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Power is Ephemeral

Aug 3, 2009, 7:40 AM

The ongoing travails of the former president of Malawi Bakili Muluzi illustrate the truth that there is life after an incumbency. And that post-presidency life can be pleasant or otherwise depending on how an incumbent conducts him or herself while in power. The Malawi's Anti-Corruption Bureau has seized 44 of the ex-president's 149 vehicles, Keza Office Park, all his bank accounts and his multi-million residence in the commercial capital city of Blantyre. The ACB is still investigating the ownership of other properties to ascertain ownership. The chief allegation against the former Malawian strongman is that he diverted donor money amounting to US$11 million into his account.

Apparently, Mr Muluzi stole his country blind while he was head of state. And in the shortsighted logic of such perverted minds, he deluded himself into thinking that he could evade the system forever. Trying to avoid one's own misdeeds is like trying to avoid one's own shadow: it is impossible! They often catch up with one when it is least expected; that is nemesis.

Mr Muluzi has got his just deserts. He has realized too late that governance is not about self-enrichment; instead, it is about working tirelessly for the common good. If the allegations against him are proven, then he stands to forfeit his loot -and rightly so - to the people and government of Malawi, the rightful owners in the first place. If he had governed well to improve the economic and social status of the people of Malawi, his name would have been engraved in granite, adored forever by his people. And he would have been sleeping the sleep of the just.

But because he put his own personal interest over and above those of the people, his name is now mud! And his well being is now in jeopardy. If a fortune-teller had told him in his heyday that he would one day be despised and dragged through the mud, he at best would have laughed it off as an antic of a lunatic; alternatively as despot are accustomed to do, he would have hunted down the fortune-teller as a subversive element who should be shut away for good. Seen in this light, despots are to be pitied rather than feared, because their fall is inevitable.

The fate of Muluzi, Taylor, Doe, Habre, Abacha, Hitler, Mussolini, Idi Amin, Pinochet should serve as an object lesson to strongmen who think they are God that power is ephemeral; it is entrusted to them to govern fairly, justly and equitably in the overall best interest of society. When it is abused, there is always a price to pay.


"Apart from the occasional saint, it is difficult for people who have the smallest amount of power to be nice".

Dr Anthony Clare