Thursday, July 13, 2006


Last week, an era of myths political silence,arrogance and luxurious stay aways came to an end when Dr Chilumpha was fired for what may be interpreted as incompetence and outright laziness. It was an era which not only affected Dr Chilumpha and his family, but indeed the entire country and world at large. What I have learned through out this week was that no matter where you stand politically, constitution or no constitution, no one provided a solution as to how best one can handle a situation where one decides to abrogate his duties while continue to receive full packages. Arguments did move from constitutional violations to the meaning of constructive resignation and resignation itself. None of the arguments presented for or against came up with a realistic solution.

To the contrary allot of debate has been evolving around the constitutionality while silently remaining mum on the vice president’s attitude. From the president’s excerpts to Dr Chilumpha,it would appear like Dr Cassim Chilumpha was an enigma. The government and his country was moving in one direction, while the vice president simply turned the ship 180 degrees with no apologies. It seems straight to me that he enjoys being served and not serving.This element became clear soon after obtaining an injunction. Instead of making himself available to the government, we demanded his entitlements He seem to forget that his issues are with the government and not the people of Malawi It is not surprising indeed to see that unlike 3-4 months ago when the opposition wanted to remove the president from office, no one went to the streets to demonstrate against the ouster of the vice president.

The impression I got here was that where as the president received Dr Chilumpha’s constructive resignation, the nation at large received the cabinet decision to fire the vice president. Of course legalists and constitutional positivists respectfully disagree. They believe that issues of constructive resignation do not apply to elected positions as such natural justice will be compromised. Others like Mr. Mpasu have gone further to include” precedents" as the denying factor in this expulsion debacle. What is clear from their arguments is the silence from events following a court reversal. Do "precedentists" want to set a precedent where people should be gallivanting in state sponsored luxury boasting 10 aids and 22 state security detail and get paid $ 3000.00 for doing nothing when poor people who were not even addressed by this luckiest beneficiary are earning K200.00 for clearing dusty roads? Proponents of Dr Chilumpha's continued stay in office under the guise of constitutional barriers and loopholes like hon. Chakufwa are not offering any solution to the case.

They’re just not interested in the constitution, are they?” Matter of fact Chakufwa was the funniest of all.While condemning government for acting in violation of the constitution he advised Dr Chilumpha to do likewise by firing Dr Wamutharika. I must admit, I laughed my lungs out especially knowing that here was a seemingly learned individual preaching insanity at a political function. It would appear to me that Dr Chilumpha's apologists would under the guise of constitution, would have required us to leave Dr Chilumpha alone "while the nation is left settling his lavish vacation", and this when our country is trying all it can to direct her meager resources to priority areas such as health and education will be morally unacceptable and if this is the sort of constitution they are proposing,then in this case the constitution is standing in the way of doing the right thing."

Dr Chilumpha's attitudinal intransigence and egoism coupled with his association with a party that has been baying for the state president's blood all along, means that there is "no practical mechanism consistent with the constitution where issues of national importance are concerned Politicians have a big stake in the future direction of broader issues of national interest. For almost a year, the president pursued a policy of silence in response to Dr Chilumpha's behavior and sadly at the expense of state resources. But pursuit of silence made neither Dr Wamutharika nor Dr Chilumpha to save our meager resources Instead, the policy of diplomatic silence led into Dr Chilumpha's belief that he was an equal opponent therefore justified to set a paralel administration.

National interests cannot be served in this way.It can only come from the transformation of the individual politics and the emergence of joint efforts from their combined skills under the auspices of unity, and pursue the prosperity of their peoples. It is for this reason that the nation unsurprisingly is receiving the sacking of the vice president without incidents OTIVE IGBUZOR a leading Nigerian constitutional expert once said "The importance of constitution in the governance of any nation cannot be overemphasized. The link between democracy and constitutional government is well established. It has been pointed out that although democracy is not dependent on the existence of a written set of rules in a constitution, without a constitution, there may not be practices conducive to efficiency, well being and social justice (1-IDEA, 2000:16) Constitution making and/or review is therefore of paramount importance in any country.[i pray this will be high on the agenda in the forth coming constitutional conference] As justice Dunstain Mwaungulu argued at the commonwealth secretariat in London last month, ”The facilitative functions of government are twofold but all intended towards the full enjoyment and expansion of liberty.

First, they impose a duty on governments to provide services such as education and health, which improve the quality of life of the governed. Secondly, they impose a duty on the government to provide the circumstances and context in which these rights can be enjoyed safely and without interference." From the president’s dismissal letter, It is quite clear to note that something was palpably wrong with the vice president especially balancing his personal pride and serving the nation. Of course apologists have argued that Dr Chilumpha was forced to act that way due to his office being under funded. I think the issue of being starved of resources is being blown out of proportion If indeed this was the case, where did he get the resources to go to South Africa? was it really expensive to bid farewell to his government? do you honestly need funding to inform your government of your travel arrangements? What is his explanation behind refusing to move to Lilongwe where the president and the government has relocated? Personally, I am of the opinion that Dr Chilumpha enjoys controversy.

