ColumnsTales of Time

When old, we rust


When the Nyasaland National Football Team were taught crude and brutal lessons of football by Ghana in 1962, President Peter Mutharika was a bubbly 22-year-old young man. His buddy-buddy Goodall Gondwe was 26.

Today, it is 46 years since what has now become to be known as The Flames were playing in their football nappies and being taught the way by teams such as Ghana. Of course not much has changed for our national team as they still are the whipping boys of Africa and what has improved is that they now can lose to Ghana by only a two-goal margin.

Forty-six years since Peter and Goodall were 22 and 26 respectively tells you how old these two cronies are. Normally, these people are two decades past their retirement age and should by now have been home sharing tales with their great-great grandchildren around the bonfires of Mzimba and Chisoka, in Thyolo.


Ironically, these are two tired and wasted great grandparents that we have entrusted to run our affairs. It will be vain for any of us to think the solutions to our problems will come from these old men.

In his prime—let us not take away this from him—Goodall Gondwe was a fine and articulate economist who wowed all of us. When he was minister of finance while he still had the grit, Bingu wa Mutharika, may he rest well, had a stellar performance as president. Many will not say it but the truth remains that Bingu’s admirable record was to a great extent buoyed by the acumen of  Goodall who still had something to offer the country.

But now Goodall is a senile man who sometimes forgets what he said minutes earlier.


Recently, Goodall has been in the news for the controversial payout of K4billion to Members of Parliament that some believe are those that helped to shoot down the Electoral Reforms Amendment Bills.

Goodall’s dip in the public purse tells you that there is something wrong with the judgement of the erstwhile immaculate and fantastic finance minister. I am tempted to think that the old man has lost it all and he is being used knowingly by some people who know that an 81-year-old granny cannot make sound decisions.

But above Goodall, we have our dear president who is 78 and only three years younger. He, too, is past retirement age and should not be burdened with a grand responsibility of making decisions for 17 million people.

Now, what is problematic is that as a nation, we have this deeply engraved belief that it is automatic that age comes with wisdom. What we have conveniently forgotten is that as we are ageing, our lives take a reverse turn and we begin to think and behave like infants while our strengths, physical or mental, begin to wane drastically.

Peter and Goodall might have been among the brightest lawyers and economists respectively in their glorious years but we must accept that at 78 and 81, a person is old and must not be burdened with the task of running a country or heading any ministry and more to that, an important ministry such as that of finance.

It shocks me every time Peter makes a bold declaration that come 2019, he will be on the ballot to run our affairs until he is 84 years old. That is the Mugabe spirit which Zimbabwe recently refused.

Actually, if people like Peter and Goodall do not accept that they are old and need to leave the stage with honour, it is evident that they are not aware of what is happening. I am tempted to believe that some cunning people close to these people are pushing them to stay on so that they are manipulated to make wrong decisions that will benefit the crooks.

If Peter and Goodall retire today, it is not like they will become poor and destitute. After all the two claim to have amassed wealth while working abroad back then. But, I think, why they want to stay on till apocalypse is to shield all crooks that have surrounded them and the same time hiding their dirty.

Let me say it again. Our belief that you have to be old to be wise is silly and it is one of the reasons that have pushed this country to damnation. The truth is when old, we rust.

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