Visualize this scenario.
The Inspector General of Police Lexter Kachama, Home Affairs Minister Grace Obama Chiume, Civic Education Minister Patricia Kaliati and Secretary to the Government Lloyd Mhura all abandoning their top job government business just to go and watch a raging fire in a second floor office at Capital Hill in Lilongwe.
This is rare. This shows it was no ordinary fire.
This was a very special fire that has potential to ignite the whole country up in flames if not handled well.
No wonder, the government machinery, including the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is already in a firefighting exercise on the issue.
I am talking about the fire that on Tuesday gutted down the office of the embattled Agriculture Minister George Chaponda and other adjacent offices of Principal Secretary for Agriculture Erica Maganga and directors in the ministry.
Malawi has had fires before. We have seen fires razing down markets, fires gutting shops but this one is suspicious as some sections of Malawians want us to believe.
This is unique fire that even Parliament had to shelve its business on its Order Paper just to discuss and debate on this fire at Capital Hill.
By the way, this is not the first time that fire has razed down offices in the Ministry of Agriculture. This is a third or fourth fire in recent history if my memory serves well but there has never been such a fire that drew such an attention in this country.
I am not, therefore, surprised that Information Minister Nicholas Dausi, government Chief Whip in Parliament Henry Mussa and Ministry of Agriculture spokesperson Halmiton Chimala came panting, firefighting speculations that this might have been an arson attack to conceal some evidence in the Maizegate saga.
My heart goes to the secretary of the minister, Emmie, who said she had lost both her private and official documents and belongings, sorry.
But this fire has not only damaged Emmie’s personal things; it has the potential to damage and end the political career of her boss Chaponda and probably of the DPP.
Reading from the social media and listening to radio and television programmes, some Malawians are really pissed off and suggest this might have been an arson attack.
We are yet to get an official report on police investigations on the matter, so until such a time we get the report, we should not make rushed conclusions.
The reason some Malawians are pissed off with the issue is that it comes barely days after the presidential Commission of Inquiry recommended that Chaponda be investigated further by the Anti-Corruption Bureau for his suspicious involvement in the procurement of maize.
The commission says there were suspected corrupt dealings between Chaponda and Transglobe, a company that had similar dealings with former Education minister Sam Mpasu in the infamous Field York notebook scam that saw Mpasu being sent to jail, temporarily ending his versatile political career.
Other Malawians are also suspicious of the fire because the DPP-led government has a history of suspicious fires before.
There was unexplained fire at Malawi Electoral Commission warehouse in Lilongwe after a High Court ruling for a vote recount following the suspicious winning of a DPP parliamentary candidate.
There was also unexplained fire that razed down former Malawi Congress Party publicist Jessie Kabwila’s vehicle, suspicious fire gutted Zodiak car and fire razed down human rights activist Rafiq Hajat offices in Blantyre.
The DPP-led government has failed to investigate and explain the sources of these fires.
No wonder, I am reading in the social media that the DPP is synonymous with fires and panga knives.
However, this particular fire at the Agriculture Ministry offices is no ordinary fire.
Looking at the way Malawians are fired up, they can put the country on fire, politically, bringing down powerful politicians in the process.
They are questioning which “child” was in the offices of Chaponda who had to be rescued following the fire before ACB investigators pounced on it.
The fire has indeed raised more questions than answers.
I am not surprised that they have rejected him as Leader of the House in Parliament and are up in arms to pressurise President Peter Mutharika to fire him from cabinet.
Malawians do not understand why Mutharika is taking to ransom the whole nation just because of one person, Chaponda from Chonde Village in Chief Mthiramanja’s area.
What is so special about Chaponda in Malawi?
Well, that is the question Mutharika is struggling to answer to convince Malawians why the whole President should be clinging to one person who is suspected of corrupt practices, the number one crime enemy of Malawians as of now.
Mutharika should be aware that if he continues to cling to Chaponda, both will sink with the ship they are sailing in.
There are reports that probably the President wants Chaponda to succeed him when he retires but there are many intelligent, wise and mature people who can take the DPP to new heights if well groomed to take over the party leadership.
Malawians are watching this issue with keen interest; therefore, President Mutharika and his government need to be on top of this issue; they should put the interest of Malawi first not DPP’s.
Malawians are already frustrated with the pace the government is taking to bring back the economy to its feet. Malawians are already angry with the costly maize in Admarc depots. Malawians are not happy with the way the government seems to be shielding senior officials involved in corrupt practices.
This fire can, therefore, just be a match in a tinderbox.
When the flames are up, the country will be on fire, the fire that will be more destructive than the fire that was well extinguished at Capital Hill on Tuesday.
I am not a prophet of doom but Malawians did it in 2011; they can do it now.
They are not passive, they are not docile, they are not imbeciles.
They are watching every move the DPP-led government is taking, with keen interest!
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