The Chief Mourner with Z, Allan Ntata

“Let me have silence, and I will speak, and let come on me what may.” – Job 13:13

For the record, contrary to recent allegations, the Chief Mourner mourns not over the loss of his government job. The Chief Mourner in fact rejoices that he is not part of a clueless administration whose only cause for celebration appears to be the death that brought it to power.

Also for the record, it is preposterous and idiotic to argue, as some have argued as a way of applying a large portion of super glue to my lips, that simply because I served under the Bingu wa Mutharika administration, it means that I agreed with everything that was done by that administration, and that I have no right to now voice my observations and concerns whether about that administration or the current Banda administration.

As a citizen, an analyst, a writer and all other wonderful titles I can give myself, I have, as Chief Mourner, an unrestricted right to mourn and lament on matters about which I feel strongly, particularly when the nation is being wrecked by naïve and incompetent leadership; to commend one administration if I like it, and laugh at another if it is comical and clownish.

Ntata: The Chief Mourner

I have heard and read many comments full of personal attacks based on the fact that I served as Legal Counsel to President Mutharika, a job which many might have loved to have, but did not.

I would encourage those that feel passionate and get emotionally charged by my writing to argue with me on the issues I raise, not start arguing with the authenticity of my qualifications, my hair style, or the supposed pathetic state of my bank account, which had my critics had the courtesy of digging deaper, would have found it wasn’t as pathetic as all that!

I welcome contradictory and critical thought on the ideas that I express in my writing. I enjoy debate and engaging intellectual discussions that analyse issues and concepts. But I shall make no apologies for serving under the Mutharika administration, and I certainly make no apologies for accepting the role of Chief Mourner after analysing the Presidency of Joyce Mtila Banda, weighing it in the balance and finding it wanting, as I do in this article.

The dead silence that has fallen over our nation is as loud as those thunderous drums of Gule Wamkulu. Where are those glorified beggars the nation adored and venerated under the guise civil society? Where are the two-a-penny political activists and armchair economists that popped up on every street corner criticising Mutharika and the DPP?

Where are those be-robed men of the political cloth that claimed to be the champions of the peoples’ rights under such guises as PAC and other equally dubious religio-political pressure groups? Where are the Catholic bishops and their pastoral letters dripping with ecclesiastical observations and recommendations? Where is the Malawi Law Society leadership; those aspiring lawyer-cum-politicians, masquerading as the shadowy generals of the governance and rule of law crusade?

Where are those honourable and idealistic newspaper reports and editorials that demanded the resignation of Bingu wa Mutharika for mismanaging the economy? Where are all of you, so called whistle blowers? Should I assume that your rusting whistles have now been clogged by the saliva that flowed in anticipation of the voluptuous dishes and the expensive wines that were served at the party celebrating the one hundred days of Amai?

Was I wrong to assume that you would always come out of the woodwork when needed and every time the economy was being mismanaged, to voice your concerns and demand redress? Are the standards different when the holder of the office is a clueless, degree-less woman who simply listens to donors and loves to party over the dead body of her predecessor?

Is it more bearable if the country is ruined by a president who is overwhelmed by the job and instead of being president, recognises that she is unequal to the task and more suited for the role of First Lady, and thus performs that role instead of leading the nation in finding solutions for its economic woes? I am listening as hard as I can and all I can hear is the solitary voice of one John Kapito, tilting at the windmill and pleading with Malawians to remember where we are coming from!

To retain my sanity in this deafening silence, I must assume that these people and groups are now eithersuddenly deaf and blind, or they are uninformed about the economic doldrums that the Malawian ship is sailing through on its journey into certain oblivion. I will necessarily dismiss the first assumption as nothing can be done about it, and hope to dear God that they simply need to be woken up and informed that the ship is sinking and it is now time to mend the boat or die!

Hear ye! Hear ye! Oh Malawian civil society and all of you that on 20th July claimed to care about governance and the economy and of the nation before you fell asleep on 7th April 2012!

Do you not care that the nation is perishing? How can you fall asleep at a time when we need all hands on deck to save us from certain disaster?

Are you aware that the devaluation that you were so fiercely advocating for was done without any cushioning and now inflation is at 62 per cent? Those DPP ministers that you protested against on 20th July 2011 as you demanded the resignation of the late Mutharika have been hired by the new President.

The minister of finance is still the same one you claimed was incompetent and has now been joined by some inexperienced law school drop-out as minister of economic planning. In some kind of twisted and sadistic logic, it now makes sense to remove Independence Day celebrations and replace them with a party commemorating the death of Bingu!

Have you checked on the state of public security lately? Do you know how many have died or been robbed at gun point; how many women have been raped, and how many houses have been broken into by armed gangs of robbers? Oh yes, I am sorry, I forgot that on the issue of women, our president believes that it’s OK to undress and rape women if people are unhappy with the presidency.

Have you heard that in the new Malawi, a vice president can be caught bed snatching in the middle of the night, an outright inhumane act that leaves pregnant women and innocent children sleeping on the cold floor?

You once argued that Mutharika was travelling too much. In the current economic state of the country, is wasting hard-earned taxpayer money on globetrotting while the rest of the country is suffering due to the clueless nature of the PP led government justifiable just because it is not pakhomo pa amathu? Are these not woes you should be once again denouncing at the top of your voices and taking to the streets to protest about?

Shouldn’t the awarding of government contracts to the Vice President, the Attorney General and the president’s son be investigated and reported to the international community the way you so valiantly did during late Mutharika’s time? Surely the President’s son’s overnight success of suddenly owning 50 trucks is manifest of rampant corruption? Oh, I forgot, of course the ingenious plan is to keep the post of ACB director deliberately vacant so that nothing can be done!

Hear Ye! Hear ye! Please wake up! The nation is under attack and the enemy’s scheme is to simply milk the taxpayer dry and leave empty coffers in 2014!

You were champions of ruman rights once. Do you know that it is a serious breach of human rights to conduct espionage on Internet forums in order to identify and silence people having different views from the government? What about the simple matter of the President and her cabinet refusing to declare their assets? Or the  more serious matter of section 65 not being enforced in parliament in total and open defiance of the constitution?

There are those that have argued that our President is trying her best and needs to be given some time. I take issue with you. With the house burning to the ground, she is the fireman holding in her hands the water hose that is supposed to put out the fire. Yet she has no clue how to turn on the taps, or even how to handle the damn thing. Do you suggest that we simply wait in hope that she will accidentally turn it on, or that the water will take pity of the situation and, realizing the need to put out the fire, start jetting out of the thing by itself?

And what really is her solution for putting out the economic fire anyway? Is it to restore the confidence of donors by reversing Mutharika’s policies, as she claimed when she took over the presidency in April, or is it to curb the country’s reliance on donors, a refrain she is singing now shamelessly and embarrassingly considering that she was the first to argue against Mutharika’s zero-deficit budget, and prostituted this idea to the media and civil society?

In my mind, I am going all over the ship and shaking every member of the civil society that I ever heard criticizing, condemning and claiming they love the country – you know who you are. I am telling you to wake up and show that that you love your country regardless of who is leading it. For make no mistake about it ladies and gentlemen: The national ship is sinking, and the silence, particularly in the quarters that Malawians expect help from, is as deafening as it is disturbing.

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