The Malawi cashgate: It’s make or break for Ma’am

The presidency is an exclusive reserve for the strong-hearted; those who find solace in walking alone on good conscience. To walk alone on good conscience implies ability and willingness to make hard choices in unfamiliar circumstances and against personal interests.

Raw truth be told here; the Paul Mphwiyo shooting is a mark of cowardice just as the  Capitol Hill looting is a flagrant display of moral decadency on the part those involved. There is every reason to believe that these two unfamiliar circumstances deservedly call upon President Banda to deal with them in a manner that instills confidence in her leadership. To this end, the question is: Will President Joyce Banda, in all this, gain or lose political mileage?

There is no denying that a nation rejoices when its leader connects with the masses in times of tribulations. It be explained here that, in almost all democracies, a president’s reaction to abhorrent events, like the Capital Hill looting, has almost always been a minefield for social and political awakening. Most importantly, it is in times like these that people’s political career are made, molded, or at worst, mourned.

No wonder then that presidents worth the name have, in such occurrences, resoundingly reacted in a calculated effort to get a make-up avoiding, at all costs, a make-down. Such was the case with Kenya’s Uhuru Kenyatta in the Westgate Shopping Mall ordeal, and, frankly speaking, the same seems to be the operative philosophy for Barack Obama in the on-going domestic and international anti-spying outcry.

President  Banda says will not spare anyone in the crackdown
President Banda says will not spare anyone in the crackdown

The Capital Hill looting is obviously an irrevocable betrayal of the populace’s trust on the part of the public and political leadership, present and past. Granted, there has been from all and sundry on how the President Joyce Banda should (or must?) proceed on this uneventful occurrence. A lot has been said. And less, as has always been the case, has been done.

It is important at this stage that one reviews people’s perception of president Banda given the president’s reaction to the looting. Analyzing people’s comments on the social media, phone-in radio programmes, and the public sphere, one finds that there are two equally compelling views. While some trust President Banda as having the drive to sound the hammer of justice, others consider the president as being indecisive.

Those of the opinion that President Joyce Banda is determined to bring down everyone involved in the cash-gate; be it friend, foe, or family, are, to this author’s finding, many. To these people, love or loathe it, president Banda’s mere statement of action is understood to be the action itself. Ultimately, to them, the president is in control and is pretty much handling the cash-gate scandal the good way.

Captivatingly, they argue that the fact that the president has publicly assured Malawians that she will not spare anyone on the cash-gate should inform every well-meaning citizen of the seriousness of the president on the looting.  Furthermore, they contend that any progressive leader would much act the same way as president Banda in the circumstances.

The above compelling arguments, however, have not stopped some from peddling the view that President Banda does not have the action-monster in her political DNA. These people accuse the president of simply playing a political see-saw thus swinging the looting scandal this and that way with the aim of buying time up until the election days.

The proponents of this view further claim that were the president Banda that decisive, the investigations would be at an advanced stage to warrant an arrest of at least on big fish in the looting scandal. It is here that these people find their ‘killer’ justification for doubting the president’s pronouncements on the cash-gate. Here, these people reason that president Banda is only paying lip-service as the big guys of the cash-gate scandal are well within her camp, adding that implementing her public pronouncements on the looting will not only be suicidal for her politically but also, if this author could be excused, personally.

To this author, and perhaps many of you wiser readers, the view that president Joyce Banda is compelling given the seriousness and willingness in respect of the president statements of the looting.

Moreover, it may be too early to judge the president as being decisive given timeframe and relative high profile nature of the scandal.

However, it will be a mark of intellectual malaise to ignore the equally compelling contrary view. It therefore be clarified here that both views are equally persuasive though both are far from being convincing. This be as it is, comparatively, the view trusting president Banda’s actions seems better.

Ultimately, whatever the views and however the reaction of the electorate, one thing is for sure in all this; the cash-gate scandal will either make or break president Banda depending on the soundness of her approach to the scandal.

  •  Henry Chizimba–Interim Director, Walking With The Youth (WawitY)–The views expressed in this article are those of the author and not the youth organization.

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