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No holds barred: Don’t create imaginary coups to mask failure

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Two online newspapers last week published a hastily written story alleging that Leader of Opposition, Lazarus Chakwera, was conniving with the Ambassador of the United States, Virginia Palmer, to topple the duly elected government of Peter Mutharika.

The story provided no proof of any sort to back this claim.

There was no photograph of people discussing the overthrow, and no audio or video evidence was provided. For an allegation of such magnitude, it was incredible that the story was published at all.

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The Democratic Progressive Party is no stranger to creating bogus claims of such nature.

On April 28, 2006, former vice president Cassim Chilumpha was arrested. Former justice and constitutional affairs minister Henry Phoya claimed in a statement that Chilumpha instructed his friend, Yusuf Matumula, to travel to South Africa for purposes of engaging and procuring the services of a professional assassin to kill Bingu wa Mutharika, president of Malawi at that time.

The statement went on to say that the person, in the company of a colleague, did come into this country where he met and held discussions with Chilumpha at Mudi House in the City of Blantyre.

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At this meeting, so the statement said, Chilumpha confirmed his intentions to have Bingu assassinated so that he, Chilumpha, could then ascend to the high office of State President.

The statement went on to say that as a reward for killing the Head of State, both Chilumpha and Matumula promised to award the would-be assassin lucrative government contracts worth millions of US dollars.

Phoya’s statement further said all the meetings and discussions on the assassination plans both in Malawi and South Africa were recorded through very powerful and modern recording facilities.

The recorded information, the statement concluded, was in the possession of the Malawi Government.

When you have an entire cabinet minister making such claims, you are tempted to think that there is merit in those allegations. How could a man such as he dream up the entire plot in such an elaborate manner?

But it turned out to be a blue lie, a figment of the Justice Ministry’s imagination. Ten years later and K200 million wasted on such a vain pursuit, the case is in limbo.

The government’s key witnesses were South African Graham Raymond Alistair Minnaar and Malawian Thomas Elias Ndlhovu.

Despite being identified in the court documents, Minnaar, in an interview with the Mail & Guardian published on August 12, 2011, pleaded ignorance. “I am not aware of the case and I don’t know Chilumpha and I have never been to Malawi. I am in South Africa and nobody has called me to be a witness.”

Such is the calibre of the government we are having at present.

When facing failure, they fabricate assassination plots, claiming to rely on the so-called intelligence body, whose most urgent need is actually being staffed with intelligent people.

When a case that seemed well-stitched fell apart like it did, how can we expect this hearsay to stand scrutiny?

A lot of people have had their characters assassinated in this most unfortunate story, besides the reckless attempt to ruin relations between Malawi and the United States. Did we not learn from the experience of declaring former British High Commissioner Fergus Cochrane- Dyet persona non grata?

If you’re going to name the entire American ambassador as attempting to overthrow a bankrupt, clueless government, then you’d better have adequate evidence, not just quoting what people said.

The American Government has engineered the overthrow of many governments in the world, and has suffered great embarrassment in those few cases where it failed, such as the Bay of Pigs imbroglio in 1961 in Cuba.

But it has done so where its interests were at stake. Between 1945 and 1991, a period blanketed by the Cold War between America and the only other global super-power at the time, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), governments could be overthrown if they were deemed to support the arch-rival.

Some have also claimed that wars in Iraq and Libya were fuelled by America’s thirst for oil.

What interest does America have in Malawi, really? Do we have oil? No. Do we have gold and diamonds? No. What benefit would America get from overthrowing Malawi’s government?

Some of these stories are created without any intelligent forethought.

The government of Peter Mutharika is struggling. Mutharika is failing to govern this country. People are struggling with hunger out there, and rather than do anything about it, he makes speeches at state house about Admarc selling maize.

Which maize? The Daily Times reported, after all, that Admarc depots are empty. In those few places where private traders are selling some, a 50 kg bag is going at K15,000 or K18,000.

As we speak, the kwacha is losing value at a mindboggling speed. In December 2014, when Mutharika’s government borrowed some money from the PTA Bank to strengthen the kwacha, the Minister of Information at the time, Kondwani Nankhumwa, rushed to praise the President sky-high for his “wise and dynamic leadership” in strengthening the kwacha with a loan.

Where is that “wise and dynamic leadership” now? Instead of leadership, we have fiction, feeding the nation a cocktail of lies about overthrows.

It’s time to stop this nonsense and get to work. People are hurting out there.

Find solutions to stop the suffering. Leave fiction to writers, of which there is no shortage.

Soon it will be two years since Professor Mutharika became president of this country. What can he show us as his achievement? He would be like Marco Rubio, the clueless candidate running for president in America, whose surrogates, such as Rick Santorum, fail to mention any of his achievements because there are none.

This surprises no one, because when he was cabinet minister in three ministries, he achieved absolutely nothing.

Expecting him to achieve at presidential level would be wishful thinking.

In the end, we will have fabricated coups like these, as a way of diverting people’s attention from real issues of the day.

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