Saturday, May 29, 2010

On the Gay Pardon

President Bingu wa Mutharika of Malawi has pardoned two gay men, Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza, a decision announced as the President jointly addressed a press conference with the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, in Lilongwe, Malawi. This means Tiwonge and Steven have been saved from 14 years of imprisonment with hard labour, which, instead, has been served for only 14 days.

We all know the pardon was not just a mere change of heart. Britain put some burning charcoal under the feet of the President, to pressurize him. So did America and many other countries. There are few leaders with the spine of Robert Mugabe, that we must know, so our President relented. This was in spite of the fact that the law against gays was enacted by the British themselves in 1946, during the time they ruled our country as colonialists.

When the President supported the conviction, party fanatics praised the wisdom of the President in not bowing to international pressure. They hailed him as a wise leader who was determined to uphold the sovereignty of our nation.

Now, as it turns out, the President has caved in to pressure. He has changed his mind.
And so have his supporters. It turns out the President is a wise, listening leader, they say. Whatever decision he makes is good for Malawi.

It baffles me that we have in Malawi today some pathetic individuals who have surrendered their capability of thought, blinded, as it were, by loyalty to the President. They are incapable of having their own opinion. If the President were to order that primary school children should be going to class at night instead of during day time, the fanatics would say he is right. If, instead, he were to change his mind and order that the pupils should be going to school during day time, these brainless idiots would still say the President is right.

Nkhani yavuta pa Malawi is seeking favours from the President. Some people are so afraid of pointing out any wrong decisions made by the President lest that prevent them from eating the crumbs falling from the high table as the President eats that national cake he is fond of referring to.

As to my views about gays, well, I am a liberal. If given the chance to lead the nation, I would follow the example of South Africa’s Nelson Mandela to have the law repealed and let gays and lesbians be free to do as they like. But until the current law is repealed, since Malawi respects the rule of law, let the law take its course on offenders. Any efforts to have this law repealed are welcome and I support them. I support the repealing of any repressive laws that are still present in our penal code.

One lesson from the gay debacle: a poor nation cannot claim sovereignty. Our independence is an illusion. In America, they have just convicted a polygamist, whose five wives cried in court in support of their husband. No single person has raised a finger against America. Nobody, including polygamist Jacob Zuma, has spoken in defence of the American convict. Why? This is because America is truly independent, rich and powerful. As for us, well, that would have been declared an abuse of human rights, first and foremost by America and Britain. Isn’t it a monumental shame and a colossal disgrace?

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Leadership: First World Vs Third World

Somebody on the Media Institute of Southern Africa - Malawi Chapter - forum, where I am a member, circulated this:

Hosni Mubarak ( Egypt ) age 82
Robert Mugabe ( Zimbabwe ) age 86
Hifikepunye Pohamba ( Namibia ) age 74
Rupiah Banda ( Zambia ) age 73
Mwai Kibaki ( Kenya ) age 71
Colonel Gaddafi ( Libya ) age 68
Jacob Zuma ( South Africa ) age 68
Bingu wa Mutharika ( Malawi ) age 76
Average: 74.7

Barrack Obama (USA) age 48
David Cameron (UK) age 43
Dimitri Medvedev ( Russia ) age 45
Stephen Harper ( Canada ) age 51
Kevin Rudd ( Australia ) age 53
Nicolas Sarkozy ( France ) age 55
Luis Zapatero ( Spain ) age 49
Jose Socrates ( Portugal ) age 53
Average: 49.6

Oh, God, why does Africa never give a chance to the younger blood?
What has not been said, besides age, is how long most of these African leaders have been in office. And how many have stayed in office with the genuine blessing of their people.
God bless Africa.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

If Gordon Brown Were Malawian

If Gordon Brown were an African leader, he would have refused to resign. You see, after the end of the British elections, nobody won. One would say Brown did not win, but he did not lose either. The winner, the Conservative Party aka Tories, did not get enough votes for them to have a clear, undisputed mandate. In such a case, the Labour Party had a chance to stay in power. They could have, for instance, knelt down before the Liberal Democrats until a deal was reached. In the end, Labour would still have remained in power, 13 years after Tony Blair led them to the high table.

But, in a twist to the tale, Tony Blair announced his resignation Monday. He will not seek to remain in No. 10 Downing Street after the dust has settled. He will not canvass for any candidate vying for the post of leader of the Labour Party in the race for his replacement that shall follow after this announcement.

If this was back home, Gordon Brown would have announced, instead, his intention not to leave. There would have been no shortage of the atidyenawo bootlickers to urge him to stay. By now, so-called “concerned citizens” would have been jostling for space on state radios and the television, trying to lament what a loss to the nation it would be for the leader to step down. In fact, so the argument would have gone, the leader cannot be allowed to leave without, ahem, “completing the development projects he has begun.”


Or, if the worse came to the worst, he would have stepped down but, for fear of losing the cabinet perks and all that, he would have chosen to cling to the post of Leader of Opposition for life. He would have been contented to live to the age of 82 and still be Leader of Opposition; after all one gets the perks of a cabinet minister plus a car and all that.


There is no such thing as civilized politics here. The politics of our nation is merely for self-aggrandizement and perpetuating one’s stay in power even after overstaying one’s welcome. Take Muluzi, for example, he tried his best to push for a third term. At the time of doing this, we even had some so-called intellectuals arguing that he needed time to complete his “projects.” Which projects, for God’s sake? Now, the same people who stood on anthills looting for Muluzi speak about how bad it would have been for the nation to have a Muluzi third term.


We need to learn from the civilized politics of the West. People have to learn not to think they are the only ones that can lead. We need real democracies here, where leaders should be chosen by the people in a free environment, not merely appointed and hedged into their positions. We need to give power to the people. We need leaders who know when to say goodbye.

There are many talented people around who can lead. We need philosophies that encourage genuine participation of all the people. We need to discard political gamesmanship. We do not want to be told: “The people have chosen this one,” when, in fact, you are the one that chose someone and cajoled everyone to support your choice. Our leaders should learn not to turn themselves into our gods.