Moment of Truth

Moment of TruthAs I found out during my recent visit to the United States in Washington DC, America’s leaders have no choice but to account to the people.

American leaders, by design, are not detached from the people both physically and politically.

The White House, unlike Kamuzu Palace, Sanjika Palace or Mzuzu State Lodge here at home, are not located somewhere far away removed from where citizens live.

The White House, the most visible symbol of American power, open its grounds to tourists who pour in, at will, in millions on daily basis. America’s founding fathers were not as paranoid as ours and as a consequence, a government of the people by the people has not vanished from America.

But as I further discovered during my visits to the White House, those who are welcome to its grounds don’t always necessarily have to be great fans of America or its presidents.

For weeks, I found people demonstrating against all sorts of US policies and actions at White House; American wars, racism, gun ownership, Donald Trump, and almost everything. The Secret Service, uniformed police and other security agencies do nothing to stop the daily protests, allowing people to even shout “death to America” or even insult the President of the United States.

Which all brings me to this point, if the world’s most powerful man can feel secure to have all sorts of protests at his house, why do our leaders fear their own citizens so much.

Not only do they live far away barricaded in huge gated estates, they loathe interacting with ordinary folks. They loathe accountability even more. The image of the massive exaggerated security around our presidents always remind us of the paranoia that govern us.

But this week, I couldn’t fail but draw parallels between American leaders and our own, particularly President Peter Mutharika and his preferred Vice-President nominee for the May 21 elections, Everton Chimulirenji.

Mutharika, after failing in his pursuit to halt vigils by those angry by his government’s failure to arrest the killings and abductions of people with albinism, our fifth president resolved to skip the protests at his home by opting to canvas for votes up north while his surrogates ordered the protest organisers to stay away from State House, then used police to carry out the order.

Then, while we were still digesting that, Chimulirenji, whom some jesters chide, without evidence, to be semi-illiterate, skipped the eagerly anticipated debate that we all were so looking forward to primarily because it could have been the first time we all had a chance to hear and watch our future President-in-Waiting in action discussing policy.

Look folks, Chimulirenji is one hell of lucky guy. He was handpicked as Mutharika running mate as a virtually unknown guy and featherweight politician without any pedigree in business or politics. He’ll be a unique Vice-President if Mutharika wins his last term. He’ll be president-in-waiting in more sense than the ordinary. His boss is 80 this year and at such advanced age, coping with the gravity of presidential office is a toll order.

And God forbid, experience reminds us that any incapacitation in the office of the president will propel Chimulirenji, without much of academic prowess and experience in public office, to the top of a government facing a myriad of challenges and a citizenry desperate for progress.

On Thursday, an attempt was made to keep Chimulirenji unknown quantity.

Like APM’s decision not to face the citizenry angry by incessant killings of people with albinism, Chimulirenji’s skipping of the televised debate, discard whatever excuse both have given, was designed to run away from accountability.

For APM, he knows he has no convincing explanation for his dismal handling of the shameful tragedy, for Chimulirenji, he has no plausible reasons why he should be voted Vice-President.

Yet both men desperately want our votes. Granting their wish would be such a tragedy on May 21 because they will once again attain power, but like a dog that chase a car and gets it, both men will attain power but have no idea what to do with it. So, while Mutharika and Chimulirenji may run away from accountability now, they can’t escape the vote and that’s the beauty of democracy. n

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