Miasma of disdain
Two weeks ago, the government wasted some kwacha on a full-page advert in the newspaper trying to explain something petty. I had to read it anyway. It was a reaction to some public sentiments that President Peter Mutharika has been ignoring his political foe, Lazarus Chakwera, at public functions.
The argument from the crybabies from the other fence is that Mutharika’s apparent disregard of Chakwera smacks of snobbery and boiling disdain. This, they say, is not health for our politics. What these people would love to see or hear is Mutharika endlessly hugging Chakwera or saluting him after every paragraph of his speech. That is how basic we think as a nation. And in reaction, the government side decided to stoop so low in an attempt to absolve the president by placing a whole page that sought to enlighten us about salutations or what have you.
The ugly truth that we need to contend with is that Mutharika and Chakwera are not buddy-buddies and we should not fuss about it. These are people who see each other as a disturbance to their grand dream to lord this nation and own every karat of gold that comes with that. Normally, you cannot expect them to drink from the same chalice or genuflect in reverence for each other. If they do, be assured that it is only farcical and desperate attempt to veil their hatred of each other.
This country has too many important things to fret about, and Mutharika closing his eye to Chakwera is nothing we should be worried about. Every day, there is an electricity blackout for about 10 to 12 hours meaning those who earn their living out of stomach. And more scaring is that a good number of people have been fast-forwarded to their deaths simply because hospital machinery that needs electricity no longer functions. But what all we can stop at are angry yet useless posts on social media.
Recently, after being bored and tired with inactivity Mutharika decided to casually shuffle his cabinet. When news came in that Mutharika had decided to make some changes to his cabinet, a good number of Malawians expected some serious presidential move especially with the whole talk about some of his ministers being linked to the K577billion loot which, of course, has been conveniently reduced to K236 billion. Others, like me, thought it was a Mutharika moment to get rid of old and tired ministers like Goodall Gondwe, the nonsensical George Chaponda and the loquacious Grace Chiumia. But what we got was uninspiring and shocking. If we were serious with this nation, this was a thing we should have raised our voices against. Elsewhere, a president ignoring people’s call against a cabinet that is underperforming is a serious offence. But here it is not. What we care about is seeing the president hugging or saluting the leader of opposition.
We are a very basic nation that wastes time on trivia. Look around you and there are so many things that we can deservedly get angry about. In Mzuzu there is an airstrip that I am told is called an airport. What is there is a rundown building that poses for a control tower, and some remnants of what used to be some aircrafts. The rest is all bush and potholed runway. But nobody cares about it.
Over half a century of independence we still have tobacco barns being used as classrooms. People in town are still drinking from cesspools while those who have taps have forgotten the sound of flowing water. But it seems this is nothing to worry about for most of us.
These days, it is not easy to get a K1,000 yet it is so easy to spend it. One has to work all months for a salary that will only last two days. When you pass through the Airport Road in Blantyre that is when you will see the stinking rot of urban poverty. Lining up the road are sharks with rocks to support some tired iron sheets on top. Inside these pathetic dwelling places are families that survive on a meal a day, not out of choice but mere privation. Commodity prices have hit mars yet salaries remain dwarfed. These people I am talking about are the very same that, every five years, have to wake up at dawn to vote for a president while his or her loser becomes leader of opposition. And these latter two become too megalomaniac to make us believe that their salutations matter to us.
As a nation, we need to expend our energy on important things that will haul this nation out of this mire of poverty. We do not have the luxury of crying over Mutharika and Chakwera’s public relationship. We cannot afford to be sodden with this Mutharika and Chakwera’s miasma of disdain.
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