Honourable Folks, I started the day on Wednesday, 18thÂ July, 2012 with serious doubts about what my son told me.
Â â€œDad, did you experience the tremor?â€ he asked as we drove to work.
â€œIt occurred at about four this morning.â€
â€œNo, I mustâ€™ve overslept.â€
Indeed, I woke up rather late on Wednesday, slightly after six and, though I did my preparation for work in haste, I still managed to tune in to Zodiak then 102.5 FMâ€”achievements of my colleagues Gospel Kazako and Al Osmanâ€”but there was no mention of a tremor, or at least I didnâ€™t hear of it.
But at the office later in the day, BBC woke me up to a different kind of tremor which had South Africa as its epicentre, the celebration of the 94thÂ birthday of my idol Nelson Mandela.
Former US President Bill Clinton and Manchester United were in South Africa to add pomp to occasion, attesting to the fact that Mandela is arguably the number one symbol of global affection today.
Yet, itâ€™s the interviews BBC had with children of South Africa, probably born after Mandela had already retired from active politics, that moved me most. One said she would write Mandela to thank him because he is a good person.
Another said she would send Mandela a gift because he brought peace and happiness to the people of South Africa. Here were innocent children outpouring so much love and affection for a retired president when elsewhere on the continent, Mandelaâ€™s counterparts are remembered for corruption, oppression, bad governance and gross violation of human rights.
Take the case of former president, the late Bingu wa Mutharika. Going by the outcome of the May 19 2009 presidential polls, he scooped 64.3 percent of the votes, a clear indication that Malawians had great love, respect and trust in him.
Yet, on the day of his funeral three years later, his own family members admitted that some Malawians were celebrating his death.
Need we ask why a people can dance at the demise of an elected leader? Trust is earned and Mutharika lost it by his intransigence, arrogance and dictatorial tendencies. Likewise, his predecessor Bakili Muluzi ended up a very lonely and loathed person because of his propensity for mediocrity, patronage and political greed.
Kamuzu Banda, our first president, did a lot for this country, but Malawians rejected him nevertheless and brought him down from the pedestal of life presidency. Reason:Â Kamuzu played god and committed atrocities on his real and perceived enemies with absolute impunity that shocked the world.
Now itâ€™s the turn of JB. Will she retain the affection of Malawians after leaving office or shall we celebrate her loss as good riddance? What does it take for a leader to go the Mandela way?
I do not believe that Mandelaâ€™s popularity is based on his economic success. Many black South Africans still do not fly SAA to holiday destinations in Europe or even Africa. Even domestic tourism is predominantly a luxury for white South Africans.
Generally, the economyâ€”from farming to industryâ€”is still dominated by white South Africans. The majority of black South Africans still grapple with job, housing and land problems.
Rather, Mandela excelled in destroying apartheid and replacing it with a superior philosophy that upholds the equality of all members of the human race. He walked the talk by forgiving those who jailed him for 28 years for the audacity of denying that his race was inferior to another race. He set the bedrock for peaceful co-existence and the empowerment of black South Africans.
JB is the President of all Malawians, not just PP members. Why on earth is her government victimising well-qualified Malawians in the public sector without good reasons? Doesnâ€™t that make the JB administration look like the Mutharika regime?
I would like to thank JB for refusing to fire Matilda Katopola. However, if the truth must be told, itâ€™s not the Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC) that bayed for her blood. Rather, itâ€™s the Executive that demanded PSC to fire her. I guess thatâ€™s why the Speaker recommended for Katopolaâ€™s removal without giving any reasons.
The point to remember is that whatever folks in government do will contribute positively or negatively to the legacy of JB and not anyone else. Which is why, JB must do all she can ensure that those around her do not use their public offices to settle political or personal scores.