Kamlepo Kalua is still bubbling, vending the greatest lie he has ever made in his political history, call it a sit-down comedy. But how does this particular episode defines Kamlepo as he is fondly called? NYONI WA NYONI goes back to the main to understand who is he is and what he has been since.
If I had the least opportunity to interview Kamlepo Kalua about his alleged abduction, I would first want to know from him why he remembers everything past, except the minute that his alleged abductors came to him. In other words, if Kamlepo were to be believed about his claims, he were to completely not remember anything about all his past to justify his claim that he has no least detail about the events leading to his abduction. What if he is a sleep-walker who moved in a dream from his Nkolokosa home down town to the Kwacha round-about?
Yes, in a hundred ways, Kamlepo Kalua’s past is exceptional among his political peers and pioneer multiparty politics proponents, though he is always a prisoner of his heroic past and hurtling toward an uncertain end.
The bar that Kamlepo set himself at the beginning of his political life is very high and extraordinary.
After he has played many roles of a public self-imposed investigative journalist, a self-imposed multiparty politics spokesman and self-anointed Malawi’s political prophet, which together have helped him create some occult figure of a rare breed of politician; is this act going to soil the reputation he had laboriously built over the years?
During the Bakili Muluzi regime, Kamlepo would go missing for some days and you would assume that he had really crossed the borders to prepare a guerrilla fight to surprise the government with a coup.
But the next time you listen to him, when he resurfaces, was the threat: “I will go into the bush.”
In his good days, he was even a lone marcher to Sanjika Palace, where he protested the ills of the Muluzi government.
He would single-handedly threaten the regime with an unspecified action should it not consider his petitions.
Though, he has never ousted one government, nether been a guerrilla fighter, nor ever gone to state house totting guns.
At times people took him seriously. At other times he was just brushed aside like some cockroach. But he was always convinced of his cause and feigned to have given all his life to his words. And that is where his story begins.
Kamlepo’s political story is interesting because it is actually not typical.
Kamlepo’s has lived through many political weathers.
He first came into limelight during Kamuzu Banda’s era through his frequent interviews with the South African Broadcasting Corporation’s, famed Channel Africa’s Chinyanja Service.
Kamlepo exploited the opportunity to talk and motivate the Malawi exiled population and the diaspora to come back home and fight Banda.
Kamlepo’s militant politics did not end with Banda. He took Bakili Muluzi head on and watched the Malawi democratisation process.
He frequently threated to go into the bush to fight Muluzi. But he never went.
And perhaps, his avowed political enemy was Bingu wa Mutharika. During Mutharika’s second term Kamlepo picked the political militancy with which he helped fight Kamuzu Banda.
The way, he begun to talk to Mutharika, you would picture him slipping into the bush to prepare a guerrilla fight.
At one time, during a rally in Mangochi, towards the 2009 general elections, he challenged Mutharika that ‘tamenyana ndi vikuluvikulu ife aka ndi chani aka, aka ndi ka ndani aka ka Bingu’ meaning he has waged great wars with great people such as Kamuzu Banda.
But here again, he never went to the bush.
Kamlepo’s simplicity in dressing matches the simplicity in which his anti-bad policies messages are put and told.
Usually, he speaks with a calm tone, even if he looks angry. His speeches are always driven in beneficent tone and does not tend to be switched from madness and back to a course of sanity.
Over the years, he has worked on his speaking skills to connect to the Malawi poor masses from which he is liked by both the old generation and the new generation.
Recently, as the deputy chair of the Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC), he has spoken militantly about the seven corrupt ministers, on George Chaponda and the Zambia maize deal.
He does this to modernise into the times and remain relevant to Malawi politics. Kamlepo immerses himself into the daily life of the poor Malawians and he becomes their spokesperson wherever he feels the need.
But at the end of the day, beyond speaking for the rural and urban crowd and young people, Kamlepo’s militant criticisms helps him to make a point.
This kind of messaging allows Kamlepo to stay in politics. And being the political prophet that he looks to be, this well works for him. Kamlepo will always pull off something extraordinary to prove his points and claims- he uses complicated figure and goes scientific and at many times he will claim he has evidence for his allegations and he goes further to claim he can produce his evidence.
But surprisingly, as it is with his ‘going into the bush’ political motto- where he has never gone- he again never produces that evidence. No wonder Kamlepo remains an enigma in Malawi politics. Even his own friends fails to unscrew his character.
That is also why the descriptions of him vary from being a militant, strategic, revolutionary, democrat, and reformer and a human rights activist.
Admittedly, his story is nevertheless, unequalled among other politicians we have known.
Kamlepo political points are scored in many forms. Having the record of a person that speaks for the poor, he, he assumes either an avuncular or scholarly tone, lecturing his audience and sometimes he casts himself in the image of national teacher.
So his political image never fades with passing time. He knows how to accustom himself to changing politics and he as well hibernate strategically when he sees the need.
Kamlepo had hibernated for a long time before he resurfaced to join the Peoples Party (PP) on which ticket he won the Rumphi East parliamentary seat.
But you can never know on whether his attachment to politics is a result of a deeper inner feeling like it is his religion.
Kamlepo either belongs to politics as a science to which objectives he values. Sometimes he looks like a human rights activist.
Sometimes he looks like a public top-notched investigative reporter on some government faults. Sometimes he looks like a political pessimist that never sees anything good in the incumbent government.
But sometimes, he sounds the tone of a Born Again Christian and politician that have come to preach the message of good hope, sometimes like a Jew who is always in waiting of a saviour but the saviour is taking a lot of time to arrive.
But what will he look like this time?
Kamlepo’s enigmatic and uncharacteristic troubling evolution of his real character, is now troubling.
But in his unscientific and early radical phase, the period of Kamuzu Banda- where only he acted like a Malawian appointed preacher of Banda’s bad governance, Kamlepo looked to be destined for greater things.
He was among those you would think, will form Malawi’s president one day. But now Kamlepo’s seriousness will always be questioned.
People will began to wonder how he formed his political party, Malawi Democratic Party (MDP) and harboured presidential ambitions registering as a presidential candidate in the Malawi 1994 and 1999 general elections.
On the other hand, Kamlepo’s disappointment with politics has a long history as well. He has faced back to back losses in parliamentary elections.
But what still brought together his broken pieces of political heart to call for renewed synergies and continue with his ambition is strangely interesting and calls for many moral lessons of a well-defined political life.
Today his persistency in politics looks unnecessary, in part because other people would have been happy to bank the credits he has garnered and move on to top political positions.
Is 2017 the end of the political trail blazer that he has been from the early days of Malawi democratic politics in comprehensively liberalising the airwaves and open up to foreign radio stations to speak about Malawi without fear of punishment?
At least, Kamlepo knows well where the line of political glory and fame crosses into ignominy. After this greatest lie he has ever made in his political history, how many will keep trusting Kamlepo?