Billy Mayaya, a masquerade


Malawi has two types of civil society leaders. There are those that stand on principle because they are rights defenders at heart.

And then there those that use the civil society tag as a platform where they stand to be noticed by the father Christmas of opportunities.

Billy Mayaya belongs to the second group.

He used to be a very vocal critic of Mutharika. This was not strange because almost everyone in the civic leadership was talking. There was a common enemy who needed to be confronted.

When Mutharika died and Joyce Banda became president, true colours of the civic leaders started showing.

Many lined up themselves to be spotted for consideration by the new president. They had a way of doing it. Billy Mayaya was one of them.

Almost when it was known that Joyce Banda would ascend to the presidency, Billy Mayaya was one of those that replaced their profile pictures on Facebook with that of Joyce Banda.

It may appear a small act but it quite symbolic on the sentiments of the culprit

Mayaya is the best person to explain how a person in his position as a civic leader would momentarily support a politician in that manner and still remain objective.

That the coming of Joyce Banda was exciting as it brought in the hope of change and a breath of fresh air goes without saying.

That many people who got victimised under Mutharika had to celebrate is not in contest.

Billy Mayaya was one of Mutharika’s victim. But he was not the only one among civic leaders. Undule Mwakasungura was another. MacDonald Sembereka was another. Rafik Hajat was another. Habiba Osman was another. And there were many more.

The difference is that these other people, even in their excitement that change had come, never compromised themselves by replacing their faces with that of the new president.

But the picture of Joyce Banda did not last long on Mayaya’s profile. It disappeared immediately after the new president made appointments and Mayaya was not one of them.

What is of note is that none of the civic leaders that had been appointed to various positions changed their profile pictures to appear in the face of Joyce Banda.

And it is not only the picture of Joyce Banda that Mayaya changed after appointments missed him.

His attitude towards the president also changed. He suddenly moved from the extreme of praise singing where he had been before the appointments to the extreme of demonising the president where he is until now.

He makes statements, some of which are quite personal attacks in nature, which can only result from frustration.

Some have labelled the criticism of John Kapito as the result of being disgruntled for missing out on appointments.

They may have their evidence which they know privately because it has never been made public.

For all that is known though is that unlike Mayaya who was salivating with expectation through the profile picture of Joyce Banda, Kapito has publicly remained himself.

But Mayaya has been like that. When Robert Mugabe was invited to open the Midima Road, Mayaya was among the critics that protested the invitation.

Then Mutharika invited civil society leaders to his palace. Some boycotted the meeting. Undule was one of those that never attended.

Mayaya was among those attending and he was appointed the spokesperson of the group.

At the end of the meeting he spoke to the press. He was not the same vocal Mayaya. He had been completely subdued.

His tone was now apologetic for his criticisms against government.

It was to be known later that the civil leaders who attended the meeting left the palace with brown envelopes after having been accommodated at Capital Hotel where they had an open cheque of meals and drink including extracurricular activities.

His love for money is the reason he lost his job at Blantyre Synod where he was programme manager for the Church and Society. Funds were misappropriated under his leadership.

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