He acted strangely while serving Dr Muluzi's government and managed to get away while his colegues received humiliating and painful treatment on the same perceived offenses.Unfortunately this time it is backfiring against him because leadership of the day is bold and strong. Soon after being re appointed minister of statutory corporations in 2003, he never took ministerial oath, sent back the government merc and continued to operate from Blantyre print. When he was nominated Dr Wamutharika's running mate, he decided to abscond the campaign trails and was largely absent from numerous political rallies. He never got involved in any public campaign except once in Mchinji and when he goes to court and start saying" I WAS ELECTED" I am wondering what he meant because he never bothered to visit them in the first place, how then does he claim to have been elected by the electorates who were never addressed?

Politics is a game of popularity. Politicians get popular by reaching out the neglected masses,whose survivor solely depends on government’s good will. You don’t get popular by being chauffer driven or enjoying the comforts of a Victorian house Who ever advised him to stay away from serving the nation created his political demise. The short-term costs of removing Dr Chilumpha as the country's vice president far exceed any potential long-term benefits if viewed from the interests of the nation. The strongest bulwark against the rise of all these questions is the establishment of a well-rooted democratic government, embraced by all people where people are rewarded for their work regardless of their status and influence. Such a government is best able both to defeat lazy theorists hiding behind constitutional loopholes and to serve as a beacon of hope and possibility for reformers throughout the country. Already, we have witnessed historic elections last December where the traditional politics of regional patronage was defeated, followed by successful economic recovery which saw Malawi posting a record K3.1billion in domestic credit from a K5.1 billion deficit. "It's strange for me to say it, but this process of change has started because of the dedicated team of Dr Wamutharika's government minus his vice.

I was cynical when I saw Hon Mwawa's expulsion followed by Mr Ng'oma and Mr Chakuamba respectively.But when I saw Dr Chilumpha's house arrest followed by Dr Muluzi's 1.4 billion saga, and the civil society's unity to oppose their president's impeachment, it was the start of Malawi’s third republic. It is very easy to read their faces as saying” something is changing". The Berlin Wall has fallen. We can see it." Although we do not expect these transformations to occur overnight, there is reason to be optimistic for the future of a market based democracy and Malawi’s economic turn around. More importantly, perhaps, the simple fact that over 9 million Malawians have chosen to participate in the wide spread national development programs, despite death threats and assassination attempts to their president, demonstrates their desire for freedom rather than a return to tyranny.

The antidote to this radical vision is democracy, justice, and the freedom agenda. This agenda offers empowerment as an alternative to tyrany. It offers participation in place of exclusion. It offers the marketplace of ideas to counter the dark world of conspiracy theories. It offers individual rights and human dignity instead of violence and murder. Fundamentally, it means people participating in governing themselves, rather than being governed by others whom they never choose, never change, and never influence. We witnessed a positive first step in the active coordination and ground-level cooperation between The president and his vice during the Malawi/Mozambique energy summit which was sadly affected by the electricity blackout. When Hon Katsonga panicked amidst national embarrassment, it was Dr Chilumpha who calmed him down" APA PHIRI ZATIVUTA"At that time he was an active participant in promoting government programs and economic prosperity.

It was him who played an important role together with Hon Gondwe,Chimunthu Banda and Henry Mussa in the first post UDF budget.This is what the nation wanted of him Dr Chilumpha lost an opportunity to earn the confidence of people by having a transparent, functioning spirit that delivers economic opportunity to the Malawian people and the rule of law rather than patronizing institutionalized corruption and the rule of destructive opposition. A prosperous, democratic Malawian society would provide the political basis and the needed resources for the government to fight the poverty and diseases which an acadamic of his caliber should champion People take an exceedingly dim view of these priorities. They have seen right through all the false sincerity, the bogus promises and the dodgy grounds of impeachment. The public’s disillusionment is now so extreme that there is nothing UDF can say that will be believed. The legal and moral justification regarding the firing of Dr Chilumpha did not depend on his refusal to join the DPP, but on the fact that he is not interested in serving the general public and the interest of the nation by absconding duties to which he was voted for For the real damage done by this tumult is the way it brings to the front of voters’ minds the fact that they don’t trust UDF and have no confidence that they will ever get anything right. Un fortunately for Dr Chilumpha,he is now horribly exposed.

His inner circle has all but disintegrated. Above all, he is a performer with the thinnest of skins, who cannot survive without the cheers of religious crowd. If Dr Chilumpha was politically strong , the turmoil over his 10 month paid vacation wouldn’t touch him. But the tide of Chilumphaisim has visibly gone out, leaving him beached, alone, badly wounded and with his enemies both within and outside UDF closing in. It is no longer unthinkable that he may step down. Thats the price politicians pay for being arrogant

Bright Mac Everson Malopa

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