July 14 2022
This year, in March to be precise, we saw a return of presidential crop inspection tours as President Lazarus Chakwera went about inspecting crops and addressing development rallies. Crop inspection tours were a dominant feature under Malawi’s first president Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda, but his predecessors repudiated the exercise.
If he had ears to hear, during the tours Chakwera could have taken the message home that all is not well. Instead, it was chiefs telling him the truth about what was on the ground. One chief told him outright that there could have been many people at those developmental rallies, but “since people are hungry, they could not walk to the rallies”.
At some points, the President was allegedly booed. While not condoning the vulgar language some people threw at Chakwera’s entourage, the people were sending a message across, that they were suffering because of ever hiking prices of goods and commodities.
Even further, the tours brought out the fact that the Agricultural Inputs Programme (AIP) which Chakwera’s rule touts as a game-changer in the country’s agricultural production has so many gaps and has had no major effect on the populace. The real beneficiaries of the AIP are not the folks in the villages.
In all, were the tours necessary? At a point the Ministry of Agriculture releases crop estimates, it is mind-boggling that the President went about the tours as if he were a field assistant.
It is clear that things have not changed. The notion that Chakwera would be doing things differently was just a ploy to garner votes. We are in that same old era of praise-singing. Our leaders are happy to be told that they are the best thing ever to happen to Malawi. Flattery and State House sail in one boat, apparently.
If we are developing, would we need a development rally? What, for that matter is a development rally?
The political rallies masquerading as a development rally are a total waste of time and resources. When the President walks out of State House, there is a host of people on his tail. The daily subsistence allowances these people were getting, not forgetting the guzzlers transporting their souls could have been used for better purposes, actually.
By the way, some of those women dancing for the President were civil servants, wasting government time on trivia that those rallies were.
Those were simply political rallies on government expense where some overzealous party zealots were out to remind us that Chakwera would also represent the Malawi Congress Party at the 2025 elections. Those were just political pedestals to show us one or two politicians who have joined the party. Same old script!
Chakwera told us things would be different in his rule, but he is slowly proving to be the usual average Malawian leader. A leader who is hoodwinked by those around who tell them that all is well.
If you think that is just off the air, think about how the Chimseu-Malabada road was renovated overnight when Chakwera was visiting Mark Kambalazaza’s church in Ndirande, Blantyre. We continue with this usual mediocre business of hoodwinking the President.
And, by the way, when the President attends religious events, are they it a personal calling or are they part of his national duties? The other day the President was at a church function on a Wednesday!
Change was needed like yesterday, but it is clear that Chakwera is not yet ready to bring that change Malawians so much anticipated.