It has been the tendency of our politicians to use commemorations such as Chilembwe Day to score cheap political points, more so when the general election is a mere five months away.
President Peter Mutharika did not disappoint at the commemoration of Chilembwe Day at Providence Industrial Mission (PIM) in Chiradzulu this week but it fell flat.
What should have been a national event to remember a man who protested the tax system that further impoverished the indigenous people. He stood firm against the colonial administration to the point of death.
In the absence of a Constitution, the likes of which exists now, Chilembwe stood for freedom of speech and expression. He spoke out against injustice, inequality and poverty. He did not inflict such on his people.
At no point can the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) claim to be what Chilembwe had embodied for this nation and whoever authored President Peter Mutharika’s speech in commemoration of the day is clearly deluded.
Mutharika should have been embarrassed enough not to utter some of the points in his speech. He could not have believed what he was saying and it is surprising that he expected those who were listening to believe it.
It is the president’s conviction that people now have money in their pockets as evidenced by the number of vehicles he sees on the road and now they have food on the table.
Those three million Malawians, a big fraction of the population, who have a begging bowl extended for some maize and beans between now and April must have shook their heads in incredulity. Thankfully, that part of the speech was not translated into vernacular.
It is not a sign of a prosperous nation when its cities are full of new vehicles. It is a sign of desperation. It is a burden on the economy when these vehicles are bought with a foreign currency whose source is donors and a cash crop that is no longer popular.
The youth in the border districts and in high density townships running motorbikes as a business is of no consequence when they are not employing others and the money they earn does not contribute to taxes to enable a good health, infrastructure and education system.
Certainly, Minister of Finance Goodall Gondwe would disagree with such reasoning when he has such a yawning gap in his national budget that should be filled by more people paying taxes, especially when bailouts from the likes of World Bank are not forthcoming.
It is not a standard of prosperity when the only time rural Malawians can own a house is when the government spends billions on a programme that is largely seen as a campaign gimmick.
Prose in Mutharika’s delivery of speeches as it has been observed lately will not change what the majority of Malawians know now.
If there are Malawians who want to take the country to the days of Chilembwe then it is these in the DPP administration.
In his convoluted speech at the church service, Mutharika claimed his DPP has not been the one to bring to Malawians politics of castigation or hate but development, peace, love and unity.
Unless this man has been in a coma the past four years, the DPP has consistently preached hate and violence inflicting such on all manner of people, opposition politicians and ordinary citizens.
It is laughable for Mutharika to use the Chilembwe Day podium and claim that he will not allow anyone to take Malawi back to the days of darkness, dictatorship and bloodshed.
His DPP has done that and more. The DPP has made Malawi a lawless country that he is talking about.
You cannot ask Malawians to work together with the government in developing the country when those tasked with the job have become obscenely rich at the expense of poor citizens who travel long distances to access health and education services.
In his grave, wherever it may be, Chilembwe would snicker in disgust to hear his name being linked to a political organisation that stands for everything that he stood against. n