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The President too

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THESE are not the best of times for the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). After noticing that the party’s popularity has gone down at an alarming rate, there have been some desperate attempts to bring back the party’s lost glory.

Some months ago, after Afrobarometer’s survey which found out that the DPP is not as attractive as it were some three years ago, the party launched a campaign to be visible. But it seems every move by the party is backfiring. It is written on the wall.

On July 6 when Malawians were being reminded of their wasted 53 years, the DPP thought that was another grand opportunity to be visible. July 6, is supposed to be a national event. But just like other desperate parties that came before the DPP, the day was turned into some party party other than a national event. DPP flags were hoisted all over the place making some of us who hate political parties irritated to the bone.

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Apart from the grotesque appearance of the flag, the cheap poles on which the flags hung where just a reminder of how this nation has remained stagnant. If you ask around, most Malawians will tell you how they are bored by this culture of politicising national events. DPP is a political party and its functions must remain separate from national events.

When the DPP was selling its manifesto to Malawians, Peter Mutharika lied to the nation that when elected, he would divorce the party from government functions. Peter also told us another lie that he will do away with the culture of having the whole Capital Hill accompanying him to a function.

But what we see today is the opposite of Mutharika’s promises. It is not surprising, though, that Mutharika has become everything he promised not to become. He has turned this country into a club of Lhomwe’s and those who exude more blue in their hue. But this is not working wonders for Mutharika and his party.

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Malawians who are bent double by the load of privation are tired of being reminded of who is responsible for their misery. Every time some of us see a DPP vehicle, flag or cloth our silent expression is “there is this country’s source of trouble”.

On DPP’s watch, corruption, nepotism and  thievery have reached record heights while public service delivery has gone down. Three or four months after the joint parliamentary committee on agriculture and natural resources and the commission of inquiry found the involvement of former minister of agriculture George Chaponda in the maize scam suspicious, nothing is being done and the man is as free as ever.

But it is not surprising to those who know what the DPP is known for. We have less than two years to the 2019 general elections and the DPP must be worried. Peter has led a grand loot of the national purse and he has not stopped. He knows deep within that chances of him and the blue team retaining power are slim. Who, in their right frame of mind would vote for a president who appears lost in everything he does while his team of bandits continue stealing from people.

Because he knows there is nothing to point at as his achievement, Mutharika does not hesitate to jump on other people’s good deeds. This is a president who is not ashamed to claim other people’s trophies. Last week Madonna, who benevolently built a stateof-the art paediatric centre had her show stolen by some rowdy DPP officials who turned the event into a party show.

Blandishing party colours, these DPP jingoists were heard praising their leader—that is Mutharika— for the work which everyone who still has a brain knows is Madonna’s.

I am sure on her return to the US Madonna will have a bagful of stories about a people that are too ready to embarrass themselves. Madonna and her kids and nobody else deserved the limelight. Actually, Mutharika and his sycophants must be ashamed that 53 years after independence, we cannot build a decent centre for ourselves and we must wait for some pop star to take care of our children.

We are busy stealing and we are okay with it. But since Madonna has proven to be a solution to our problems, I have one plea to her: adopt the president too.

 

ADDENDUM

ARREST PASSENGERS TOO

THERE are some people who demonise beer and drinking places. They think nothing good can come out of watering holes. They are wrong, very wrong. The truth is that at drinking places, people share some pretty good ideas, some funny and crazy ones, too. The past week I stopped at my favourite joint to while the hours away while having a chat with friends. Peris, Collin, Harry, Gome and I were engaged in some very, very important discussion. We talked a lot about the shortcuts at the Directorate of Road Traffic Services and the accidents that have shocked the nation. Harry came up with the most interesting tale of the day. He said his wife had told him that one minibus conductor suggested that the police should not only punish drivers and conductors for exceeding carrying capacity but passengers too. The argument, raw as it might sound, made absolute sense to me. In the wisdom of the conductor, passengers are also guilty of allowing being packed four per seat when they know that they are supposed, by law, to be three per seat. The passengers, the conductor argues, are part of the law breaking. I totally agree with this minibus conductor. As passengers we are too passive and timid to stop minibus drivers and conductors from packing us like tinned fish. Even in moments when one passenger protests, others bark at him or her for delaying them to work by “unnecessary” grumbles. Minibus conductors and drivers, rude as they are known to be, are encouraged to break the law by the timidity of passengers who fail to live by the law. Yes, the minibus conductor was right, if a minibus exceeds carrying capacity, the police must not only punish the driver and the conductor, passengers must be punished too for being part of law breaking.

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