“Living True to Our Promise and Mission”
Fellow Malawians, Good morning.
I have been mostly quiet since we got into Government; not for the misbegotten reasons some may find appealing, but out of a sense of duty and responsibility for the orderly running of Government. I have not been quiet out of arrogance towards you, fellow Malawians. As the Vice President of this country, I took oath to serve my country, to serve you, fellow Malawians, and to do so by assisting His Excellency Dr. Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera, President of the Republic of Malawi, in executing the duties of his office. I have to observe the limits of the powers and duties as provided for by the Constitution. I believe that is the logic of our Constitutional set up and one I am committed to observe. And so, I have rather been focussing on delivering on assignments that were entrusted to me as part of delivering on the promises we made to the nation. At all times I have aimed at meeting the expectations of the President and Malawians, even when some things appeared impossible to deliver on face value. A notable example is the Public Sector Reforms Report with recommendations, which is under consideration by the President.
Let me emphasise this: there can only be one President of the Republic of Malawi at a time. All of us must rally our support in unison as the President leads the nation on a very difficult path towards our country’s prosperity. And so, when the President speaks, he articulates Government’s policy direction. It would be remiss of me to be seen to be pulling in a different direction for political convenience, creating discord in the Executive leadership of this country and, in the process, shifting the nation’s focus from the objects for which a government exists.
This is particularly important to bear in mind because the foundation of the present Government, being a political alliance, some may think being the Vice President is the same as being the Co-President of this country as if this is a power-sharing arrangement. It is not. The present administration got into office as a political alliance. I will return to the political alliance in a moment. What we must – as Malawians – bear in mind is that we have a nation in dire straits to lead; a nation we promised so much; and a nation whose political leadership, both past and present, owes a huge debt of development. We are way behind time and ourselves and everyday it is urgent that we act towards progress; towards a nation we say must be a middle-income economy in the next 40 years or so from today.
Today, I have to address you, fellow Malawians, because in the period of my relative silence in speech, a number of developments have emerged that have made it imperative that I address you.
A walk down memory lane
Firstly, I would like to humbly invite you, fellow Malawians, on a brief memory lane for our reflection. Over the last 28 years, we have had so many false starts as a country. At each instance, we have had the delusion that we probably had just found the missing formula for unlocking the gateway to our long-awaited prosperity. Sadly, when we believed that we had taken one step forward, we have found ourselves taking two steps backwards. Indeed, exciting moments that have made us believe in the redemptive power of our shared aspirations, have been followed by the dark clouds of uncertainty over the whole democratic project and the prosperity it is meant to deliver for us. We are a nation that is blessed and cursed by two opposing forces: the blessing of men and women in charge of State and non-State institutions who exert their lives to achieve our desired prosperity on the one hand; and the curse of destructive and selfish actions of a cabal of similarly placed men and women who do not share the common cause for a better Malawi but only look after narrow, parochial interests based on family, tribe and blatant cronyism. In this latter group, there are those who prioritise the politics of a moment over the common interests of Malawians. And so, for the sake of gaining, retaining or consolidating political power, the interests of the nation are perpetually subordinated and sacrificed and we waste a
great deal of effort on political posturing and pulling each other down. Because we have done this for too long, we have not focussed on meeting our aspirations for the prosperity which we only hear our neighbours and humanity at large are enjoying. This is our sad reality, one which we must constantly be aware of, and one which we must deliberately work on changing, if we are to ever rally support for, and encourage those, who mean well for our country.
But may I convey a little message of encouragement and hope, Fellow Malawians. And I convey this little message amidst all the seemingly dark and hopeless state of our nation and our lives. Amidst the paralysing politicking we engage in, we have, and should remain steadfast and vigilant, in our resolve and desire for a better homeland, a better life for all of us, right here in our country and in our lifetime. We owe this to ourselves, and generations to come.
We have demonstrated remarkable vigilance many a time, and mostly recently, in the events of the run-up to the 3rd February, 2020 and 8th May, 2020 judgements of the High Court and the Supreme Court of Appeal respectively, culminating in the fresh presidential election on 23rd June 2020. The fresh presidential election saw the exercise of true popular will in the election of a leader. That was a remarkable national project of political unity that enlisted the participation of a great majority of the nation without regard for colour, tribe, religion, geography or political choices. In a true sense of the word, by that project, we ushered in our fifth administration under the Second Republic; anchored – as it is – on what has proved to be our strong constitutional and democratic order that immediately before these events was on the deathbed at the hands of those who saw themselves well above the law. The participants in that national project will forever deserve our salutations and our respect!
