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Losing his halo

It seems our politicians have a curious love for vanity and sable-rattling. Just three days ago, Jessie Kabwila—she who speaks for the Malawi Congress Party—had her vain moment when she called on Peter Mutharika to fire his Minister of Gender, Patricia Kaliati, over sentiments the shoe-in-the mouth minister made the other day in Thyolo.

If you are not privy to the story here is a brief of it. Kaliati— who most of us know to be not-so-blessed when it comes to verbal decency and decorum—took one Lazarus Chakwera to town over the Leader of Opposition’s presumed conduct on the eve of Independence Day at Comesa Hall. Kaliati thinks Chakwera carried himself with unnecessary pomp that bordered on an apparent desire to look more important that the head of state. The loquacious minister even went as far as using ecclesiastical allegories to slight and mock Chakwera.

Incensed as expected, the MCP through its Jessie Kabwila responded by calling for the expulsion of Kaliati from the cabinet. But the MCP should have known better that this is Malawi where resignation on grounds of indecent and savage conduct is just not the culture. You can’t even be fired even if you swear right in the face of the head of state. In fact, the head of state will give you a sheepish grin, nod and clap hands for you.

Last time a political figure resigned for making some unsavory statement was in 2013. That was when former Secretary General of the PP, Henry Chibwana, decided to step down after making some sleazy statement. It even shocked the nation that a politician in government did decide to resign. But when you look at the resume of Chibwana, you would understand why he stepped down. He is a man with a decent education, a doctor—not these plastic honorary doctors—a man who accidentally fell into the trap of politics after years in the academic world. But Kaliati has a different resume to boast about. You just don’t expect a person who has danced and swore her way up the political ladder to exude any politesse.

Before making such funny and futile call Kabwila and co should have taken a moment to look at the blueprint of the party they are dealing with. This is the same party that, about two months ago, failed to chastise Minister of Information Kondwani Nankhumwa for making some disturbing and dangerous statement at the late Bingu Wa Mutharika’s memorial ceremony.

For any Malawian who wishes to live a mellow life, they must, like I have done, resign to the fact that we are back to the times of reeking arrogance and impunity. We should not expect anything civilised at party rallies especially with the blue team in government. There was a time I naively thought, with Peter Mutharika calling the shots, the DPP would become a born again party. But Peter has ended up leading the savage parade.

If Peter was not happy with his lieutenants, going about insulting people, he should have reprimanded them outright but look what he is doing: He is sending his Press Secretary who, of late, has debased the office to one where silly and indecent statements are made, to defend those who make terrible speeches.

Peter himself is steadily being baptised into a culture of savage politics, and that is dangerous. This other day, just like his late brother used to do, Peter called drunks all those who opined that his mojo is shrinking by the day. Perhaps there is some curse that lurks beneath political podiums such that whoever climbs is struck and immediately loses their brain to fall into a blubbering frenzy.

Peter has even gone into a strange defensive mode such that he thinks all those who tell him that the nation is on an overdrive gear to economic damnation are only there to destroy him.

At 74, Peter has started to think he is the best thing ever to happen to the DPP and Malawi. He does not even see, among the rank and file of the DPP, anyone who can succeed him at plot number one in 2019 when he will be nearly 80 years old and tired. He has already fired a stark reminder that whoever has ambitions to lead the party should shelve those plans or else look elsewhere. But that is blue business and we have better things to talk about.

The kwacha recently has been taking a nose dive despite this being a tobacco selling season. We are living in the most in secure of recorded times when murder of citizens has ceased to be news. But when you tell the President all this, he will surely think you are insane and need urgent attention of a proper psychiatrist.

Slightly over a year on Peter’s watch, hope is sagging while aspirations have withered at legendary pace. He might not accept it but, just as the Afrobarometer pointed, Peter is fast losing his halo.

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