Style versus substance as Chakwera responds to Mutharika’s SONA

As expected, President Peter Mutharika on Tuesday delivered his second State of the Nation Address  (SONA) as he opened the fourth meeting in the 45th Session of Parliament.

Chakwera (L) with Mutharika ar Palriament: Says cashgate wearing a new robe under DPP

Chakwera (L) with Mutharika ar Palriament: Says cashgate wearing a new robe under DPP

The President’s major speech also marked the official opening of the 2015/16 Budget Meeting.

A lot has already been said about the speech and I will not dwell on analysing it—most people have already done that by now.
What interests me is the official response from the President’s top critic: Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president Lazarus Chakwera, who is also Leader of Opposition.

Whether Mutharika’s address was successful or not depends on which side of the political divide you find yourself in or what your interests are in a speech that is really there to outline the broad policy framework of an administration for the next 12 months.

Certainly, Chakwera was not too impressed and delivered a stinging rebuttal with great sound bites—well, they sounded great until you started searching for the devil in the detail and found very little, if any.

My favourite from Chakwera was the following passage: “I don’t know about you, but between the promises of the President and the dreams of Malawians, I choose the dreams of Malawians.

I choose to dream with Malawians of a presidency for the people, not for the government. I choose to dream with Malawians of a country where farmers make more money from their crops than traders. I choose to dream with Malawians of a country where government salaries are paid punctually by the order of a system, not tardily by the orders of a President. I choose to dream with Malawians of a country whose cities have tarred roads and landscaped sidewalks, not dirty roads, potholes, and bushes.

I choose to dream with Malawians of a country whose cities are secure by night and clean by day, not littered by day and feared by night. I choose to dream with Malawians of a country in which the power of the sun and wind are harnessed through technology to extend the power grid to every Malawian home by 2064.

I choose to dream with Malawians of a country in which handouts for votes are illegal. I choose to dream with Malawians of a country in which there is no State broadcaster to poison Malawians with propaganda. I choose to dream with Malawians of a country in which mechanisms of governance credibility, development equality and democracy security are guaranteed by the Constitution. I choose to dream with Malawians of a country in which foreign aid for the government is a memory, employment for young people is a [not] luxury, prosperity for all is a destiny, and security for communities is a reality…”

If this piece of lofty rhetoric sounds eerily familiar, don’t be surprised, because it is.

It surely sounds like former president Joyce Banda’s two State of the Nation addresses that were full of dreams that turned into the nightmare that is Cashgate. She too had a lot of dreams and look where they took us.

That is what you get for not pinning people to be specific on what exactly they want to do and not being bewitched by musical voices and uplifting words that don’t translate into much.

I will not be surprised really if it turns out that Chakwera has followed Mrs. Banda’s footsteps of finding solace in American advisers who may probably have drafted the speech.

It is clear that Chakwera has a good speech writer who understands his boss’s gift to deliver speeches and no one is better than the retired reverend with an American accent when it comes to giving a good speech and compelling closing arguments. Remember the first presidential debate and how Chakwera wrapped up his case?

But Chakwera’s response to the President’s address was a campaign style political speech.

But, as they say, you campaign in poetry, but govern in prose. Chakwera can afford the poetry, Mutharika cannot—he is governing and, therefore, prose and nuance are a must.

Chakwera is obviously a man of style when it comes to speech delivery, but substance is miles away.

The passage I have quoted above is a very good summary of the Chakwera governing doctrine, but without specifics on how to achieve that dream, it all comes to naught and, if he happens to be allowed to govern next time, ends in disaster just like Mrs. Banda’s shrilling rhetoric.

And that is the difference. Mutharika’s speech may have been boring—his addresses have always been—but at least it has details of how to reach the destination he has, or thinks he has, charted for the country.

Chakwera has done a very fine job of pointing out the problems with the President’s speech and the country as a whole, but has done a very shoddy job of offering policy positions or prescriptions that draw parallels with what Mutharika has offered.
What kind of government in waiting is Chakwera’s MCP then?

