Of a Driver and his Mechanic

Of a Driver and his Mechanic
Of a Driver and his Mechanic

Africa-Press – Malawi. “Whenever people ask me: ‘Why didn’t you get up when the bus driver asked you?’ I say it felt as though Harriet Tubman’s hands were pushing me down on one shoulder and Sojourner Truth’s hands were pushing me down on the other shoulder. I felt inspired by these women because my teacher taught us about them in so much detail.”

– Claudette Colvin

On face value, If you ask me to choose between being an actor, a film star and a minibus bus driver in any country in any part of the world, I would, without batting my lid, choose to be an actor, a film star – an A lister, who would be signing autographs and walk majestically on a red carpet.

I would not want to be a bus driver, one who would be driving unknown people with different unknown ideas, unknown ideals, unknown ambitions and unknown dreams going to unknown destinations but only being dropped on a stage.

But does that mean that the film star is important than a minibus driver? On the surface of it all, the answer is a big fat Yes. But on a deeper reflection, the answer has to be resounding NO.

Why? It is very simple. Minibus drivers carry people’s lives, dreams, aspirations and futures in their hands as they drive that bus. Film actors don’t and they’ll never will. Should I go deeper?

Well, I think there are actors who are like, ‘Okay, what am I doing, how am I doing it, what’s the appeal? Tell me what to do, what are the exact lines from the script? Okay, I got it.’ I am not that way. I would be a terrible bus driver. I’d want to be like, ‘Oh, let’s take this side road! Let’s see what happens when we go down this way or that way.”

What’s my point? Minibus drivers or drivers of anything that looks like a bus, the one that takes people from point A to point B are important. Osadzamuphweketsa bus driver.

Are we together? Please, follow me. Did we just see President Chakwera returning to his bully pulpit to hit back at his critics? Or are we beginning to see some cracks within the Tonse establishment?

Is it not too early for the blame game to start manifesting in the mighty alliance? Word has it that, lately there are intricate and convoluted dealings within the alliance by some that is causing some serious twists and turns.

The other day we saw a clip of the former Vice President Khumbo Kachale running rogue and swinging hard with direct jabs on his own alliance partners. This was surprising because he is an active member of the alliance.

Yet in a very casual and undisguised way, without even daring to conceal some of his emotions, he went flat out on a ranting spree venting his frustrations with how government has failed to control the inflation and rising costs of necessities.

Startling was the level of his unequivocal manner as he sternly called out government leaders for over promising and failing to fulfill what they sold to Malawians during the campaign. Now, I personally understand why many people especially those in the alliance might have found his remarks abhorrent and repugnant.

His poise and how he seemed to have been signalling to the people of the north to reconsider their support of any political party that didn’t have roots from the region seemed to be the one that inspired and instilled a lot of disgust and loathing.

I personally don’t know whom he was referring to but nonetheless this sounded more like a direct poke at both President Chakwera and his Vice President Chilima for they are the ones who regardless of not coming from the north, are enjoying a size-able follower-ship.

The fact that he was able to mock the fertilizer price tag that was highly promoted by the Vice President, it was in some ways implying that things may not be as rosy as we may think.

I don’t know if this is another usual case of an extended family member trying to cause divisions and family feud or if this is a pure case of wamisala anaona nkhondo. Suffice to say, I would not dismiss Hon Kachale just because.

He might have used the podium in a divisive way but simply channelled a growing sentiment among many folks from the north who feel that the region is always used as a political launch pad and later on dumped or never taken too serious when it comes to serious decisions on leadership and development.

Besides, you can only dismiss the former Vice President at your own peril as he is known for having an eye for picking the winning side. All I know is that the principal has a task before him to bring his house in order.

As if that was not enough, another clip of a UTM senior member surfaced. Just like the other one, this one too was fully loaded with plenty euphemisms and sarcasm directly hard hitting at the President.

‘Catch 22’ On surface, it was political satire as usual but the partisan overtones were way amplified

It was clear that the speaker was at the same time trying to cleverly place the whole blame on the president while at the same time trying to separate the Vice president from the hot mess that has been created under the watch of Tonse government.

What is sad about this bickering is that these party zealots seem not to learn from the past. Getting into the blame game instead of seeking solutions will not fix things.

Already we have a government that seems to be struggling to put things in order. These internal squabbles are just adding more salt and pain to the wounds of many Malawians. And if we are to be honest, we must say that unlike the 2019/2020 elections, the political dynamics come next elections will be different.

