Until he pleaded innocent and instead accused the media of photo-shopping his sleeping in Parliament, I forgave Leader of the House George Chaponda for hibernating on duty while his boss, President Peter Mutharika was making the most important speech of the year—State of the Nation address.
I initially did not want to create a mountain out of a mole hill about Chaponda sleeping in the House on account of two things.
The Mutharikas have not been blessed with a power of speech in the mould of Barack Obama and APM is the very epitome of this after his brother Bingu.
On that account, you would not be hard on anybody whose senses begin to give way to the law of nature and collapse in deep slumber as it happened to Chaponda on that fateful Friday, more so when APM’s speech was over one hour.
Secondly, it is human nature to give in to cravings for food once in a while and it is possible it was one of those days for Chaponda when he decided to over indulge himself in that extra serving of steak or sausages during his breakfast, hence the sleep.
In short, I perfectly understood that Chaponda displayed the behavior that any of us could display—a human being – who can fall asleep even when duty demands that he must stay awake.
The story should have stopped at that. But then it turns out that Chaponda wants to play clever and making false claim he was in fact wide awake during his boss’ State of the Nation address and any suggestion that he was sleeping on duty is the work of his political enemies who photo-shopped his pictures to appear that he was asleep.
This cannot be further from the truth.
Why would the media pick on Chaponda out of all those who thronged Parliament that day only to do the bidding of his so called political enemies? And who are these political enemies and why does he not name and shame them with a view to drag them to court for being rascals who are falsely portraying him as a sleeper on duty?
If Chaponda had any iota of respect for his boss –who he insulted by sleeping at the time he was speaking– he should have just kept quiet to let sleeping dogs lie (pun intended).
Leader of Opposition Lazarus Chakwera described the President’s speech as bedtime stories away from reality and coming from the creative imagination of someone.
In other words a lullaby used to send babies to go to bed. By sleeping while his boss was giving the speech Chaponda actually illustrates Chakwera’s point and renders credence to the idea that what the President was saying was indeed boring and did not aptly capture the problems that are ravaging and tearing this country apart.
But Malawians should not be surprised with Chaponda. He goes about defending the indefensible.
You remember how he embarrassed the country in the eyes of the world some years ago when he was Bingu wa Mutharika’s Justice Minister by proclaiming to all who cared to listen that Malawi was preparing a bill that would criminalise farting with a view to protect the environment.
The world laughed its lungs out before it turned that the bill was talking about something else.
Yet before this dawned on him, Chaponda justified this senselessness with his life.
It took his then Solicitor General Anthony Kamanga to knock sense into him by telling the public that none of what Chaponda was saying was in the bill.
But then during that time there was something that he wrongly perceived was worthy defending.
This time he slept while his boss was talking. A camera, even in the technologically advanced 21st Century, does not lie.
Chaponda should just shut up to save himself from further embarrassment.
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