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When expectation exceeds action

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President Lazarus Chakwera on Wednesday evening appointed his first full Cabinet into office and it was a night of long knives, with hell totally breaking loose.

Chakwera’s Cabinet was put to a full sword and the conclusion of many a Malawian is that the group that the President has put together fell short in many ways.

Among the many things that went against the Cabinet, so went the criticism, are that it lacks enough number of professionals (I am not sure what would be the right number), has family ties and attempts to please those that might have contributed in one way or another to achieve the Tonse Alliance victory on June 23.

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Coming from six years of passivity and lethargy of the Peter Mutharika administration, my take is that clearly the hullabaloo about the Cabinet is a result of the fact that Malawians have inevitably high expectations from this administration and would want it to succeed in line with its promise of a better Malawi for everyone and not just the chosen few.

Clearly, in the eyes of the public, this expectation was not met.

Clearly the President was walking on tightrope to achieve a balance of not being an ingratiate that forgets those that have been with him through thick and thin for the past seven years he was in the trenches but at the same time delivering a Cabinet that has enough professionals with enough technical know-how to push the development agenda that this country desperately deserves through thrashing and questioning of policies.

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Many of these professionals, I must add, might have been in the comfort of their homes as the soldiers who have helped Chakwera and Chilima were toiling in the gutters to achieve this victory.

In the end those who were in the trenches with Chakwera and Chilima have won hands down and they have booked themselves a place at the dinner table.

Yet, I must say, the whole business of Cabinet has put a dampener on an otherwise highly inspired citizenry this week after the unprecedented speech that Chakwera delivered as he was being inaugurated as Commander-in-Chief of Malawi Defence Force (MDF) during a ceremony that took place at Kamuzu Barracks in Lilongwe on Monday.

It was a speech that set the tone of his administration in a powerful, inspiring and rousing manner that has been praised by both friends and foes in equal measure.

It was a well written piece of literature that attempted to chart the direction the new administration wants to take and ably characterised the state of the nation in no complimentary terms.

He used powerful metaphors to describe the state of the nation such that it a rubble due to endemic nepotism, regionalism and general negativity.

The question is; can this true? Is that how bad we have become as a nation?

Chakwera seemed to be so sure about it that he extended the metaphor to say the only way out of a rubble is going through drastic pain of mending and putting together the broken bones as an orthopaedic surgeon mercilessly does to cure them so that they function again.

He then struck a tone of reconciliation that developing this nation is a responsibility of even the opposition, promising that he will personally meet the leader of the opposition every three months to hear alternative views on how to develop this nation which is unprecedented and unheard of in this country renown for practicing uncivilized politics.

Whether or not the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) will warm up to this, knowing that it is licking its wounds after the loss of the State House on June 23, is immaterial but the nation will judge them if they are found on the wrong side of history.

And in a bid to be exemplary, the President says he will declare his assets yearly, present himself to Parliament to answer questions from people’s representatives and that he will ensure that the Access to Information Law is operationalised.

It is a good thing that finally we have a President who seems ready to submit to the will of the people and it is a breath of fresh air.

When all is said and done, it is quite a shame and indictment on the former DPP administration that the Access to Information (ATI) law has not been operationalised since it was passed into law in 2016.

How long does a law take to be operationalised and why did the Peter Mutharika administration drag its feet on it so much?

Those who say the DPP administration was not keen on the matter probably because it had so much to hide after years of malaise and maladministration might have a point.

In the final analysis, sometimes a good beginning makes a bad ending and proof of the pudding is in the eating yet the nation must accept that the President is saying the right things.

It is after all, a breath of fresh air after the lethargy of the past six years under the laid back Professor Peter Mutharika.

Chakwera still has to learn to manage expectation and do what is right.

The jury is still out there

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