By Staff Writer
President Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera left the country for a State Visit in Mozambique while back home he had left his family mourning his sister who was laid to rest yesterday.
The President’s trip has received mixed reactions, with some Malawians questioning how Chakwera could be insensitive to leave his own family in grief and travel.
However, in an interview on Thursday Malawi Congress Party (MCP) Publicity Secretary Maurice Munthali said it is apparent that proper reasoning has eluded those against the President’s travel and they fail to appreciate the gesture of Chakwera to put the country ahead of his own personal affairs.
The president is in the former Portuguese colony where, among others, he is to launch the Power Interconnector Project which is regarded as the all needed panacea for Malawi’s electricity supply challenges and a critical driver for the country’s socio-economic development growth.
The Interconnector will see the country tapping power straight from Cahorabassa.
Those faulting Chakwera argue that following Malawian tradition, the President would have respected the local culture of mourning with the rest of the family.
However, Munthali brushed such sentiments arguing that people need to first understand the circumstances surrounding the trip and critical importance before judging Chakwera.
“Unfortunately for us as a people; common sense has never been common. We rarely reason. In fact, reasoning seems to elude many in this part of the world,” he said.
“People need to understand that Chakwera, as State President, doesn’t value one life over the other. He is equally concerned with a life in danger or a lost one of that one person in the remotest part of the country just like he is with that of his blood relations. He has just demonstrated that he puts the country first. And this doesn’t mean to say the deceased mattered less,” explained Munthali.
The outspoken publicist urged people to understand that Presidential diaries are pre-arrranged, and that canceling them anyhow might have consequences to the nation at large.
He said it was prudent for Chakwera to go and conduct the business in Mozambique as earlier scheduled for what he termed “the greater good.”
Added Munthali: “What would the international community think of us, if I may ask, if he were to cancel the trip because he is burying his sister? What would President Nyusi and his entourage be doing as we speak?”
“Aren’t you the same local media who made noise about the President’s advance party claiming it left a week ahead of the meeting? Now, have we even considered the cost of cancelling the trip, or we are just speaking just to hear ourselves speak?” I would really love to understand why and how this culture issue is coming into the equation.”
Munthali further questioned what measure people are using to tell how one grieves arguing that the President is not going to stay in Mozambique for life and will have time to mourn his sister.
“But first, he has the living to tend to; and that includes me, you and his critics alike,” he explained.
Renowned social media commentator and arguably one of Chakwera’s fierce critics Joshua Chisa Mbele also backed the President for undertaking the trip pointing out that the State Visit was critical to Malawi’s interests.
Writing on his Facebook wall Chisa Mbele said the trip would help address the country’s two major problems-unreliable power supply and high cost of transport for the country’s imports and exports.
Chisa Mbele said these are the two critical problem currently crippling the country’s economic growth.
He said while the country faces unreliable and limited power supply, it also faces high cost of transporting essential needs such as fuel mainly because of use or road haulage to bring such amenities into the country.
He said these are the areas that Chakwera’s trip to Mozambique may eventually address and rectify Malawi’s ailing economy.
“For a start, the Grid Interconnection will allow Malawi tap power from Cahorabassa. And then there is the Nacala Port inspection. This will enable us to fully utilize the port facilities to receive fuel and transport it over the rail to Liwonde,” Chisa Mbele explained.
In a rare show of solidarity to the Chakwera administration, Chisa Mbele also praised the President for separating family matters from State affairs.
He says: “These are private and family matters. His wife is going there [attending the funeral]. [The President has also delegated Dr Saulos] Chilima as Vice President to equally represent him is also going there. That’s adequate.”
Once operational, the Nacala Corridor is set to increase Malawi’s annual exports going through the Nacala Port by about 300 per cent.
The deal will also help the nation save about 50 per cent in transport costs for its goods, both jmports and exports.