Tales of a sovereign beggar
The Martha Chizuma drama has revealed a lot about the state of our nation. Firstly, we have been privileged to see how infantile people in decision-making positions are in this country.
We seem to be led by people who often leave their brains at home when going to the office. Secondly, we can now conclude that the fight against corruption is but political rhetoric in an attempt to blind us from seeing the corruption that is there.
Another important thing we have learned from this saga is that Malawi is not yet an independent country.
When that audio clip came out and we heard Chizuma making some careless comments regarding her work with other government agencies and individuals, some of us felt that the lady needed disciplining.
Most people did not see the weight that was behind that recording. It never occurred to us that there may be a whole machinery working against this woman.
And as time went by, we got to realise just how scared people are with the small steps Chizuma is taking to bring the corrupt to book. Mountains have risen in this valley to the point that it had to take foreigners to stop the government from fighting her.
One wonders what those who make decisions in government are smoking. It was just awkward to see government hiring private lawyers to fight government.
Had it not been for the relentless efforts of the Malawi Law Society, Chizuma would have been buried alive.
Considering everything that happened in the past 10 days, it is difficult to see an end to graft in this country. Whatever files the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) is sitting on seem to implicate those who lied to us that they love us, and they are afraid that we will see the skeletons in their closet. But we will see those bones.
The interesting part, and perhaps the climax of the comedy, is in how the Malawi Government tried to defend itself when it was confronted by the donor community on this issue.
When the American embassy expressed its disappointment with how we are fighting corruption, the Ministry of Information issued a press statement arguing that Malawi is a sovereign state and that there should be limits to how foreign agencies can interfere in our affairs.
It was such a textbook statement made by somebody who is unaware of their living conditions. It was such an embarrassment.
To begin with, sovereignty entails more than the independence we attained from Britain in 1964. To be sovereign is to be responsible for your own well-being and to be in control of your affairs.
The Malawi Government fails on all these clauses and that is why we always bow before Western powers. It is the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank who tell us how to handle our economy.
They tell us devalue the Kwacha and we say “how low should we go?” This is because we do not feed ourselves. Since independence, we are always looking up to the global north for aid, and we cannot claim to be independent.
Sovereignty also requires some level of maturity in making decisions. The immaturity that our leadership has demonstrated in the Chizuma scandal only goes to show how far we are from handling responsibility.
We have a government that cannot control its own affairs – a hungry dog that eats its own puppies. This lack of responsibility is what perpetuates the stereotypes that the former colonisers have about us – that we have infantile proclivities and we do not have the capacity to take care of ourselves.
The worst thing is that we go on to prove them right through our thoughtless actions.
Malawi cannot claim sovereignty when its leaders behave like toddlers.
We cannot claim to be independent when we are always carrying begging bowls, looking up to the West for basics such as food, shelter and clothes.
If we were mature enough as a nation, we could have been feeding ourselves by now.
But since the end of colonialism, we have failed to take off and those we put in leadership positions have only stolen from us to enrich themselves and their families.
Looking at how things are turning out, we may indeed need the intervention of foreigners to fight corruption in this country.