Malawi’s Spolitical landscape is shaking, slowly shaping up and reshaping with President Peter Mutharika virtually declaring “war” against the independent media.
The main opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) power struggle has resurfaced and no one knows the future of People’s Party (PP).
This is nothing but just the start to 2019 long but bumpy road to Kamuzu Palace.
Before I go further into politics, let me salute the Catholic Church in the country for putting in place measures that would curtail the spread of cholera.
The church has advised its faithful to suspend the tradition and culture of eating at churches, funerals or any other church gathering which attracts over five people.
The church says congregants should now learn to eat from home instead of waiting for food at church or funerals.
If the faithful are to spend the whole day, then packed meals should be bought including bottled soft drinks and water, the church has said.
This looks expensive but it is not compared to a life if not lives lost due to cholera.
I wish other churches and denominations emulated this.
People, including the faith community, should not leave everything to government.
The faith community has proved to be a vital tool when it comes to dissemination of information. They did and they are still doing well in the dissemination of messages on HIV and Aids.
Malawi is doing well in the containing of the disease partly due to efforts in the dissemination of the messages of HIV and Aids which in the past was deadly but it is no longer.
This is why I say the coming in of the Catholic Church to disseminate messages of cholera is a very welcome development in as far as prevention of the disease is concerned.
It is a pity that in this century, we should have people dying of cholera, Aids, malaria and other diseases which can be prevented.
In the same vein, let the church engage its faithful on environmental issues, for instance, encouraging the faithful to plant trees.
Just imagine, if one Friday, every Muslim planted a tree, what a lovely green Malawi would be in a few years to come.
Imagine this, if each Catholic faithful, CCAP faithful, Anglican faithful and Seventh Day faithful planted a tree on Saturday and Sunday, how beautiful Malawi would be.
Sometimes these programmes do not need funding at all. The church can just get the Sunday offerings or Saturday offerings to buy tree seedlings and, voila, Malawi has averted climate change effects such as heavy flooding and prolonged droughts the country experiences.
As I revert to politics, churches should avoid inviting politicians this season as we approach elections for the simple reason that some politicians are divisive figures.
I do not think this practice of inviting politicians to give wads of money to the church is within religious teachings.
Just imagine if Jesus decided to come back today and he finds wealthy politicians making donations of huge amounts of money to the church, money they got through stealing or corruption and what would the Son of God do?
Imagine, if Muhammad (May peace be upon Him) decided to come back today just to find wealthy politicians busy distributing wads of money to Muslims in a mosque, what would the last Prophet do?
Let me revert to politics now. I was shocked but not stunned to hear that Francis Muluzi, the son of former president Bakili Muluzi has joined MCP.
I was shocked because his father single-handedly found the United Democratic Front (UDF) which is now run by Francis’ brother, Atupele, with the elder Muluzi pulling the strings in the shadows.
I am not stunned because we are in a democracy; everyone, including Francis, has a right of association.
My quick assessment of the political move is that Francis might be avoiding power struggle with Atupele in UDF or the elder Muluzi is reading the writings on the wall, so as a political engineer if not political manipulator, he is making his presence in MCP in case the party wins.
Whatever the reason, the name Muluzi is credible; therefore, his joining of MCP has given credibility to MCP.
Now, on Chilembwe Day, on Monday, January 15, Mutharika said a lot of things about the media; that we are not reporting on positive issues happening in government, that we are exaggerating the corruption issues and that we are not patriotic and etc.
Journalists are human beings; sometimes they error.
In my 27 years as a professional journalist, I learnt that when a journalist errors, there are numerous ways of addressing the issue than taking it to the podium.
The Office of the President is the highest office of the land. This is why it has numerous constitutional offices to deal with such issues decisively.
Mutharika has a full-fledged press office at State House with very professional and intelligent young men and women who would have taken up the matter with the Media Council of Malawi.
I am sure Patrick Semphere and Vales Machila are waiting for them.
Minister of Information Nicholas Dausi and his team of Gedion Munthali, Director of Information and Deogratious Mmana, Deputy Director of Information, can visit newsroom managers to see how best to handle the matter.
Making the complaint through the podium is simply trivialising the important issue and no one would take it seriously apart from cartoonists.
But if all independent media in Malawi were to take news angles just like as state-funded Malawi Broadcasting Corporation, then our hard-won democracy would be in a dust bin.
Finally, Malawi needs a vibrant opposition. This is why MCP should put its house in order. The MCP leader Lazarus Chakwera should invite Secretary General Gustave Kaliwo to a negotiating table to deal with their differences.
In PP, only God knows its future!
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