July 22 2021
In January 1849, the French journalist Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr of the Figaro newspaper had a maxim. He wrote in one of his entries: Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. Simply, that reads the more things change, the more things remain the same.
Doubt his word at your own peril.
Just when many thought by putting the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) out of power things would change for the better for Malawi, President Lazarus Chakwera and his government pulls surprises that make you feel that the spirits of the State House are capturing him.
The other day, the deceased and venerated Malawian British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) correspondent Ralph Tenthani was in trouble for reporting on ghosts at the State House during Bingu wa Mutharika’s rule.
It is clear the spirits at State House have not been exorcised yet.
As a jive talker, Chakwera told everyone of us his rule would be business unusual. He told us nepotism would be a thing of the past. That is one.
But then, once at State House, the ghosts at State House have blurred his vision. He appoints his daughter Violet as First Secretary in Brussels.
The explanation we have is that she is qualified. We are also told that the President’s daughter should not be going door- by-door seeking jobs like my unemployed brethren at Nthungwa in Mzimba.
And then, Press Secretary Brian Banda chooses to wonder why Malawians are worried at the appointment. Why worry about one person when the President has made 2 000 appointments? Proper reasoning, obscured by the ghosts that find a proper home at the State House.
Things have not changed.
While Chakwera told us that putting into crucial and critical positions relatives is nepotism that must be dealt with, the ghosts that capture people once they enter the gates of State House have changed his meaning of nepotism.
Truth be told, it is His Excellency’s prerogative to hire and fire people in some crucial and critical positions, but sending a daughter to the embassy is a little bit absurd.
Some day, the ghosts of State House will be exorcised. That day, we will hear press secretaries like Brian Banda not making us believe that the price of cooking oil will drop when we have a compact railway line. State House ghosts leave us gaping: When did the age of logic end?
This week, the taxpayer dug deeper into their pockets to pay 18 women from Nsundwe, Mpingu and Mbwatalika K130 million as compensation for the rape they went through at the hands of the police officers during the persistent demonstrations for the head of Jane Ansah, who presided over a botched and tippexed 2019 presidential poll.
The women went through trauma that will be with them throughout their lives. No amount can appease that.
But then, where are the officers who raped the women? We hear police are conducting fresh investigations into the matter.
Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose, as said our journalist and novelist of old. It is a norm in the service that errant officers are just transferred as punishment. When did the age of reason, again, end?
It is no wonder that we hear that police have now beefed up their anti-demonstration equipment to include water cannons.
Don’t you worry, things will never change.