Wednesday, May 30, 2012

OUR MPs MUST NOT DISCUSS HOMOSEXUALITY AT ALL

The current situation on homosexuality takes my mind back and away to South Africa before President Zuma came into power. As a campaign gimmick, he had promised his countrymen (especially the unemployed) that he was going to nationalize vital industries such as mining. The promise created panic and excitement at the same time. The then serving president, Thabo Mbeki, was viewed as unreasonable due to his laxity on this issue.

Upon taking over from Mbeki, Zuma realized that running a country is not easy as making an “empty promise”. He had to comprehend the fact that world trade dynamics, in a capitalist economy, are complicated such that his “nationalization” drive would even hurt the people who voted for him.

Back home, our current president has dealt with the homosexual issue rather similarly only that she has found her way out smartly.

Those who thought that her maiden State of the Nation address two weeks ago had given a lee way for legalization of homosexuality were in for a rude awakening. Joyce Banda has clearly stated that the issue of homosexuals should only be debated thoroughly by Malawians afterwhich a consensus will be reached (if at all it can be).

What worries me is the fact that Her Excellency has entrusted Parliament as the final institution that will come up with that decision.

I beg to differ, sadly so.

Since 1994, there is little I see in what the National Assembly has done to represent the masses. We have always elected people who have ended up making decisions that please party masters (It has to be said that all political parties in MALAWI operate on a generic philosophy and they all look similar).If a party leader says yes to something, then the whole contingent of MPs in that particular party will think uniformly.

Let me divert a bit. MPs should remember that they have a representational role above their law-making. If these people fail to represent us and go to parliament to rubberstamp whatever comes on the table for as long as it is on the party script, then honestly we need to think otherwise.

2014 is going to come faster than we think and our villages our going to be flooded with aspirants looking for our votes. I have always thought of initiating a project that sensitizing people not to vote (voter apathy) for the sole reason that their participation does not bear fruits.

We live in a country where our MPs do not operate on philosophy but blind affiliation. Sometimes I ask myself why we should have 193 MPs when they lack diversity.

I understand that these parties conduct caucuses before every sitting of parliament and it is here where a script is written. Every item is scrutinized and the party agrees how it will tackle a particular issue.

If all political parties look the same then what’s the use of having so many of them? Now, back to our issue. Deny it if you want but all the bad laws (or the effort to pass them) have been advocated by the same MPs who later on take a different stand on the same.

How could an MP think that a bill is good today and change his stand six months later? Keep count here; Injunctions Bill, Police Bill, Protected Flags, Emblems and Names Bill; all these were changed and reversed by the same August House within a period of one year. Where is the integrity?
Now are we sure that these people will represent our views morally on this contentious issue? I really doubt.    

The best way to put the issue of homosexuality to rest is through a Referendum. And I think most issues should go through referenda as well.

Our MPs have done a bad job on their representational role and it’s high time we employed a new path of getting our views heard.

This forum will not talk about a few exceptions of the MPs who have stood ground against bad legislation. But whoever you are, just keep it up.  

We are tired of being represented. Give us a voice through Referendums!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

THE PRESIDENT MUST NOT DECLARE HER ASSETS


It has been said now and again that it is a requirement according to the Constitution Section 88, Sub Section 3, for every Malawi state president to declare his/her assets upon acquiring the high office.
This requirement has been well gazetted for everyone to see since 1994.

It is my opinion that the framers of our post-one party state constitution had Kamuzu in mind when they came up with this article.

Coming from a background where we were ruled by a man who conducted his affairs in high secret, it was deemed necessary to get rid of any suspicion that people might have on the wealth of the their president.
In his 30-year rule, Kamuzu acquired enormous wealth that ranged from property, fat accounts in foreign banks and not forgetting a business empire, Press Corporations, which economy pundits say controlled almost a third of the economy at one point.

There was no accountability to the masses and no wonder people never queried how their taxes and money for card membership were being used.

FOR SURE KAMUZU NEVER DECLARED HIS ASSETS TO THE NATION

It, therefore, seemed right to have the Presidency account for their financial management in the high office hence the framing of Section 88.

Coincidentally, it is rumoured that Bakili Muluzi was close to being declared bankrupt before he became president. But we all saw how filthy rich he became overnight (enriching his cronies at the same time).
Despite being a proponent of the new constitution, he chose to look away and never dared to declare his assets to anyone (may be with the exception of his family).

