When addressing people at the recent memorial service of the late Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda in Lilongwe, President Lazarus Chakwera made a very important statement.
He said he has sometimes noticed that it is the people who usually misled a President by saying he/she belongs to them (uyu ndi wathu wathu), meaning he/she is there, especially for a particular group of people.
President Chakwera emphasised that he is there for all Malawians. Being personally possessive of the President by claiming he is theirs is bad and ambiguous. They might be claiming him because he is coming from their tribe or district and region, and finally from their party. Being possessive about the President was common in the past. Some Presidents liked this while forgetting that the system was bringing in disunity as their favoured people were getting the lion’s share from the national cake.
Meanwhile, it must be noted that the call that the President if theirs comes with a cost. Those saying so expect to be favoured all the time. They expect to get any amount of money from government loan facilities. They also expect to get lucrative government appointments, even if they do not qualify. They also get involved in looting, corruption and stealing public resources. The Tonse Alliance administration has proved this through the number of suspects being arrested from the previous regime.
One does not need to be a genius to know that the tendency of misleading the President to work for the favoured and chosen few, cannot develop this country. In fact, the President becomes irrelevant to most people as he does not serve them. It is not a secret that the majority of Malawians have suffered just because they come from the wrong district, area and tribe that the President does not like.
This is how tribalism took root in the country during the previous administration. The leadership used to wrongly believe that coming from a different tribe, party or region is illegal. Leaders should know that people who consider themselves not liked by the leadership have their own way of retaliating, and the simplest way has been to call for a change in the presidency, and this is what happened during the 2019 election.
President Chakwera’s statement—that he is a President for all people—cannot be overemphasised. The President has already said that he wants to be a servant leader and this cannot augur well with segregating Malawians. All Malawians want Malawi to be developed, which means people have to work together regardless of their tribes or political party affiliation. No one should feel less important.
By disliking others for political reasons and other reasons, it is the country which will lose opportunities of putting the right people in the right jobs. Recently, there was a clear example. Madame Martha Chizuma almost failed to get a position as Director General of ACB, mostly for unfounded claims of political affiliation to MCP, though it was not disclosed by the Public Appointments Committee (PAC) of Parliament. Had people, including the President, not intervened, Chizuma would have lost the job of which most Malawians said she is more than qualified for.
She performed excellently well as an Ombudsman. Her reports revealed pure corruption and theft in some parastatals. This has never been done before. In the previous regime, there are so many people who lost opportunities because of political affiliations.
Lastly, no one must think of owning the President for all wrong reasons.