Saturday, April 20, 2013

(Not)Stocktaking the DPP’s Convention. Tracing PP's Implantation of Chimunthu Banda


My colleagues and I had just finished erecting a barricade in the Biafra stands on this dilapidated stadium in readiness of the season just weeks away from commencement.
            As a football diehard, there was no better news than Carlsberg Malawi’s decision to sponsor both Bullets and Wanderers FCs.
I deeply contemplated on what would happen if Carlsberg Malawi had decided to sponsor only one team. Games involving each of the two teams could have been marred by missiles. Not ones made by Pyongyang of course, but still dangerous enough to take a life, but mostly aimed at having the sponsorship taken away from the other team.
Malawi’s football does not deserve to go back to the dark ages.
My wishful thinking: Bullets and Nomads have to learn to live side by side ngati matako amene, abusa ena anati, ngakhale amapatsana ukwetche chantundu wanji salekana. I can hardly see any future in the country’s football without Bullets and Nomads.
The two teams can beat each other -by the way they could use their pint-sized allocation with sound accounting and management in order to win the sponsor's confidence.
Because this sponsorship should not be taken as the final destination to be swindled as a state-house budgetary allocation.
Rather, Bullets and Nomads should see this as ulimbo (charming glue) to attract supplementary deals. I just hope there is no clause which stops the teams from clinching add-on compacts with other companies.
While gazing at the western horizon from the Biafra stands. Further beyond the VIP stands! Lost in my thoughts! Seeing the sun coming to the grounds, slowly kissing the Michiru hills, I smiled!!
Only to be awakened by the sight of a huge blue smoke leaving Comesa. A huge uproar followed.
“Amai should brace herself! Peter Mutharika has been endorsed!” A colleague of mine, standing on my left, but packing the tools we were using for putting up this barricade, whispered to herself.
Will Malawians ever forget
I looked at her. “What? We all know what this convention was all about. Poor that Tonga boy from Nkhotakota”, she answered as if I had put to her any question! She continued with her packing, not concerned at all with the growing pandemonium!
With blink of the eye, I recalled the road to the DPP Convention which had started about three Christmases past.
I could hear my own thoughts. December 2010.
Then I  remembered the ethnic charged and discriminatory attack which saw Joseph Mwale being fired as a sub-editor at MIJ in August 2011. Yet to be told why.
My mind took me away to one of my construction trips to the University of Malawi in Zomba. It was sealed with a yellow tape, inscribed: Police Line, Do Not Cross. Why the institution of higher learning and critical thinking prematurely closed for almost a year?
I then heard the wailing of over 20 innocent souls, lost in cold blooded gunshots.
Businesses like mine were closed because there was no forex for importing resources. I heard about the ambulances running on dry fuel, people’s lives being lost from treatable diseases because there was no fuel in the reserves.
Malawians were reduced to drunkards, yes, tiankwenzule, we were called by the DPP.
All this period, the junior Peter Mutharika [Thom] was being touted as the rightful heir to the throne which he took since that fateful months like this one last year.
Need I mention what could have happened if the “midnight 6”s agenda had passed?
My conclusion is that the job of Willie Kalonga, The Chief Elections Officer from MEC mandated by DPP to man electoral process at the convention was an easy job. This was one of the most undemocratic, unfree and unfair conventions Malawi has ever had largely because elections/conventions are a process. The essence of how free and fair elections cannot not just be determined by what happens on the voting day. There is more!
But also, Willie Kalonga’s was the most difficult position one would have wanted to find themselves in, if the unexpected had happened. But that was all against the odds. As I said, electoral path is a process. But this is also why Chimunthu lost to the tribalist Mutharika because he did not position himself well within the party and its delegates.
Lest we forget what some of the people elected at the DPP indaba did to us when they were in power
When the people who stood with the Young Kahuna (merely because they were denied entry into Peoples Party), Chimunthu’s allegiance to DPP was filled with many questions. 
The implantation of Chimunthu Banda started with the Section 65 saga. DPP was geared to avenge the exodus of its MPs to PP. The party did not care much about the welfare of Malawians apart from catching on JB, giving her a hard time in parliament, including the possibility of her impeachment. DPP was saved by the same when Bingu ditched UDF. However, Malawians did not matter for DPP. 
It was demanded and expected of Chimunthu Banda by the DPP and its seniors that the Speaker  was to disregard his neutrality, the core of his job responsibilities, put on the blue party collars and whip all the MPs who had crossed the floor out of this dishonorable house. This, for DPP, was enough evidence that Chimunthu was an implant!
Yet, this is the party which today claims it has the welfare of Malawians. May be the definition of what constitutes the welfare of Malawians has significantly changed.