At one time, Muluzi went around the country telling people during rallies that he gets K25,000 a month (the figure at that time was equivalent to the salary of a PO grade in government structure). The illiterate masses believed him while the enlightened felt insulted.

A couple of years later he had constructed a K300 million office complex (Keza Building) in Blantyre and had also rolled out an ambitious project to establish a Management Institute, a Radio and TV Station among other initiatives.

By the time he was leaving office he had entangled himself in a maze of K1.7 billion alleged embezzlement. It is this allegation that has hung over his head since he left office.
HE, TOO, NEVER DECLARED.

The trend continued in a rather different way when Bingu wa Mutharika came into office. Strong  rumours (again) indicate that after being booted out of COMESA he was residing in Area 3 flats in Lilongwe and was driving his own minibus on the Likuni Road (We can not substantiate that)

But what we know is that his presidency helped him to acquire considerable wealth as we watched. To quell our fears he too started telling us during political rallies that he had property amounting to K131 million before he became president. Again, the illiterate masses believed, the enlightened felt more affronted.
Questions will always be asked about his Thyolo residence, Villa Casablanca, (We really don’t care whether it has 300 or 5 rooms). What is of importance to us is to know how he acquired so much wealth in just 8 years.

IF HE DECRALED, THEN I DON’T REMEMBER…HE NEVER DID

Exit Bingu, enter Joyce Banda. A few people have already started asking for the same. Whether she declares or not is up to her.

But I fail to understand why we should still keep a piece of legislation in our constitution which is not being used by anyone (Remember Section 88 also calls for cabinet members to do the same).

It seems they will NEVER EVER DECLARE so it’s a waste of time to anticipate for it.
  
     

Monday, May 28, 2012

BINGU STOLE OUR NATIONAL ANTHEM


Recalling my past during my primary school days, I dreaded the moment when I stepped onto the school campus after my friends had already gone to the opening assembly.

With class monitors wielding more powers than necessary, my lack of punctuality was their opportunity to mete out any kind of punishment on me, taking into consideration that I wasn’t one of the obedient chaps at school.

The school premises would be dead quiet as all pupils were at one corner of the institution. Knowing that the class monitors were always located on the boundaries waiting to pounce on anyone who came late, I temporarily employed a way of beating the system.

 Wait for my colleagues to leave the assembly then as soon as the monitors are leaving their posts, I would dash towards my classroom’s door to join the rest. It wasn’t any close to being a wise idea. I got caught on several occasions and punished.

But there is a day I will never forget in my life. Having arrived late (again) I noticed that the class monitors were nowhere to be seen. I smiled and quickened my step towards the only classroom block that separated me from the assembly point.

I peeped from where I stood and was rest assured that if I turned into a “professional athlete” for a moment then I would manage to join my class queue right at the back. By the way, from the direction I was to come from, no teacher (no matter how good they were in spotting offenders) was going to see me.

One, two, three..I counted then leaped towards my destination then alas, a coarse voice from the middle of the gathering erupted into a song “OH GOD BLESS OUR”…then the whole group followed…”LAND OF MALAWI…….”

The rule was clear, upon hearing the national anthem you are supposed to stop where you are, throw everything down, stand straight with hands on the sides. And on top of that entire requirement package, you were supposed to join in song.

My bad, I had been caught between the rock and a hard place. I quickly threw my books down and stood there motionless. My voice didn’t come out audibly because I was shaking terribly. I don’t remember how many lines of the anthem I had sung along when it finished.

My initial sprint had attracted some attention and my isolation from the rest of the group during the anthem caught the eye of some ruthless teacher whose name I can’t remember. Another bad day it was and I was going to get punished (again).

The etiquette surrounding national anthem did not change a lot during Bakili Muluzi’s rule only that we had the freedom not to stop, not to sing and not to care.

However, one thing I miss about the anthem is putting my hands on the sides. Why on earth did Bingu wa Mutharika change our posture when singing our sacred song. Did he justify why we have to put our hand across the chest?   

I miss those Kamuzu days..”OH GOD BLESS OUR LAND OF MALAWI”,while my hands are relaxing on the sides. May be we can change that as well if we really had respect for Kamuzu Banda.

Honestly, Bingu was changing some things just to nurse his ego





     


MULUZI SLAUGHTERED TWO COWS, SO WHAT?