Regarding The Fight Against Corruption
Fellow Malawians, UTM – as one of the partners under the Tonse Alliance – remains committed to the fight against corruption in this country. We are aware of the negative economic impact that this vice has on whole societies and many countries, including Malawi. This is why during the campaign period, we, in UTM, strongly advocated for the amendment of the section 91(2) of the Constitution of Malawi which provides undue
protection to the occupant of the office of the President of this country. The provision provides for the immunity of the President from criminal prosecution. While we salute the fact that the Vice President of this country can, and must be investigated or prosecuted for criminal wrongdoing, it is completely misplaced that Presidents of this country have a veil of constitutional protection from criminal prosecution through immunity while in office. One of the concrete goals of the Tonse Alliance, which has yet to be attended to, was to remove presidential immunity from criminal prosecution. This promise was pronounced under the campaign agenda of the Alliance. This is the time to amend the Constitution of Malawi in order to remove the immunity which Presidents of this country enjoy under section 91(2) of the Constitution so that everyone in Malawi can be prosecuted for criminal wrongdoing.
The fight against corruption must be attended by all the integrity that is necessary for its legitimacy. We believe that where there is suspicion for wrong-doing, law enforcement agencies must be left to do their job in accordance with the law. And the law must thereafter take its course without fear or favour of anyone. That remains our commitment to the people of Malawi and there are no two ways about it.
I wish to, therefore, appeal to the entire membership of the UTM and all well-meaning Malawians to support and also let the Anti-Corruption Bureau carry out its mandate without undue interference. No one should interfere with the work of the Bureau regardless of which side of the political divide you belong to. Corruption is evil. It is also legitimately expected that the Bureau should not entertain any efforts to be abused or misused by any quarters for whatever reason. The Bureau must not put its investigative or prosecutorial methods in question. For my part, as communicated through my Press Secretary last week, I will welcome the opportunity to respond to allegations of my alleged corrupt dealings, for which decisions have been taken without sight of the evidence, but I will do so strictly within due legal processes. To be clear, I will not fuel medial trials, let alone even appear to impair the work of the Anti-Corruption Bureau.
Regarding The Economy
It is common knowledge now that the fundamentals in the economy are a cause of concern and we can list a whole litany of problems and their origin but what is worthy highlighting is that we all need to rally together when the whistle in blown so that everyone gets busy by being productive in this country. The three pillars under MW2063 are a solid foundation for both recovery and growth. As an agrarian economy, we will not wish our agricultural sector away. The Government has embarked on an ambitious program to establish mega farms. This is an effort we must all applaud and rally support for. It is a venture that promises remarkable returns for our economy. Beyond mega farms, we should be thinking of cascading such investment to cooperatives which should be linked to Mega Farms as their primary markets. This is where agro-business processing must commence as we aim to drive industrialisation at the local level in our country’s strata and increase our export base. The potential to create jobs for our people working in, or as members of, cooperatives is also apparent in this initiative. We have all the resources we need to turn around the fortunes of this country but we need to sober up from the excitement and anxieties of political fights; show up; and get working. Let’s roll up our sleeves and get to work.
Regarding The Tonse Alliance
The Tonse Alliance has two main partners; the Malawi Congress Party and UTM.
Inspired by our forebearers’ wisdom of unity of purpose and determination, we came together in March, 2020 to put up a common political front in what was, for all purposes, meant to be a watershed presidential election for this country. We faced a battle for the soul of this nation. The battle had to be won. We all contributed in one way or another: prayer, time, food, life, money; you name it. We even prayed to unite with those who we felt let us down. Perhaps that is part of what we mean when we say we are a God fearing nation. The unity of national purpose we demonstrated must always remind us that we are one people, anthufe tonse ndi amodzi!!