It is not surprising that he was thought of as an implant, something which is hardly disputable. I was told later that as others had put on party colours at this convention, Chimunthu anangokolekera ka scarf on top of his black tuxedo. A true absconder.
But, DPP needs to be applauded. They have done their part by electing a confusionist, a gossiper and someone facing treason charges to lead them. DPP likes to gamble.
Innocent Malawians slain for questioning the DPP's regime
But will Malawians forget about the atrocities committed by some of the people elected at this convention? Will my people forget the blatant lies told by these people? Will we forgive these engineers of such evils which rocked Malawi since independence? Is DPP interested in Malawi’s welfare or they are only fueled by cores of hate and vendettas against JB for snitching the throne which DPP itself snatched from UDF (all through backdoors)?
These are questions which other bloggers can critically zoom on and attempt to answer.
 “Let MCP not fail Malawians”, she pleaded to herself while this time, looking at me. Puzzled as I was, she added: “Let the delegates elect Rev. Dr. Laz Chakwera. You know what? JZU stands to benefit with Chakwera’s candidacy considering that the man of God represent the values and kind of transformational leadership that Malawi needs to stir her from the seemingly vicious cycle of mediocrity, corruption, nepotism, and politics of subsistence to high levels of excellence, integrity, unity and abundance for all. A developed and prosperous Malawi is possible and Chakwera is the dawn of hope we all need”. I looked at her, my left eye dimming, my right one wide open.
I don’t believe you. “Malawians have fallen in love with substandard goods. For example, Madonna raised $18 million for the construction of a girls’ academy while using the images of innocent village girls living in chronic poverty.
“Madonna then stopped the construction of an academy saying Malawi was better suited for community based schools.
“She built what she calls 10 schools but which are just 10 blocks (each block having 2 classrooms). One school is supposed to have a minimum of 8 of those she calls schools.
Dr. Lazarus Chakwera: Is He the ONE that Malawi has been waiting for?
“And when put together, her 10 schools cannot even cost half a million dollars. Less than $50,000 has been used to construct a total of “10 schools”. Thus, despite one of the richest people in the world, Madonna has given Malawians a raw deal and we have accepted – just because we think we are poor! Anything given to us by trickery means or not is acceptable. Is this justice?
“Malawi deserves better that the raw deal Madonna has given us, using innocent poor girls to re-position oneself in the global eyes is itself against humanitarian causes! NO MALAWIAN CHILD, JUST BECAUSE IS POOR, SHOULD BE USED FOR SUCH SHAMEFUL CAUSES!!!” My voice could be heard on the other side of the pitch, this time, the ‘VIP’ section
But the look on my colleague’s face was all-over written with this question: Hey, where is the connection with what I said?
“You don’t see it?” It was my turn to speak in whispers.
As I had expected, she gave me a cold shoulder, ignoring everything I had just said. Giving me the look that I had to carry the tools she had packed, she left me while heading towards where she had put her jumbo ya Bwanoni on the eastern side of stadium, the Lalilubani stand where we had started our work earlier.
And with a snap of the finger, as I watched her protruding figure (boys will be boys), I wondered: Why have the name Carlsberg before both teams? Is that not archaic or retrogressive for commercialization of these teams? I am yet to see AON MAN U or SAMSUNG CHELSEA; QATAR BARCELONA!
I sighed, looking at a pile of the things I had to carry all the way to where I was supposed to catch a mini-bus to Chilobwe where I would be greeted by dry taps, blackouts all day every day!
Yes, the very same place where nauseating debris replaced tarmac road long time ago! To my surprise, my neighbors have internalized such an image as a norm! This is Malawi. The place I call home!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Should We Celebrate Bingu's Death or Life

Today marks a year that fate took away the dark cloud which had enveloped Malawi. I would in this short piece to my little brother, doing his form 1 somewhere in the land, show why Malawi should never ever celebrate the life of Bingu wa Mutharika. Of course the DPP, the party he founded to instill fear in us, the Malawians, can celebrate his life.
DPP under the order of Bingu wa Mutharika, suspended a number of constitutional provisions and changed some without holding any referendum. This is contrary to what is stipulated under Section 6 and as demanded by fundamental principles of the Malawi Constitution in Chapters 2 and 3.
DPP arrested activists (such as Billy Mayaya, MacDonald Sembereka and Undule Mwakasungula) politicians (Ralph Kasambala, Atupele Muluzi) and killed dozens of Malawians in cold blood merely because they had opposing views to that of Bingu wa Mutharika.
Show me one thing which DPP did that deserves a standing ovation. I know you people may mention the universities, but those deals were entered during the first term when Malawi left Taiwan for China. The last time I checked, Joyce Banda was the Minister of Foreign affairs then. However, DPP did not implement fuch plans for political reasons. And personally I detest Malawi being a battlefield between the US and China.
