Malawi leadership: Recalling atête-à-tête with the Muckraker and Wise One

Wise One’s Post Turtle: In the run up to the May 2014 election, I dared the Muckraker, “Sir” Raphael Tenthani (RIP) and the blogger, Wise One from the Eastin a debate.

Chaponda: I'm the bulldozer
Chaponda: I’m the bulldozer

My intention was to soften their conviction that Prof Peter Mutharika, were he to win, would miserably fail to govern.

In response to my arguments, whose thrust was that it was unfair to blame Peter Mutharika for:

  • the Academic Freedom Saga which happened when he was Minister of Education, and
  • theill-advised expulsion of the British Envoy which happened right under his nose at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs;

Wise One from the East countered that as far as he was concerned, if elected president, Peter Mutharika would prove to be the classic “post turtle”.

Post turtle demystified:

Naturally, I asked what this term means. A post turtle, I learnt, is a turtle that has been placed and balanced on top of a fence post.

Since it is common knowledge that turtles are not agile enough to climb a pole, everyone who sees one on a pole (or a post) knows that the turtle did not get there by itself.

Again, it immediately becomes clear that the turtle has no business perking on top of a post. And true to form, it soon becomes obvious that the turtle has absolutely no clue as to what to do while perking high up there for the simple reason that he has been elevated far too high beyond his ability to function.

The obvious outcome is that this leaves people wondering what kind of dumb nitwit put him there in the first place.

Looking back, late Raphael Tenthani and Wise One were dead right.

The present:

No-one in Malawi today can argue against the fact that Malawi has a post turtle for a president.

In the unlikely event that some doubting Thomases still exist out there, let me expound.Everyone knows that Peter Mutharika did not get where he is by himself. Just like a post turtle.

Secondly, it is obvious that Mutharika has absolutely no clue as to what to do while perking there simply because he has been elevated too high beyond his ability. Again, reminiscent of a post turtle.

This is why, to date, people are wondering what got into the heads, or rather the tummies of the Malawi Electoral Commissioners to put him there in the first place.

From the pot into the fire:

Enough about turtles, let me fast forward the clock to a time soon after the May 2014 election, theonly one time I ever felt inclined to directly speak to President Peter Mutharika.

My message to him was succinct and straight:

You have been declared president with only 36 per cent of the total vote, meaning that 64 per cent of the people in the country do not approve of you being their leader. 

You therefore need to take steps to prove the doubters wrong as quickly as possible. To successfully do this, the starting point is avoiding the very people that sunk the DPP during the administration of your late brother.

If you take into your inner circle those same people, your already suspect popularity will diminish fast, and in 18 months, your leadership approval rating will be lower than what it was at the time of your late brother’s death.”

If Peter Mutharika took this advice, his choice of top aide did little to serve as evidence.

Everyone who has followed the Peter Mutharika administration from its nocturnal swearing-in can testify that his dependency on a personal assistant was a terrible case of bad judgment.

To his credit I must say, he has since broken the umbilical cord and parted ways with that particular assistant.

However, if anyone is about to celebrate this development, I would urge caution. Because, all he has managed to do, it seems, is the proverbial somersaulting from a frying pan into the fire.

Exit Ben 10, Enter “farty” Geo

The President, never known to be his own man, has now turned to his fellow geriatric, Dr. George Chaponda.

Chaponda, famous and duly registered in Wikipedia for defending what he thought and honestly believed was a law purported to ban farting in public, has happily assumed the role of puppet master.He is now pulling the strings and calling the tune for the puppet to prance around.

While this could be interpreted as a strategic move in that Peter Mutharika, like wise leaders do, is planning smooth succession and hence mentoring Chaponda; everyone who knows the sort of leadership Malawi needs knows that what Malawi needs is definitely not Dr. George Chaponda.

It is not that we are all obsessed with the desire to fart freely in public, no. But Doctor of Laws or not, Yale graduate or not, Chaponda’s failure to understand that the said law was not about farting but rather about mitigating against the ravages of Climate Change was, to say the least, worrisome incompetence. The warning bells are just too loud for any patriot to ignore.

If you share this school of thought, then brace for the worst because I have it on good authority that the recent cabinet tinkering was Chaponda’s “brilliant” idea.

And guess what, after the reshuffle,he engineered the Nchalo rally to serve as his launch pad.

Farty Geo: the Crown Prince orPrince of Clowns?

The rally’s sole intention was to unveil Chaponda as the de factoVice and successor of PeterMutharika. You may be asking, where then does that put State Vice President Saulosi Chilima?

We have been down this road before and by now, everyone should know that as per the DPP philosophy Chapter 1 Verse 1, the Vice Presidency is just escort to the colours, i.e. a ceremonial post turtle, if I can borrow this term. In Chichewa we say woyingitsa ntchentche.

This is what Chilima is. In case anyone is in doubt, the Chronicles of Atcheya reiterate this point by reminding the Chilimas of this world that wapakaliyala sayimba belu.

Never one to disguise his ambition, in the lower shire, Chaponda called himselfa “bulldozer” to the dismay of genuine bulldozers of the Magufuli calibre.

