In the mind of the Veep


Some years ago, I read an online write up that discussed how lonely it can be in higher offices.

The article talked at length about the frustrations that Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) go through as they get misunderstood by their teams or by the slow pace at which their staff implement tasks.

The frustrations are compounded by the fact that the CEOs have no one to share their emotions with. Everyone tries to keep a distance from the big offices.


I regurgitated that beautiful piece of writing a few days ago in an attempt to connect the dots in what Vice President, Saulos Chilima, has been saying.

Based on his speeches, the Veep must be a very dissatisfied man. All what he has stood  or in that ivory tower at Capital Hill is failing to get currency in the populace.

Look, just four years ago, Chilima, with the zeal of a spring chicken, criss-crossed the country convincing us that him and the then Democractic Progressive Party presidential candidate, Peter Mutharika, was the best pair to fix problems besetting Malawi.


Buoyed by his success in the corporate world, Chilima rallied Malawians around the battle cry of “business unusual”.

And indeed when Malawians handed Chilima and Mutharika the victory in the May 2014 Tripartite Elections, the Veep went flat-out championing the public service reforms programme.

But we all know how the whole reforms programme ended up being one of those fleeting undertakings at the Capital Hill.

Last week, the Veep was invited to give a talk on morality at Chancellor College. He quickly got down to what he seems to love most: bringing hope and inspiration to Malawians.

Ironically, as he hammered the points home and getting a standing ovation, members of Parliament were passing resolutions to share, among themselves, K4 billion of public funds whose origin remains a mystery.

Besides the fact that the Finance Minister breached the Public Finance Management Act by trying to release money from government coffers without the approval of the House, the greatest travesty was when the MPs and the Minister corrupted each other by saying: if we share, then the issue ends here!

At first, the Finance Minister said the money was a surplus realised from savings in the budget. The yarn was dismissed by all and sundry because Goodall Gondwe had just confessed in Parliament that he had chopped his budget by K9 billion. This he owed to failure by the Malawi Revenue Authority to meet its revenue collection targets. The other reason was that donors were yet to inject K60 billion into the national budget.

But with the whole world trying to fight money laundering, our lawmakers, driven by nauseating levels of greed, unanimously agreed that money was always welcome even if it came from the bedrock of the deep blue sea. Such type of moral decadence is marrow chilling because the MPs are risking the country to state capture by such god-fathers who strictly choose to remain in the shadows.

Then Chilima has talked about the absurdity of using the public purse to perennially compensate illegal settlers who get affected by flash floods.

Much as we sympathise with the victims, we should not lose sight of the fact that the people are suffering for their myopia.

Everyone knows that the country has laws that govern river reserves. We also know that we have three landlords in our cities: the city fathers, the Malawi Housing Corporation and the Ministry of Lands. If the settlers claim to have bought the land from “chiefs”, let them get compensation from their landlord then. They smiled when they paid each other money for the illegal transaction, why should all of us be dragged in to shed tears over their immorality?

And I liked what Chilima said: if they can afford a plot in the river, surely they can afford a plot elsewhere! That is a very loaded statement.

To the obvious frustrations of the Veep, the councils have developed cold feet in dealing with the settlers. Chilima had to breathe down on Blantyre City Council (BCC) to vacate an injunction by the settlers.

But even after vacating the injunction, BCC was just shaking in its boots. It could not use the law in its hands to do the expected.

As if the circus was not bad enough, Chilima could not hide his frustrations when he was driven all the way to Nsanje District to see a dyke.

To his total disappointment, he was shown a mound of earth which was blamed for eating millions of tax payers money.

As it always happens with corruption, the failure that was the dyke was an orphan; no one owned up.

In the final analysis, one wonders whether Chilima’s tears are genuine. He sits in Cabinet meetings where these issues are supposed to be discussed. Does he raise them in that hot room? Would he do things differently if he had his way or is he just posturing? Whatever would be the answers to the above questions, one thing is for sure: the Veep is not a happy man.

And there is no imagining as to what maybe going on in his mind right now.

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