Unity comes with tolerance, Mr. President

Hon Folks, on two recent occasions APM has sung the same song—Malawi unite! First, it was at the Chiwanja Cha Ayao in Balaka two weeks ago. He made the same call again during the Chilembwe Day celebrations in Chiradzulu.

I take it that the President is acknowledging in the same breath that the nation is heavily polarised and this is bad. In fact, he knowledges in his Malawi unite song that love and respect doesn’t prevail where there’s no unity and development suffers as a result.

“What we need is to love our country,” the media quoted him as saying. “What we need is to work hard and love one another. These are great lessons we learn from nations that have risen to greatness.”

I can’t agree more. Only that singing unity at public rallies won’t bring unity. The President should sing with a broom in his hand, sweeping intolerance that has littered the front of his own house—DPP.

Nelson Mandela did not unify heavily apartheid-polarized South Africa by preaching unity. Rather, he took the lead by telling a victory-intoxicated ANC from the word go that South Africa belonged to all South Africans and that there was enough room for everyone who accepted that principle of equal rights for everyone regardless of race, gender or social status.

With probably Africa’s strongest army at his disposal, Mandela had the capacity to settle the perpetrators of apartheid in arid “boerstans”. In fact, he would’ve gained popularity among the radicals within the ANC with such a warped policy.

Instead, he showed unparalleled statesmanship for which not just all South Africans  but also much of the global community feel indebted to him.

Compare that to APM’s style of leardership. He preaches unity and threatens to fall on his critics like a tone of bricks in the same breath. No wonder the notorious DPP cadets aka ‘Ana a Adadi’ don’t even listen to such empty calls.

Their leaders get promoted, not arrested, for insulting the modesty of women in opposition parties at presidential rallies. The cadets themselves are so rowdy that opposition leaders, having been roughed up in the past, fear to attend public functions where the President and his cadets are in attendance.

MCP president Lazarus Chakwera, who is also Leader of Opposition in Parlaiment, failed to attend the Chilembwe memorial in Chiradzulu. Reason? Fear that his security could not be guaranteed considering the intimidatory behavior of DPP cadets at the function.

I hope APM took note of the concern by the organisers that they wanted politics out of their function and, as such, they asked that there be  no political colours at the function. Of course, everyone respected this request except the DPP.

What a shame! John Chilembwe, unlike APM, wasn’t an elected party leader. He sacrificed his life fighting for the dignity of all the so-called natives (Malawians) who the British wanted to use in their war against Germany (World War l)  while the same natives were treated like dogs here.

People see the roots of nationalism in Chilembwe’s heroic act and for that, Malawians have a special place in their hearts for him together with the other martyrs. Isn’t it a pity that over 100 years after Chilembwe died for nationalism, a Balkanized  Malawi is celebrating his legacy on functions reflecting the divide and rule system he abhorred?

While APM sings about unity, I’m here to say his style of leadership is no different from that of Bakili Muluzi, Bingu wa Mutharika and Joyce Banda. They all treated the opposition like the enemy, despite the fact that a multiparty government is what Malawians voted for in the 1993 national referendum.

If APM really wants unity to prevail, he must show tolerance of dissenting views and share the podium for state functions with his colleagues in the opposition. n

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