Talking Blues: The more things change in Malawi the more they stay the same

President Lazarus Chakwera announced his first full Cabinet the other day.
Save for a few hard-line sycophants who have quickly taken over the shoes this far sported by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) apologists, many Tonse Alliance followers were up in arms.
Independent critics who had in the same week been singing songs in praise of Chakwera also went to town on the Cabinet, with Professor Danwood Chirwa saying “Crooks and known looters have been appointed, sending a clear message that all talk about ending corruption and all gimmicks are window dressing. We have seen this before; Malawians are not that stupid.”
He added that: “the entire Cabinet stinks of incest, and the smell is quite frankly unbearable. Not only has it been set up so that some families loot not just one ministry but two or more ministries.”
He was speaking for many.
While these are views that everyone is entitled to, they nevertheless contain some undeniable and disturbing facts.
To cite just two, three special Malawian families now account for seven ministerial posts and Lilongwe, the President’s home has now overthrown Thyolo as the home of the Cabinet.
While President Chakwera attempted to clear the various criticisms, still begging an explanation is the crowning of Lilongwe as the home of the Cabinet.
Also not convincing was his explanation of the concentration of “merit” – however, defined – to just three families in Malawi; more so when some members of those families are reported and known to have heavily funded his 2019 and 2020 campaigns.
The bottom line is that Chakwera has lost an enormous opportunity to differentiate himself from his predecessors.
An empty stomach Blues’ Orators has once again proved its worthlessness as an advisor and walking the talk remains as slippery as ever.
Announcing the innovations he has had to introduce to placate critics, namely probation period for ministers, “public” performance appraisals and a dare to the ministers to prove him right; the president sounded more like a man at pains to free himself from a rock and a hard place, than someone who had been pondering hard on how to make his Cabinet tick.
Don’t get me wrong; the initiatives sound plausible.
However, they are still an afterthought fashioned to justify the retention of uninspiring appointees who the president doesn’t want to irritate by dropping off the Cabinet.
Again, in the detail dwelleth the devil. Hence this public appraisal innovation could, for all we know, turn out to be a farce.
The question now is: let’s say Chakwera’s campaign had not been heavily funded by a few, let’s say, families and tycoons, would things have been different?
While this is difficult to predict, there is no reason to believe Chakwera is capable of appointing a Cabinet that can:
1. create a million jobs,
2. implement a truly universal fertiliser subsidy and not just a rebranded FISP, and
3. feed Malawians – from Chitipa to Nsanje – with three square meals from January to December.
This is because, among other things, Chakwera’s definition of merit is absurd and to be fair, was concocted without much thought to justify the dubious Cabinet appointments.
Look here: “merit”, as per Chakwera is “a proven track record of leading people effectively in producing results in the face of formidable odds and political complexities” and according to him, “there is no one on the Cabinet who does not pass that test”.
Of course!
There is indeed no one in the Cabinet who can fail that test because one would have to be very dumb to fail.
Let me show you.
• Close your eyes.
• Pick any Cabinet. Can be one of Peter Mutharika’s or Joyce Banda’s or Bingu wa Mutharika’s or Bakili Muluzi’s for that matter.
• From there, try to find anyone who in their lives before cabinet appointment had, “a zero proven track record of leading people effectively in producing results in the face of formidable odds and political complexities”.
Got anyone?
Now, let us assume that, with all due respect, the Honourable Charles Mchacha MP is the one you picked.
Can we really say that Hon Mchacha, at the time of his first appointment, had “a zero proven track record of leading people effectively in producing results”?
Remember he was serving as DPP’s Regional Governor and going by the DPP’s performance in elections in his region, he had a solid track record.
Now, let’s move to the next criterion: “in the face of formidable odds”.
Still using Hon Mchacha as a yardstick, it is undeniable that he played a role in bringing DPP back into government in the May 2014 elections when DPP came from the opposition to unseat an incumbent president.
Now, can anyone say unseating an incumbent is not “formidable odds”?
On the third criterion, i.e. “political complexities”, if the above two, i.e. serving as a party Regional Governor and contributing to DPP’s victory do not qualify as “political complexities”, what does?
Quod erat demonstrandum (Q.E.D.)
We should therefore agree that Chakwera’s definition of merit is a woeful load of bull which can justify any, if not all cabinet appointments made in Malawi, no matter how unfit for purpose the appointees were.
Back to the issue, with such a low bar on merit, what chances are there of Chakwera giving Malawians a fit for purpose Cabinet?
Next to zero is the answer because Chakwera, like his predecessors, has opted for the same appeasement highway that has taken Malawi nowhere. As has been said by others, when you have taken a wrong turn, speed and acceleration are pointless. This is where we are and sadly, we still have 59 months to go!
Lord have mercy!
This is where one begins to shed tears of sorrow for Malawi because, in a world where the only constant is supposedly change, the only change Malawi is capable of is superficial and inconsequential change.
I hear you asking: “Why don’t you give President Chakwera and his new Cabinet a chance?”
Let me tell you: I want to. I truly want to.
In fact, I badly wish to. But unless Chakwera begins to give himself a chance to succeed, my wishes and yours too will remain just that: mere wishes.

