During the fresh presidential elections campaign, UTM leader Saulos Chilima used to talk a lot about the Tonse Alliance introducing bullet trains in Malawi. Now we have them in abundance.
The only difference is not the bullet trains that would enable you to live in Mzuzu and travel physically to your workplace in Blantyre on a daily basis. We have bullet trains in the form of the volatile Malawi socio-economic and political arena.
Figure this. Just when you were digesting news that Umodzi Party president John Chisi had ditched his party for the Malawi Congress Party (MCP), you heard of Democratic Progressive Party vice-president for the Centre Zeria Chakale crossing to MCP. A season of defections is here. This is a time when traitors and converts are known.
While you are still grappling with that, you hear President Lazarus Chakwera is set to leave for Riyadh, Saudi Arabia to attend the Saudi Arabia-Africa Summit. It gets complicated when organisers, the League of Arab States announces the calling off of the summit due to the war on Gaza and Chakwera insists he would still be on this trek that would end up in Egypt for the Fifth Arab-Africa Summit. His ministers argue it is important that he travels as there was a scheduled signing ceremony for the Mangochi-Makanjira Road.
Dear Diary, in my two tambala thoughts, I would compare the President’s decision in this way. The United Nations calls off the general assembly [Unga] for that year, and our beloved leader decides he will still go to New York since there was a scheduled side meeting to discuss the production of molasses in Neno!
The circus continues with the announcement of the devaluation of the kwacha by 44 percent just a few hours after Chakwera’s departure for Saudi Arabia. This is one of the worst devaluations in the history of Malawi and the President could not care enough to stay behind and at least tell Malawians what measures his government was putting in place to cushion the sky-rocketing prices lying ahead.
If this is not being insensitive, one would wonder what would be. To add salt to that injury, Finance Minister Simplex Chithyola-Banda says, simply, he will be announcing the measures on Monday. Malawians are on a ride, really!
Well, Dear Diary, I may have rushed to the devaluation, but in this bullet train Malawi had its own fair share of foolery. The University of South Africa denied having conferred honorary doctorate degrees to musician Patience Namadingo, socialite Pemphero Mphande and businessperson Mansoor Karim. Malawians went to town on this issue. It is apparent that they were scammed by a Malawian woman known on Facebook as Thandie John. Whether the three can seek legal redress on this one is a thought for another day but all this scam has shown that there could be more Malawians who have fallen prey to this kind of academic sommersaults. If we went to Parliament and cabinet and tell thos Dr Who to bring out their papers, we would find they are not worth the paper they are printed on at all.
It is apparent that the best of news we hear is that business mogul Thomson Mpinganjira gave us the last smile when he declared that the cancer centre he was financing (pegged at between K2 and K4 billion) would be completed in December. The philanthropist is doing so at a time the government is still playing games on the construction of a cancer centre in Lilongwe.
The government centre started works in 2018 during the APM regime. To date, we just hear stories why it is failing to see the end of the day.
Now, with Mpinganjira on bail pending an appeal on a case where he was found guilty of trying to corrupt judges in an elections case, one can only wonder: Is there no way he can be allowed to conduct this kind of philanthropy freely or he has to wait to put up this as evidence in mitigation for a more lenient sentence when the Supreme Court wishes to uphold a guilty ruling? Is there such a thing as mitigation in an appeal case? Anyway, don’t we have queer characters being released from prison for ‘reformed character’?
As you will be reading this, Dear Diary, it will be November 11. This is Armistice Day. As the flags are at half mast on this day remembering those who died in the two world wars, my heart if with all those who have died in the Gaza genocide since October 7. As the time ticks 11 o’clock when the Past the Post trumpet is blowing, my heart is with the little children buried in the rubble of their flat in Gaza City. And, as we sing the solemn hymn O God Our Help in Ages Past, my spirit is with the innocent women stuck as they try to leave Gaza, while Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu growls: No ceasefire.