ColumnsTales of Time

Everything goes


When we were growing up, all of us believed that traditional leaders are the most level-headed lot the society could give us. We revered in our chiefs such that we started thinking they were infallible and their word and decision was an echo and manifest of divinity.
My reverence of chiefs started to wane when I began to have finer details of how they think and how they operate. I think 2010 or 2011 are the years that eroded my trust and reverence for traditional leaders.
Those years, Malawi had all the qualities to be called a failed state and even the international community agreed. We had long queues of fuel, and forex was not so easy to find. In short we were a pathetic nation that had nothing other than our national anthem and flag to show for our pride.
Ironically, the leader of that time, Bingu wa Mutharika had this irritating and illusory belief that we were a nation on the grand path to development and that we needed a change of flag to celebrate our progress. Frankly speaking, that was the craziest decision any of our leaders had ever made. Here was a country that was steeped in privation and having some of the most laughable infrastructure yet one eccentric man thought this was progress worth changing our flag for and spend millions in the process.
Every sane person was against the silly decision to waste money on having new flags that represented some illusory progress of a nation yet it was only Bingu, his minions and unsurprisingly, a band of sold-out chiefs who, walking on the springs of naivety and spurred by laughable bribery, supported the infamous move by government.
I was, therefore, not surprised recently when our chiefs were out again on a generous circus of inanity when they went about to discredit the call for the tabling of the Electoral Reforms Amendment Bills. Ok, the chiefs in their lopsided wisdom think this country is okay having a leader who has been rejected by a majority. But what we need to know is that this is the same team of chiefs that we as well as themselves know that they have suspended their sanity on the rafters of partisanship and they do not have an iota of national good as a priority.
What moves me into fits of anger is how some people who we think are the wells of wisdom would steep so low and embarrass themselves in defending the indefensible. The truth, or let’s say word, in the street is that there is a club of chiefs that is obsessed with licking the dirty behinds of political parties of the day and such traditional leaders are ready to sell the nation for their comfort.
Of course on another note, I am not very surprised that people who in the past we thought are the symbols of sanity would somehow become the greatest disappointments of our time.
Last week, I was shocked when I read the argument of one Seodi White, the good woman who has been given the mandate to run the much-touted Public Service Reforms. In the past, the reforms were in the hands of one Saulos Chilima, the vice president, and somehow there was some progress before we were told that the reforms had been moved elsewhere.
On a normal day, having the reforms moved from the hands of Chilima to someone of Seodi’s calibre was nothing to worry about. I am saying this because when I was in my teens and had just started making sense of life, people like Seodi were the symbols of sense and she was among those one would think the national dream was built on.
I was, however, shocked last week when I read Seodi’s mad defence of the progress of the public service reforms. Actually, I was shocked and mad at how a majority of Malawians failed to pick Seodi’s questionable thinking on the success of the reforms.
Seodi, in her argument, said one of the successes of the reforms is the unbundling of the University of Malawi which she rightly argued is going to increase the number of universities in the country. Very true, very, very true.
But what I found embarrassing and deeply shocking in Seodi’s line of thinking is that the good lady thinks just changing colleges to universities is all we need to show progress. My K600 question is: does the unbundling mean intake will increase automatically?
Elsewhere, people would laugh at Seodi’s line of thinking but here at home it is ok. If I were Seodi— or let us not personalise it and was a head of reforms—I would only make that public pronouncement if we had new universities thus increasing the intake. But in Malawi, everything goes.

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