Among the many proposals, let me call demands, that have been towards President Joyce Banda is that the length of her motorcade or convoy must be reduced. Words like â€œgas-guzzlingâ€ vehicles have been used to describe the large, big-engine vehicles that are part of her motorcade. Many people have said that unless the motorcade reduces, it will be difficult for the nation to think that the President is serious towards austerity. Mrs Joyce Banda has accepted that her motorcade will reduce but for security reasons, the length will be somewhat larger than many people would have loved.
Let me digress to discuss what I was thinking on the night of the 9th of October 2012 as I watched an MBC TV programme in which Minister of Finance, Dr Ken Lipenga was being interviewed on the economy. Many things were discussed, including the ministerâ€™s defense of the devaluation of the Malawi Kwacha. As I listened to the discussion, I remembered my notes I took on 12th February 2012.
According to my records, on this day ministers Ken Lipenga, Henry Mussa and Peter Mutharika and 158 traditional leaders had an audience with late president Bingu wa Mutharika, assuring the late president and supporting him that the devaluation of the kwacha was a bad thing to the economy. Let me hasten to say that my notes did not have information as to whether the honourable ministers were for or against the devaluation of the Kwacha when Bingu was alive. It just was an interesting observation that just not long ago, Honourable Lipenga was minister in a devaluation-averse government while when power changed, he was willing to defend a situation he failed to defend in the same year.
I am saying this towards honourable Lipenga intentionally as I find his argumentation persuasive. I want him to consider my positions and think about these. I also know that he is not the type of person who, when you disagree with him, nurses grudges.
Now, back to the convoy issue. How short should or must a presidentâ€™s convoy be? The simple answer is that the convoy can be as short as it can be. Let me list the number and type of vehicles that are on the convoy. There is a medical rescue vehicle. There is the doctorsâ€™ vehicle. There is the medical support vehicle. There is the presidentâ€™s vehicle. There is a spare presidentâ€™s vehicle. There is a vehicle that carries mechanics. There is the protocol personâ€™s vehicle. There should be at least two police vehicles, one in front and the other at the back and sometimes others by the sides.
There is the MDF vehicle trailing at the end of the convoy. There is the vehicle carrying the information machinery. How many vehicles are these if you are counting? My point is, I have intentionally missed some of the functions that are on the convoy and yet the list is already long. The President will not manage a shorter convoy. My choice is she keeps the long and winding convoy but she travels less and work in the office.