“You people make Presidents stubborn. You even worship them as gods.”
A visibly irate Malawi President, President Lazarus Chakwera says he doesn’t want anyone calling him “our own” because he is not a leader for the selected few but a president for all Malawians.
In what appears to be an encrypted direct-warning to some of his Malawi Congress Party (MCP) overzealous supporters, the Smooth-speaking Malawian seems to be sending a strong message to some people within the party that he doesn’t want to be pigeon-holed by a certain section of a political cabal.
“Don’t call me “our own” meaning your own president. I am not an ‘our own’ kind of a leader, I am the president for all Malawians from all walks of life including; political, religious, ethnicity, gender and sex, beliefs and creed,” charged Chakwera.
President Chakwera sounded the warning Friday during Malawi’s founding president Kamuzu Banda’s ‘Birthday’ memorial service at the Kamuzu Mausoleum in Lilongwe.
Commenting on president Chakwera’s remarks, Social justice and human rights defender and private practice lawyer, John-Gift Mwakhwawa said: “The president has made bold statement in his remarks and he is sending a strong message to everyone out there who think he or she is ‘very connected’ to the president because of political proximity.
“What the president is saying is that he doesn’t owe any political fanatic any allegiance, but that he is a servant of all Malawians. That message is too strong and people must not take it lightly. The president’s tone is somewhat serious and very revealing.”
In the same vein, President Chakwera cautioned Malawians not to push him to the edge of the cliff and force him to become a dictator instead of the servant leader that he currently is, saying he want to serve the people of Malawi and not rule them.
Chakwera blurted: “I don’t want Malawi to get to a point where for something to happen there must be some kind of dictatorship.”
The warning comes barely a few days after Public Accounts Committee of Parliament (PAC) of Parliament rejected a legal bulldozer and public protector, Ombudsman Martha Chizuma, who the president appointed as the country’s graft busting body, Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) director.
Charged the Malawi Citizen Number One: “I want to serve you, and I will try my best to serve you. But it doesn’t need to get to a point where for something to happen, certain kind of dictatorship has to happen. If it happens that way, never curse my name.”
President Chakwera highlighted that oftentimes, it is the people that make tyrants out of leaders who cherish serving, instead of ruling.
“It’s the people who deliberately start that… like wanting that the President should respond to everything, including on where you shall draw water, how you will look after your children, your household, even what you want to wear. You people make Presidents stubborn. You even worship them as gods,” said Chakwera.
“I don’t want to be a dictator. I want to be a servant leader but don’t push me,” added Chakwera.
Chakwera said it is his desire to serve Malawians, and not become anything other than that: “As long as I am President, and God gives me breath, the powers of this [the Presidency] shall be used to serve you and never to rule you, so help me God.”
The President also urged unity among Malawians, saying Kamuzu preached unity in this country. “First and foremost, we are Malawians first and we will always be one people.”
Chakwera praised the country’s founding father, Hastings Kamuzu Banda for always putting Malawi first above personal interests and for developing the country during his reign.
“It is possible to bring Malawi to its former glory, only that there is need for all Malawians to take full responsibility and play individual roles in order to achieve the grand picture of national development,”Chakwera said.
Chakwera said it is important for every citizen to consider putting Malawi first before self-interests like Kamuzu did.
The memorial service was heavily patronised by government officials, including Vice-President Saulos Chilima who wore an ash-grey suit, exactly as the same suit that the president was wearing, Kamuzu family representatives, former official hostess Mama Cecilia Kadzamira, the clergy and membership from CCAP Nkhoma and Blantyre synods—a church the founding president was an elder—and political party officials from the ruling alliance of Malawi Congress Party, People’s Party and UTM Party, among others.
President Lazarus Chakwera and his vice Saulos Chilima wearing the same suits to a public functions should not be taken as a mere coincidence but a strong message of unity to those who wish to come in between them and plant seeds of disunity as has been the case in the past between presidents and their vices.
Speaking on behalf of the Kamuzu family, Ken Kandodo, who president Chakwera fired from his cabinet asked government to consider constructing a library, a fence and washrooms for tourists who visit the Kamuzu Mausoleum.
“The construction of this mausoleum, which was done during the time of the late Bingu wa Mutharika, was only phase one. There was supposed to be phase two, which was aimed at turning this place into a tourist and information centre with facilities such as a library, fence and other supporting infrastructure.
“As a family, we are appealing to government to consider financing this phase of the project,” he said.
Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Michael Usi said: “The government is already working to address the things the family has mentioned. We will soon start building the facilities. The Kamuzu Banda a greater part of our history and as a government we are committed to honour our founding father and the first president who gave his all to this country.”
Speaking on behalf of Nkhoma Synod, the Right Reverend Phillip Kambulire, hailed government for taking interest in this year’s Kamuzu Banda Memorial since for years the event was left to the family and the synod.
Dr. Banda was born Akim Kamnkhwala Mnthunthama Banda near Kasungu in Malawi (then British Central Africa) to Mphonongo Banda and Akupingamnyama Phiri near the turn of the century of Chewa parents who named him Kamuzu — Little Root — or Kamnkhwala or Kamtsitsi in vernacular — because a shaman’s root medicine apparently cured his mother’s barrenness.
His date of birth is unknown, as it took place when there was no birth registration documentation but but is is said that Banda gave himself 14th May 1906 as his date of birth.
Kamuzu Banda is said to have taken the Christian name of Hastings after being baptised into the Church of Scotland by Dr George Prentice, a Scot, in 1910, naming himself after John Hastings, a Scottish missionary working near his village whom he admired.
He left his village school near Mtunthama for his maternal grandparents’ home and attended Chayamba Primary School in Chikondwa. In 1908, he moved to Chilanga mission station and was baptised in 1910.
His first education was at a Church of Scotland mission at Livingstonia in Rumphi, but he left at a young age to run away to South Africa.
Malawian legend has it that Around 1915–16 Banda left home on foot with Hanock Msokera Phiri, an uncle and walked over 1,000 miles, but took two years because he stopped to work as a hospital orderly and a water-pumper in a mine on the way.
Hastings Kamuzu Banda, a founding father in postcolonial Africa who led Malawi to independence in 1964 and then ruled it with a combination of caustic wit, eccentricity and cruelty for 30 years on 25 November at Garden City hospital, Johannesburg in South Africa where he was airlifted for medical treatment.
Dr. Banda died of respiratory failure. He had been at the Garden City Clinic here for a week with pneumonia and fever after being transferred from a Malawian hospital. There is no record of his birth date; the clinic gave his age as 99, but Government documents during his rule would have made him about 90 years old.
Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda generates mixed feelings among Malawians.
Many regarded him as the father of their nation, the former British Nyasaland, a Pennsylvania-sized splinter of land between Zambia and Mozambique. But after a revolt within his cabinet, he declared himself President for Life in 1971 and said his opponents would become ”food for crocodiles” and for that, many others call him a tin-pot despot who ruled the south-eastern African landlocked nation with a heavy iron fist.
Hundreds were killed, tortured or forced into exile — and yet Malawi, which is fondly called ”the warm heart of Africa,” has managed to keep its reputation among Africans and the rest of the world as a pocket of gentle-spirited people.
Dr. Banda was perhaps the most idiosyncratic of the ”big men” who led their countries out of colonialism. He held degrees from American and Scottish universities and his London medical offices became a sort of anticolonialist salon frequented by Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya and Kwame Nkrumah of the Gold Coast (now Ghana).
When in power, Kamuzu Banda simultaneously affected and hoisted the lion-tail fly whisk of an African king, the dark suits and homburgs of a British businessman and the arms of a Scottish baron.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :