During the launch of the construction works for Lilongwe Old Airport-Kasiya-Santhe Road on Thursday, there was so much sycophancy on show it made me sick to the stomach.
From Traditional Authority Kabudula to Minister of Transport and Public Works Francis Kasaila, there was no telling who was still in charge of their faculties, to deliver a speech that was tempered with reason.
Take Kasaila, for instance. If sycophancy has a face, Kasaila wears it and he does so with such pride you feel like weeping for him. He delivered a short speech but I don’t remember how many times Kasaila uttered the term ‘bwana’ to signpost sycophancy. You can rest assured it was a lot. So much so that a few hours later, I could hardly recall the message he had meant to deliver. What stuck in my mind was bwana. A slave would mention ‘master’ fewer times than Kasaila did.
As for the chief, I have written in this space before but there is no harm in repeating it; chieftaincy is an obsolete institution which only politicians have any use of.
Chiefs are supposed to be apolitical, right? Now, tell me if this statement comes any closer to that position: “It has taken over 111 years for this road to be constructed. We had 70 years of our colonial masters, 31 years of MCP [Malawi Congress Party] and 10 years of UDF [United Democratic Front]. It is only the DPP [Democratic Progressive Party] government that has shown seriousness to construct the road. People have been saying this is a stronghold of MCP. In 2019, we will thank you by giving you an MP from this constituency.” (Courtesy of The Daily Times).
The chief, to his great discredit, conveniently sidestepped DPP rule under President Peter Mutharika’s brother, Bingu, who had eight years during which it, too, could have constructed the road.
The chief rounded up his speech by donating a cow to Mutharika—to bring about eerie echoes of life under Kamuzu Banda.
So much was out of tune on the day that I am at pains to understand why the event had two people as masters of ceremony. And not just two ordinary people; we are talking about the director of information Dr Bright Molande and the presidential press secretary Gerald Viola.
If there was a time the adage too many cooks spoil the broth was any truer this was the occasion. Molande—who should have better things to do than acting as an MC—and Viola competed with each other as they tried to emphasise that this was very much Mutharika’s pet project. And there were references to boot—page 21 or 42 of DPP’s manifesto.
The claims, of course, were promptly rubbished by MP Patricia Mkanda who disclosed that plans for the road had been very much in existence for the past six years—way before Mutharika had dreams of the presidency.
Besides, I find this obsession with ascribing national development projects to a particular president patronising and petty. So what if it was Mutharika’s idea? The notion that some president initiated this or that project ignores the fact that at the end of the day, we will all pay for the loans for the project—not just Mutharika or any other president. So, please stop this beating of the chest. It just makes you look petty.