President Lazarus Chakwera delivered his toughest speech, yet, on Thursday, spiting fire from the grounds of the stately Kamuzu Palace, flanked by the military and police chiefs in the clearest show of force by the commander-in-chief.
If the goal, optics wise, was to project power, in the speech, the good man from Malembo did not mince words—emptied his chest on his ‘anguish’ over the slow pace of the rubble clearing business.
By the end of the day, the speech had his base—the party faithful who had been baying for blood for some time— jubilating while their rivals—who are in various government jobs appointed by the vanquished Peter Mutharika-led administration—began to feel a bit less comfortable and unease about their future in the Tonse Alliance-led government.
It’s clear, there will now be bloodletting. Perhaps, a few will not be able to reconcile it, too, with the inauguration pledge that those whose vote he did not earn will find him their president too.
Some of the bloodletting obviously will be good for the country. Think of bootlickers who make good for nothing public servants who were inappropriately or irregularly hired out of political connections or those who are clearly obstructing progress out of corruption or incompetence.
Some folks, indeed, must go.
The President, the argument always goes, has always spoken the good game. Speeches as argued eloquently by social media activist Onjezani Kenani, has never been the problem for the Tonse administration, but action.
Thursday’s speech had ultimatums and deadlines.
It also had targets and that include officials at Maneb—who attracted the President’s ire over leaked examinations and have subsequently been given two months to pack and go; the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), who was chastened for failing to bring up cases against individuals who were fingered by the Constitution Court and Supreme Court for breaking the law in the presidential election case and, no surprise here, Malawi Electoral Commission management, which stand accused of botching the 2019 elections.
Officials from the above offices might as well start considering themselves as having been served notice, if the tone and substance of the President’s speech is to prevail. And so, too, must DPP cadets masquerading as public servants elsewhere across the civil service and State companies.
The gist of the president’s argument—and that of his backers—is that such a cleansing will return sanity to the state enterprises and help Chakwera deliver his agenda. Fair enough!
Yet, there are no guarantees—at all—on the latter. For example, there are no guarantees that as Chakwera rids the State enterprises of parasitic cadets, Tonse Alliance’s version won’t take their positions.
And, while the removal of the nuisance that the DPP cadets in government had become is both timely and welcome, we also better be mindful of the need to ensure due-diligence, natural justice and rule of law prevails—and that the cleansing doesn’t become a witch-hunt where stories are conjured up out malice and envy to victimise innocent people.
A welcome day of the reckoning for the callous cadets that tormented the nation, presided over inefficiencies in public system and plundered the State.
There won’t be any tears, certainly, from this end, for the cadets who had the temerity to publicly show the middle finger to good governance this other time when a friend and colleague, Prince Henderson, was hired as public relations officer for this other State company only for the cadets to turn to social media and demand his removal for, lord have mercy, not being one of them.
Mperezi they shouted! Within days, Henderson’s employment contract was withdrawn.
Nor shall we mourn the exit of cartoonish sycophants and party propagandists—masquerading as journalists— at MBC, who had the temerity of insult the sitting Vice-President (in this case unpublishable profanities) and court judges in equal measure.
Some, among this group, even could afford to wear in public party regalia and incite violence. For such folks, we will rejoice at their dismissal.
But, what goes around surely comes around.
So as Chakwera sweeps government and plant his men and women, may those to take over the mantle of aiding the building of a new Malawi reconcile themselves to the fact that power is temporary and they, too, will one day face a day of reckoning—comeuppance as the editor of this Sunday paper would have it—and answer for their actions in office. Above all, the President, as eager as he is to clear the rubble, must also not lose sight to the fact that perception is everything in politics.