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24 thoughts on “Style versus substance as Chakwera responds to Mutharika’s SONA”

  1. Henderson Tepeka says:

    Some comments ar nonsense but we understand u.

  2. Henderson Tepeka says:

    Malawi needs government system differs 4rom political parties

  3. We need only but one thing,no matter who rules-Economic growth at least 59%,look in RSA no matter who is ruling their economy is always better.

  4. Camptain Romero says:

    M’busa wa fake, angaziwe chani cha boma mmene limayendera, akuyesa kuyendesa mpingo kungafanane ndi kuyendesa boma eti , fokofuu

  5. DPP and it’s leardership including Ephraim Munthali are very fooling and selfish.Shame on you!

  6. Kenkkk says:

    Shame on you Ephraim, typical dpp bootlicker full of lies and distortions. Laz was perfect in detailing the dpp corruption and scandals that are being perpetuated. This thieving govt has done more harm than good in the 12mths it has been in power.

    Dpp thugs are completely failing on good governance and that is the main cornerstone to measure success otherwise
    nothing good comes out of it.

  7. Munali says:

    I agree there must be some banned substances in Ephraim Munthali’s cup, for him to write this rubbish. Northerners are expected to be respected objective writers. It makes you wonder when you see that there are some tumbukas who think like alomwe. Munthali’s article is shocking!

  8. chakwanuleka says:

    Foolish reporter who can hardly analyse issues. The speech by Dr. Chakwera has everything an upright mind can see as what is missing in the leadership and yet you claim there are no solutions. Just read what you have reproduced or go back to school because its too late for us to teach to understand English. If you are on DPP payroll, the best is to just enjoy your blood money otherwise we are all looking forward to one day be ruled by a credible government which is accountable to its citizens

  9. Achimidzimidzi says:

    Mr Ephraim Munthali, you are a disaster. Very stupid big time!
    I can’t believe you’re a journalist. What are you?!!!!

    I don’t have to analyze your write up. But I want you to explain to me why your APM is using my tax money to pay bank loans on behalf of Mulli and other DPP members.

    Is that the purpose of taxes in Malawi?
    Do you know the owner of MSB. This Bank serves rural areas where NBM, STD,FDH and even yourself can not go to do business. But people want services of a bank.

    Next time don’t take side when writing your dung and don’t personalize.

  10. special advisor says:

    Wadada ‘Nthali! Mwatchera kumwezi, nkhanga zaona! Chakwera is only trying to do his job as much as APM is trying to do his. May be you’re also trying to do your job. But you seem to have used your artuculate writing and eloquence wrongly. I hope you are not under pressure from those that give you 50 pin envelopes and promises of senior positions in the civil service.

  11. Wadinkhula Wa Yiwona says:

    Efirayimu chitani manyazi

  12. pragmatic boy says:

    If Chakwera’s speech had no details on how he would achieve what he said what about speech ya gogo ako aja munthali? Agogo ako anawina Boma and he is ruling now do you expect Chakwera to tell him his plans or provide solutions to his failures? It’s obvious that Chakwera wants the presidency should he give his plans to his opponent?Be practical Mr Munthali you are in the elite group of Malawians.

  13. rasta says:

    vuto lokhala journalist wosawuka ndilimeneli. so gullible. you are a disgrace to the profession. nkazi wako ndiye amasekerera zopusazi?

  14. Mhesha says:

    Truth pains…Ephraim has told you and ur power hungry pastor the bare truth.
    The pastor never had plan B. He felt he would win automatically hence the frustrations.

  15. Dr Moo Tha Leeker says:

    Pitara is very far away from Chakwera in everything except kukula kwa mgwala wa pitara, kuba and uchitsiru. These things Pitara beats chakwera. Dont cheat people that what chakwera says is rhetoric. We lost a chance to have a visionary leader in Chakwera not this idiotic president. Nyapapi. Ephraim Munthali so you are on DPP PAY ROLL-SHAME ON YOU. NORTHERNERS MUMAWONONGA ZINTHU HEAVY. YOU CHRISTENED DR BANDA AND BINGU DANIEL PHIRI MUTHARIKA as NGWAZIs the end result these ex pres(RIP) became tyrants. So you want the same with Pitara Ibu Mutharika.

