It was the local Catholic Church in one its pastoral letters, way back before we could suspect men of collar could be Presidents, which called for holy anger against the state of the nation.
On Thursday, as a clergyman-turned-President made a break with tradition of those in high office to disobey the law—in particular section 89 (3) of the Constitution that makes it mandatory for presidents to appear in Parliament and answer questions from members of Parliament.
Apart from the good reverend from Malembo, only Atcheya—former President Bakili Muluzi has permitted himself to honour the constitutional requirement but even the self-proclaimed economic engineer, once he was heckled and jeered, got flummoxed by a few questions, resolved once and for all, to shy away from the constitutional responsibility.
On Thursday, we saw nothing to suggest the good ex-preacher came out bruised. In fact, he appeared to have enjoyed teaching his rivals a lesson or two on how to have a political debate—we can bet, he will be back.
But I digressed.
It was intriguing to see, once Number Six started responding to the questions, how rudderless, the opposition’s expected grilling turned out.
But even more intriguing was hearing the Leader of Opposition Kondwani Nankhumwa, to all intents and purposes, begging the President to drop, in my parlance not his, holy anger.
“Welcome to Parliament. Calm down. Smile a bit,” said Nankhumwa before rumbling about the need for the President to desist from being too serious in his approach to issues the lawmakers were asking him on.
To the President’s credit, he duly reminded Nankhumwa why this time around things are different; why the President means business; why the people of Malawi deserve a serious government and a serious President.
And, indeed, it has been the sum of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party’s call to the current administration,that it should slow down on arresting its rank and file implicated in various criminal offences from its 11 year period in power.
To give such brazen immoral call some semblance of morality, on Monday, Nankhumwa in his official response to the President’s State of the Nation Address (Sona) hid behind the need for national unity –claiming disingenuously that the President should focus more on uniting a divided nation than making arrests.
It’s a worldview that defies logic, but one that can only originate from and find traction in a party whose leadership participated, aided and permitted the plunder of the country’s resources on mega scale—the so-called economic genocide.
Bluntly put, it’s a statement that, inevitably, confirms the DPP’s current leadership is full of men and women with a mighty number of hidden skeletons in their cupboards.
The fear out there, in DPP’s ranks, is that an impartial war against corruption will certainly end up with majority of its leaders behind bars.
But Chakwera better be warned. The battle against corruption is not an option. It’s a must. It’s also the chief reason his alliance was voted in power and DPP was voted out.
To appreciate, all you got to do is read the numerous pastoral letters the church released during DPP’s misrule. To appreciate this, one has simply to revisit the indicators of human development in the country: They will be met with statistics that will break their heart; children and mothers dying needlessly, atrocious standards of education, dilapidated health systems, decaying national infrastructure, etcetera etcetera!
Such statistics, can only call for holy anger, once called for by the local church.
Men like Nankhumwa and company, though, don’t get it. They are also happy with the status quo. If they were not, instead of crying aloud against the war against corruption, they would be making sensible proposals such as ensuring that even those within the current government who participated in plunder before face law. But they are not patriots. Nor do they have clean hands to ask for equity.
So, yes, we need our democracy to thrive and need a resurgent DPP as counterweight to the Tonse Alliance to ensure checks and balances. But the DPP must rid itself of these corrupt leaders who have no sense of duty or have too many skeletons to purposely push an agenda that puts Malawi first.
Granted an opportunity to ask a question to the President on Thursday, it was almost shameful to see the DPP’s leadership—including the Leader of Opposition—looking bereft of any ideas.n