First Lady Mutharika

LILONGWE  -I was struck with amazement on 1st January when the First Lady, Gertrude Mutharika, dialed Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) number, got through Zokonda Amayi programme and greeted her relatives, friends and some radio and television personalities.

I thought to myself, wow, what a great First Lady we have, that who can be a radio programme caller, participate in a talk show while the President, her dear husband is listening beside, probably grinning.

But this ended here. I discovered that she had overstepped her mandate, probably she was overzealous. She now has taken over the job of programme producer or presenter.

Find out later in the column but as of now, let us move away from MBC and Kamuzu Palace to Kamuzu Central Hospital in Lilongwe where pastors and overzealous evangelists have been shown the exit door.

The story is that management at Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH) noted with concern the chaos in hospital wards in the name of prayers, so they have introduced a policy that allows pastors, evangelists and others who pray for patients to visit the hospital wards on weekends and public holidays only.

This i s to ensure that people who storm the wards in the name of praying do not disturb the patients and health workers

This is a move in a right direction. I have witnessed chaotic scenes in hospital wards caused by the so-called men of God, ranging from chorus singing on top of their voices to vigorous shaking of unsuspecting patients in what they call demon exorcising.

Patients need peace. Patients should not be harassed in the name of Jesus or God. No, that should not be allowed.

When patients are in hospital , they are in the hands of doctors and other clinicians. If they had put prayer as their priority, they would have gone to church after all.

My knowledge of prayer is that it can be done anywhere, anytime for a patient who is far away and any time. What I mean is a prayer can be offered for a patient even though the pastor is not physically in the ward.

This should be extended to other public hospitals such as Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital, Zomba Central Hospital, Mzuzu Central Hospital and all district hospitals where those who go to pray for patients turn out to be a nuisance or a menace than a comfort to those in pain.

I am not a satan or demon but those are my views.

Let me now turn to issues of governance and jus t ice following the decision by 11 civil society groups in the country to give an ultimatum to President Peter Mutharika to sack the powerful Agriculture Minister George Chaponda and suspend Admarc Chief Executive Officer Foster Mlumbe over allegations of corruption in the purchase of maize from Zambia.

Last time I witnessed real time vigil was when Mabvuto Bamusi and other civil society leaders successfully held one some years ago at City Centre to force the then president Bingu wa Mutharika stop his dictatorial tendencies and other matters.

Then in 2011, Malawians witnessed massive protests against the ever plunging cost of living, dictatorial tendencies of Bingu and other issues.

Unfortunately, this ended tragically with 20 lives lost, shot in cold blood by the police.

Of late, we have seen not so impressive crowds in protests, including one or two people led by Billy Mayaya, a sign that either Malawians are no longer interested in protests or have resigned to the powers that be, a sign that they are at the mercy of the authorities.

Now that 11 civil society groups, including Public Affairs Committee, Centre for the Development of People, CHRR have ganged up to make the protests, is impressive.

If Malawians had trust and faith in state investigating and prosecuting agents, especially the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), there was no need for people to organise themselves in such a manner for such a matter.

They would have just waited for the ACB to act swiftly on the matter but there are many issues that the state has to investigate such as the killing of the ACB director, Issah Njauju; it seems there is no future for the case of the killing of The Polytechnic student Robert Chasowa.

Others include the unimpressive explanation by police of the burning of Malawi Electoral Commission warehouse in Lilongwe with ballot papers in it, the reluctance by the government to probe the looting of massive public money and corruption tendencies by Bingu.

These inconclusive criminal investigations make people not trust the ACB and other prosecuting agencies.

On that note, let us return to Kamuzu Palace where Gertrude Mutharika wants to visit MBC Zokonda Amayi programme listeners club.

I think she is now overstepping her mark.

It is senseless to use taxpayers’ money to go and visit women whose passion is to greet each other on radio programmes instead of doing house chores.

These women take the money meant for relish, buy airtime and greet friends and relatives just for nothing except for fun and passion, so for the First Lady to embark on a journey from Ntcheu to Phalombe, visiting these women, does not make any sense to me.

The tour is nothing but political propaganda for the first couple whose party, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the government are unpopular than ever before because of economic turbulence the country is facing.

The tour should be done by Zokonda Amayi producers or presenters, not even the director of programmes at the tax payer run radio station.

If the First Lady pokes her nose directly into the affairs of MBC, how do you expect the staff to behave? Obviously, they would be more partisan than ever before although they have never been impartial since MBC was created.

My humble plea to the First Lady is stop it; you are stepping your mark as First Lady, stick to your Beautify Malawi Trust.

Being so-called patron of the women programme is not a licence for her to get into direct operations of MBC; leave that to employees of the state-controlled radio station!