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Golden poisoned chalice

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With Tsibweni Chalo:

Mdzukulu, a fox once saw a crow fly with a piece of cheese in its beak and settle on the branch of a tree.

“That’s for me, as I am a fox,” said the fox, and it walked up to the foot of the tree.

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“Good afternoon, mistress crow,” he cried.

“How well you are looking today; how glossy your feathers; how bright your eyes. I feel sure your voice must surpass that of other birds, just as your figure does; let me hear but one song from you that I may greet you as the queen of birds.”

The crow lifted up her head and began to caw her best but the moment she opened her mouth, the piece of cheese fell to the ground, only to be snapped up by master fox.

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“That will do,” said the fox. “That was what I wanted. In exchange for your cheese, I will give you a piece of advice for the future – Do not trust flatterers.”

Ernest Thompson-Seton in The Animal Story Book summed up this fairy tale originally from Fables of Æsop with a moral: “The flatterer does rob by stealth, his victim, both of wit and wealth.”

Unfortunately, Malawi, in the multiparty dispensation, has failed to make much headway on the road to purposeful political and economical development because the country’s heads of State have not employed its resources for that end but the resources have been used for the greater development of themselves and few cronies: flatterers and opportunists.

Mdzukulu, the country’s former presidents: Bakili Muluzi, Bingu wa Mutharika and Joyce Banda largely ran the State into the ground because flatterers and opportunists had heavily worked on them and their performance in office.

The three were hailed as torchbearers of freedom, beacons of hope for the eventual self-determination of the oppressed and marginalised people after taking power from their predecessors.

Mdzukulu, within a short span of time, they inserted themselves as de facto sultans, some sort of elected monarchs.

In many respects, they were worse than their predecessors. Their methods of governance as well as development were skewed and extremely out of touch with the bulk of the population.

Though many factors account for this particular and dreadful institution, the ‘foxes’, revering illusory beautiful ‘feathers’, ‘voices’ and ‘eyes’ of the leaders mostly contribute to their lack of ethical leadership and integrity.

The ‘foxes’, Mdzukulu, range from politicians, traditional leaders, media practitioners, academics, writers, historians, press officers, the clergy, civil society organisations, civil servants, legal practitioners, diplomats, foreign bodies and so forth.

The ‘foxes’ sing juicy music to which the leader gradually dances until the leaders assume a mammoth’s proportion that disconnects them from the real-self, reality on the ground and the vast majority of the country’s inhabitants.

Mdzukulu, the ‘foxes’ have no scintilla of principles. No question, for the past decades, almost all of them have changed party colours and have been engaged in leadership praise-singing without disgrace, taking selfish advantage of circumstances with no regard of the consequences for the masses.

The political template of the ‘foxes’ is premised on Stanley Baldwin’s mantra as cited in the Penguin Dictionary of Quotations: “I would rather be an opportunist and float than go to the bottom with my principles around my neck.”

Mdzukulu, though Winston Churchill, Britain’s legendary prime minister during those dark World War II years, observed that those “who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it”, this telling warning is obviously lost on Malawi’s political mandarins.

Thus, refusing to learn from his predecessors, Vice- President Saulos Chilima has, sadly but not surprisingly, opted to go for this disastrous recipe that he is already trapped into the flattery and opportunism of master foxes.

Mdzukulu, Chilima’s recent quacking at Kauma in Lilongwe against other political parties and a flurry of his social media foxes’ castigations are just but one indication of loss of bearings by UTM.

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