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7 months ago

but what you should know is when a woman want to give birth she has to go into bitter let chakwera and chilima do their job however some will feel pain. this nation need to deliver good fruits after that onward we all will smile. .

7 months ago

You have a case, why don’t you report to ACB

7 months ago

Great article. Even this Loud noise coming from acb is not strange at all, it’s busy investigating political enemies instead of preventing corruption by current government. Acb is being refocussed on former government and that’s how it turns a blind eye on current theft. Acb is losing this fight against corruption because of such backward mentally it has. Mcp also just here to rebuild their party and steal from poor Malawians mark my words.

Peter Zande
Peter Zande
7 months ago

Indeed the more things change the more they stay the same. The new task of checks and balances has started.

7 months ago

Despite getting votes from both the Southern and Northern regions but Chakwera has shown unforgivable bias against people of the southern region and northern region. You do not need further evidence that Chakwera has/is treating people from the Southern Region and Northern Region as second class citizens of Malawi. This is a very dangerous divide and rule philolosophy . An attempt of explanation to justify the family and regionism (from the central) of ministrial positions is a red herring. People who voted for Tonse alliance from the Southern and the Northern regions have gone quite with anger and disbelief for… Read more »

Keen Observer
Keen Observer
7 months ago

Very good analysis & true facts. Chakwera has missed an opportune time to turn things around. Bingu succeeded in his first term cos he turned things around. He dumped Muluzi who funded & Campaigned for him then chose to walk with Malawians & till today everybody talks about that term. This was the time for Chakwera to write his own history BUT by the look of things he will end up being just another President. He is not bold enough. Malawi needs revolutionary leader like the great lateThomas Sankara who did wonders in just under 5 years. To suggest that… Read more »

The Dangerous Protocol.
The Dangerous Protocol.
7 months ago

Kikkkkkk looks like it has come after we have already moved a 10000 kilometres! Inu mukanali pazimenezo? Ife Ntchito yayambika kale ndipo zibwatani pamenepa. After all ndi ufulu wanu, sinanga mumadyela pano. Zanu izo! Ngati mwaba nawo, suzumilani pa window,afika kale anyamata odzatenga zaa Malawi.

7 months ago

Totally agree. Same old, same old. Chakwera has sunk SO low. He is a hypocrite.

7 months ago

Impressive use of English. Osati enawa akuti slang….

7 months ago

the reverend mortgaged our country to the mias. keep your eyes open and see how the mias will plunder this country

The Dangerous Protocol.
The Dangerous Protocol.
7 months ago
Reply to  Wikleaks

Report them to ACB! Basi kuzilowela kuti anthu amaba,ndiye mwati aliyese amene azigwila ntchito ya Boma ndiwakuba? Work hard, work hard, work hard, work hard!and work smart!

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