Year of chameleons

Chilima and Chakwera

The Chinese have a very curious way of naming years after their Zodiac. They have a year of the snake, a year of the tiger, year of the dragon, year of the pig and many others.

Here at home, our money-spinning prophets—who are all over the place—have also found their style of naming years. We have had year of breakthroughs, year of harvest, year of prosperity, year of abundance and so many other terms that give hope to the desperate. Somehow, we have rowed in their boat with blind and utter belief. You would expect that from a people who have no solutions to their afflictions other than hope that hangs in the ethereal.

The year that is ending on Tuesday should also be given a befitting name. It must be a year of chameleons. Chameleons are known for their legendary laggardness and exceptional camouflage. They take ages to move from one spot to the next and within that period, they change colours as many times as they wish. We have been such as a nation.


Talk of slowness, since the start of the year, everything in this country has taken a disturbing chameleon pace. Only businesses that had a direct benefit from proceeds of the gruesome and unprecedented campaign period moved faster. The rest stood waiting and neglected; and they are still now especially with the elections case everyone is waiting for.

Right now, investors are not sure of the course to take as they too—let them confess or not—have their business’ growth tagged to policies of the government of the day. Word in town, which is louder, screams that it is difficult to find money yet it is so easy to spend it because those who hold the whole economy in their hands are not sure about what comes next.

Things might even become worse after the determination by the Constitutional Court presiding over the election case in Lilongwe. The discourse is that, even if the court rules that there were blatant irregularities in the elections and calls for fresh elections, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) would feel hard done by and would not easily let go of its position of luxuries. And if the court rules in favour of the DPP, the petitioners—meaning Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and UTM would also not take it lightly. This, too, will add to the tension that is already in this country as well as business activities. It is quite a tricky season we are in.


Look at how things have changed suddenly. Like how the chameleon flips its hue we have seen people changing faces. Unofficial alliances are being made while others are stealthily trying to learn on both sides of the political divide just to be safe whichever way the case goes.

President Peter Mutharika had the swagger and exuberance of the presidency when Malawi Electoral Commission declared him winner of the contentions elections. Today, his movements are those of a scared rat unsure of the snares laid before him. He has been scuttling in the undergrowth and his tone is not as it was before. Apprehension can really take a toll on one despite all the exhibited grandeur.

MCP’s Lazarus Chakwera and UTM’s Saulos Chilima were very confident of victory after the myriad blunders DPP had made prior to the polls. To each of them, victory was in sight and could easily be achieved by going solo. When one looks at it, both have been awoken by Mec’s declaration of the winner. Today they cut a fantastic figure of buddy-buddies despite them, sometimes, not talking well about each other during campaign. But then, one is tempted to say that this is only intimacy of deprived souls which does not last once one feels better off than the other.

But after we have said it all, it has been a fantastic year and if we all live to close it, we must remember 2019 as the year of chameleons.

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