March 19, 2020 is a historic day in Malawi. The Malawi Congress Party and UTM publicly signed a Political Alliance Agreement. The signing ceremony marked the conclusion of a pulsating process involving technical teams from the two political parties. The consultations and engagement between our two teams were based on instructions that Dr. Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera and I gave to them after our respective political parties had separately passed resolutions mandating us to finalise and agree on a Political Alliance Agreement with a view to fostering unity and bringing the liberation to the people of Malawi. A lot of people were involved in this process. However, let me thank the following people who put together this Political Alliance Agreement; as a representation of the aspirations of the people of Malawi and to which the political class had to respond to: Honourable Titus Mvalo, Ambassador Steve Matenje SC, Dr. Chikosa Silungwe, Mr. Lekani Loga and Mr. Prince Kapondamgaga, among other members. I would like to acknowledge the role played by Pastor Martin Thom who, while others were talking in groups, brought Dr. Chakwera and I in one place to discuss Malawi’s future.
The UTM did not join the Alliance for political convenience. Rather, it was a profound recognition that beyond the fresh presidential election, the immense challenges that we face as a nation could only be defeated through unity of purpose, commonality of interests and harnessing all the available capacities and abilities across the nation. The Alliance represented, to the extent possible, the aspirations of the people of Malawi as we best understood them. It was an Alliance, by public demand and popular will, in the true sense of these terms. It is important that we always remember this genesis, so that we must guard against, and nip in the bud, any regressive elements that would divert our efforts to focus on fighting division and petty bickering; instead of concentrating our efforts to deliver on our promises made on the campaign trail.
I would like to emphasise that the Political Alliance Agreement that we signed on that day was premised on trust, mutual respect and the common desire for a better Malawi.
Today, as I speak to you, Fellow Malawians, it is heartening to note that our intentions for getting into that Alliance have borne some fruits but at the same time disheartening that a few things remain outstanding and surely need resolution.
I know that the contents of the Political Alliance Agreement have remained unknown to the wider general public. On reflection, because the Alliance is a product of popular demand and the sense of duty we felt to give ear to what the general public wanted, it is important that you have a fair idea of what was agreed to give effect to what you required of us. I will highlight a few matters from the Agreement.
Firstly, the spirit of our Alliance is captured in the preamble of the Agreement. The Alliance is anchored on the following mutually recognised needs:
(a) for contesting the fresh election as president and running mate, which we resolved in the best interest of the nation – there was no place for personal priorities, there was a nation before us to be saved and served and a clear path to that had been mapped by the people of Malawi;
(b) to increase the chances of winning the fresh election, which we phenomenally achieved together; and importantly,
(c) to work together after the election in pursuit of the parties’ common goals of serving the people of Malawi in the attainment of their development aspirations.
Further, the Political Alliance Agreement also clearly sets out guiding principles and modalities of its implementation for the sole benefit of the people of Malawi. I highlight Clause 2 of the Agreement which stipulates the Guiding Principles of the Alliance as follows:
(a) Transparency whereby “UTM and MCP agree to be open with each other and transparent in their dealings with regard to the implementation of [the] Agreement” : clause 2.1.1;
(b) Good faith whereby “UTM and MCP undertake to implement this Agreement in good faith and not to do anything that may frustrate this
Agreement” :clause 2.1.2;
(c) National interest whereby “UTM and MCP agree to implement this Agreement in the interest of national unity and development in accordance with the Constitution and the Laws of Malawi for the benefit of the people of Malawi” :clause 2.1.3;
(d) Unity and togetherness whereby “UTM and MCP agree to be united with a common vision and unity of purpose in the implementation of [the] Agreement” :clause 2.1.4;
(e) Good governance whereby “UTM and MCP undertake to be guided by the principles of good governance, rule of law and respect for human rights in the implementation of [the] Agreement” : clause2.1.5;
(f) Non-discrimination whereby “UTM and MCP undertake not to engage in any form of discrimination of any kind and all appointments pursuant to the implementation of [the] Agreement shall be on merit” :clause 2.1.6;
(g) Mutual trust whereby “UTM and MCP shall ensure constant engagement with each other to build trust and confidence” :clause2.1.7;
(h) Mutual respect whereby “UTM and MCP undertake to respect each other in all undertakings, shall not undermine each other in any other form or way both in public and in private and shall treat each other including their respective members as equals” :clause 2.1.8;
(i) Integrity whereby “UTM and MCP shall execute [the] Agreement with utmost integrity, especially when faced with the choice between what is convenient and what is right;” :clause 2.1.9
(j) Consultation whereby “UTM and MCP shall consult each other thoroughly before any decision that may be deemed crucial by any of the Parties is made” :clause 2.1.10; and
(k) Consensus whereby “UTM and MCP undertake to make decisions [under the] Agreement by consensus in order to formulate a nationally owned, and broadly supported, policy position” :clause 2.1.11.
