Malawians agreed in 1994 on the key qualifications of who to govern them as president.
Chief among these criteria are that he/she must be Malawian, have a certain amount of education and be above 35 years of age.
Unless I am completely ignorant of the necessary provision of the Constitution, nowhere is it written that the person must speak your local language.
You can, therefore, imagine how I felt this week when I read on online media that President Joyce Banda â€“in joining other members of her government in pouring vitriol on Atupele Muluzi whose crime is to be UDF presidential candidateâ€”discouraged the people of Mangochi not to vote for the young man in 2014 because she claims he does not speak the lakeshore districtâ€™s local language, Yao.
In other words, the President was campaigning for herself by highlighting the fact that she is a better candidate in Mangochi than Atupele because she is eloquent in Yao as she comes from Zomba.
This is a tribal card that the President was shamelessly playing. I already have problems with people like Uladi Mussa, Yusuf Matumula and Vice-President Khumbo Kachali merely lashing out at Atupele on non-issues than offering hope to Malawians suffering terribly under the yoke of poverty and a bad economy that seems to be on remote control.
I can forgive the likes of Mussa and Kachali for the mere fact that I do not expect anything more from them, but for my President to join the bandwagon of these lesser mortals and to be seen to be preaching tribalism is a shock to me and I am sure to other Malawians with similar mind.
For the sake of argument, what is the President saying? That people should vote for her not based on her policies, but merely the fact that she can speak Yao? When has that become a presidential qualification?
Apart from people coming from Mangochi, Machinga, Zomba, Phalombe and a horde of other places where she has claimed she comes from, where does that leave the rest of us? Where does this place me, for example, from Kasungu in the Central Region as I have not heard her yet say she has roots from that part of Malawi as well?
That people like me should not vote because there is nothing for us as the President has nothing tribal common with us?
This is a tragedy for our country as our leaders will stop at nothing to exploit the tribal card for their own good and comfort.
But Joyce Banda and her horde of followers in this government should know the world is changing and if they are not careful, it will overtake them.
Tribalism has not made Malawi develop for the past 50 years and it will not make it go forward now.
I hope the people of Mangochi will not be foolishly duped into believing that a language will bring them progress. It is rather my prayer that they will reject this faulty and backward reasoning with all the ferocity it deserves and throw it out of the window with the necessary contempt.
It has no place in modern Malawi because what we need to move forward are progressive ideas from our leaders and the President should be at the forefront and it is sad that she is not.
As for Atupele resigning on Monday, it was inevitable. How do you stay in a rowdy group stuck in old ways, but trading under the name of politics?
The fallout has merely shown that Joyce Banda did not appoint Atupele in good faith, but to eliminate him and his agenda for change movement which she succeeded in these eight months.
To her horror and shock, she discovered that the â€œthreatâ€ is alive when Atupele was elected UDF presidential candidate.
Now the President is desperate, bent on using all Malawian politiciansâ€™ tricks in their dirty book, including tribalism.
This is very sad, very sad for my country.