With our nation plagued by pervasive corruption, you figure out remarkably
quickly an administration is living in denial or worse, when the biggest anti-corruption conference ever hosted is themed: Corruption in Malawi: Reality or Perception?
Try as you may, it’s hard to buy such rationale. Such reasoning betrays blindness to obvious gluttony. And is worrying, to say the least.
You can bet your last coin, though, the Peter Mutharika-led administration doesn’t see it that way. To this administration, we don’t have any corruption problem but negative streams of perception manufactured by the gullible, misinformed, corrupt, and excitable press.
For this regime, pockets of corruption that exist have a name. Or I should say, a mother. For APM, corruption only becomes real when it’s mentioned in the same breath as nemesis and predecessor, Joyce Banda.
What ever happened before and after JB’s ill-fated and short-lived gig doesn’t matter. It’s myopic at best but ignorant at worst.
And one fears, the same levels of denial are attached to the twin epidemics of tribalism and nepotism. But before we decry that we have a president who is eager to elevate one chief from his village year in year out, let’s not remember tribalism and nepotism is not that simplistic.
The repeated image of tribesmen having a good time at Chonde for a Mulhakho wa Alhomwe ceremony or APM elevating T/A Ngongoliwa annually to a higher chief position is horrible enough but not complete picture.
Filling government posts with tribesmen and monopolising State contracts by one tribe is far more worrying. It’s also recipe for disaster. Capable of releasing demons of ethnic tensions we cannot tame.
A senior Malawi Congress Party (MCP) official this week pointed out to me Thursday that the party’s presidency should remain a preserve for the party’s central region. I found it diabolic and told the official as much.
It reminds us that tribalism and nepotism are vices not exclusive to DPP.
Indeed, having government dominated by one tribe is worrying. But equally worrying is having an opposition just waiting for its turn to repeat its mistakes. Perhaps on grander scale. Parties such as MCP and Aford are unrepentantly bulwarks for regional or tribal politics.
Beyond the parties, there are institutions such as my church CCAP (particularly Nkhoma Synod and Livingstonia Synod) which are forever sowing seeds of tribalism.
And, indeed, there are many ordinary citizens, both educated and uneducated, who in this day and age, can’t help it but imbue tribalism at the expense of national building.
Yes, tribalism and nepotism always appear to get worse under a DPP government. And indeed we should condemn this as much as rejecting stupid policies such as the quota system of education.
But until Reverend Levi Nyondo, for example, stops speaking as a spokesperson of one corner of the country; until some MPs stop demanding a share from the national cake for their region simply because it’s their region; stop claiming shared regional or tribal victimhood, our country is doomed.
Because in reality, instead of tackling nepotism and tribalism, all we are waiting for is a turn for our tribe to dominate.
Now this is the saddest part. Most of the leaders who perpetuate tribalism do so not because of any vintage pride in their cultural heritage but do so as cover to dominate business and its attendant political power.
At the same time, they fleece the state at the expense of the same poor people who dance Manganje, Ingoma, Gulewamkule and others, at various cultural ceremonies.
Not in our name should this treachery be allowed to continue.
Meanwhile, they rob us of a chance to build a truly united and prosperous Malawi.
But whose business is it to lead an agenda for change? As Michela Wrong writes in his epic book on the dangerous cocktail of tribalism and corruption, Our Turn To Eat, “In countries where presidents have done their best to centralise power, altering constitutions, winning over the army and emasculating the judiciary, the notion that key decisions can be taken without their approval is laughable.”
So, again, the bulk ends at President Mutharika to educate this country and rail against the evils of tribalism, not entrench them.