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Thursday, May 23, 2024
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OF CHILIMA AND HIS SILENCE: A concerto for the UTM faithful

BY SEAN MATEUS

I noted something in the previous post.

It appears that the UTM faithful has absolved Saulos Chilima of any past and future leadership deficiencies on account of his “suspension” by Lazarus Chakwera. In as far as they are concerned, there is nothing Chilima can do to advance the case of the struggling Malawian. His hands are tied. So they say.

This is flawed thinking at best.

Lazarus Chakwera only stopped delegating Chilima on official duties: he did not take away Chilima’s 1) voice, 2) conscience and consciousness, and 3) the influence that comes with the office of the Vice President. These are the advantages Chilima currently has and therefore the only things he can leverage in his sphere of influence. It must be borne in mind that when it comes to execution, you can only work with what you have and not what you think you should have.

The moment Chakwera stopped delegating Chilima on official duties, everything changed! Permanently so most likely. At this moment, Chilima’s key to the presidency no longer lied with Chakwera. Thus, at this juncture, it was very important for him to redefine his place in this new reality. He quickly needed to find a new approach because the old one was no longer fit in the new arrangement. This was the first step towards remaining a consequential force in our socio-political order.

Redefining his place in this new reality was a far much better undertaking than waiting for Chakwera to “pardon” and hand him his leverage back. Much as he is still a Reverend of a kind, it must be understood in no uncertain terms that Chakwera is also a politician, and just like all politicians do, will at any given moment prioritise himself over and above any other politician, and where possible, collaborate with other friendly politicians to check those he regard as a threat.

That Chilima made it made it clear that wanted to be president of this nation yesterday automatically made him a threat to Chakwera’s 2 term presidency. And it is in Chakwera’s interest to neutralize any threat in the best way he can in the circumstances. An opportunity to neutralize Chilima arose with the corruption alallegations. Hence the “suspension” followed. That that suspension works in Chakwera’s interests is beyond question. Thus, it is great folly on the part of UTM faithful to expect Chakwera to lift that suspension and run the risk of further weaponising an existing threat.

My point here is that Chilima will be kept on leash for as long as is necessary, and therefore holding that we need to wait for Chakwera to unleash Chilima so that he shine is great folly and misapprehension of the political dynamics. Simply put, that is never happening. This is to say if Chilima plans to do something, for the people or otherwise, he can only use that which he has at the moment: his voice, his conscience & consciousness and influence of the Office of the VP.

With regard to doing something for the people, by now he should have been demonstrating that he cares about the plight of the people he badly want to lead in the future by speaking on issues of concern to them as opposed to openly disregarding them for an unlikely political favour from his political rival.

As a leader, he needs to be held accountable. Instead of creating excuses for him as to why he is silent on issues hitting the average harder, you should have been encouraging him to speak as well as creating avenues for him to use his influence.

Further, he is a politician before being a vice president. A politician worth the call ideally stands for something, an ideal. That ideal, is what he sells the people. To this end, if Chilima cannot identify with the people he plans to lead in their moment of need, what exactly does he stand for? Or in general terms, is whatever that he stands for squarely dependent on him being a delegate of the president? That is to say, without being officially delegated to do something his ideal no longer holds? Is this what you are telling me?

Moreover, he is still a Vice President meaning that he still enjoys the advantage of the unique influence that comes with the office of the Vice President. Thus, he can still leverage that in the best way he can to speak on and address social ills currently afflicting our society. This one is a no brainer.

He was only “suspended” from executing some official duties, his conscience and consciousness were not. Meaning that he has the moral understanding of what is currently wrong on our social-political front and probably what needs to be done to get things right. In this regard, it is incumbent upon him to meaningfully use this comprehension to connect and relate with people. For example, he does not need to be officially delegated by anyone else to say something on the rapidly rising cost of living vis a vis the current poor wages. He can just say it.

I can go on and on but I need to stop here. On this note: What is he going to do if his “suspension” remains till 2025? Is he going to stay quite till then? And if he does, are you still going to excuse him on account of the said “suspension”? And if you don’t expect him to speak now, what do you expect him to do and when?

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