Its early days yet—and a long way to the general election of 2019—but it feels like the campaign is in full swing. The Malawi Congress Party (MCP) is excitable and, understandably, impatient. In the blundering of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is an opportunity and the party fancies itself as a government-in-waiting. For MCP, 2019 can’t come sooner.
Unless Peter Mutharika’s DPP mends its ways and fast, it faces the true and real prospect of losing power. Enough diagnosis has been carried out on the October by-elections and only unimpressive thinking will argue that it doesn’t mean a waning of fortunes for the ruling party.
This country is sick of the DPP. And the DPP isn’t offering a cure.
One obvious failure of this DPP government is the inability—or unwillingness—to translate its beautiful manifesto into tangible works. Go back and read the DPP’s campaign document and contrast it with what is happening now. What you will see isa betrayal of the people, a breach of promise.
Where the DPP promised a clean government and a relentless fight against corruption, it has given more of the same malfeasance in high places. Once in a while, there are official assurances that grand graft will be thoroughly probed and the culprits exposed and prosecuted. But Peter Mutharika is a leader who hesitates to punish miscreant colleagues within his ranks. Today, far from the promised reforms, corruption has grown to be one big cancerous tumour. In Mutharika’sinner circle are people whose combination of greed and unexplained wealth should long have earned them a trip to the ACB, to answer questions about their sudden, enormous riches.
How far we have fallen as a country is reflected in the way honorable men and women allow themselves to be lulled into defending the indefensible. Theft is theft. Incompetence is incompetence. It shouldn’t matter that the one stealing is from my tribe.
Malawians should be getting consequential answers from Nicholas Dausi, the minister of information and government spokesperson. Yet all they get from Dausi each time he is called to account is a self-involved spectacle, petty invective, high-sounding nothings, some Latin words and feigned fury—all ultimately meaning nothing.
Dausi is a DPP decoy and a joker, to whom facts don’t matter.
By being entertainedby the comics of hatchet men like Dausi, Malawians are being fooled into cheap laughter that overlooks the central fact of their situation: that this government is systematically sapping thejoy out of being a Malawian. There is a dehumanization of the people going on in this country. Those in Lilongwe made to drink feaces-laden water are one sickening example. The provision of electricity—or lack of it—is another example.
You have to be the most blindDPP supporter not be heartsick over the performance of this government in virtually every aspect of public service. SaulosiChilima, the face and champion of public sector reforms, has now been reduced to playing basketball to keep himself going and is seemingly resigned to living out his last days in office as a photo-shoot model.
The turning point, it seems, was when President Mutharika derisively said his deputy was his son. Since then, Chilima—in carefully choreographed photos—has been keen to show that he is the most obedient son; going to church, playing basketball, riding a bike and lifting weights, but not once opening his mouth to express disdain at the current state of affairs.
A perfunctory study of social media will show Malawians are fed up, but for many their only response is rage or a sense of helplessness. Helplessness is not an option. Rage not backed by action will change nothing.
I would have expected the people of Lilongwe, whose drinking water had human waste, to collect human waste of their own and go dump it on the doorstep of Lilongwe Water Board’s CEO. Nothing of that sort happened.
I have always wondered if this passive attitude suggests a pathological fear of confronting the source of our problems.The truth is Malawians would rather find ways to cope with squalor and deprivation,than take action to demand better.
One other truth is that the hullabaloo over Mutharika’s “surprise visits” to Escom and Admarc makes good copy for newspaper headlines but it’s an old fraud in a new designer suit.
Nothing good will come out of it.
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