By Mallick Mnela
The Malawi Congress Party-led Tonse government appeared holy when it was ushered into power.
There was a sigh of relief that things were going to be better with DPP out of power such that early bloopers were dismissed as immaterial.
Others even garnished the dismissal with the phrase: ‘Bola DPP inachoka m’boma’.
Some of the events that peaked this past week have exposed that politicians are the same.
The events, in particular the K 6.2 billion Covid-19 funds issue, have also shown that the civil service is still the same.
This begs the questions: how can change management take effect when we have the majority of the very same people who were used to plunder state coffers by the DPP in positions of authority?
How can Malawi achieve sanity when politicians seem to peddle an agenda of selfenrichment, sacrificing the genuine needs of Malawians in the process? It is evident that Malawi is going into yet another series of political accident just under a different brand.
The good thing is that it’s too early to condemn and timely to embrace change. The heat inside the Tonse system seems to be getting unbearable.
Just the other day, the Attorney General snapped at the leaking legal opinions that have seen his office and positions being castigated in an arena where he could not respond.
As such, this has placed the AG among a group of those that want this government to be seen in bad light. Perhaps this is so telling on the problem we have.
Our politicians consider themselves ‘political masters’ and they consider their tenure ‘their time to eat’. This is a departure from the servant leadership dummy the electorate were sold ahead of the polls. We are in uncertain times.
In uncertain times, citizens need to hear frequently from their leaders to stay informed, feel heard, and keep focused.
But nay! We have become a nation so bent at rumour mongering and insinuations with leadership scheduled to come to the fore, once in a while. Another issue is that while we have a systemic problem, we remain obsessed with addressing the symptoms instead of getting to the bottom of the real problems rocking Malawi.
People that are blaming the Tonse for the mess they are dragging Malawi into are not wrong at all. The Tonse leadership is leading on trust. They ascended to positions of authority with the perks that come with it: having access to citizen’s communal wealth for the advancement of society.
When the politicians live high and act in a manner that ranks lowly the needs and wants of the general population, it becomes reformation process.
A structural handicap of those leading the opposition is that the only tool they have at their disposal is their words.
We all know, talk is cheap. Malawians want actors not orators. Perhaps an orator who can match the sweet words with commensurate action would be a darling to many.
What we are going through as a country requires those in positions of power to utilise their advantage. Obviously, the Tonse have an advantage over their opponents. Only if they performed sufficient ground for lamentations.
To make matters worse, the opposition DPP and UDF are yet to reinvigorate themselves through a genuine halfway would they be perceived to have reasonably performed well.
Put bluntly, it is not that leaders objectively have to perform very well during a crisis to enhance their popularity or people’s perceptions of them. They only have to be perceived as doing so.
One of the things frustrating the Tonse is that there is a lot of experimentation and a lot of copying from the old ways of doing things.
Those in the top rung of leadership are going to take a fall because of what their surrogates are doing on the ground.
While some citizens will complain, the blind Tonse loyalists would still say; “Bola DPP inachoka m’boma.”
But how does it help to only change people and have the looting and plundering of public coffers continue?
There cannot be policy change without culture leading that change. In fact culture has to change first. This is why Vice President Sailos Chilima must come out of the dugout and actualise the reforms.
Given a chance to champion the agenda, Malawi can make progress.
The problem, however, is that the unscrupulous among some close to President Lazarus Chakwera know that the reforms would mean that they will only work to earn what they, like most of us, are entitled to.
They would argue that letting the vice President take this role would take away the shine from Chakwera. He would appear in charge of clearing the rubble.
Most people who come to government through the political route are changed by a sense of entitlement that goes beyond the payroll; no wonder shoddy deals such as those in the K 6.2 billion Covid-19 scandal and others that will be revealed later on become the order of the day and readily available solutions are thrown to the dogs!