“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? – Matthew 7:3
If you are reading this, Happy New Year! We are blessed to have crossed over into 2021. As the events of 2020 are tucked away into our history, we look forward to new beginnings of another 12 months.
Malawi has much to regret, much to re-image, design, or outright throw away, and much to be thankful for. We regret the Covid-19 global pandemic that continues to threaten lives everywhere. Malawians are grateful that in response to nationwide demonstrations, the Judiciary ordered fresh presidential elections that brought in a new government led by the Tonse Alliance team of President Lazarus Chakwera. However, alarming reports are breaking daily of stewards behaving badly. Is there a way out of the nation-wide corrupt operations?
On the last Sunday of 2020, the first public item on the To-Do list for Chakwera and First Lady Monica was to visit former president Peter Mutharika and former first lady Gertrude Mutharika at their new residence in Mangochi. The event culminated in a picture of the four that went viral on social media immediately after it was released. This was something new and refreshing. It speaks volumes about the manner of folk that reside at Kamuzu Palace.
Malawi has had six handover ceremonies and six presidents. The first handover was by former British colonial leader Queen Elizabeth II who, represented by her husband the Duke of Edinburgh, handed power to the first Malawi leader Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda. Great pictures exist of the 1964 event and are as uplifting as last Sunday’s picture of the Chakweras and Mutharikas. But this is all we have in presidential handover ceremony pictures. There was no formal hand-over from Kamuzu Banda to Bakili Muluzi. While there was a handover from Muluzi to Bingu wa Mutharika, the love between these was short-lived as six months later, Mutharika ditched the party that sponsored presidential ticket, the United Democratic Front, to form the Democratic Progressive Party.
There was no handover between Mutharika to the first woman president Joyce Banda since her elevation to the presidency was due to his death. Regrettably, Banda was not able to hand-over power to Peter Mutharikain 2014. Likewise, there was no proper handover of power from Mutharika to Chakwera.
But Chakwera, being a follower of the scriptures, put all the animosities aside and desired to enter in the New Year with no unresolved, no unsmoothed matters between him and anybody, including the former president. Thus his giant act on the last Sunday of the year when he visited his predecessor.
Bravo President Chakwera, and the First Lady Monica! Bravo former president Mutharika and former first lady Gertrude Mutharika!
As Malawi enters 2021, it does so with humongous anomalies, foibles, quirks, faults, kinks and eccentricities by various operatives, officials and stewards of numerous agencies and departments.
For example, members of Parliament have proposed that Malawians should contribute K1 000 towards the health budget. If the government can pull this off, it would net a whopping K18 billion for its coffers. Ironically, MPs are entitled to two duty-free SUVs every five years, multiply by 195 MPs and Malawi is denied K4 billion uncollected tax revenue. They also do not pay duty on imported items. Lastly, every session almost always starts with a salary and sitting allowance hike for themselves.
In this New Year, while emulating the servant leader Chakwera, Malawi must rid itself of the eccentric self-serving people and replace them with persons that are willing and ready to serve the interests of all Malawians.