Should things go south this time around, the president will not shoulder the blame alone. He has tactically made it clear that he is in full consultation with his Vice President on all major decisions.

I don’t see how much SKC could be able to distinguish himself, effectively. There will be no separation between the two as they are already painted with the same brush. So the best way is to maintain a working relationship and a synergy that can produce miracles for Malawians.

Of course to be fair with the Vice President, one may argue that he championed and headed the task force on recommendations for public sector reforms and it was up to the President to follow through. We may not be able to get to the bottom of what the task force had brought to the president’s desk.

Speculatively, as for the reason why the president refused to reveal the findings of the task force, we can only conclude that it was either a tall order for the leadership to execute or maybe it was an effort to conceal certain things that were problematic for the establishment, or it could be that the president for whatever reasons thought there wasn’t anything worthy pursuing.

Whatever it is, the paradox here still begs the question as to whether the Principal was trapped in a catch 22 scenario and a dilemma of morality or if someone has a gun on his head?

We may not know, but many others have suggested that if the President had followed through, most of the economic ripple effects we are experiencing today could have been easily averted. How can one go against the very task force he commissioned and suctioned ?

President Chakwera himself announced to the nation that he had delegated the VP to assemble a high powered team comprised of technocrats and professionals to look into our public sector and give recommendations for reforms.

Wasn’t it necessary to for the president to announce back the findings to the citizens? ‘De-escalate tensions’ In my view the president’s idea to conceal and keep the recommendations to himself was ill timed and might hurt him eventually.

In fact others might even go further to argue that the decision was in direct conflict with whatever this government has been so far standing and priding themselves for. One of the things that Tonse government was hailed for was the enactment and operationalization of the Access to Information Bill.

So for the head of government to chose to go against his own task force and miss an opportunity to reform and restructure an otherwise antiquated system will always be a mystery. Do I think this is a good reason enough for Dr Chilima’s distinguishment? I don’t think so.

But can he simply argue that he was simply a delegated partner and that the buck stopped with the President? Absolutely yes!! However I don’t know if this could hold much water. But in politics everything is possible.

I clearly got carried away and totally digressed a bit. Now let’s get back to the story. I probably could be wrong in my assessment but I think that it was the verbatim of that UTM rally soundbite that touched a nerve or two.

This could have been the one that prompted the President to return to his bully pulpit to hit back at his critics. I believe and think that the president started feeling the heat and that he decided to ward off some of the in coming.

Even though he tried to cover and hide the shadiness in his rebuttal, he was able to use his biggest megaphone in a clever way and I must admit he did it in a typical Chakwera style with so much class and managed to neutralize his foes within his own alliance.

The fact that he was using the same analogy of a bus, driver, mechanic and conductor, it was clear where he was directing his message to. I agree with the president that the blame game won’t solve anything. We need a very strong collective responsibility and a sense of collective duty to regain control of our never ending economic woes.

Yes ending corruption is our development imperative but accountability and taking responsibility for our actions should be our guiding moral principle.

We know Human behaviour is complicated and challenging sometimes to understand, but we have to try to respond with real answers and solutions to de-escalate tensions.

We may exhaust all our energies on minute and insignificant issues forgetting the real concern, and that is to say that a house that is divided cannot stand, and if it can’t stand, it can not deliver. Our resolve should always be to win. And winning does not require one to spin hard and to always have the last word.

Am glad that the president decided to go high and refused to take a bait. By accepting that there is a need for a working delivery system, and by including himself in the mix, he showed and demonstrated leadership.

The truth is that we need the right pieces and talents starting from the office of the President and Cabinet all the way to the bottom Sometimes it’s the incompetent bunch that has surrounded the Principal and his Vice or the overzealous party followers that are causing impediments and delays on our development delivery.

We might have the right driver and mechanic but the conductors must be carefully vetted before we entrust them with the whole purse, lest they run away or distract the driver before reaching the intended destination.

I suggest it’s high time that president Chakwera reshuffled his cabinet and consider bringing in fresh and innovative minds to help him and the Vice President steer the ship in the right direction.

Otherwise you can not expect to clear rubble with another rubble. Mr President sir, I know you have what it takes to transform and change our politics and it’s disfunction.

I know together with Vice President you can deliver on your promises, but time is not on your side. So, please stop the dilly dallying and remember that procrastination is a thief of the most treasurable resource, time. Let’s get to work. Adios!

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