It sure feels great that our country has this week commemorated its 56th independence anniversary and coinciding with the historic day was the inauguration of the new President Lazarus Chakwera. It is refreshing to see that the new leadership is oozing confidence with each breath, and charming Malawians as it hopes to inspire national development; with the public keeping a close watch to see how things will pan out for the new government in its first 100 days, the crown is for the Chakwera-led administration’s taking if it matches what has been ‘preached’ thus far with action.
It is quite sad, as noted by the new leader, that 26 solid years of democracy have gone by with only little to show in terms of development because most leaders that had promised ‘prosperity’ could only manage to deliver ‘poverty’. It is a pity that our infrastructure has remained disjointed despite efforts here and there to try and build on the foundation that the country’s founding father had laid. Let us just hope that the new leadership will make good of its promises as we go about re-building the nation.
Now, much as everyone was eagerly looking forward to making merry and witnessing the grand crowing of President Chakwera as the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces publicly on July 6, it would not have been plausible to start feasting while the number of those affected by the deadly Covid-19 pandemic is on an upward surge. By the time we were hitting July 06, the coronavirus figures were hovering somewhere around 1,818 with 317 recoveries while those that died were 19. As of July 8, total cases were at 1942, with 369 recoveries while deaths had shot to 25. Unless somebody has loose wires upstairs, there was no way we would have, as a country, gone ahead hosting celebrations under such a subdued mood. The President made a right call to cancel the celebrations at the eleventh hour, even after he had hours earlier given indications that everything was on track.
I know some of you are like; where is all of this coming from? Well, I got cheesed off seeing a lot of lamentations on social media the other day. It seems some people did not take kindly to the cancellation notice. Others even went to the extent of intimating that the last minute change of plans should not have happened on the account of Covid-19 since while in opposition, sympathisers of the Tonse Alliance had allegedly intimated that there was no Covid-19. That, to me, is deliberately trying to bring distortion and confusion.
I am sure that Malawians were aware of the Covid-19 pandemic and how it was causing pain and discomfort world over, even for the few cases that had been diagnosed here at home; only that most people realised that we had a more pressing problem to deal with, which was the ‘recurring cancer’ that was the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) led administration (recurring in the sense that despite ceaseless demonstrations, petitions and court action, the then government was not ready to stand down). People got tired of deeply-infested corruption, nepotism, rights abuses and disrespect to the rule of law; which is why, Covid-19 or no Covid-19, they found it imperative to demonstrate to the then government how to respect laws of the land by adhering to the court-ordered ruling that they should cast their ballots one more time for the presidency. Now that we have that out of the way, which in essence was our first and nagging problem; we can get back to tackling Covid-19.
In my considered view, the ceremony at Kamuzu Barracks, though restricted to 100 guests, was equally captivating in that it gave out the signal that everyone was waiting for; which is the direction the Chakwera-led administration is going to take. A lot has already been said and written pertaining to how deep the President’s speech was, so let me leave it there.
Perhaps the other thing we need to seriously look into is the tendency by immediate past presidents to shun such an event where the sword of command, which symbolises transfer of power from one President to the other, is exchanged. I really feel it would be a great display of sportsmanship and camaraderie if those on the losing end would attend the event; just to show that they put the interests of Malawi above all else.
Imagine how captivating it would have been to have former president Peter Mutharika pass on the button to President Chakwera at the Kamuzu Barracks event. This was a missed opportunity, adadi!
Otherwise, it looks like this Coronavirus thing is in for the long haul, ladies and gentlemen, and it would be best if everyone strictly adhered to the advice being dished out by health personnel and other concerned stakeholders… Phukusi lamoyo sakusungira ndi wina!I am glad we now have in place a Minister of Health to oversee what the experts are doing.
Stephen Dakalira is a seasoned Journalist who works as Times Group’s Online and Digital Executive Editor. He is also the Assistant Editor of The Sunday Times Newspaper, and author of Full Circle column which appears in Malawi News; all of these under the Times Group stable.
He has previously worked in key positions for some of Malawi’s key media institutions such as Malawi News Agency, Capital FM Radio and Star Radio (Now Timveni Radio).