There is no greater feeling than the cold breeze that hits against your face when you are by the shores of Lake Malawi. I am sure those who, like me. come from the lakeshore will attest to this. Even those who do not necessarily come from the area but have, as tourists, been to districts such as Mangochi, Salima, Nkhotakota, Nkhata Bay and Likoma will tell you that once that breeze by the lakeside gets to you, you are captivated and certainly would reluctantly want to leave the place when time comes.
Thus, it was quite disturbing to hear the rantings from the shores of Mangochi District the other day, courtesy of none other than former president Peter Mutharika who held a presser at his retirement villa.
Far from the relaxed pictures of the mellow Mutharika which trended recently on social media, here was a fully charged Mutharika out to take on his opponents.
Among other things, he admonished his successor President Lazarus Chakwera for alleged political persecution targeting those on the blue side of life (Democratic Progressive Party sympathisers), with a particular mention of the cement saga in which Mutharika himself was implicated as his Tax Payer Identification Number (TPIN) while he was at State House is said to have been used to clear K5 billion-worth of cement. He wondered why the said supplier was not being backed to a corner like his aides. He also harped on the rising cost of living, saying the current government does not have clear strategies to turn around the fortunes of this country.
Perhaps Adadi, as Mutharika is fondly referred to by his followers, needed to take a chill pill for a while before laying it all in for his successor. However, his dosage, which some have said is nothing but gibberish, might have been a perfect tonic for Malawians as it came just a few days shy of the 57th anniversary of the country’s independence.
At 57,we needed to take stock of the gains and losses but, sadly, not much of what Mutharika said would make the cut because it sounded more of personal battles than national cause.
It was good that even the State House Communications Department veered clear of Mutharika’s outbursts, though they did attempt to convince Malawians that the country has a blueprint and several guiding policies that are keeping things afloat.
But seriously, 57 years is a long time and if it were a person, we would have been talking about a full-fledged adult but Malawi keeps going round in circles in as far as advancing economic development is concerned. It appears what we do as citizens on voting day is simply to boot one set of plunderers and replace it with another one. We allow, time and again, corruption to thrive while we all stand aside and look. I bet right now as we speak and are caught up in the delirium of independence frenzy, somebody has cashed in, including on the very money that was meant for the celebrations.
For meaningful change to be felt, it will not only take commitment at the very top but also goodwill from the public, hence government ought to make sure that Malawians are kept in the loop in all affairs of state so that transparency and accountability should be entrenched.
To some people, Mutharika might have been hallucinating last Sunday but, truly, Malawi will not move simply by having people in and out of jail but through recording of successful convictions of those that carry out fraudulent acts, who deprive the country and citizen of much needed development by their selfish acts. Not only that, there should be clear guidance on the way forward as to what happens to the assets and funds that are recovered from those that obtained them through dishonest means.
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).