It’s quite apparent that newly-appointed Leader of the House Dr. George Chaponda is a tired man. He dozed in Parliament while President Peter Mutharika was delivering a state of the nation address. Nyasa Times posted his photo captured sleeping and the images were also shown live by Zodiak Broadcasting Station (ZBS) television.
It is astounding that Chaponda can deny this and blame Nyasa Times for doctoring the photo.
His rebuttal adds yet another shade to the bouquet of adjectives fit to describe the man who made world headlines for wrong reasons – to introduce laws in Malawi criminalising fatting in public places.
They say “let bygones be bygones” but not on this one. The sight of the whole Leader of the House fast asleep in his comfortable seat in Parliament while his boss, the Head of State, read out a State of the Nation Address (Sona) cannot just send me away! I will be here; here to either ask the President to know that his ‘bulldozer’ is not only a tired man but a liar too.
Chaponda was not the only culprit. A number of other MPs on the government benches were conspicuously ‘sleeping’, raising more questions than answers as to the level of seriousness that our elected representatives attach not only to parliamentary deliberations but to the Head of State, too.
I will add my voice to the widespread condemnation of that unprecedented shameful sight. For me, it is only fair to conclude that we have a ‘sleeping’ government in place in Malawi if what happened last Friday is anything to go by.
You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to realize that Dr. Chaponda is not fit for the new role of Leader of the House. He is either too old to absorb the pressures of his new role or he simply attaches no value to the responsibilities of a Leader of the House in Parliament. A Leader of the House is, essentially, the face of the Executive arm of Government, which includes the Presidency.
The Leader of the House presents to the House and the nation official government position on various issues for discussion in Parliament. He tables ‘Government Business’ in the House.
This is a national role that demands total concentration on the proceedings of the House. Members of the House, which is the second arm of Government, make laws and discuss significantly sensitive matters of the State. You can’t have your ‘Leader’ sleeping in the midst of a State of the Nation Address.
A Leader of the House who sleeps during deliberations in Parliament erodes not only the trust of the appointing authority but also that of the people he represents and Malawians in general. He has no business ‘leading’.
The conduct of the Leader of the House on Friday is an act of great betrayal to the people of Malawi. Malawians pay him to stay awake in Parliament and contribute actively to deliberations that are aimed to uplift their livelihood.
What is more disturbing is to hear the Leader of the House claiming that he was ‘wide awake’ when in fact the pictures point to the contrary. They say a camera does not lie. His rebuttals are a mere insult to the wisdom of the people who are already reeling in abject poverty. Malawi’s economy has been struggling for the past two years the DPP government has in place and there is no hope for the future for an ordinary Malawian. You cannot be adding more misery to them with this glaring lack of seriousness!
Opposition as liberators
After the Chaponda tragedy, Malawians were offered a lifeline by the robust responses to the Sona by opposition leaders, Dr. Lazarus Chakwera of the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and Uladi Mussa of the People’s Party (PP).
The two leaders showed Malawians that they are selfless, patriotic and above self-serving politics. They bluntly trashed President Mutharika’s claims that the nation was heading in the right direction in as far as the economy and other development indicators were concerned.
The opposition leaders were in agreement that Malawians are not a ‘sleeping’ lot and that they are able to see that the general livelihood is in total decay. Hospitals lack basic supplies; power and water supply is chaotic; education standards have plummeted for lack of basic materials and sky-rocketing tuition and boarding fees; there is not enough maize at ADMARC depots; and the much-touted Malata and Cement Subsidy programme has virtually lost its direction.
Donors are still withholding their budgetary support and have demanded a forensic examination and report of all the ‘cashgates’, not just the cashgate unearthed during the PP regime, but also the other ‘cashgates’ including the MK577 billion cashgate that took place during the reign of Bingu wa Mutharika between 2010 and 2012.
The fight against corruption has worn a new face of ‘shaking up’ political opponents. Security breakdown has reached pitiful levels. Armed thugs are hitting fast and furious including at places that ought to be most secured and albinos are being slaughtered like goats.
With the foregoing, it is a despicable attempt to paint a rosy picture as the Head of State did on Friday. It is now time for the President and his cohorts to eat a humble pie and rally all Malawians, together, regardless of the political leanings to work out real solutions to myriad social and economic problems. The President and the DPP government must listen to the many voices of reason and embark on an economic recovery process that bears no political face. If they cannot do this, they have no business calling themselves a ‘government’.
President Mutharika must be pursuing policies that nurture reconciliation and cohesiveness in the country, ensuring equity, equality and the dispensation of justice and the rule of law. Adversarial politics will take us nowhere but to the downstream of misery and backwardness.
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“You can fool some people sometimes, but you can’t fool all the people all the time.”–Bob marley