Recent reports that Honorable Aleke Banda MP a veteran, acutely perceptive and stewart player on the Malawian political scene has decided to retire from active politics to devote his time to the promotion of cancer awareness and related causes has to be received with commendation.
There are moments in life when the courage of a person epitomizes the will of the future. In that breadth, also comes a time in every politician’s life when he must recognize that the old wineskins are no longer good enough for the new political wine. It is important when such moments arrive to accept the inevitable and go out with dignity. This is the mark of a true statesmanship.
It is curious and sometimes even tragic that many a politician refuse to accept their call to statesmanship and prefer, instead, to paint ugly blemishes on their otherwise distinguished career walls by clinging to a political career that is clearly past its sell date. It is sad to see clearly clueless politicians still believing they can contribute their old and outdated ideas to the contemporary and rapidly changing political agenda particularly when those politicians have been tried on the Malawian political scene, and found desperately wanting.
Honourable Aleke Banda has done well to follow the dignified example set by such luminaries as Bill Clinton, Nelson Mandela and even our very own Justin Malewezi who retired from active politics to become an advocate on HIV/AIDS related issues.
There are many altruistic causes in our beloved country that would similarly benefit if more of our veteran politicians followed suit. Opening the political doors to the younger generation. The reason most of the young and intelligent people in this country are not interested in politics is that it has long held a demented view though it patently is that Malawian politics wears the image of being the career of people that were already in politics when Malawi gained independence in 1964.
For instance, isn’t it time for politicians who evidently no longer have anything of value to contribute such as Bakili Muluzi and JohnTembo to turn their eyes away from politics and focus on various charitable and noble causes to champion rather than focusing on how to grasp political power?
The only justification a veteran politician can have for remaining in politics is if they can point to a track record of performance and achievement in the rapidly changing economic environment.
But just as even the respectable and feared but ageing war general must sooner or later come to terms with reality .admit his time for close combat is over and surrender his rifle, the true political patriot must accept when it is time to put down the microphone, step off the podium and take an advisory rather than leading role in politics.
Echoing this same very point is senator John McCain who in his most recent book, "Hard Call," explains why knowledge of history particularly when to quit matters is important: He goes on to say that "Great statesmen who have been praised for their ability to see around the corner of history knew their history before they looked beyond it, and they understood the forces that drove it in one direction or another." If there is evidence that Dr Bakili Muluzi, Hon John Tembo and Mr. Gwanda Chakuamba have that understanding, it is yet to emerge.
Very embarrassing indeed in the case of Mr. Muluzi whom desperation has pushed to a begging edge where he is scheduled to seek alms from retired former Tanzanian leader. Basically a pensioner asking alms from another pensioner.
As Masauko Chipembere once observed in his book “hero of the nation”, their parties are now faced with a situation in which their leaders are inspiring and provoking nothing but contempt; and their habit of yelling against their opponent instead of creating hopes to the nation through their program of governance with them as leaders of the 21st century in their respective parties is a terrifying prospect. Malawi is facing a lot of challenges such as capacity building, sustainable development, population pressures and other social economic related issues. None of the above challenges can be overcome by their heroics and frantic yelling.
The example set by many before like Dr Kahumbe, Robson Watayachanga Chirwa, Mfunjo Mwanjasi Mwakikunga, Dr Justine Chimera Malewezi and followed by Hon Aleke Banda is a timely reminder to these veteran politicians who must realize that even in politics ,there is always an expiry date to one’s political usefulness. It is a reminder that there are better causes to dedicate their time to instead of clinging to politics.
Wouldn’t various campaigns and social causes such as the fight against domestic violence and child molestation consider themselves truly blessed if they had someone as eloquent as Bakili Muluzi yelling out their cause on their behalf?
Wouldn’t John Tembo receive recognition by championing the reform of witchcraft laws seeing witchcraft is such a menace in Malawian society today?
And certainly Mr. Chakuamba a retired retiree who cant tell the difference but resigned from government on an ideology based on anti-number plate changing principle and values. Understandably, he got annoyed when government changed his number plate from MG3 to MG5 therefore could in fact become a road traffic advocate making sure that politicians are not allowed to change number plates Willy Nilly for it confuses petrol attendants and road block Brigadiers.
This example might be hard to follow, but it is the only realistic one for all spent politicians. If they decide to stay on the peripherals of politics advising and assisting the younger generation of pursuing altruistic causes, they would ensure respectability and would eventually go down in Malawian history as true patriots .They would spend happy days wallowing in the glory of recognition as respectable statesmen.
But statesmanship is not easy to attain. It requires sacrifices and tough decisions. However it has its rewards. It ensures a retirement filled with glorified memoirs and respectability among nations and save your reputation from being linked to a party that sends snakes to chiefs and critics.
BON VOYAGE ALEKE, WE LOVE YOU ,MALAWI LOVE YOU