Malawi’s Opposition leader in parliament Kondwani Nankhumwa on Monday attacked the State of the Nation Address (SONA) delivered by President Dr Lazarus Chakwera on Friday in parliament, whose theme was Restoring Warmth To The Heart of Africa.’
Nankhumwa, responding to the SONA said: “Malawians merely got a blank page where substance was relegated to the backseat.” He said the expectations of Malawians were very high about the SONA.
Nankhumwa narrated that the SONA is a constitutional provision and an important annual tradition, which brings together all important personalities from the Executive, Legislative and Judiciary under one roof.
“It is an occasion that allows the Head of State to inform Malawians about the current state of the nation as well as give recommendations to the Legislature regarding government priorities and proposed measures for the fiscal year,” he said.
To my understanding, a good SONA must at least address a number of important elements. These include the state of our democracy; the state of our economy and the service delivery.
“Malawians expected a comprehensive articulation of a roadmap of how this government would implement its vision and a development blueprint that we have heard so much about over the past couple of months.
He said:”Instead, what Malawians got was merely a blank page where substance was relegated to the backseat.”
“Although others may argue that you cannot judge a government that has just been in office for three months, I am saying it is possible to know the character of a government from its actions on its first day in office. Over the last three months that this government has been in place, we have seen policy ambiguities and lack of decision-making. We have seen doublespeak; within the last three months, we have seen arbitrary and politically motivated arrests. Within the last three months, regionalism and cronyism have reared their ugly head where
husbands, sisters, wives and brothers have been appointed into cabinet. We have also seen summary dismissals of perceived DPP sympathisers from their posts.
This transition period is a watershed moment for this country and we need an above-board leadership that must prioritize unity. The first thing that the President should have done was to take deliberate action to unite the country after an election that was bitterly fought on regional lines, not to allow his cheerleaders to foment divisions.
The President should borrow a leaf from the popular parlance of Father and Founder of the Malawi nation the late Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda, who said there is no Chewa; no Tumbuka; no Sena, no Yao; no Ngonde: no Nyakyusa; no Lhomwe; and no Mang’anja and that we are all Malawians.
CAUTION ON ‘CLEAR THE RUBBLE’
This is why I wish to encourage His Excellency President Dr. Lazarus Chakwera to exercise caution in his quest to “clear the rubble”; he must search for Nelson Mandela in him and reach out to his perceived enemies for the sake of unity and development. This is not a call for the government to stop seeking justice by not arresting those who clearly did wrong. No.
The wheels of justice must surely continue to turn but we have a problem when the arrests are politically motivated and made purely based on excitement, and targeted only at members of the DPP. Justice must not be discriminatory.
We can master any level of flowery language full of statistics and ambitious economic projections but if we fail on unity as leaders we have failed.