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Munching their faith

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The class of Catholic bishops of 1992 will forever be etched in the memory of this nation. At a time when it was suicide to utter any statement against the then establishment, the valiant bishops wrote that famous pastoral letter—‘Living Our Faith’.

Twenty five years later, Malawians look in the mirrors of time and appreciate how the bravery of those bishops bailed this country out of the sharp fangs of autocratic rule.

When we were switching from the rigid one party rule to multiparty, the general feeling was of optimism. In our minds, we could see skyscrapers that kiss the chin of heaven, a fine road network, a vibrant education system, modernised hospitals and leaders who would listen to people with executive deference. But all those were only illusions of a cheated nation.

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What we have today is simply a mess. We have stooping infrastructure, tired roads, an education system that has lost its glory, a health sector that laughs at itself and leaders that stink of arrogance as if they are some tiny gods.

Last week when I and my colleagues decided to cheer a workmate at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (QECH), we had a raw feeling of what this country has become. Driving from Scott Road to QECH takes about three minutes. But because some tiny god, call him Peter Mutharika if you like, was opening the 29th International Trade Fair, the roads were closed and it took us over an hour to drive to QECH: and that was after we had decided to take the longer route via Chichiri—Chitawira—Naperi.

The truth we must tell is that our presidents, current and past, have been annoying. I fail to understand why they have an over-elaborate security detail. It is—I must say it louder—irritating to have the whole area closed just because one man who believes he owns every space of this country is opening a fair or whatever. Elsewhere—and ironically where the leaders are more important and good on the job—the state motorcade is small with not more than four vehicles, and citizens are not tortured to spend hours waiting for the roads to be opened.

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As if the torture of waiting on a queue for an hour was not enough, I had to torture my nostrils with the stench that fills QECH. The hospital has mess all over and one would be forgiven to believe it has become a waiting bay for people on their last mile. A carelessly assembled piece of metal and wires is what they call a bed on which two patients are packed while the unfortunate ones sleep on the floor. What I found irritating is that, while my senses were being harassed by the situation at “the biggest” hospital in the country, someone who is responsible for running the affairs of this country was being glorified at Trade Fair Grounds while motorists were drenched in sweat on that hot Wednesday as they were waiting for the roads to open.

When I explained the ordeal to a friend, he laughed and plainly told me my anger was in vain because this is going to continue. Bluntly, he said, our country has too many cowards and sell-outs that would stand aside and watch it being wrecked as long as they have a kobo in their bank accounts.

That was when it dawned on me that the spirit of 1992 when people got tired of a bad government is gone. Today, even the clergy have become hand-clappers and all they know is to look the other side while the country is being rundown.

Look around and you easily see that our religious leaders are using the collar to bargain their way into boards of parastatals. And because these supposed holy men are not as holy as they want us to believe, you find massive corruption in the organisations whose boards they are in.

It is pretty straightforward. Politicians know that religious leaders, fake or genuine ones, are powerful and influential in state matters. So, cunning as they always are, politicians are employing a silencing tactic by roping into boards some men of the collar. In fact, some members of the clergy are pretenders and all they do is give a good sermon for the president and the next thing is a seat in a board.

The other day I watched some purported members of the clergy castigating others who pointed at the rot of this government. Clearly, these crooks operating under the guise of holiness were bribed by you-know-who.

So, good people, this country has taken a hopelessly dangerous path to perdition and we do not have people patriotic enough to speak out when things are not okay.

Unlike the brave bishops of 1992, who saw something wrong with the government and chose to act by authoring the pastoral letter ‘Living Our Faith’, the religious leaders we have today are busy reclining on their swivel chairs in boardrooms and munching their faith.

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