Barack Obama today starts a journey of trying to convince American voters that he still has ideas to turn around the economy, a French Magazine reported yesterday that Pop Star Madonna dissed Lady Gaga for have an obsession over her looks. In North Africa surely Libya's strongman now a haunted man Muammar Ghadaffi is not sleeping, he is looking for a safe place to stay at every turn of a moment.
In Malawi, some selected 32 people are starting a new journey- they have been appointed Cabinet Ministers and they are tasked with a job very few would accept, turn around an economy that is on its knees, while at the same time restore confidence in Government.
Unfortunately this journey,just like Barack Obama's cannot be controlled by an individual but by many factors, including stern action by President Bingu wa Mutharika himself. The President needs to do more that shuffling people around. The change was the first element and now we need other areas that needs his urgent attention.
President Mutharika's reshuffle has hallmarks of internal DPP fighting, that has seen Ken Kandodo the strongman from Kasungu losing his Cabinet position. Kandodo has suffered gossip after reports emerged that he would be the likely runningmate of Professor Peter Mutharika, while others created a story that he was part of the Chewa's trying to topple the younger Mutharika. His sidelining is therefore not really on perfomance but on political grounds.
His replacement Ken Lipenga would raraly be touched by the media, though you cannot be sure for how long if things do not improve. Dr. Lipenga is a media man and how he has ended in Finance, only the President can explain.
The addition of Dr. Cornelius Mwalwanda could help on international trade and finance negotiations, though the Karonga Central MP has shown very little skills of professionalism but praise in his speeches in Parliament.
Professor Peter Mutharika has an international face, but during my last visit to Washington,someone said his image has suffered a great deal after the succession race and the aftermath of many crisis in the University wrangle of Academic Freedom.
However as someone who has sat in several International bodies, he has many direct access to most influential people on the International scene, the challenge would be the Government perfomance locally.
If you have Police killing 20 people on our streets, most people would not believe anybody including a renowned Washington Law professor if he tried to clarify the issues the way our Embassy in Addis Ababa did.
The professor needs a strong public relations team, just like President Mutharika needs now to start rebuilding the brand image of Malawi, not only as the most peaceful in Africa, but a model of democracy, good governance and obervance of the rule of Law.
On the International scene we have the issue of Britain, the withdraw of the Hunger Project Award and the freezing of the USA's USD350 million energy deal that needs APM to show his skills that he can diplomatically talk his way through such largely self made troubles.
His deputy Kondwani Nankhumwa is not a bad choice, he has a good rapport with most Journalists having been bred from MBC and he is an operative whose works can catch attention of many. He only now needs a lesson or two on International diplomacy and raising champagne glasses at national days of accredited embassies.
I do not shed a tear for most of the Cabinet members dropped, the survived on gossip, though some two top gossipers and schemers remain in this Cabinet. Let them go and re-think their political lives and their contribution to the current crisis.
However there are people like Eunice Kazembe who used to be in Trade and Ken Kandodo in Finance and Grain Malunga who in their own words, deed and actions were quite honest to Malawians on different situations. I still feel they have something to contribute to the system.
The rest as we argued then during their appointments were misplaced and some did not even deserve to be Ministers. Their stay in Cabinet could not be explained and as quitely as they came and stayed, they will fade away. No names worth mentioning just will be greeting them as backbenchers this November.
Now the struggle will change to the new comers. They join the political world of Ghadaffi, trying to survive each passing day. Goodall Gondwe has sure ideas on how solve the crisis, but we might international financing for our projects, with major donors keeping their money and China which cannot be sure if their freind is in control. Joyce Banda made a strategic speech on China two months ago and they might be interested in her growing popularity.
I have avoided talking of the Vice President and First Lady, whom I know will be tackled extensively in other media platforms.
But the among the new Ministers are experinced people include Henry Mussa, Patricia Kaliati and Kingsley Namakhwa whom I believe will know that hard work and results are the only two qualifications Bingu and Malawians are looking for.
Finally people are raising eyebrows on Ephraim Mganda Chiume, a self made hardworker who politics has not changed much over the years. He is an honest man a rare quality in politics and more importanly he is capable of listening, therefore having Legal minds at Justice who do all the work and a Minister capable of listening can reduce the tensions the Ministry created through many funny bills it brought.
I will look at other Ministers later but most important is that the new Ministers need to learn, they can study Barack obama, the fight between Lady Gaga and Madonna over petty image or the survival antics of Muammar Ghadafi and learn still that in the end it is all about the people and not what you really think. The common lesson from all these strange people.
MBC Management can also learn one or two on firing people with expertise just becuase they relate to your percieved enemies!