(Counsel for civil society organisations Disaster Mvula is taking government to task for its penchant of leaving it late to act during emergencies)
Disaster Mvula: My Lord, while people were wondering whether Mapuya’s running mate had displayed his running skills to hide from prying eyes ready to see whether he would articulate government policy in some gibberish that sounded like English, thousands of Nyasas were desperately looking for government to evacuate them after being rendered homeless due to floods, yet help was not forthcoming.
My Lord, my interest is not on whether explaining issues in the Queen’s land makes one the rightful heir to the presidential throne as I believe that spoken English can never be a measure of intelligence, because I know a few people who stammer their way through English conversations but are geniuses who handle their business adeptly.
I don’t want to sound insensitive or to belittle the running mate debate, but if Chimuthawirenji was busy with government business as his supporters want us to believe, I expected the man, who is a de facto Vice-President of the country, to be running up and down in areas where disaster has struck, something his predecessor Sauli was good at.
Now, if Chimu was not at the so-called debate, neither was he leading in emergency responses, what kind of government business warranted his absence from the debate?
My Lord, I gave Chimu the benefit of doubt because the issue of natural disaster where some lives were lost was something that required urgent attention, yet an update from government on the floods on Thursday, the day of the debate, only said that government was monitoring the situation, meaning no action had thus been taken.
My Lord, the point I am driving at is that the Chimuthawirenji ‘hiding’ debacle is symptomatic of Mapuya government’s approach to crises, something this court needs to act on by the way of an order.
Take the issue of attacks on persons with albinism, for example. It had to take relentless lobbying and protest from Association of Persons with Albinism (Apam) for government to institute a commission of inquiry.
My Lord, we want this tribunal to order that any delay or failure to act on any issue is tantamount to abrogating responsibility the Nyasaland Constitution gave them when they assumed office, something that makes it an impeachable offence.
My Lord, government should wake up from this Chimu slumber and deal with emerging issues decisively instead of waiting for a situation to turn to worse. In essence, I am asking this court to rein in on the Chimu mentality in government, especially in the wake of floods and damage they have caused.
Judge Mbadwa: This court will not adopt the Chimu challenge as the way to describe the failure by officials to face challenges head on. As a court of records, however, we will look at facts presented and we agree that the administration always waits until damage has been done, to act on a crisis.
Having said that, the issue of floods being an emergency requires a lot of resources; hence, there is no excuse when it comes to disaster preparedness and mitigation as well as response. This court faults government for taking too long to move into areas affected by floods; hence, we order that it compensates all those who have lost property and relations.