Each time the President has made appointments of people to fill government positions, there is the scrutiny that follows such appointments. In a country organised like ours, this scrutiny is necessary. We want our leaders to put in position individuals who will help in realising the corporate national goals. We also want the President to appoint from certain sections of our society which have been marginalised in one way or the other. The President, must, therefore be sensitive to also include women as he makes the appointments. There are also people living with disabilities and/or those who have a special status worth considering. These things are important.
Since Peter Mutharika became President there has been a tendency to criticise his appointments based on ethnicity. To be sure, anytime someone has been appointed and he/she happens to be a Lhomwe or to come from certain districts in the Southern Region of the country, then the hounds are released and we hear from left and right and centre that the President has appointed such and such from the Lhomwe belt. I am well aware that some parts of southern United States are known as the Bible belt. While I may not know the full origin of the districts of Thyolo, Mulanje, Chiradzulu and Phalombe have been christened as the Lhomwe belt, the more it is said, the more I think about that the term ‘Lhomwe belt’ as offensive and derogatory. Why do I think like I do? It is because I have never heard people referred to Chihana as coming from the Tumbuka belt, Vuwa Kaunda from the Tonga Belt, Chakwera from the Chewa belt, or Goodall Gondwe from the Ngoni belt. But Agrina Mussa then has come from the Lhomwe belt! I am not suggesting that we liberalise the offensive language; rather, we should reflect and perhaps stop the divisive language that some of us have been using.
Let me also say that I have stated my heritage on these pages before. My father comes from Thyolo, indeed, and his maternal grandmother (nee Khoromana) came from Mozambique. My father belongs to the Lhomwe groups. My mother’s maternal heritage is Sena, Portuguese and Ngoni. I feel offended with this Lhomwe belt accusations. They are insensitive and hurting.
Let me move on to something else related to the politics of this country. I hear all this talk about national development going to one region at the expense of the others. This is an important criticism. The national government needs to be sensitive as to how it distributes the national cake. There must be a reason government allocates development (interpreted as construction) in one region as opposed to the other. Government constructs the Bingu Highway and do we hear people complaining that national construction is in one region? Then it constructs Nkhata Bay District Hospital and what do we hear? Nkhata Bay is not in Thyolo. Of course, there is the Malawi University of Science and Technology (Must) in Thyolo; but Thyolo is also in Malawi, not at Tete! Amangwetu?