President Peter Mutharika is swiftly implementing bold foreign and domestic policies which represent a considerable paradigm shift in Malawi’s politics which I can hardly resist to comment on.
Right from his first rally, after his brother’s death, which I curiously attended in Thyolo and subsequent series of political rallies and interviews on the media, Mutharika diverted from the traditional political stunts and gimmicks that characterize Malawi’s politics like personal attacks and mudslinging which were first used by Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda in 1958 against Colonialists and the Federation and on his former cabinet ministers,like Kanyama Chiume and Masauko Chipembere, and prevailed through Dr Bakili Muluzi’s unfortunate mastery of speech, which victimized the likes of VP Justin Malewezi and John Tembo, and ofcourse borrowed by Bingu wa Mutharika especially against his critics like the Undule Mwakasungulas, only to reach the climax by the most plagued and loudest mouth of them all, Joyce Banda.
Mutharika has through it all, unlike all his predecessors since independence, gone easy on his rivals and even taken aboard his Cabinet the youthful ambitious president of the opposing UDF, Atupele Muluzi who contested and lost to him in the May 20 Elections.
But the puzzle of them all, is his recent offering to fly back home- in his hired presidential jet- from the SADC meeting in Zimbabwe with the strange MCP spokesperson Jessie Kabwira, who among other sins was responsible for the academic freedom epidemic which badly infected several branches of the government machinery and tarnished not only his brothers regime, but also his Ministerial record –as Minister of Education-, as it was blamed on his failure to resolve the matter though it did not even fall under the jurisdiction of his Ministry, but rather of the University Council.
After the May 20 Elections, Kabwira bitterly disputed Mutharika’s victory and accused him of rigging, and stood tall against him even in Parliament, where she criticized Mutharika’s wedding, delay in appointing full cabinet, and accused his fully appointed cabinet of being tribally composed.
Enough of this sorry history, Mutharika’s accommodating of Kabwira is a good political move. It does not matter to me, whether she called him first for a meeting or not. It does not matter at all, whether she is up to some personal interests or not; it does not matter at all, whether Mutharika had some space in the jet and invited her (in fact if there were no space, Mutharika would have done better still to create the space for her) or not, what matters most to me is that the President of Malawi and the spokesperson of the leading Opposition party flew in the same plane together happily back home. Or let me say, DPP and MCP flew together back home.
It is shocking however, that when we all should be rejoicing at this unprecedented political breakthrough materializing in our very presence and be positive and supportive, some dubious analysts, those commenting on Nyasa Times comments sections of stories and Facebook addicts are busy getting too personal and too intelligent and insanely analytical about it. Even more shocking, is that some DPP Facebook sympathisers are hurling some scorn at Kabwira, when this development perfectly works to their own party’s advantage, in as far as rebranding of the DPP is concerned.
Kabwira is a very difficult woman to like, as a matter of fact, I do not like her either; she is unbearably too argumentative, arrogant and emotional. I once had an interaction with her, at some Hotel in Blantyre during a debate. She came a little late, and found a dozen of us seated. She entered majestically with an exaggeratedly powerful gait while spreading her eyes around, as if to scare wits out of us. And I could see some overconfidence oozing out of her face. She spoke authoritatively and uncompromisingly in the whole program, and got very angry when a certain young caller did not speak well of her personal life through a phone call on Zodiak Broadcasting Station.
But she has her sweet side too; for example when I once contacted her for some materials I needed from her for a project she responded positively, despite the extra trouble she would have to bare to assist, even though she had no personal knowledge of me and of course, when the president asked her to join the flight, she sweetly agreed when she could have turned the President down, like some analysts suggests she ought to have done.
Whatever Mutharika and Kabwira’s presumed meeting and shared flight incidence holds behind the scenes shouldn’t be the central focus of our response, as it shall surface sooner that we expect, rather we should welcome the gesture positively and stop being negative every time and allowing our past political divisions and antagonisms overcrowd our judgement over the current progress into a future where we can see government and opposition shelve their differences and partner up in their diversity to serve our common interests.
President Mutharika promised to establish closer ties with the opposition, and such an endeavour demands more support than criticism at every attempt from within and outside, especially at this time in our history when the future to security of budgetary aid from our bilateral partners remain uncertain and we need a united political front to conquer our fears, and advance collect efforts that would turn the odds in our favour.
My utmost dream, however, is to see former Presidents Bakili Muluzi and Joyce Banda and the opposition leader Lazarus Chakwera and President Mutharika in the same flight, going wherever they would be going on some relevant government errand in solidarity. Infact, i would like it more, if Chakwera would let John Tembo tag along.
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