Time flies, subsequently, fading our memories into obscurity. Not long ago, Malawians were not sure whether they were worth having their own country let alone being called citizens therein.
As everyone was worried about “executive arrogance”, those in power never relented in causing more misery for the citizenry.

Then boom, came the D-Day. A day before Good Friday. God intervened and the nation was different in a flash. No need to worry about the exact date on which it happened (Nobody cares I guess).

Two months later, lousy allegations are cropping up accusing the former head of state, Bakili Muluzi of slaughtering not a cow, but two in celebrating the death of Bingu.

I stand to be reminded but if my memory serves me right, DPP top brass decided to act “clever” (rather otherwise) and kept the events surrounding Bingu’s collapse and death a secret for a couple of days.

It therefore came as a surprise when Mr. Namondwe, in his eulogy, pointed out that their family was disappointed because some people celebrated the death of their relation.

Now I hear that the accusations were directed towards Muluzi.

Give me a break. Bingu’s death remained a secret for some days so if anyone was in celebratory mood, who is to blame? And it is na├»ve to expect that just because one person has died then everyone’s chores should come to a standstill.

Don’t forget as well that this was Easter period when Christians celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Don’t be quick to say Muluzi is a moslem so he has nothing to do with Easter.

He is a politician who served this country as head of state and that makes him a Statesman. To him, the political, religious, economic and social boundaries were blurred long time ago.

This then tells you that if he decided to slaughter two cows coincidentally during the period of Bingu’s death, it didn’t mean that he was celebrating the bereavement. Muluzi is human and more human than Bingu was, (I opine) thus his actions are always calculated before he does something.

Leave the guy to focus his energies on his K1.7 billion case and his failing health. Let him socialize with whoever he deems right, let him slaughter whatever he wants (besides a human being) on any occasion.

Lastly, the moral of the story is “Never hide the death of a prominent person. People will never stop living their normal lives based on speculation”

Slaughter the cows Mr. Muluzi, slaughter them freely!



Friday, May 25, 2012

THAT’S UNFAIR, JOYCE BANDA


The message is clear to everyone aspiring for the country’s presidency in the next General Election scheduled for May 2014. One has to invest quite an amount of money, wit and intelligence to oust the incumbent.

Joyce Banda’s stint at the State House so far has revealed one thing; she has employed a political strategy that will see her at the helm beyond 2014, and who knows what might happen during the 2019 Elections.

We would argue that to an extent her job has been made easier because she just has to reverse all the “sins” committed by the previous regime. Fine and good but let us not forget that she is even restructuring the conduct that has been deemed normal for a very long time.

I was surely surprised two days ago to note that the country’s public broadcaster MBC was left untouched during the funeral of Banda’s sister (a Mrs. Chanthunya)
The logic behind the move was that, this (the funeral) was a family affair and it had to be treated as such. Good move.

And of late, the state broadcaster has become a platform where ideas are being marketed without segregation. It is soothing to see even the DPP leaders, who not long ago turned MBC into a propaganda tool, being given a chance to criticize the current government. Isn’t this democracy at its best?
People might have reservations about the MBC liberalization due to several reasons but those doubts have to wait the length of time to see if her move is authentic.

Muluzi tried to do it during his first months in office up until the weight of power was too much for him and he later abandoned the move. MBC was back to what it was supposed to be, ruling party’s mouth piece. The redrafted MBC Act, which was professionally done by the Law Commission ended up being tampered with at cabinet level and thrown into the fire place at State House.

Then came Bingu with the same song. He at one time stopped the live broadcasting of his function in Thyolo opting for the live coverage of a football match. We loved him for that didn’t we? The time he realized that the state media is the only tool to maintain the grip on the electorate, he too dropped the idea.
Just as an extension of memory, during his first months in office Bingu used to turn away party women dancers whenever they followed him. “Go and work to earn a living” he would tell them. Slowly he accepted that things cannot be done otherwise.

Now Joyce Banda has begun her journey satisfactorily. I am so eager to see whether she is going to hold on to her philosophy. Is she ready to run her party without the use of state media?

For her to show seriousness in this issue, there is just one way. Dust the MBC Act as it is versioned at Malawi Law Commission, take it to cabinet then present it in parliament. Trust me, a true independent state media would be a major plus to our democracy.

Not that I don’t trust what she says, but the danger lies in the fact that some overzealous dude from the ruling party will wake up one day and decide to convince the president otherwise. To avoid that, let’s just have the MBC Act restructured so that every sitting president should follow the rules of the game.
Now I said Joyce Banda is being unfair right? Yes, she is playing her cards so right such that Malawians will give her their votes not out of sympathy but due to her wise ways.  

