Proverbs 12 verse 15 reads:
The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise.
Nobody under the sun enjoys the monopoly of knowledge and, as such, we all need, from time to time, to tap the same from the sources of knowledge that are at our disposal.
Thus, it was not surprising to learn that President Lazarus Chakwera, who is also the chairperson of Southern African Development Community, had a tete-a-tete? (No wait, it was a group meeting) with a Public Affairs Committee delegation in Blantyre where a number of issues of public interest were highlighted.
It appears Pac is awakening from its slumber, as it has done on many occasions over the years, and does not want to entertain flattery anymore, judging by the frank discussions which the grouping had with the Malawi leader.
We are told that the grouping was kind enough to remind the President of the long standing issue of Cabinet reshuffle. They told Chakwera, in no uncertain terms, that it was high time he tinkered with his Cabinet since a number of Cabinet ministers lack ‘gravitas and influence’, pointing out that in these times of a tough economic climate, those that ought to have been leading from the front by outlining measures taken to address the challenge by the Tonse-led administration are nowhere in sight.
If truth be told, the reshuffling of Cabinet has been long overdue and I bet Malawians must have slowly started losing patience on this issue since the President is seemingly not ‘in a rush’ to introduce the anticipated changes. We have only seen replacement of some ministers here and there but not an all-out Cabinet reshuffle. Chakwera pledged to give us a leaner Cabinet than that of his predecessor and that is yet to be seen.
The Pac delegation went further to touch on the deployment of Chakwera’s daughter to the United Kingdom. This runs parallel to the President’s tough stand on nepotism, which he, time and again, pointed out to Malawians during the time his predecessor Peter Mutharika was in government. Now that the roles have changed, it seems the President is finding it tough to walk the talk, just as he preached back then.
It would be prudent, at this point, to remind ourselves of some of the promises that the nine partners forming the Tonse Alliance administration sold us prior to the June 23 2020 court-sanctioned presidential election. Some of the pledges might have been fulfilled but there are still many others that are yet to be implemented.
These include creation of one million jobs, raising the tax-free band from K45,000 to K100,000, abolition of nepotism, soft loans for junior civil servants, free water and electricity connection, reduced passport fees, universal fertiliser, selling farm inputs at K4,495 , paying civil servants on 27.
Let us not forget that President Chakwera also created a wave with his Super Hi5 mantra of servant leadership, uniting Malawians, prospering together, ending corruption and rule of law. He certainly needs all the help he can get from his lieutenants to ensure that Malawi attains all its aspirations.
When you consider all of the above, you cannot help but wonder why every time Malawian leaders are on the road to an election during the campaign trail, they portray this ‘meek’ and ‘caring’ character and yet, once they have been given the greenlight to lead the country, completely turn against the very things they promised and commit the very mistakes they detested before assuming the reins of power.
I am sure there is no malice whatsoever in Pac airing out some of the pertinent concerns that are equally weighing heavily on the minds and shoulders of Malawians. In fact, a lot of people in this country would like to see President Chakwera succeeding in turning around the fortunes of this country in every aspect and, as such, frank talk is very much part of the deal. Telling the President only what he wants to hear would be akin to cheating ourselves and our country.
He that hath an ear let him hear.
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).