Thursday, April 28, 2011

Between London and Lilongwe: The Battle Finally Begins

Malawi threw a small political kick last week, a kick that jammed into the big tummy of Britain.
Britain, Malawi's former colonial master and largest bilateral donor until two years ago, sort of stumbled into the unwelcoming arms of hard reality.
This was not true, an impoverished Southern African Development Community (Sadc) member state- always blacketed within the 160 ranks of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Human Development Indices for the past 47 years since independence from Britain in 1964; never able to cover up for the 40 per cent in financial resources development partners inject into the wobling economy- making the shots.
Within the confines of the New State House in Lilongwe; perhaps when President Bingu wa Mutharika was relaxing under the enormous artificial shed of Sanjika Palace in Blantyre; or, may be, at Ndata Farm, where the former Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa)is suspiciously spending much of his time these days, holding Blantyre's Masauko Chipembere Highway in five-minute-on-average no traffick till-Bingu-passes prison sentences- came the decision to expel British High Commissioner to Malawi, Mr Fergus Cochrane-Dyet, over a leaked cable that described Mutharika's leadership as autocratci and dictatorial.
Mr Fergus Cochrane-Dyet, for all what he has done in this world, is persona non grata amonsst the ever-smiling people of Malawi.
Nobody knows whatever happened to the 'Warm Heart of Africa'.
What is clear, though, is the fact that the idea to expel Mr. Cochrane-Dyet first originated from Mutharika's mind before its sound and pepurcussions reverberated across Malawi; even before it oozed out of his mind through the walls of his Ndata Farm house in Thyolo, Sanjika Palace in Blantyre, or The New State House in Malawi's capital, Lilongwe, to the streets of Malawi (through our daily newspapers, The Nation and The Daily Times.
It is Mutharika's biggest political decision of his political career. Mutharika knows the depth of shame associated with failure very well, having had to suffer the humiliation of being 'chased' from Comesa over allegations of poor administration and autocratic management style.
As Secretary General of Comesa, Comesa inside workers confided to Zachimalawi, Mutharika thought he was the 'head' of over 16 African presidents!
And as a boss behaved he, so much so that he faced the chop from the regional body in the end.
Just in 2002, Mutharika did not even have a laptop. Actually, he borrowed one from Mr. Harry Chiume while he (Mutharika) was staying in Lilongwe's Area 43, and, to date, he has never returned that laptop! Mr. Chiume does not even know the whereabouts of that laptop. At that time, a group of over six concerned Malawians, including businesspeople and politicians, was concerned with the run of government play by former President Dr. Bakili Muluzi.
They were concocting ideas that would conceive a tangible human solution through a visible human being (and not just abstract, hairless ideas, so powerless as to fail to push a dead man's eyelid). Little did they know that just such a human being would be the 'guy' they were so charitable enough to lend a laptop.
A laptop lent to so thankless a man its whereabouts remains unclear.
But Bingu became that idea of a promised messiah; perhaps, Muntharika, too, had his ideas of a promosed messiah for Malawi.It happened in 2004, when Mutharika won the race to the Head of State and Government throne at Capital Hill in Lilongwe.
He came into power a 'yellow'man, the colour and symbol of the United Democratic Front he so unceremoniously dumped on February 5, 2005 to form his own Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
People form political parties as ferries to carry them through the dirty waters of politics into government, abstract government. Mutharika went into a government to form a political party!
Signs that Mutharika was a different man came early, after May 21(the month of the Presidential and Parliamentary Elections) in 2004. In a move that was largely criticised by opposition UDF as a "shameless decision", Mutharika's first line of call was Taiwan, or the Republic of China.
Which Taiwan he later dumped for Mainland China. So many promises between Malawi and Taiwan were made before Malawi started 'double-crossing' the two Chinas, which promises Malawi broke at one go, as the country stumbled into the welcoming, short, arms of China.
Mutharika's second biggest decision it was, the first one being the fast one he pulled on the United Democratic Front, forcing Muluzi to acknowledge at a public meeting organised in honour of his (Muluzi's) own political shame that "I made a very big mistake, hand picking Bingu. That ungrateful man!"
Muluzi then apologised.
But politicals analysts accused him of shedding crocodile tears. He had prepared this concoction himself, when he allowed the likes of Aleke Banda (former UDF Vice President), Justin Malewezi (Muluzi's own Vice President), among other notable personalities, to leave the yellow party over Muluzi's hand-picking of Mutharika, a rank outsider.
Rank outsider? At least to myopic political analyists, which political analysts (in Malawi) speak common sense. Nothing of value, really, because they talk about what people have already thought at the moment, thinking that their academic titles with add some value to common sense.
The truth is that Mutharika was part of the fight for multiparty democracy. In 1993, he traveled from Lusaka, Zambia, just to attend the UDF Convention that elected Muluzi, an uneducated man whose only brush with tertiary education happened when he went to Boston College in London, and attended classes without ever writing examinations. At least he went to College; Boston College.
To the likes of Mutharika, it is papers that matter.
At the UDF convention, though, Mutharika's name was not even mentioned.
Somehow, people felt that he was more stranger than international airspace! The wa prefix in Bingu wa Mutharika also raised suspicions. People don't use wa in Malawi, and Mutharika had a wa- another sign of the stranger in Mutharika; the surpriser.
"Well, I added the wa deliberately. I wanted to hide my identity from former President, Ngwazi Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda's State agents. That is all there is to it," Mutharika told the UDF News in February 2004.
That's all there is to it, he said, but there is more. This was a sign of the surpriser in him, the unpredictable human being who once got used to taking cold showers during his days at Dedza Secondary School.
Dedza is cold. And Bingu used to take cold showers. He is tough.
The decision to expel the hapless British Top Citizen in Malawi should have been Mutharika's third toughest; if not forth, or fifth, because the man has on expelled expartriate tobacco companies managers for offering "my people" below par prices. Mutharika has never hesitated to call these "colonialists". Perhaps because of his close relationship with Zimbabwean President Comrade Robert Mugabe.
Let me be honest here, not me not hide: Mugabe is my hero. Period. He is.
To Mutharika, he is not just a hero; he is a model. That is where we differ because I am no president; just a journalist who is planning to study Politics and International Relations at London University next year (2012). With the current stand off, now that Britain has also expelled (read, given 72-hours matching orders) to Malawi's High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Flossie Gomile-Chidyaonga.
I wonder if ever I will pursue this course with the University of London anymore.
Her Excellence Madam Flossie Gomile-Chidyaonga is coming home, finally. Over a decision concocted by Mutharika, in his high political thinking attitude.
As Gomile-Chidyaonga packs her belongings and heads back home, Malawians are afraid, very afraid.
It is so soft, the statement "We are a sovereign state". But, when you made politically costly decisions like chasing the representative of your long-time, best friend, reality hits hard it more than dawns; it stings.
Stings that hurt the ordinary man and woman, Mutharika being so secure in his over-dreesed frame he fears no sun or rains or porcupine quills.
He fears no Britain.
Welcome home, Flossie Gomile-Chidyaonga. But let me do my Politics and International Relations course in Britain. What has happened between the two countries gives me fertile ground for a thesis.
Britain, you hear me?
I was sleeping when Mutharika made the decision!
You hear, Mr Fergus Cochrane-Dyet!
At least, Mr Fergus Cochrane-Dyet has somewhere to be expelled to: home in Britain.
Most of us do not. When the time comes for us to be 'expelled', our leaders will have no option but to 'expel' us to heaven!
And there is no other (better) way of expelling you to heaven than squeezing the breath outa you.
At least Mr Fergus Cochrane-Dyet has somewhere to be expelled to: home.

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