Minister of Transport and Public Works, Jappie Mhango, should sing another song for Malawians because this song of ‘racism’ that he is singing now, for political expediency, will not win political votes for his boss, President Peter Mutharika and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
Since independence in 1964, Malawians have lived together, in harmony, without regard to race, creed, religion or tribal extraction. Following the dawn of multiparty democracy in 1993, a new Republican Constitution was adopted in 1994, complete with the Bill of Rights that guarantees and promotes various human rights and freedoms, including the protection of citizens against racial segregation.
It is therefore against the spirit of the Constitution and popular thinking when minister Mhango decides to make disparaging ‘racial’ remarks against Muhammad Sidik Mia, the famous Lower Shire business mogul and Malawi Congress Party (MCP) aspiring Vice President, calling him a ‘colonialist’, owing to his mixed race status. Mhango made the remarks when he officially launched the Thumbwe Bridge project in Chiradzulu on Friday, March 8, 2018.
The minister unashamedly described Mia as a descendant of colonialists and that the people of Malawi must reject him, as a political leader, on that basis. This was a blatant show of political immaturity and carelessness because Malawians would certainly not condone such mediocrity a few months before crucial national polls.
The fear factor
Mia has publicly announced he would challenge MCP Vice President Richard Msowoya at the upcoming MCP national convention and that his utmost ambition is to become MCP President Dr. Lazarus Chakwera’s running-mate at the 2019 presidential polls.
Since he officially joined MCP mid last year, Mia has been instrumental in helping MCP gain some political ground in the southern region. On October 17, MCP trounced DPP and won crucial five (5) out of six (6) parliamentary and ward by-elections, including the highly-contested Nsanje Lalanje constituency and Ndirande Malabada ward.
Being a powerful political force Sidik Mia has proven to be, it is not by mistake that the DPP, through overzealous lieutenants like Mhango, would attempt to employ dirty tricks to fight Sidik Mia ahead of the crucial 2019 tripartite elections. The DPP and its leadership are well aware that they are at the high risk of losing southern region as its considered political bedrock should they allow MCP and Sidik Mia to operate in a fair political environment. The by-elections of October 17, 2017 are a case in point.
The decision by Mia to partner Dr. Chakwera has put the DPP in a political quandary and that the ruling party will not spare a moment to employ character assassination tactics such as this ‘colonialist’ one. The dominant narrative now in the DPP is ‘Sidik Mia’ and how they can deal with MCP’s growing popularity in the south, courtesy of Mia.
Mia’s decision to join MCP is a matter that is playing heavily on the mind of the DPP. Indeed, if the DPP was untroubled by Sidik Mia and his enormous political influence, how would a whole minister stoop so low to call a bonafide citizen of this country a ‘colonialist’?
There are many politicians of mixed race in almost all political parties in Malawi, including President Mutharika’s DPP. The state Vice President, Saulos Klaus Chilima is of mixed so are other prominent politicians such as David Bisnowaty, Brian Bowler, Yunus Mussa, Gabu Khamisa, Zahir Issa. Jan Jaap Sonke was a white MP who served the people of Blantyre Kabula for many years and no one ever called him a colonialist.
It is indeed ironical that Mhango should call Mia a ‘colonialist’ today when the same person served the late President Bingu wa Mutharika and the people of Malawi as MP and Transport Minister with utmost dedication and loyalty. When Bingu died in 2012, his successor, Joyce Banda maintained Sidik Mia as Transport Minister until he voluntarily resigned in 2014.
It should be everyone’s prayer that such racial stereotypes as pursued by minister Mhango must not take root in the DPP because they have the potential to divide Malawians as a people. Politics of hate has no place in the democratic nation state of Malawi. President Mutharika must reprimand his cabinet minister and make a loud statement unity among Malawians.
As a people, particularly political leaders, we must avoid making comments that have the effect of denigrating or humiliating another because of their race. Politicians and all Malawians must respect one another in a spirit of ‘civilized’ democracy. Issues of tribe, race and religion are seriously emotive and as such, one must always think twice before they comment on anything based on these aspects.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :