Well, well, why am I struggling to shrug off this nagging sense of hollowness about commenting on this topic? Is it because the people involved have never earned the right to be taken seriously? It could well be that I am at fault for not treating clowns for what they are as entertainers whose value lies in their ability to amuse us.
But, in spite of myself, I will say a word or two on the comic acts panning out in the erstwhile governing party, PP, for the simple reason that by seeking power, Joyce Banda and her fellow comedians in the party want us to take them seriously. At the heart of the latest goings-on in PP is the error-prone Khumbo Kachali who, according to Reverend Christopher Mzomera Ngwira, is now the party’s leader.
I share Ngwira’s concern that Banda’s continued absence, apparently in self-imposed exile in South Africa, has left a leadership vacuum and undermined the party’s standing at a time it should be recovering from the electoral setback of 2014. That notwithstanding, I have serious doubts that the former vice-president has the gravitas, vision, appeal and ideas to take PP forward. He is just some lucky guy who benefitted from the accident that occurred in the presidency to become our vice-president.
Never for a minute did he demonstrate as the second in command that he possesses even the faintest of attributes to lead any group of sober people, to say nothing about a nation of 16 million people. With Banda at the helm and Kachali her deputy, it was such a combination that was never in a million years going to take us in a new direction as a nation. It was mediocrity all the way, exemplified by the staggering absence of strategic thinking and solid leadership during the two years of the PP administration.
If there is anything that I remember Kachali for, it is the scandalous decision he made to commandeer beds from a hospital in Dowa to Mzimba to act as a bait for votes during by-elections. That is the leader Reverend Ngwira wants to take PP in the choppy waters of the 2019 elections. If that is not a tragedy, then there is none in this world.
It is a curse that has deep roots in PP. Apart from Banda and Kachali, there are the likes of Uladi Mussa, Ibrahim Matola, Ken Msonda, Ngwira himself and Ralph Jooma as the party’s key leaders. With the exception of the misplaced Jooma who makes sense most of the time he opens his mouth, the rest are unmitigated calamities that have no right to lead a party that presents itself as a serious entity in politics. To imagine that for two years we had this underwhelming team pretending to govern us is an unforgivable insult to our intelligence.
It is not like it’s all PP’s fault that it cannot govern itself and produce people who have what it takes to be leaders. We should all share the blame that we have cultivated a culture that breeds and rewards mediocrity. It comes all the way from from the UDF, which has long been mincemeat for the Muluzis. For MCP, the lightweights who surround Lazarus Chakwera hardly inspire confidence that they would step into the breach should the reverend walk away.
But these are the people we elected at party conventions and national elections. Now we are gnashing our teeth at the fact that the country is on auto-pilot and, as some have argued, we are sleep-walking into the unenviable status of a failed state. It is not by some occasional chance that we are in this today. We have come a long way in rewarding people who have little to offer beyond their sharp tongues, empty promises and fingers that will dip into the national kitty at the whiff of an opportunity.
That is why the Kachalis of this world still believe they deserve a go at party leadership and the presidency. It is not a problem that is going away any time soon.
My last word is that we have given mediocre and lacklustre leaders like Kachali too much room to thrive and flourish. We have created the monsters and substandard leaders who are now preying on us. n