Ohh, it feels like yesterday when Bingu christened us as drunkards, tiankhwenzule (i.e. wizards and witches considering what tiankhwenzule connotes in Malawi).
Bingu, during “independence” celebrations ordered his cadets and lieutenants to terrorise Malawians who opposed his autocracy.
Who butchered academic freedom?
Samva Nkunkhu Bingu Mutharika
And what is at stake here is that the people who helped Bingu to terrorise Malawians through Zikwanje are still there in DPP.  Remember the saying: if a hyena leaves one jungle for another, it does not at all cease to be called a hyena. It may be called by other names such as pundu, fisi, chimbwe or a hyena, but it remains what it is.
Let us not be cheated.
Under oath, DPP lied to Malawians about the bridge at Tete when fuel queues were meandering along the highways and pumps were as dry as the Sahara desert.
During Mutharika’s time, contaminated fuel at the black-market was selling at £10 (MK1500). To get your hands on that fuel was an enormous hustle.  NGO, like the one I was working with, closed projects, offices and even relocated following this fuel shortage.
Uncontaminated fuel is now selling at around £1 if at all devaluation is taken into the equation.
As one facebooker said, Bingu was a failed economist. He gave a false value to the kwacha which was 'unofficially' already devalued.
To get your hands on foreign currency such as £100 notes required a written permission from the Reserve Bank of Malawi. The inflation rate was skyrocketing. A thousand bank note was printed to blindfold Malawians.
The country's maize was donated to Zimbabwe when hunger in Malawi was looming.
The Citizen, an online newspaper in Tanzania, claimed, not in verbatim, that Bingu had on purpose reached an agreement and set up plans to discuss with Tanzania to officially give a portion of the lake to the Tanzanians but without letting Malawians to be aware of this move. According to the Citizen, his death messed up those plans.
Being someone from the Lake District, I have no problems in dividing the lake for all sides need to benefit from it either by dividing it or making gentleman's agreements. The only problem I have is keeping Malawians on the dark side.
Because of his oppression, Mutharika chased development partners such as the UK and partly the US.
He then lied to Malawians that the country was running on a zero-deficit budget which he had doctored as recently revealed by Ken Lipenga that they borrowed some little portions from the banks, which was far from adequate. The country was on its pathway to destruction.
As we are all aware, Bingu governed the country on the basis of tribalism and nepotism. He claimed that university students from some districts were being given answers by lecturers at the Mzuzu Corner.
Senior Government positions and contracts were offered to certain tribes.  This aspect is yet to depart from DPP which has forwarded trabalistic arguments before. In a leaked phone conversation, Bingu’s young brother and heir to the ‘throne’, Peter Mutharika, even claimed that he spoke “better Chichewa” than Chimunthu Banda who had shown interests in opposing Peter Mutharika’s ascendance to power on the basis of his relation to the Big Kahuna. Peter Mutharika claimed that Malawians would not vote for a tonga; just as DPP senior cadets claimed Malawi was not ready for a female president.
Peter Mutharika’s remarks, in developed countries could land people into the cooler or barred from running for any public office. I am surprised that the Malawi Police have not caught up on Peter Mutharika for promoting tribalism.
Should I even mention about the dodgy deals Bingu’s government entered with mining institutions like Paladin and constructing companies? This “visionary” leader even failed to demand Paladin or other companies to set up power plans running on uranium. Malawi can hardly develop into an industrialised state with the persistent blackouts yet we have allowed our uranium to power other countries. He signed deals on the basis of kutsolala. Mansions were constructed in Malawi and other foreign lands for this departed dictator. Visionary, Bingu was, huh?
Buddies? Bingu wa Mutharika with fellow dictator, Roberty Mugabe
I may be at pains to see the rationale of having anniversary celebrations to mark the 100 days that PP has been in government; but likewise, I’m at greater pains with the memories that I have of departed autocrat that is Bingu wa Mutharika.
Even his landmark achievement during his first term came following stiff but constructive opposition from people like Aleke Banda.
I am yet to find any reason why I should celebrate the life of Bingu wa Mutharika.
When they left, along the way, they wailed, remembered and wished they could go back to Egypt; but Egypt was not their destination. Our hope lies ahead. 
May his soul, if at all Bingu wa Mutharika had any, never find peace.
P/S: The Singini report claims that Peter Mutharika  and co. wanted to solicit legal interpretation of who was eligible to take over the country after Bingu’s death on a day like this one last year. However, it is also reported somewhere that Peter Mutharika was among the people who drafted the country’s constitution. Are you with me?