The death of former Vice-President Justin Chimera Malewezi has left the nation in great disbelief and shock.
A well of wisdom and a selfless servant of the people has departed from us at a time Malawi desperately longs for leaders of his calibre.
I have fond memories of the first Vice-President in post- independent Malawi. I first met him during the campaign for the 1994 general elections. He was a down-to-earth man—always ready to lend his ear to anybody willing to listen to his few but powerful words.
A politician of great pedigree, Malewezi served the country as Vice-President for 10 years and left the trappings of power without any dent on his image. In everything he did, he led by example.
As an accomplished civil servant, Malewezi rose from a teacher to become the Secretary to the President and Cabinet as well as Secretary to the Treasury during founding president Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda’s era. His contributions to the socio-economic development of the country are quite immense.
I fondly remember Malewezi as a man who spoke only when he had to. Whenever he opened his mouth to speak, every audience was forced to listen. He was highly disciplined and well-mannered.
In a nation where politicians are tainted with allegations of corruption and theft of public resources, Malewezi was a public servant who rose above personal interests to serve the nation with utmost integrity.
After his grand service both as a civil servant and Vice-President, his name has never been associated with allegations of corruption or any crime.
Malewezi has been a distinguished statesman throughout his service to the nation. He served with integrity.
After his political retirement, Malewezi championed the fight against HIV and Aids pandemic. He delivered lectures during various local and international conferences.
Malewezi was an epitome of selfless leadership our political leaders have to emulate.
However, despite his immense contribution to the country, no notable recognition has been bestowed on him. His name was almost forgotten. Few remembered him after his political career.
Although he is gone, the nation can still honour him posthumously.
As Malawians from all walks of life mourn and celebrate the life of this humble servant of the people, the government should consider honouring him in a special way.
We can name some public institutions and streets after this great son of the soil in recognition of his good character and national contributions.
Malawi has numerous roads and streets named after colonial characters and some African leaders, both dead and alive. For instance, Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe has two roads named after him—a highway in Blantyre and a crescent in Lilongwe.
And two Kenyan former presidents—Jomo Kenyatta and Daniel Arap Moi—have streets named after them too.
Why should we honour foreign leaders at the expense of our own achievers who have sacrificed a lot for mother Malawi?
Why can’t we rename Chileka International Airport after Malewezi, for instance? Or the presidential drive in Lilongwe after him?
The nation has several options to honour this unique patriot.
Recognising various contributions by Malawians still living or dead and buried will in the long run promote servant leadership and patriotism.
The country desperately needs patriots who value national interests above personal gratification. Our country has lost a lot to self-serving leadership.
Malewezi leaves behind a legacy that will be valued and cherished for many years to come. He, therefore, deserves an indelible mark in the annals of the country’s history.
He has left behind a lesson that servant and honest leadership is possible—and those entrusted with leadership are in a position of service to the people.