Kamuzu was selfless-Robson Chirwa
BY FRANCIS TAYANJAH-PHIRI
09:28:56 - 14 May 2007
TAKE your time and talk to Robson Watayachanga Chirwa, who was a minister in Dr. Kamuzu Banda’s government, you will know what the late former president was to Malawi.
The veteran politician takes you into a journey that enlightens you so you can appreciate how Kamuzu rated a villager higher than individual interests.
“I knew Kamuzu better since I became an MP for Mzimba South East in 1971. I was first appointed a minister in his cabinet in 1976 and I was in his cabinet after every reshuffle until MCP was no longer the ruling party in 1994,” Chirwa said in a rare exclusive interview.
He said what makes him cherish Kamuzu’s days was the former president’s vision for Malawi and fatherly love for all without bias.
“Kamuzu looked at the interest of each Malawian from Nsanje to Chitipa, Nkhotakota to Mchinji without discrimination. As far as I am concerned, he was not just a leader, but a real visionary leader,” said Chirwa urging Malawians to reflect positively on what the great leader did for the country.
He added: “He was a disciplined, strong leader in his vision for Malawi and equally the same he wanted humble and selfless people in his cabinet. There was no room for appeasement in Kamuzu’s cabinet and everyone had to serve the people to get the nod of this principled leader – of course for the 18 years I served in that portfolio, I feel I achieved that.”
One thing that makes Chirwa proud that he served under Kamuzu was that despite the meager monetary resources Malawi had at that time, the former president made sure that all districts shared the national cake.
“To the best of his ability he developed all the districts in the country. There was usually abundant food in all districts, good roads (though not necessarily tarmac everywhere), and good schools that made Malawi a pride of the region,” he said.
Kamuzu, he said, also did not cherish the idea of his people being beggars as he put in place the concept of self-help. This, he said, managed to transform local infrastructure in the country.
“I salute him for the Youth Week concept that made locals appreciate their role as citizens of the country. They saw need for teachers in rural areas to live in better houses, maintain roads and many other projects, without waiting for government to do everything for them,” he said.
That, said Chirwa, also ignited a sense of responsibility and not that of destruction that has been eminent over the recent years.
“The idea of having the youth become self reliant also curbed the dependency syndrome that is normally a hindrance to development in the country. There were no handouts and that made people hardworking and yearn for better things in life through their own sweat,” he said.
Chirwa said the fact that the youth were also sent to MYP bases empowered them individually.
“Because of that, there was little crime in the country and anyone stealing was easily caught as compared to the days after Kamuzu,” he said.
The Kamuzu long time motto of “I want my people to have enough food, houses that do not leak and beautiful clothes” was also a motivation.
“That is why we saw the mushrooming of houses with corrugated iron sheets in many parts of Malawi within a short time of Kamuzu’s rule. I am happy that people are now appreciating what Kamuzu did to this country with his selfless spirit,” Chirwa said.
How does he compare the three regimes Malawi has had?
Chirwa said: “Give credit where it is due, Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda did everything possible with the little money Malawi had to build the country. The present one, Dr. Bingu wa Mutharika is trying hard to match with Kamuzu – given enough time I am sure he will perform wonders.”
What of the regime that succeeded Kamuzu, the UDF Bakili Muluzi government?
Chirwa said he reserved his comment.
“I would not comment on the Bakili Muluzi regime, let by gones be by gones. I prefer to remain silent on that,” he said.
But Chirwa lastly said he was glad that Malawians have memories of Kamuzu, “They were told to belittle him but now they remember him, that is very good.”