By Duncan Mlanjira
Two score and sixteen years ago, the country’s founding fathers and mothers accomplished their goal of national liberation; their sons and daughters accomplished their goal of political liberation but what has failed to be achieved is goal of economic liberation.
This was said by the country’s new President Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera on Monday in his inauguration speech at Kamuzu Barracks in Lilongwe, high also marked as Independence Day celebration.
Chakwera said is is now this generation that must accomplish the goal of economic liberation, saying the country has had “one administration after another — shifting its post to the next election, promising prosperity but delivering poverty; promising nationalism but delivering division”.
The past administrations, Chakwera added, has always promised “political tolerance but delivering human rights abuses; promising good governance but delivering corruption; promising institutional autonomy but delivering state capture”.
He explained that 26 years ago, when the Malawi nation was born, he was nine years old and of that generation, only half of of them remain.
“With each passing year, our numbers fall as we continue to pass the baton of turning our land into a great nation to the next generation.
“To facilitate this transfer, four men and one woman from among those of us who were the last to be called Nyasas have thus far been entrusted with the presidency of Malawi.
“In joining that cohort as the sixth President of Malawi, I am fully aware that I may very well be the last member of that fading generation to hold this office.
“I am fully aware that it has fallen to me to complete the transfer of this mantle of nation-building to a rising generation of Malawians born free.”
He continued to say that after 26 years of false starts and stale finishes, it is no secret that his generation has not only left the homeland unbuilt, but also in ruins.
“It is because of these ruins that our first task in building a new Malawi is clearing the rubble,” he said. “Before we can begin to rebuild, we must clear the rubble of corruption, for it has left our taxes in ruins.
“We must clear the rubble of laziness, for it has left our infrastructure in ruins; we must clear the rubble of passivism, for it has left our rights in ruins; we must clear the rubble of donor dependency, for it has left our dignity in ruins.
“We must clear the rubble of regionalism, for it has left our nationhood in ruins; we must clear the rubble of negativity, for it has left our resolve in ruins; we must clear the rubble of impunity, for it has left our governance institutions in ruins.
“And we must clear the rubble of unprofessionalism and incompetence, for it has left our services in ruins. The ruining of national treasures of both nature and state is a sin of my generation that I am bound by God to confess and bound by you to correct.”
He said for this reason, the citizenry must not imagine that it is possible to make these corrections without pain and must accept that the national bones the country had dislocated cannot be corrected without suffering.
“I was reminded of this truth three months ago when my 12-year-old grandson suffered a greenstick fracture in both arms after falling badly in school.
“To straighten the bones, an orthopedic surgeon at Kamuzu Central Hospital had to apply enough pressure to the arms to administer healing through pain and tears.
“In our quest to heal our fractured nation and governance system over the next five years, we must do the same. We must have the courage to face and endure the pain of systemic surgery if we ever want to enjoy wholeness as a nation.
“We must have the courage to inflict necessary pains on the fractured attitudes and actions of those around us if we ever want to see them whole as citizens.
“In this transaction, we must each accept that in the context of Malawi’s recovery and transformation, we are each a patient with a bone that needs straightening and each a physician with a duty to straighten the bones of others.
“We are each in some way part of Malawi’s problems and must each in some way be part of her solution. We cannot absolve ourselves of responsibility for the maladministration we have allowed to happen on our watch for close to three decades any more than we can renege on our responsibility to make amends.
If this collective sense of responsibility over our national sins and national solutions seems unnecessary to you, then I put it to you that it is not only a necessary path, but the only path.
“I put it to you that there can be no new Malawi if the only people deemed guilty of ruining this country are those who lost the recent election.
“I put it to you that there can be no new Malawi if the only people deemed responsible for fixing this country are those who won the recent election.
“I put it to you that there can be no new Malawi if the only people to build it are Chakwera and Chilima. No! So long as I am President, I will insist that no new Malawi must be built except that which is built by Malawians.