Further, the Agreement was made in pre-election and post-election contexts respectively. The post-election context starts in clause 3.2 where the Malawi Congress Party and the UTM committed to a few covenants and I highlight a few:
(a) To implement the recommendations of the 2007 Law Commission Report on the Review of the Constitution; (b) To amend section 91(2) of the Constitution in order to remove immunity of the President from criminal prosecution; and (c) The Malawi Congress Party and the UTM agreed to be equal partners.
And in the Pre-election contest, the following was agreed:
- That the Presidents of the Malawi Congress Party and the UTM shall agree in writing who would be candidate and who would be running mate ii. That subject to the decision of the national executive committees or conventions, as the case may be, of the UTM and the Malawi Congress Party, the presidential candidate during the fresh presidential election of 23 June, 2020 shall not be the presidential candidate during the immediate next election and shall cede the candidacy to the running mate in the fresh presidential election of 23 June, 2020.
Beyond this, I would like to state that the Agreement was signed for a period 10 years in which both Dr Chakwera and I would support one another to lead for one term.
But if for any reason this were to change, a process similar to what ensued before the Agreement was signed ought to follow. There is no wisdom in name calling, abuse, arrogance, humiliation or indeed violence for something that came into being amid smiles and a sense of hope for many generations. Any departure from the Agreement amounts to political fraud not only on the parties to the Agreement, but also on the popular will that mandated the Alliance in the first place.
From my end, I want to assure you, Fellow Malawians, that every effort is being, and will be made to resolve any departures from the Agreement, and this is all for the purpose of achieving the logic and objects of the Agreement for the sole benefit of the people of Malawi who trusted us under the Alliance and ushered us into Government.
However, if there is insistence from other elements within the Alliance and their advocacy for a split as we move towards 2025, the best would be to terminate the Alliance now. Of course the instigation and termination of the Alliance by all parties now would also amount to cheating on the popular will of the people of Malawi that mandated the Alliance to form Government. The behaviour that seems to place some partner under the Alliance as the sole voice that swayed the popular vote of the 23 June, 2020 presidential election must be frowned upon. Indeed, if we were to terminate the Alliance, in honesty we would have to call for a fresh presidential election. We should not continue our journey to 2025 with two hearts: One inside and another outside of the Alliance. May I repeat, we have a nation to serve. Our political ambitions should never paralyse national progress. It is utterly irresponsible to be narrow and parochial in conducting the affairs of this country using the power and place merely entrusted to us by the people. Politics must serve the people of Malawi as a whole by the end of the day. Politics must not be practiced in a way that serves the interests of a few and ends up frustrating the aspirations of the people of Malawi. We need to unlearn our obsessions with power and privilege. It is a disservice to the country and completely misguided.
Fellow Malawians, I would like to take this opportunity to assure you all that the commitment we made to be your servants remains intact. No amount of propaganda, innuendo, insult, humiliation will move us an inch. We as, the UTM, are a big part of this Administration and no one must be under any illusion to believe otherwise.
The moments we faced death during the campaign period will not be erased by a statement made by a hungry member of the Alliance who rants because they would want to earn their space at the dinner table by spewing garbage on national or other television station. We should not allow history to be changed because someone or some people have now just realized that power which should be shared has become sweeter and begin to display as much excitement as a 2-year old at the sight of candy.
I wish to remind members of the Tonse Alliance that we NEVER at any stage promised Malawians another campaign, we promised them the Land of Canaan. And our mission should, therefore, solely be to get them there. If, for whatever reason, our mission is challenged, we should own up and re-engage the people of Malawi and explain why the course must change. Another campaign, 3 years away from an election, is most unfortunate, regrettable, abuse of the political process, and completely unnecessary. It is what this Administration will deliver that will endear Malawians to this Alliance and give them a vote when that election day of reckoning comes. As the late President Bingu wa Mutharika said, let the works of our hands speak for us, instead of artificial narratives aimed at misrepresenting matters to the people.
May God bless us all and, most importantly, may He remind us what we signed up for so that we remain true to Our Promise and Mission to our country, Malawi.
I thank you.
SAULOS KLAUS CHILIMA
JULY 1, 2022