To be honest, I don’t know much about the newly elected Lilongwe City Mayor Desmond Bikoko.
But, from his smooth face, you can tell he is fresh, ambitious and visibly assertive than the gullible, seemingly lost, elderly and sleepy former Mayor Willie Chapondera.
You know there is a big reason why people such as Chapondera should not get close to key public positions.
Chapondera, just like President Peter Mutharika, is a manager, not a leader.
Typical of the Kamuzu Banda generation, they believe in sitting on a big chair—just waiting for a day they will move out of office, sign for allowances and get chauffeur-driven to cut a ribbon for opening either a borehole in Chapananga, Chikwawa or a school block in Nthalire, Chitipa.
No strategic vision. No strategic plans. No aggressive moves. No problem solving strategy. Always coy and withdrawn. Nothing. Just existing on the official chair—no moves, no what; emptiness almost.
If you ask me why Malawi is still stagnant, I will show Chapondera’s two years as a mayor of Lilongwe. Despite being the capital city, Lilongwe remains a city defined by vast filthiness, chaotic planning, continued construction of sub-standard buildings and careless vending. Under Chapondera, Lilongwe was dead. Dead.
As Chapondera was busy sleeping on the job, his counterpart in Blantyre, the city where I live, was busy engaging various stakeholders with an aim of working together to revamp Blantyre to its glorious days of cleanliness, order and security.
In the two years, Noel Chalamanda has managed, let us face it, to bring order to a city that was on blink of wane. Not that everything is now in order. Rather, in the two years, Chalamanda has brought the belief that Blantyre can be clean, can be orderly, can be secured and, most importantly, its residents can have a sense of self belief in the commercial city they call home.
This is the kind of leadership that not just Blantyre, not just Lilongwe, not just Mzuzu or Zomba needs. This is the leadership that Malawi needs at the State House—at Capital Hill where key decisions are made.
At State House, President Peter Mutharika has exhibited Chaponderaic leadership of sleeping on the job. He is indecisive on most of key issues that demand his immediate redress.
For instance, he has failed to act decisively on some of his senior Cabinet ministers implicated in the destruction of Chikangawa Forest. He has chosen to look the other way while public universities remain closed and students are helplessly at home. He appears helpless, caught between the devil and the deep blue sea, and he is failing to act with a resolute sense on the raging maize saga which has complicated his administration.
I have argued before and I argue, again, here that the challenge with people who are in key public positions in the country is that most of them are past their prime regarding demands of the positions they occupy.
This is why we need to be cautious with people we put in leadership positions. We cannot continue with Chaponderaic type of leaders whose motive for office is an easy retirement ride. These guys have already lived their lives. They have already accumulated wealth. All they need now is to be in office to enjoy retirement. Let us reject them.
That it is why, today, I salute Lilongwe City councillors for pushing out Chapondera. Like so many like him, he does not deserve public office. We need strategic, fresh and ambitious leaders such as Chalamanda not just in our city councils, but even at State House and Capital Hill.
We cannot continue like this.