Of Chakwera remarks and realities of Malawi tobacco industry

It is not surprising as we approach the May 20 Tripartite Elections to hear politicians promise a lot of things to the feeble, gullible and often uninformed citizens on the political podiums.  Someone will literally promise the moon as the electioneering reaches a crescendo.

It is widely accepted that politicians are dirty congenital liars and that whatever they say has to be taken metaphorically and with a pinch of salt as it may refer to some distant fact fetched from the sublime of their imaginations which fails to match their original words.

That is why the coming of Dr Lazarus Chakwera, the acclaimed man of God, on the political scene was like a breathe of fresh air.  Many social and political commentators made noise that the Malawian born and American trained pastor was a game –changer.  Most people cast their net of trust on him because he is a man of the collar who was carrying the Bible.

Chakwera: MCP presidential candidate
Chakwera: MCP presidential candidate

You see, society has this soft spot about anything new and men of God because they hold them in high esteem and treat them with much reverence.  This is to be expected because men of God are in position of higher trust having been called by God to help Him in propagating His word and win lost souls back to him.

The short of it all is, society has put much trust in the men of God and their expectations are normally social high that they must be truthful in their dealings.

That is why l was perplexed and felt uncomfortable when the man of God, Chakwera jumped ship and pludged into unfamiliar terrain.  I know there is something called church politics but that is as far as its politics go:  politics about the church.  Heading a few church folks whose primary aim is holding the Bible and preaching about the Gospel of Jesus.

But the kind of politics that he threw himself into can really get dirty and get him dirty and its participants, who are the politicians, can get muddled up in it if they are not careful.

I know  Chakwera has made some right noise and pointed out some truths that politicians due to political reasons have been unable to point out.  But, with time, Laz has also started lying or, to put it in biblical content, he has not been telling the truth.

I don’t want to get into the debate of what is meant by lying and not telling the truth as this a debate for another day.

Chakwera has become so obsessed with the desire to get his American accent English into State House that he no longer can differentiate reality from mere appearances or conjectures.  In a bid to garner for more votes, the reverend-turned –politician has been telling the masses that if he is given his dream job – the one he traded the collar for- he will make sure that farmers are able to decide the prices of their produce at the Auction Floors and not what currently happen where the farmers wait for the buyer to say at how much he would want to buy the green gold and they start heckling over the prices.

That is brave Brother Laz and, surely, it would resonate well with the masses most of whom do not understand the way the tobacco market functions and its politics and just wait for the foreign buyers to determine the price and let them deposit the proceeds into their bank account.

I am quite sure that deep down the reverend’s heart, the man of the collar knows that what he is suggesting to the farmers is impossible unless he can tell us how he can possibly operationalise what he said.

Chakwera knows it is close to impossible to force the foreign tobacco buyers to change the way they do their business, yet because he is hunting for votes and he knows for the Central Region poor, tobacco represents a semblance to a path to economic prosperity, he chose to lie that he can do it anyway.

It is not like Chkwera was not around when former president late Bingu wa Mutharika tried to force the buyers to change.  He tried to send his message home by deporting the long-noised white fellas but the move backfired.  And Chakwera truly knows that what he told the masses that came to attend his mass rally at Malingunde recently was an outright lie. I

Perhaps, it is time Chakwera started telling us how he intends to achieve all the things he has promised us he will change – and he has promised an awful lot.  Time for rhetoric that is so devoid of action plan is long gone and the sooner Brother Laz wakes up from his slumber and stops dreaming, the better for him and his MCP.

In real terms, any serious presidential aspirant who is vey serious with uplifting Malawi from its economic problems should not be telling us of tobacco for we all by now know tobacco is a crop on the decline in terms of how much it can fetch on our market.

Thus if Laz was to be serious, he should have been promising his brothers viable alternatives to tobacco and not give them the false hopes that they will someday have the power to decide the prices of their produce.

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