The animals had once gathered to elect a new ruler. At that great meeting, the Monkey was asked to dance.
The Monkey danced so well, with a thousand funny capers and grimaces, that the animals were carried entirely off their feet with enthusiasm. Then and there, they elected him their king.
But the fox did not vote for the monkey and was much disgusted with the animals for electing so unworthy a ruler.
One day he found a trap with a bit of meat in it. Hurrying to King Monkey, he told him he had found a rich treasure, which he had not touched because it belonged by right to his majesty the Monkey.
The greedy Monkey followed the fox to the trap.
As soon as the Monkey saw the meat, he grasped eagerly for it, only to find himself held fast in the trap. The fox stood off and laughed.
“You pretend to be our king,” he said, “and cannot even take care of yourself!”
Shortly after that, another election among the animals was held.
Æsop sums up this tale with a moral that true leaders prove themselves by their qualities.
Vice-President Saulos Chilima has been traversing the country quacking into the microphones of all manner about the public service reforms whose commission tasked to overseer not only the formulation but implementation of the reforms he chairs.
Fortunately, Chilima, through his speeches, knows who the devil is behind the past 79 unsuccessful reforms’ attempts in Malawi.
When he met Blantyre-based parastatal organisations recently, he called for change of mindset and an improvement in work ethics among public servants if the reforms championed by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) are to succeed.
The Veep also mentioned political interference and lack of autonomy in parastatal organisations as some of the challenges hampering effective service delivery and performance.
He realises that the only thing that interferes in the public services is the ruling party headed by its president.
Indeed, many problems Malawi is grappling with arise from the shameless dearth of shame and pride and the lack of love of the country by people charged with the responsibility of running the affairs of the country.
Perhaps Chilima and his principal secretary Nwazi Mnthambala know that employees are demoralised and frustrated when their employer flout the set recruitment, promotion, transfer or dismissal procedures, and instead blue-eye them.
And the DPP administration is promoting the same rat race where political colour in public appointments rather than merit counts.
Almost a year in the driving seat, DPP has catapulted into public service senior positions semi-illiterate, incompetent and inexperienced people – even from outside the public service – associated with the ruling party.
Recall that DPP secretary general Eckleni Kudontoni speaking at the party meeting in Mzuzu testified to this when he urged public servants to toe the party line or lose their jobs.
DPP has neither disowned nor condemned Kudontoni over the remarks.
So what Chilima and DPP are saying is that they know that inefficiency in the public service is the result of some chronic infection.
But they are attempting to tackle the inefficiency without tackling its cause; a case of treating the symptom and leaving the disease untreated.
So long as the status quo remains, it would be hard to believe that Chilima, Mnthambala and DPP are the right leaders with qualities to generate the much-need changes in the public services.
Otherwise, the public reforms that every well-meaning Malawian hopes for will be the 80th bark on the moon because its drivers are just another King Monkey caught in the trap.