President Lazarus Chakwera has a perfect opportunity at his fingertips to chuck out from his fold disloyal and irresponsible officers he hired to help him in his agenda of running the country.
These are individuals who, against the President’s hopes, are not willing to work for the country, but for themselves. They cannot even honour pledges of allegiance and professionalism which they made when they took up the revered obligations of working for Malawi.
So, as confirmed by State House Chief of Staff, Prince Kapondamgaga, the President has in his surroundings treacherous workers going around demanding bribes from bidders of public procurements and illegally invading public land by using Chakwera’s name.
His officers’ mischiefs should prod the President into some serious action. Here is a rare opportunity availing itself for him to cleanse his office and send a strong message that he does not tolerate crookedness.
After all, he already did it with his other advisors, who got caught up in suspected corrupt acts. They are out of his team of advisors and that was the right thing to do just like it will be the correct thing on others who are staining his name.
The warning from Kapondamgaga does not seem enough to send a strong warning that all those found, and confirmed to be, dealing in illicit acts will be dealt with accordingly.
The challenge is that there are other officers caught up in the mess, whose fate is in the hands of their employers. Chances are that if the President does not crack the whip on his aides, other controlling officers may follow suit.
In fact, regarding Kapondamgaga’s memo, there are elements which clearly border on corruption, which should be looked at with the seriousness that they deserve.
The revelations are damning and should not be left to wither away just like that. The President needs a team he can trust, not a horde of betrayers who are just interested in fattening their pockets and not helping him in running the country.
More matters hogging the limelight for wrong reasons have come out in recent days. In Parliament, Leader of Opposition Kondwani Nankhumwa announced a shadow cabinet that, despite being accepted by the august House, has been condemned by his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
For starters, an opposition shadow cabinet is a normal practice in Parliament though its establishment is not guided by any regulations.
The problem with Nankhumwa’s team of ministers is that he has issues with his party, which has ostensibly tried its best to thrust him to the periphery of its affairs.
The DPP leadership has clearly shown that it is not comfortable with the lawmaker and has tried all it could do to diminish his influence both in and outside Parliament.
The whole tumult is about who will lead the party after its current president Peter Mutharika finally throws in the towel.
It so appears Mutharika has his own anointed ones—or some people in the party are pushing him to have them—and is being troubled by Nankhumwa’s positioning.
That is why a traditional practice, that has been honoured and upheld by Parliament for years, is now creating so much fuss in the former governing party.
Of course, Nankhumwa is supposed to represent his party’s interest in Parliament, but he is Leader of Opposition and has certain powers which he may choose to exercise even without his party’s blessing, especially when he sees that someone is trying to frustrate his actions.
It is coming out very clear that DPP will have a lot of problems in its quest to tame its Southern Region vice-president. He has a following both in Parliament and outside and obviously commands respect among some quarters.
While no one is bigger than their political party, there may be some powers in a particular sphere which the party cannot take away from lawmakers. Nankhumwa is flexing such powers.
The best the party should have done was to allow everyone to go for any position they feel they deserve. Surreptitiously fronting someone or blocking another is bad for intraparty democracy.
Yet, this is what is happening in the former governing party.
The fact that some of its lawmakers initially accepted to be included in the shadow cabinet, only to withdraw their fidelity after their party had disowned the cabinet, reveals that there is chaos there.
It also tells us those who are changing their minds are being controlled by other forces. Of course, Nankhumwa must also accept that he is a member of DPP and will have trouble doing things that the party does not sanction.
Still, at the end, DPP must find ways of resolving the conflicts that exist there. It may not work to deploy malicious tactics such as attempting to lure someone into a reconciliation trap when the idea is to strip them of their power.
Alick Ponje is a features writer at The Times Group. He graduated from the University of Malawi with a bachelor’s degree in education, majoring in literature in English. He believes that quality reporting is critical in bringing positive change in communities. Alick is the Southern Africa Development Community journalist of the year (2020) in the television category. Follow him on Twitter @aponje