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Jean Kalilani should spare US on DPP regalia

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I believe Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare Minister, Jean Kalilani, can do better; actually, she can do much better by not exporting partisan politics to the US.

For those who have missed what I am saying, well, here is a little bit of a background to the whole issue. She was in the advanced party that went to the US ahead of President Peter Mutharika on Friday.

At the airport in the US, she put on ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) regalia, the blue DPP attire, probably to impress upon Mutharika that she is a staunch supporter of the DPP. I think Kalilani can do better than this.

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She might be DPP to the core but it is embarrassing for a highly educated person like her to put on party regalia in the US, let alone anywhere outside the country.

It is not the first time that she has done this; she did the same last year and we all wrote about it, advised her, but all the pieces of advice we gave her fell on deaf ears and she has done the same thing again.

It is not wise to export partisan politics to the US. Our politics— I mean local politics— can sometimes get nasty. The Americans cannot understand our politics and we may end up confusing them.

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Imagine seeing, out of thousands upon thousands of people at the US airport, only one poor soul putting on party regalia. This is not only laughable but embarrassing.

People out there would think we are here to eat politics, dance politics, talk politics, listen politics, wear politics, laugh politics and smile politics. Malawians can do much better than this; we can all do much better than this by not letting partisan politics spoil us all.

After all, she is in the US not as a DPP functionary but as a Cabinet minister. I hope, this time around, she will listen to what we are saying. I hope that next year, if at all she will go to the US, if at all she will still be a member of the Cabinet, she won’t repeat the mistake.

Our America-trained President should be surrounded by sober people and not party cadres who are drunk with partisan politics.

I hope this chapter is closed and closed permanently so that we should have a new chapter.

Now, let me open another chapter— not the chapter of politics but that of our good gender activists.

As usual, a little bit of a background or history will help. As you may have heard, some gender activists were on the road last week, marching against violence against women, marching against the dosage of harassment our good women are subjected to. This is not bad. Actually, the gender activists were exercising their right to freedom of expression, their right to opinion and their right to protest against harassment and everything.

However, what caught my eye was an explicit placard. This placard turned everything upside down.

Our gender activists should be sensitive on some issues because they are prone to harassment as well.

The placard is totally against our norms, culture and tradition. Malawians are not known for naming private parts in such an explicit way. Therefore, hoisting a placard with such an explicit message smacked of lack of sensitivity and lack of tradition.

Activists must know that Malawi culture, our rich culture and tradition, should be respected.

Our culture and traditions are at par with the so-called human rights.

Whatever defence the activists might offer, the message was wrong.

Finally, let me commend Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (Pac) and the World Bank for the current committee meetings to discuss and debate audit queries for government ministries and departments. This is commendable because, for the first time in the history of Pac, Pac members would soon start discussing current audit reports, unlike in the past when they were discussing audit reports 10 or more years late.

I have a chance of covering the meetings at Parliament building and let me say that I am impressed with the way Pac members are handling the discussions and debates.

This shows that some Malawians are very patriotic; they are patriotic to the core and want things to work well for our nation.

If we had a dozen Alekeni Menyanis, a dozen Kamlepo Kaluas, a dozen Peter Kumpalumes, a dozen Kusamba Dzonzis, this country could have moved on, for the better.

We need Malawians who love their country. I am always at a loss when Pac members grill controlling officers of government ministries and departments even for a missing K5, 000.

If the missing K5, 000s are added, they can be a drain on State coffers.

Some controlling officers are just too lazy, some government officials— especially those in accounts departments—can just be too casual in handling government money.

The government officers mandated to handle public money should be extra careful with public money; they should know that Malawians are poorer now than ever before because of laxity.

This is why I say punitive measures should be unleashed on all those found misusing public money. Controlling officers and other government officials should know that public money is not meant for personal benefit; it is for Malawians.

Public money is meant for the provision of quality services to the people in such areas as health, education and security. This is money meant for the poor of the poorest and all public officers handling it must be sensitive.

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