  16. happening boy says:

    All who say Chakwera’s speech was empty are big fools of our loved nation including you Ephraim, I used to respect your journalism but alas, money has spoiled your senses, very sad, intact calling you stupid will not make a difference in saying what you have written is stupidity, foolish man. Leave JB out of this, you can’t compare Chakwera and Peter in as far as leadership is concerned, more over Chakwera knows Malawi better than your Chakwera, he knows what we want like JB although she was entangled in the cash gate. Open your eyes Ephraim eat the money but see where that money is taking you too. You have your colleagues who were very good but turned fools because of such kind of approach to sensitive issues like this one. Lucky Dube did a song and I quote’if you don’t want to talk something good about somebody, just shut up’ so Ephraim and your team, shut up.

  17. Dr Moo Tha Leeker says:

    Pitara is very far away from Chakwera in everything except kukula kwa mgwala wa pitara, kuba and uchitsiru. These things Pitara beats chakwera. Dont cheat people that what chakwera says is rhetoric. We lost a chance to have a visionary leader in Chakwera not this idiotic president. Nyapapi

  18. Madziakaphwa says:

    Honestly what chakwera is doing is opposing for the sake of it. In his whole speach, there is nothing like conmending the presdent on some of his accomplishment as the presdent. You he has goofed in everything sure? Appliciation of kwacha, gaining donor confidence, repatriation of malawians in SA and even reduced local and international travels all these are good work of his govt but chakwera has guts to call the presdent babyseater zoona? This guy is useless, he came into politics coz of greed but he will never rule Malawians blive me you

  19. Chiza says:

    Ephraim Munthali is on DPP pay roll, will reveal others on the DPP propaganda machinery who are pocketing blue envelopes

  20. Joseph says:

    Malawian journalists koma abale inu. So you wrote the whole article to respond to Chakwera’s speech even though the SONA is about the president speech? Something is fishy here. And are you seriously comparing JB’s presidency against APM and concluding that APM’s is better? What are you drinking Ephraim, APM/DPP’s money? Do we need to remind you ( ofcourse you do) of the NACgate, the MK92 billon that has a sponsor to investigate but APM is failing to do the needful, the whole Ivory that APM had a change of mind in incinerating but some turned up in Australia? the whole chikangawa timber scandle by DPP mafia stooges? What about the msb “sale”. Are you telling Malawians you did not find anything worthy in these critical issues but to just critise Chakwera for not licking APM’s arse? Sies man!

  21. wanangwa says:

    As a leader of opposition you don’t expect him to say everything. Those are his plans. He can’t give away.

  22. Ine says:

    Ephraim you are a disappointment. Did you expect Chakwera to give away the details of what he will do when he comes pres to this govt? No he is keeping that to himself till the right time comes. For now go check their manifesto. But your APM’s govt. has so far no substence

  23. Zazii says:

    umbuli umenewo, pitalayo akupanga chani cha nzeru, kubwezera ngongole muli nfiye iwe uombera mmanja? do you think Dr. Lazee angapange umbuzi umenewo, mmalo mogula mankhwala mzipatala, kugula chakudya chokwanira anthu minda idakokoloka kuno tukhala mmakampu, iye azitenga misonkho yathu umabwezera muli, sindukuwona koma wayenera ukhala nimanthongo mmaso

  24. I also listened to This MCP power hungered – so – called man of God. Whether or not he is like morden prophets and prophetess – prophecising woe to human beings without hinting “a go about method”, – searches me. I am attempted not to believe that Chakwera is doing enough, fit for the position of Leader Of Opposition both in this peaceful and beautiful country and in parliament. The bone of contention is the issue of understanding: Chakwera was just ready to become the president of this country – which is, and will remain A NEVER COME TRUE DREAM – and did not expect to be in the opposition side, and therefore, DOES NOT UNDERSTAND CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM. He is still dwelling in what Former Head Of State, Dr. Bakili Muluzi defined as “Politics Of Destruction” and not “Politics Of Building.”

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