Most of the criticism that vice president Khumbo Kachali has come under for his off-the-cuff remarks in Karonga late last week is harsh, very harsh, but very justified because at the end of the day being a leader is about one thing: setting a good example in words and in action.
For a nation that is still battling to heal from the wounds of an arrogant leadership gone awry, a leadership that forgot that its role was to lead, not to rule and lord over the people; Kachali's remarks could not have come at a worse time.
Malawians tend to have a lot of faith in their leaders to the extent that they hang on every word the leaders say. It is a daunting task to have to carry such responsibility and we greatly admire those who choose to serve Malawi in public office.
But there are some sacrifices these people have to make, including self-censorship. For a vice president to take to the podium spewing vitriol at the people who have done nothing but offer constructive advice is setting a terrible example of leadership. As vice president, Kachali's words and actions must be well beyond reproach.
But then all is not lost for the vice president. This moment should be a teachable one for him and the rest of our leaders. While our leaders are of the opinion that to admit fault and to say sorry is weakness, we are of the opinion that it takes courage and a lot of conviction to apologize.
It is the weak and the insecure who are afraid to take responsibility. We are human and we do make mistakes. Some mistakes are fatal but this one, thankfully, is not.
The vice president mis-spoke but we want to believe that this one unfortunate incident does not define nor diminish him. He can rise above this, offer a sincere apology to the people he so needlessly insulted and we can all move on. It is only if there is no remorse expressed and if there is a repeat of such offensive behaviour will we know that we are in a great deal of trouble.
As it is, this country has a lot of challenges that the last thing it needs is a war of words between the office of the vice president and the rest of the people. Let's put this behind us and work to build this nation. Insulting each other just won't help.