Chaponda was shamelessly at it, cheating the massesthat he performs in each and every ministry he is in charge of. Which performance? Farting laws? The diplomatic cash-gate that he was incubating in Addis?

Only Chaponda can explain.

As if that was not enough, at the opening of the tobacco sale season, the president, now showing all the colours of a true puppet, parroted Chaponda’s ridiculous bulldozer claim and, rather inexplicably, stated that there are some people who didn’t want him to put Chaponda in the cabinet but have failed.

Who does the president think he is fooling? Chaponda made that cabinet, therefore he could not have left himself out.

On the contrary, Chilima’s “reformer in chief” and “disaster mongering duties” all of a sudden, disappeared. These roles just vanished from that announcement. Was this an oversight?

Who else but a rival would have thus tried to pull Chilima even lower than he is now? Who else but George? Chaponda’s message to Chilima was loud clear, and Chilima would have to be daft to miss it.

Going back to at the rally in Chikwawa, the president’s assertion that Chaponda is the right person to turn things around in the Ministry of Agriculture, is something that can only come from a clueless person.

Was the president admitting his own poor sense of judgement since Allan Chiyembekeza was actually his own first choice for that ministry? And how long has the president known that Chaponda is the main man to drive the Agricultural Sector which happens to be the hub on which Malawi’s economy revolves?

Is the president playing the game of trial and error with the lives of Malawians?If we go back to the post turtle allegory that we started with, we are now facing an even gloomier prospect.

What we have in the case of Peter Mutharika and George Chaponda are two aged gentlemen trying to convince a sweet sixteen that they can still perform. And worse, here we are with two post turtles trying to elevate each other onto the top.

The only outcome we should expect, whether the turtles will manage the requisite acrobatics or not, is that whatever comes out of their failure will fall squarely on our heads.

And I can assure you, whatever it will be, is bound to stink and stick on this and future generations.

When all has been said and done, I can only agree that the legendary late Raphael Tenthani and Wise One from the East, knew the follies of Prof Peter Mutharika, than you and I did.

Here he is, condemning us to continue cultivating with hoes like early man as he pawns – for a song – tractors meant for the poor, bought with loans, loans that we will repay, to his goons.

For those of us then, who were there at the making of Peter Mutharika as DPP presidential candidate for 2014, it has never been necessary to guess whether or not he is actually his own person and in charge of the country. We know he isn’t. He has never been.

Raphael Tenthani, continue “muckraking” in peace!The mother land here is in deep trouble, one post turtle lined up after another!

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6 years ago

Interesting to read about the post turtle. You should be teaching, Mr Ntata. The problem started when Malawians elected Bakili as the first post one-party state president. Malawi has never been so mediocre in every aspect of life since that buffon was elected as president. Corruption and theft was normalised and values of decency and hard work were no longer held in high regard as most people think they can make it big without understanding that it’s only through hard work and sacrifice that we can prosper. Then Muluzi elevated late Mutharika as a way of punishing those who did… Read more »

6 years ago

A Ntata u can convince the shallow minded but not us who objectively follow issues!

6 years ago

Bwana Ntata, there is no way Peter would leave out the same ‘goons,’ to borrow your vocabulary, that brought down the popularity and focus of the Bingu regime. Imagine what would have transpired: they would probably have been genuinely arrested for treason and, if not, the cashgate would have caught up nicely with them. After this, they would have definitely been after the biggest fish to fry – perhaps in earnest revenge – who would have been Peter himself. So, it has always been in Peter’s best interest to keep them, which of course, also turns out has been the… Read more »

victim Sankho
victim Sankho
6 years ago

I was worried, thinking the legacy of RaphaelTenthani (RIP) would die. No it lives on in the name of Allan Ntata. This is the kind of reading I thirst for. Keep it up Alla. You are our man. Raphael’s spirit of truth, though painful, lives on.

6 years ago

Post turtle indeed. Good as article Allan. It felt a biblical chiphunzitso cha paphiri.

wa ku Mitchesi kujaaaaa!!!!
wa ku Mitchesi kujaaaaa!!!!
6 years ago

@22 (santana): I love your views espoused here about Malawi politics in general, and what has been written, with spite and hate no doubt, about the current government, DPP, APM, Chaponda, and others, by extension or implication. Generally, Oppositions do not win elections; the ruling parties lose elections. This thinking is not holus bolus, because there is proportionality in the responsibility accorded to the winners and losers. So it was, in the last election, PP lost more than DPP won: Voters simply believed in DPP’s plans, and despised PP’s crass mismanagement and profligacy. As for MCP, their reputation simply precedes… Read more »

6 years ago

Now there is the tobacco Saga. Lets see how the Bulldozer Chaponda going to handle this.

6 years ago

Ntata, you have really opened the eyes of many of us who were not seeing this. Great article. Chaponda is a big time failure and he want to destroy our beautiful Malawi.

6 years ago

i feel sorry for santa. you are another educated person but so foolish and unwise. people like you are the ones killing our nation. wise up, admit DPP is a failuire and so its leadership.

6 years ago

Imeneyi ndi bulldozer tachiwoneni nkhope yakeyo.Ameneyo ndi munthu or nyani?

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