Saulos Chilima has once more cemented the UTM’s “anti-exile” and “anti-diaspora” policy at the lacklustre press conference he held at the BICC. But, before addressing his utterances, let us first get to know who Chilima is.
Chilima is not a politician, he never was, and never will be. In his years at CHANCO, he did nothing but organise parties for students. He was the errand boy sent to buy beers and cigarette for the seniors at the University.
The “invisible” below average Chilima survived only with pass marks for his grades, a performance he continues to show even today.
When he left CHANCO, he went on to work for some small companies. He either left through getting fired for sleeping with his bosses’ wives or for under-performance.
His exposure to big companies came late. He was as a salesman for a beer beverage company, Carlsberg. Through a friend, Morris Newa, he joined Airtel – where he was a country manager. He later back-stabbed Newa, a story for another day.
Those familiar with his time at Airtel tell of a story about how Chilima once called a big meeting. He apparently called this ‘big’ meeting only to tell the employees that the Airtel number starts with “09”.
Chilima’s fortune changed early in 2014. Bharti Airtel Headquarters in India told Chilima that Airtel was not renewing his contract ending early 2014. As fortune would have it, he was picked as a running mate for the DPP by President Mutharika. But, let me not digress.
Back to the mediocre press conference. Chilima made a startling statement that shows his lack of political understanding of the history of our struggle.
In his statement, he says that “some of these people leading us today may not have been there in the early ’90s. They were elsewhere in the so-called land of milk and honey.”
The statement by Chilima about “land of milk and honey” is a targeted insult at Malawian freedom fighters who were in exile or diaspora. He is pitting the diaspora with those who were in the country. It is a statement made out of deep-seated envy and jealousy.
We must remember that this is not the first time that the UTM attacks Malawians who are abroad or in diaspora. At the UTM launch in Masintha ground last year, Kaliati and Calista Chimombo launched a scathing attack against “matchona”. They said that they do not want Malawians to be led by “matchona”. The same message and attitude that Chilima cemented in his statement at the press conference.
Since Chilima was a below average student in the class, let us remind him of the “matchona” who have immensely contributed to our freedom.
We will start with John Chilembwe, whom Chilima likes to quote ad nauseum. Chilembwe was a m’tchona, having trained as a minister in the United States before returning to Malawi to fight for freedom.
Kamuzu Banda, Orton Chirwa, Rose Chibambo, Bingu wa Mutharika, Arthur Peter Mutharika, and many more I do not have time to mention join the list.
These heroes and heroines sacrificed their lives. They left a country they call home to an unknown foreign land to mount a resistance against colonialism and dictatorship.
If Chilima knew a little about politics and how democracy and a fight for freedom is conducted; he would appreciate how much those who fought from exile contributed to the struggle.
The diaspora community used the contacts for mobilisation of the international community. Kamuzu bowed to international pressure because if he did not relent, he was going to face sanctions.
Some of the historical contributions are through meetings held in the US with Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika and the other “exiles”. By then, the agenda was the release of Chakufwa Chihana and many others, as well as the 1993 referendum.
Other section of Malawians waged their fight from Europe and our neighbouring countries. Kamuzu Banda operative hunted and killed some of those who ran to neighbouring countries. Those in exile were never in a “land of milk and honey”.
Professor Mutharika recounted the painful “Political Journey” in his Washington University speech last year. He says, “My political journey began with my fight against colonialism. I fled my country together with my brother. But I paid a painful price. One day, [MCP led] Government agents came and killed my father. So, I was escaping from political persecution when I came to work in this University.”
Those who went to exile were never going there on a holiday.
The divisive attitude of the UTM and their lack of political knowledge is dangerous for this country. The UTM is dividing this nation.
The diaspora has a lot to contribute in this country. Chilima must not force us to compare governance/ development performance of “matchona” Presidents versus local ones. It will get us nowhere.
Let me remind you Chilima, Malawians in the diaspora are not in the “land of milk and honey”. You cannot rewrite our history with your mediocre attempt at entering mainstream “politics”.