ow time flies! So it’s been a 100 days already since Malawi made history to present southern Africa with its first female president and Africa its second. Joyce Banda belongs to an exclusive club that only has her and Liberia's Ellen Johnston Sirleaf.
Although Abiti was catapulted to the high office courtesy of tragic circumstances, her clocking 100 days still needs to be celebrated. If truth be told, Malawi was cruising towards the precipice just over three months ago. Hope was fast becoming an endangered specie. Nobody was sure where Malawi would’ve been today if things didn’t change.
Be that as it may, even as most Malawians were thirsting for change very few would celebrate the change fate presented us with. A few weeks before his sudden death a group of religious and civil rights leaders and the academicians called for President Bingu wa Mutharika's resignation. That was how dire things had become.
Well, the Big Kahuna dared everyone he wasn’t going anywhere but of course God had other plans. Notwithstanding that, death is death as one John Tembo famously said the other day. Not many people can celebrate anybody's passing however distasteful that person can be.
But we can’t be mourning Bingu forever. We must move on. In any case each one of us has their day anyway.
So albeit after some failed political gymnastics by some people who could not imagine a Joyce Banda presidency, Abiti ascended to the big throne through a constitutional order. The 'Mid Night Six' and their sponsors will have their just deserts some day but the muckraking community has to continue its patriotic duty to constantly hold our leader's feet to the fire.
It’s very easy to certify President Joyce Banda's first hundred days as a big success because, yes, it is easy to do so. Indeed it is also easy to put an F on Abiti's first report card because, yes, it is equally easy to do so.
Confused? Yes, I am too because Joyce Banda came on the scene as a harbinger of hope. In a country where hope was in short supply like anything else from sugar to fuel anybody exuding hope would surely be embraced.
So President Banda had her work cut out for her. She had to right all the wrongs Bingu left in his wake. That can sound like an easy job for all she had to do was undo the late leader's crazy policies. For example, everybody knew it was pure madness for a country stinking poor like Malawi to mess with a big donor like Great Britain. Joyce Banda needed just to hit the skies to London and say a few nice things to the lords of Whitehall and things would be fine.
Fine, things really turned out to be. British pounds started flowing almost immediately and the diplomatic relations were restored.
With the London job firmly in the bag, Mrs. Banda's charm offensive across the Atlantic was just a formality. Hillary Clinton had already said all the right things, so did the moneymen at the all-powerful Breton Woods institutions in Washington.
Near home it was easy to smoothen the ruffled relations with Lusaka and Maputo. There was really no reason not to be on talking terms with Zambia and Mozambique considering the three countries are only different because of artificial borders the colonialists drew for us. After all the Mutharikas even have roots in Mozambique.
That was therefore really a no brainer for Joyce Banda. She just had to get Michael Sata and Armando Geubuza on the phone to talk things over.
So on the whole things seem to have started looking up for Mother Malawi again. The friends we needlessly scared off are back in town. We are no longer making headlines for all the wrong reasons.
So on the diplomatic front she can easily get away with a clean A. The economy too is starting to breath easy.
Of course the massive devaluation that saw the kwacha losing half its value has hit several pockets real hard but most of us knew that a devaluation was inevitable. It was not a question of "if" but "when". But despite the resultant diminishing purchasing power the queues that were quickly becoming Malawi's favourite pastime in Mutharika's Malawi are quickly disappearing.
But there are still some tumours that may become malignant cancers if we let down our guard. One thing that quickly comes to mind is that little irritant called Constitution. It seems our leaders profess to defend and protect the Constitution when taking the mantle of power but find the sacred book nothing more than a little bother when the real power starts sinking in.
But our leaders must constantly be reminded that they cannot pick and choose which parts of the Constitution they can uphold and which ones they can flush down the toilet.
President Banda also showed dangerous indecision in the manner she handled the MRA accounts fiddling imbroglio. She should have come out clean from the beginning. She should have made it clear she would not fire Dr. Ken Lipenga. Everyone, including the Finance Minister himself, knew what had actually happened. The President needed just to make her decision known from the beginning other than buying time with bluff committees of enquiry.
Abiti must also gauge the weight of her voice. Sometimes she speaks before weighing the implications of her pronouncements. For example, she literally accused Chief Justice Lovemore Munlo of being part of those charlatans that tried to usurp the Constitution without getting all the facts on the table. I am not sure what role Munlo played during those 72 hours of madness but now the poor guy has to justify his very existence with the executive subtle indictment.
Add to that some of the willy-nilly sackings we are witnessing. I know that every change of government must herald some changes in the leadership of some key institutions. But some institutions should have been left untouched. For example, unless we are told of genuine reasons, I am not sure why Attorney General Maxon Mbendera had to lose his job. Although the Singini Inquiry is yet to publish its findings about those 72 hours of madness in April, I am reliably informed the government's chief legal advisor acquitted himself quite well.
But, as Mama Joyce said when she assumed office, she is there to finish off her late boss' term while charting up her own vision for the future. She has to take a clean break from her boss' abrasive style of politics, disregard for the rule of law and abuse of human rights. Apart from only wining and dining in celebration for her first 100 days of her presidency, she has to consolidate her positives and improve on her negatives.
Otherwise she hasn’t started that badly but Malawians are tired of leaders who start off well only to lose it when the real scent of power starts wafting across their nostrils.