Once upon a time politician-cum-comedian Bon Kalindo endeared himself to Malawians. This is when he organised demonstrations across the country against rising cost of living. The former Mulanje South legislator was hailed for voicing out issues that resonated well with many Malawians. The rising cost of living was precipitated by rising prices of commodities mainly due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Kalindo’s stand against the suffering that the rising cost of living was exacting on the people towards the end of last year sparked flames of fire across the country. By December last year Kalindo, had already taken his demonstrations movement to Blantyre, Lilongwe, Mzuzu and Mangochi, and more marches were slated for other districts. Then something happened. Maybe that should be a story for another day. But what is common knowledge is that Kalindo abruptly suspended his demonstrations programme and told the nation he was doing so “to allow people to celebrate the festive season”. He promised to be back before long. But he never returned. And yet the rising cost of living has never stopped.
Fast forward, this week Kalindo was back in the limelight, not to pressurise President Lazarus Chakwera to act on the continued rising cost of living, as he had earlier promised, but with an ultimatum to the President to fire Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) director general Martha Chizuma within seven days. He said if the President fails to do so, he will organise demonstrations.
Why fire Chizuma? According to Kalindo, an audio in which she discussed information about her organisation’s investigations had a criminal element. Chakwera was, therefore, allegedly under obligation to fire her for failing to uphold the rule of law as provided for in the Corrupt Practices Act.
Truth is that Kalindo must have overrated himself to think the earlier demonstrations he organised against the rising cost of living last year, had given him enough political capital to do the same over any issue he could pick on. He grossly miscalculated the source of his meteoric rise to fame from the earlier demonstrations. He wrongly felt Malawians could not see through his blue lies that he is an opportunist to be followed at owners’ risk. People had long discovered that he had a hidden agenda—that he is drunk on something, and that his activism is now self-serving.
If there is one enemy all patriotic Malawians need to unite against, that enemy is corruption. And Chizuma is one of the pillars of fighting the vice. She is heading the graft-busting body by the will and power of the people who want the country to make progress in the fight against the vice. President Chakwera appointed her to the position against the will—first of the Parliamentary Appointments Committee (PAC)—who rejected her and, secondly, against the will of many who are beneficiaries of corruption. It was not by accident that PAC failed Chizuma when she appeared before it even after she emerged the best candidate among more than seven. What were PAC members afraid of?
When PAC rejected her, the masses threatened to unite and march against the decision. PAC had no choice but to reverse its earlier decision. The forces we now see against Chizuma are nothing but systemic corruption fighting back. The Zuneith Sattar corruption investigations, both in the United Kingdom and Malawi, have enmeshed many people in a web. These people are now fighting back. The audio recorded from Chizuma is one of the plots to find fault with her. Sadly, what is suffering in all this is the fight against the very vice she was appointed to wage war against.
Fighting corruption in Malawi will remain a farce if those in power think it is a tool for merely finishing off the opposition. n