President Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera is clocking two years in office this year. In the last two years Malawi has witnessed some of the unprecedented gestures that defined his personality.
President Chakwera is a friend of the world because of his ability to attract the interest of some world leaders. But this glowing affinity with the world had stepping stones.
President Chakwera had to normalize relationship with his predecessors in the country before he became a global icon. As a true servant of God, he set out to be in touch with former occupants of his office.
President Chakwera has done deeds that were unheard-of in the pas twenty-six years. In the past two years the Malawi leader has been has visited homes of his three predecessors.
One Sunday 26 December 2021 President Chakwera and First Lady Monica Chakwera paid a courtesy call to immediate past president Peter Arthur Mutharika at his PAGE Residence in Mangochi. Truth be told no one saw this coming considering their shared political rivalries in the past two elections. It was also particularly unthinkable for it is President Chakwera who dealt Mutharika a political “death” blow in the 2020 elections.
Commenting on the President’s unexpected act to visit his predecessor, former State House Spokesperson Brian Banda told the media that the first couple took to the Mutharika’s “gifts” of solidarity and being Christmas they also brought to the former Head of State compliments of the season.
On his end, Mutharika’s Personal Secretary Linda Salanjira described the meeting as “cordial” adding that the former president promised that he will make himself available whenever his counsel is needed.
It was a rare sight of two sworn nemesis in one picture. The social media was awash with pictures of two of the influential families of the country.
For once the deeply divided country seemed to have been in one accord and praised the incumbent President for humbling himself and visit the man he defeated on the ballot. A man identified as Mtende commented on a story carried by the Nation Online on the same by saying: “These are hallmarks of a genuine statesmanship, he had to humble himself to meet the ex-President not vice-verse. Well done Mr President.”
Like a man determined to make peace with his elders President Chakwera did not stop on the Mangochi visit. On Friday March 11, 2021 Chakwera stormed Muluzi’s BCA residence in Limbe. According to Brian Banda the purpose of the courtesy call was to express his best wishes to the second president of the republic on his retirement.
Of-course people were not entirely surprised that President Chakwera went to console former President Joyce Band on the loss of her son Geoffrey Kachali particularly because of their association in the Tonse alliance. But what about the recent act by the Malawi leader to delegate JB at the funera of former Kanyan President Mwai Kibaki in Kenya?
In March, President Chakewera also delegated Muluzi to attend the burial of Former Zambian President Rupiah Banda in the Zambian Capital, Lusaka.
These gestures may seem ordinary, but they are not, as they represent a departure to the past where former presidents were treated as rivals. The class act by President Chakwera demonstrates that we may differ politically but we are Malawians before everything else.