After Malawians have had a bad experience of three decades of dictatorship under Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda, the recent advice from the Vice-President Right Hon Saulos Chilima should not be taken lightly. While attending a church service at St Patrick’s Parish at Area 18, the Vice-President was quoted as advising Malawians to stop clapping hands unnecessarily for anything and everything spoken by leaders. These are wise words indeed.
Malawians should know better that cheering a leader for saying nothing is the genesis of dictatorship. Most dictators are not born as such, but they are made by people who surround them as cheer leaders. This was the same case with Dr Banda, who was generally believed to be a dictator. He was likened to a messiah and he responded likewise. Hence his rule was about hero worshipping him through praise songs, speeches and dances. Speeches by people had nothing but what Malawians thought Banda wanted to hear. By and by Banda became too strong and unapproachable, as brain-washed sycophants surrounded him. What followed were the unprecedented attrocities.
Meanwhile, no Malawian in their right mind would want a repeat of dictatorship be it in political parties or at national level. Needless to say that Malawians fought for multiparty democracy in order to freely participate in the development of the country. Therefore, moulding dictators in a democracy is totally unacceptable.
In fact, people expected more and better development in a democracy than what was achieved during the dictatorship. However, despite being a dictator, Banda had set very high standards on development. One thing which could not be taken away from him was that he was very patriotic and always wanted to succeed. This is why his size and quality of infrastructure development is yet to be surpassed by any president after him.
There was no piece meal type of work with Banda. For example, when he wanted to build a road from Lilongwe to Kasungu or Mchinji, it could not be done half-way. Furthermore, there was no compromise on quality. Some Malawians can remember how he publicly refused to pay for the poorly done road by some Germany company from Chilumba to Karonga Boma. The road had to be redone.
What is stated above is unlike what is happening under the current administration. Partly done roads are being opened with lots of pomp and colour. This is mediocrity to say the least. For example, only 18 kilometres of the Ekwendeni–Mzimba Road was done and opened out of the more than 100 kilometres. This does not make much economic sense and yet some sycophants have been brain-washed to celebrate mediocrity instead of questioning the leadership.
If indeed Malawi is to progress people must refrain from the habit of clapping hands and ululating for mere intentions expressed by the President and other leaders. No leader must be given a chance to think that people of Malawi can easily get satisfied with the word of mouth.
Celebrating mediocrity has made Malawians timid that they even fail to question leadership as to where the country is going. Everyone knows that Malawi is systematically being vandalised by corruption which media reports seem to show that it is institutionalised in high offices and corridors of power. This state of affairs should appeal to Malawians to stop being sycophants and realise that no leader who supports mediocrity deserves any hand-clapping. n