I have never been given any stretch of doubt about the rich heritage of comedy and humour in Malawi.
That notwithstanding, until early last week, Dr Lazarus Chakwera, president of the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) who currently serves as high priest in the opposition tabernacle, never featured among the list of those I rate as gifted comedians.
Besides being a man who performed tasks for years in the name of God and being a good disciple of the American diction, my idea of Chakwera never came anywhere in the neighbourhood of the jocular society.
That he is endowed with the gift of humour never occurred to me as one of his attributes.
I should have known to keep an open mind and never rule people out based on distant knowledge or inflexible assumptions.
The fellow deserves an Oscar Award for cracking the best thunderous joke using his altar of privilege to appoint a shadow cabinet.
I have been made to understand that Chakwera is an informed person.
Surely, despite my considered view—which I am entitled to hold— there is no content in his articulate ability to massage words when he speaks, I have never doubted his knowledge on anything that is obvious.
That a shadow cabinet is meant to hold the official cabinet to account should be one of the most elementary things to understand for anybody who considers himself material for tenancy at State House.
Obviously, if this matter can be complex to such a person, one has a reason to provide a stool on which his doubts over the individual’s propensities for the high office must sit.
I may have to find out from Chakwera whether he was testing his comical width or he really meant to be taken seriously when he appointed himself shadow commander-in-chief for the Malawi Defence Forces (MDF) and the Malawi Police Service (MPS).
I laughed because this passes for a good political joke to massage our moods, nothing else. I don’t think even a desperate search for the promise that self-delusion provides does not require unrestrained passage to escalate in this manner.
Believe me, I never realised that a commander-in-chief is a cabinet portfolio and, for that matter, it needs someone to shadow it.
By the way, what would it be called if considered on its own? Shadow minister responsible for duties of commander-in- chief?
If Chakwera wants the title of commander-in-chief so badly, probably the route to take was to appoint a shadow government.
Then in that set up, he should have appointed himself shadow president. That done, he should have consulted a Shadow attorney general to find a provision in a shadow constitution under which he could become shadow commander-in-chief.
But all this is ridiculous as it is nonsensical.
For all I know, a commander- in-chief is never appointed. It is a title that one automatically attains at assuming the office of the President of the Republic.
Chakwera needs to be freed from the prison of self delusion to understand that shadow cabinets are limited in their coverage to cabinet portfolios – they don’t include non-cabinet positions.
If he can’t be freed—which seems an urgent task to perform— it is just as well to expect more comical appointments into his shadow cabinet. The most likely ones being shadow first lady, shadow vice-president, shadow second lady, shadow aide de camp (ADC) and shadow guard commander.
In any case, the naming of a shadow State House and a shadow presidential motorcade can never be ruled out.
Someone seems to be in a shadow jocular mode.
- The article appeared on ‘My Space’ column in NPL