By Sylvester Kumwenda
Lilongwe, July 6, Mana: Malawi’s State President, Dr Lazarus Chakwera says it is time to clear all the rubbles that Malawi has been engulfed in for almost 26 years straight.
Chakwera made the remarks after receiving the Sword of Command, subsequently being inaugurated as the 6th president of Malawi at Kamuzu Barracks in Lilongwe, a ceremony that coincided with the country’s 56th Independence Anniversary commemoration.
Chakwera who was amongst the generation of 4 million citizens which witnessed the birth of Malawi, said since the inception of democracy 26 years ago, Malawi has been buried in the rubble that has hindered her economic growth despite achieving political liberation 56 years ago.
In a powerful speech, the President said Malawians, for 26 years have been dealt with raw deals; given poverty instead of prosperity, seen division instead of nationalism, suffered human rights abuses instead of enjoying political tolerance, corruption instead of good governance and state capture instead of institutional autonomy.
“And now, after 26 years of false starts and stale finishes, it is no secret that my generation has not only left our 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,” said the newly elected Malawi Leader.
He said the rubble includes corruption, which has left taxes in ruins; laziness, which has left infrastructure in ruins; passivism, which has left people’s rights in ruin, donor dependency, regionalism, impunity, negativity, unprofessionalism and incompetence.
However, Chakwera said healing a fractured nation and a fractured governance system in the next five years will not be an easy thing to do.
“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,” he said.
The President, however said the quest to build a new Malawi must be taken by both, who won or lost the recent elections, noting that a new Malawi has to be built by all Malawians.
Chakwera further said the Tonse Alliance is ready to deliver its promise made to Malawians during the campaign trail but said this is a collective effort where by government has to do its part and the citizenry also to do their part.
“The Tonse philosophy is not a campaign gimmick, but a governing philosophy that says: we either build together or crumble together,” he said.
He said the spirit of Tonse philosophy manifested itself in how Malawians demanded change in governance.
The number one citizen then saluted the relentless efforts made by all Malawians in quest for justice: lawyers and witnesses in the court case, people who uncovered evidence of electoral fraud, the five judges of the Constitutional Court who annulled the elections, Human Rights Defenders Coalition, the Supreme Court, the new leadership of Malawi Electoral Commission, police and soldiers and party presidents of the Tonse Alliance for forfeiting their political aspirations.
“I could go on and on, but the point would remain the same, that; it is the Tonse Philosophy of collective responsibility that brought us to this milestone and it is that same philosophy that will bring us to the next…
“Today, I too promise to give this country my best and do my best for you as your servant. More importantly, I promise to set a good example of submitting myself to the constitutional processes, provisions, and institutions that are designed to ensure that the President and Vice President are always at their best,” he said.
Amongst other things, Chakwera promised yearly full asset declarations, to be questioned by Parliament on issues of handling state affairs, to propose a legislation to reduce the powers of the presidency, empower institutions like the Anti Corruption Bureau to be operating independently, operationalising Access to Information Act and continuously engaging the leader of opposition for alternative inputs of running government affairs.
“As I seek to be at my best through these measures, you can also count on me to challenge all of you to be at your best,” said the President.
Chakwera became President following his victory over then President Peter Mutharika during the 23rd June elections and was sworn in on 28th June at Bingu International Convention Centre (BICC)’s Malawi Square.
As per the Constitution, he immediately assumed role of Commander in Chief of Malawi Defense Forces (MDF), and during this inauguration ceremony at 11:15 a.m, he was symbolically presented with the sword of command by General Peter Namathanga signifying that he is the new Commander in Chief of MDF.
Present during the event was the Vice-President of Tanzania, Samia Suluhu and special Presidential envoys of Botswana, Kenya and Zimbabwe amongst other international guests.