It must feel good, if you love the country that is, to see the backs of the outgoing regime and all the behive of activity in government today aimed at draining the swamp, tightening the loopholes and injecting a new sense of urgency, and life, to our government—making it a government of the people, again.
Unless you were a beneficiary of the era of nepotism and cronyism, those of us who heard our new President speak at his swearing in ceremony last Sunday, heard a clear unifying message.
As he became the 6th Malawian to take oath of office, we could, at least and at last, breathe a mighty sigh of relief.
While in the past Peter Mutharika delivered a narcissist message, threats and delusional assassination plots at similar occasions, Number Six spoke of unifying the country, recognising that the country has great potential, a great past but so much needs to be done.
He didn’t even run away from the fact he will rule a fractured nation, or that his own party has a dark past.
And what we have seen ever since has been uplifting, too. The new Finance Minister is not a young man, but he is a breath of fresh air too in politics—a veteran of corporate world, a freshman in politics.
The selection of the Justice Minister, although ill-fated since the nominee, the colossal Modecai Msisha has rejected it—was well intentioned. The appointments of Chief Secretary and his deputy, Attorney General, have all oozed with merit.
And the painstaking work being done to review all government contracts and the patience in filling most Cabinet posts shows a leadership that knows what it is doing.
And at long last, we have a leadership that we can trust—until that trust is undermined.
At long last, we also have a leadership that is speaking as servant leadership, posting, routinely, reports of its activities and reminding us, in the wording of those reports, that we are the kings and queens, and they, honoured to lead us, are the servants.
What a far cry from the callous leadership of the bygone era. The one that threatened to tear us apart if we infuriated it, that warned us of daring its wrath, that vowed to rule forever and that it can only allow a certain party to rule the country—over its dead body!
But the task of rebuilding this country is not done. It’s a one gigantic job—this job Chakwera—and as he prefers to say, Chakwera and Chilima—have on their hands. The civil service has been a mess and that’s not the only legacy of Peter Mutharika, but all the parties that have ruled this country since we attained democracy, meaning that includes some folks who today also are part of the ruling alliance.
Part of the trick is to learn from the past, but also avoid as much as possible—those who have corrupted good meaning governments before. These must be treated like a cancer cell—folks with chequered CVs during stint in previous governments, businesspersons (and they are mostly men but both local and foreign) not willing to earn their contracts, but bribe their way to the top and loyalists who feel entitled that their time in the trenches justifies any corrupt schemes to defraud the country or get jobs they don’t deserve.
If Chakwera does this, bring in efficiency to revenue collection and usage of the resources, if he maximises on the country’s newly acquired reputation as the most democratic nation in the southern hemisphere (oops, we must be anyway!), leverage that to bring in investors and tourists’ money, then this oasis of democracy will be an oasis of prosperity, too, we will begin to seriously fight poverty and instigate genuine development, not the delusional development Mutharika pontificated about in the bygone era.
But to deter others from repeating the crimes of the past, Chakwera must vigorously go after those who plundered the State. There should be no country for the thieves. In doing so, he will not be meting out retribution, but ensuring rule of law. Failing to do so, on the premise that he doesn’t want to antagonise the DPP, will be an act of cowardice and political blunder that may haunt the new leadership, but also the country not so long from now. That said, it all looks good and feels good to be led by someone else other than one of the most incompetent and corrupt regimes this country has ever seen. n