With John Tembo dancing to the now famous “JB tune”, Peter Mutharika abandoned by a host of MPs who supported his late brother and the other “briefcase parties having nothing tangible to show, it simply looks rosy for Joyce Banda in the next elections.

The only main challenger to her might be my good friend Moses Dossi whose campaign is limited to an insignia on his mini car, only located in Blantyre.
LET IT BE  

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

SO TOO, OUR GOVERNMENT MUST PUNISH TNM and AIRTEL



We all love communication and all technologies that facilitate it. And in Malawi, we go a step further; we love communication aided by poor technologies. To be as objective as possible, the country’s two most subscribed mobile operators, AIRTEL and TNM, are giving us a raw deal.

Not once or twice, but on numerous occasions have failed to communicate effectively just because the network is poor, a text message is delivered 24 hours later or I lose my top-up credit even before I use it.

I might be to blame on the loss of credit, maybe it’s my inability to understand all these promotional formulas going on with the two operators.

However, give me a break when it comes to the other setbacks. Why on earth should a text message be delivered 24 hours later? This has happened on several even when the person on the other end is based in an area where there is supposed to be clear network.   

I remember of a day when I over-scratched my Airtel top-up card. After so many attempts to get hold of a customer care officer, who didn’t sound so willing to help, I was told to wait for two days so that they have to follow up the information I had given. Imagine that, waiting for two days, to retrieve a 100 Kwacha worth of airtime.

It is disheartening how these two operators make so much noise with promotions where so many valuables are handed out to customers yet when it comes to making communication efficient and instant, they leave a lot to be desired.   

I like what I have seen in today’s Daily Times concerning the fine that the Nigeria government has meted out on Airtel and MTN for bad service. The story goes further to inform us that this is not the first time for phone operators to be punished for negligence or laxity.

How I wish our government, through relevant authorities, kept check of how AIRTEL and TNM are providing their services to Malawians. And if they fail to deliver, let them be punished. It makes sense, doesn’t it?

No need for them to be obsessed by the growth of subscribers if they can’t serve them well.

I have taken frustration for long, may you take my advice just for a moment.

Monday, May 21, 2012

LET'S ABOLISH CHIEFTAINCIES PLEASE!!!

I have always wondered, honestly so, about the role of chiefs in our society. In the whole spectrum of chieftaincy, there have existed elements of self-centeredness, manipulation, dishonesty and immoral acts among those viewed as traditional leaders.

“Trust the chiefs at your own peril” is the tag line for the modern mind.

In 2008, I enjoyed watching the people of Nepal getting rid of their monarch which had ruled them for more than 250 years.

For a decade, King Gyanendra ruled with an iron fist and continued the brainwashing of the masses, making them believe that within society, there is a family which is privileged by “divine powers” to rule over others at all times.

The case is similar right here at home and this kind of systematic manipulation has led to cases whereby one reasonable king/chief will be succeeded by a total feeble-minded who messes society with unwise conduct and decisions.

My heart bled when I saw a host of Malawians senior chiefs attending a meeting called by President Joyce Banda.

Without shame, our traditional leaders wore brave faces and smiled- cosmetically- at Mrs. Banda, who they had been victimizing verbally during Bingu’s era.

These are the same people who attacked us when we demonstrated on July 20, 2011. We were labeled as pro-gay protesters in a move to blind the masses about our real intentions.

Who can easily forget how chiefs bulldozed the introduction of the new flag. Day and night, these people made sickening noise on the state broadcaster, telling the nation that “their” people had agreed to the flag change.

Funny more, they collectively told the nation how they were against the devaluation of the Kwacha. It was evident that most of them never understood the issue under discussion. To them what mattered was that they partook in the State House lunch (which is always an extraordinary banquet by any standards) and got some money to manage their own lives.

Chiefs might have been in existence for decades but I believe that there might be a better option of governing people across the country than having one family which saps the privileges and retain substantial power even though they prove invalid in terms of wisdom, intelligence and conduct.

The “myth” of royal family is against democratic values of any sort. It is one kind of government which suits the needs of the "chosen" few.

The Senate sounds good to me, Chieftaincy doesn’t. They have too many power and they have evidently lost the trust of the people.

Let’s abolish Chieftaincies, if we can.