclone Freddy was coming, all the warnings were there. It travelled for a month, that is 30 days, before eventually battering Malawi. When it battered Malawi what did it find? An absent president whiling away in Doha or Johannesburg. An ill-equipped DODMA. A Defence Force that exists more for UN missions than it does to serve Malawians. Thank the years of corruption presided over by the three that Chakwera wants to meet that the MDF was in such a terrible shape.
It was citizen initiatives that rose to the occasion and highlighted the extent of a problem which Chakwera ministers wanted to address in the posh of Mount Soche Hotel before a public outcry shook them to reality. If it were not for these citizen initiatives, for the urgency of social media, you can be sure that business would have been going on as usual while people were digging their loved ones with bare hands under the pouring rains.
It was business as usual for the whole day despite common knowledge that what had passed in Chilobwe and Ndirande was not a traditional cyclone. While we woke up to news of families swept away, parliamentary committees still went on with their endless meetings which hardly matter. It took a whole day before MPs from the South only were excused. It took the same whole day before government ever showed its face in the areas that were beaten. The lame duck Vice President was of course in hiding, as he has been since, on this or that delegated position nonsense.
Yet this was a disaster for which warnings had rung for weeks. Warnings which, when they rang, simply served as the clearance for Chakwera’s plane to take off. As well as inspiration for his minister of local governance to run up North and be campaigning among vendors while the threat was in the South.
Chakwera’s meeting with other equally uninspiring characters will of course be sold under the banner of unity or nation building. What a mockery! The disaster has already united the people of this country without needing the meddling of politics. The unity does not need some political posturing that will give us photos of the actual problems for which we can blame the ineffective response on.
We have seen a sense of unity never witnessed before and it has not been at the behest of politicians. While the politicians have been busy thinking of how to fleece the purse through that deviant DODMA or how to earn political mileage, we the people have risen beyond such narrow affinities to take care of the other. A meeting, even of all political parties in Malawi, will serve no value to the unity already in display. It is a distraction. Spare us the acting, we are in actual mourning in this country.
Information from the state says that he wants to consult with the former presidents. The question is: consult with them on what? Would Chakwera perhaps ask his friends how they let the Defence Forces to be stripped to the bone like this? I doubt he can ever ask that question since he is a part of the problem: eager to don military fatigue of a Force left to scare us in beerhalls and when we log trees into protected reserves that are not protected anymore.
If there is a thing that this country does not lack is human resource. We have capable people who have been trained in things to do with natural disasters, rebuilding and every other important after part of events such as these. Why is Chakwera not engaging with these people? The answer is simple: there is little political value to engaging with these people. They are therefore being conveniently forgotten or being engaged in hush tones behind the scenes where their contributions will be dwarfed by the bureaucracy and we will be here again.
This is painful. Watching this whole circus when we have lost people and are facing arguably the most darkest future ever. We are mourning yet in thinking of the future we cannot ignore the trepidation that such thought brings: what will become of our economy that was already on its knees, what of food security which Chakwera and his band of thieves already messed up through a chaotic AIP they messed up with payments to butchers in UK.
We are here. We are in this mess. What we need from our leader is not political posturing. It is direction. What are Chakwera’s plans post these relief efforts and support? We know that sooner all the goodwill from neighbours and partners will be done with, we will have to face each other with the homelessness and the orphanhood that Freddy has delivered. How will we deal with that? The answer to this, I can bet my last coin on that, is not with Mutharika or Joyce Banda. It can never be with Muluzi. It is with the technocrats who deserve a bigger platform and the space with which to guide this country. But you won’t hear Lazarus Chakwera prioritising them.