Guess who was toast of the town!

Hon Folks, Presidential candidates tried hard to impress as they went to present their nomination papers to MEC Chairperson Jane Ansah at the Comesa Hall in Blantyre from Monday to Friday. But if you asked me, I’d say from deep down my heart that Ras Chikomeni Chirwa was toast of the town.

He appeared humble and exuded poverty. My first reaction was to dismiss him as a quack.  In fact, I initially assumed that his aspiration for the high office of the President of the Republic of Malawi could only have been influenced by something untoward.

Yet I was at the Ginnery Corner when the vehicle he was driving in passed by on its way to the venue from the Blantyre CBD direction. Boy, what a surprise it was to see a crowd running to see and cheer him!  

Folks, that happened on Wednesday. Earlier in the morning, it was Vice-President Saulos Chilima presenting his nomination papers with all the pomp and drama calculated to make the occasion stick in the minds of the voting public. I hear SKC drove a tractor with his running mate Michael Usi, aka Manganya, as a passenger!

But SKC’s motorcade included buses, trucks, various types of smaller vehicles and motor cycles, most of them well branded in UTM colours. Somehow, the Chilima/Usi duo used their marketing experience to remind us they both have genuine PhDs, not “these honoris causa titles” some past presidents have acquired by hook or crook.

But hold it, there. If a genuine PhD matters, why did SKC walk out on Peter Mutharika, a law professor of many years? Should it not better be about character, integrity and proof of statesmanship? Interestingly many attended the presentation of SKC’s nominations and went back home just as was the case with many of the other candidates. 

As for Ras Chikomeni who chose his own mother for a runningmate, it was a different story.   Although his nomination was rejected (he didn’t have the K2 million fees required nor was his nomination endorsed by the numbers requires by MEC), his presence left a lingering after-taste on the palate.

People admired his Mom for being there for her son, even though the colourful dream he was pursuing turned out to be vanity. Ras Chikomeni became an overnight household name, hailed as a revolutionary, a metaphor for reality of our time when the majority poor are sidelined by the elite in matters of politics, the economy and national development.

Well done, Ras Chikomeni. My view of politics of inclusivity is sharpened to a gem-like point because you were there to speak for the millions of my country-folks on Wednesday.

Now to APM: incumbency may exert more pressure on him than on any other candidate but nothing justifies what he pledged earlier in the week to give permanent jobs in government to the youth currently serving as interns.  

Such pledges are meant to induce the interns to vote for APM in the May 21 presidential race. That is wrong.

In the spirit of Public Sector Reforms, if there are any vacancies in places where the lucky youths were doing their internships, the right thing to follow the due process by having the vacancies advertised so as to give eligible candidates, including the interns, an equal chance to try their luck.

Let people get jobs in government on merit and not as a reward for their political loyalty to powers that be. The mess the reforms are addressing was to an extent created by such tendencies which perpetuate cronyism.

In the past, presidents were meddling with top positions in government, a practice still prevailing today. It was mostly ministers and other senior officials who were meddling with fill vacancies in the lower echelons, giving them away as rewards for political loyalty.

The result is what we see, gross under-productivity, rampant corruption and other vices rocking the public sector.  But to have a President openly pledging to reward young voters with jobs in government would be another first in a retrogressive trajectory.

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