“Ali dele nkulinga utayenda naye” is a Chichewa old adage that insinuates that ones character and motives are only revealed when you get to know them better.
So they say if you want to measure and know a man’s character, you simply have to give them power.
How one handles power determines and defines their individual distinctive mental and moral qualities.
What dragged the president before this ad hoc grand jury of citizens was the appointment of his own biological daughter to the embassy in Brussels, and his other earlier controversial appointment of the Vice President’s mother in law to serve as envoy at a foreign mission.
To add ethos to their argument, those who were raising concerns resurfaced an old clip of our president in which he was vehemently accusing the former president and his administration of nepotism.
This was when he was still the leader of opposition and had not yet tested the trappings of power and the luxuries that comes with it.
I personally do not fault the actual appointment itself. As a matter of fact, If there is merit that both ladies qualified for the position I would not have any qualms about it.
However, on principle just like everyone else has voiced out their concerns, I personally have an aversion for hypocrisy.
Our leaders had clearly set a high bar of moral standards.
However these two appointments raised eyebrows and serious questions about hypocrisy; Did our president come in pretence and gave us a false impression of who really he is?
This is the question that is still on the minds of many people who feel that there has been quite some unexplained unethical mishaps pertaining the way the he has conducted himself.
In my own opinion, what I am faulting the president for is the double standards as this smacks of sheer hypocrisy.
We can’t be a nation that takes pride in allowing our leaders to actually apply sets of principles differently and only rigorous when it’s convenient for their personal ambitions and agenda.
One of the Tonse punchlines was “Malawi okomera tonse” a Malawi that favours all not just few families and individuals.
Under the previous government, nepotism was one of the long standing ills our nation had to endure.
We have to remember that even though many believe corruption was worse under DPP, it was nepotism that was the actual vice.
Nepotism provided a guaranteed safe passage for corruption with no interruptions.
The truth is that, these two vices are actually twins and they thrive on each other’s backs.
Nepotism is a brutal catalyst for bias in decision-making and unfair treatment. It is the ground on which corruption plants its roots.
By definition, it is practice among those with power or influence of favouring relatives or friends, especially by giving them jobs and other opportunities.
While corruption hinges mainly on abusing power by certain individuals, nepotism extends the abuse of power to a larger group.
It favours a particular interest group at the expense of others, and it is usually based on personal greed, conceit and ego.
That’s how oligarchies, political dynasties and mafiosos are born.
These networks thrive on systems that are incentivized by bribery, embezzlement, abuse of authority and money laundering.
In a similar way, unscrupulous leaders keep a tight circle of trusted cronies and close family members in order to conceal, collude and transact while avoiding detection and leakage.
Nevertheless, the most worrisome thing about this type of practice is the rewarding and promotion of unqualified individuals.
Nepotism unfairly and unjustifiably demotes and rewards those who are the most hard working among us with negligible compensations.
When deserving people are pushed down the ladder to make room for family members and close friends, we risk creating a mismatch between what is demanded and the skills required
The potential outcome of this upward mobility idea is usually poor quality of services produced.
Consequently, qualified and deserving individuals get demotivated because they see no incentives.
Thus, the existence of favouritism ultimately weakens competitiveness and morale in government service.
It eventually dampens and reduces public faith in the integrity of government and its leaders.
Am not suggesting in any way that the president’s daughter or the vice president’s mother in law are not qualified.
It is the precedent that am worried about.
This will legitimize and normalize the culture of favouritism and it leaves a bad taste in many.
This is a big departure from the commitment that our leaders made.
They promised to root out nepotism in its entirety.
Sadly, what we are seeing is the opposite. Just painting something with a different brush does not change it.
Just swapping Lilongwe with Thyolo , the south with the centre is not what we’re looking for.
We didn’t anticipate our leaders embracing practices that are inequitable in providing opportunities for young people.
We have to remember that nepotism goes beyond tribalism and sometimes it is a stimulus for cronyism, a more dangerous type of favouritism.
This corrosive act of bringing back retirees and cronies into the work force just because they have to be rewarded for the favours they dished out during campaign is a perfect example.
This has unfairly burdened our young people with joblessness.
Leadership and responsibility
Our president is like a parent of every one in this big family. When he is seen to be encouraging this kind of favouritism towards his children and friends, the same will be embedded in the unconscious mind of the nation and will begin to alter and impact our future behaviours.
The kind of frivolous and careless decisions that this administration has continued to make will leave an undesirable impression on our leaders.
Many people are beginning to question their virtuous characters and moral principles.
The danger with this growing sentiment is that it has already added a bad ambiance of virtue decadence. It connotes a lack of seriousness in handling matters of national interest.
When leaders flippantly fail to conform their behaviour to the bar they set for others and decide to portray something different from what they preached, it sets a terrible blueprint for those who follow.
When this group sentiment of perceiving our leaders as being dishonest and untrustworthy grows, the simmering disappointment and dissatisfaction of citizens may lead to something more dangerous.
Lack of trust in leadership undermines its seriousness.
Honestly, it is disheartening to see that this Tonse government has lost that safety net that they had with Malawians.
Their careless dilly-dallying and failure to deliver on critical promises has actually resurrected aDadi and his DPP cadavers from their abyss.
This was a bunch that was devoid of life. Unbelievably, now they have managed to gain a new lease of life and a moral standing ground.
I can guarantee you that unless this government is able to show tangibles, DPP will position themselves as a credible benchmark and they will keep on pointing out irregularities without equivocation.
They will continue to draw a stark contrast and brag about milestone achievements during their tenure.
This is because this Tonse government has nothing to show for and is continuing with the same corrupt patterns and practices.
Now if you make DPP a tough act to follow, then we can conclude that you are incompetent and that we are all in deep trouble.
If I were to advise President Chakwera, I could have encouraged him to set up a clear outlook through policy and demonstrable actions that would ably fortify against nepotism.
This is where he needs to begin clearing the rubble.
He needs to be intentional about creating a more open and transparent communicative culture so that there is trust and that there is no more perceived dubious conducts when it comes to appointments.
Separate from the parliamentary Public Appointment Committee, President Chakwera should set up a Government Ethics office that would be independent from political interference, and a government qualifications and credentials office with clear benchmark tools on nepotism.
There’s still an opportunity for our leaders to demonstrate that they are visionary and patriotic.
They should purge the entitlement syndrome from within themselves and choose to be intentional about strengthening our governance institutions instead of weakening them.
The social contract that they committed to was not for servicing themselves and their families alone.
Servant leadership is what you promised us. You committed to the nation that you would serve us all with fairness and transparency.
Mr President please try to find yourself in the news cycle for other good reasons.
Be sensitive and attentive to the many people who are raising their voices, and their cries should remind you that they still look up to you.
Your government should not underestimate the power of perception.
You can’t afford to do the same things that you faulted the previous government on.
Just because some acts are not against particular laws, it doesn’t mean they are okay.
The plot is still salvageable but you need to act now to earn people’s trust, again.
As they say,“wakutsina khutu ndi m’nasi”
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