Renowned dramatist Smith Likongwe has revisited his production The President's Prerogative, staged by Nanzikambe Arts on Friday night at the Arts Cafe in Blantyre as it now has some areas which zero in on the present leadership.
The play, which was launched last year, tackles the tough questions about how leaders abuse their powers, how leaders manipulate the masses to achieve personal ambitions and the acquisition of wealth through corruption.
When it was initially premiered, the play tackled the leadership woes in Africa, but following recent developments in Malawi, Likongwe decided to revisit the script to make it more relevant.
"Some people might think that we are talking about this present government but we are not targeting anyone, this is just talking about leadership. Again I thought there are several problems we are witnessing in the country and the world so as a dramatist I thought I should add in fresh stuff," said Likongwe after the production.
Some of the people who watched the production when it was first premiered were given a surprise as the play was hitting its climax there were new issues tackled, such as the insinuation that the current leadership inherited the government but it has no sense of direction and the country is being run by donors.
In the play, a prostitute Ndaziona (played by Maureen Mathala), takes a bow from her ways, repents and turns into a prophet. She moves forth prophesying about the end times including asking fellow villagers to pray for the nation which is at present going through tough times.
The Presidents Prerogative is set in a village in a fictitious country called Bwezani where the government realises there are some oil deposits underneath.
Conflict emerges when the government, under the heavy handedness of its l eader's prerogative, demands that the villages vacate by force. This is met with resistance. But through manipulative and selfish manoeuvrings of the leadership, the loyalty of some of the village's leaders is put to test.
First to betray his fellow villagers is village headman Doko played by Henry Ntalika, who after promising to fight the government with colleagues, ends up moving with the government and his reward of loyalty sees him appointed minister of resettlement.
He stuns fellow villagers when he returns to his village as a minister telling them to vacate the area to pave way for oil exploration and tells colleagues that he decided to work with the government of the day after seeing their developmental projects.
Senior Chief Khalani, played by Ian Chitsekula, seeing that his right hand man Doko is minister and reaping the rewards, also ends up changing focus to join the government to move out of poverty.
But things change later after the president dies and the vice reshuffles the cabinet, firing among others Doko, who has no choice but to go back to the village. Again it transpires that the vice president picks the same politicians, which Likongwe says is a problem in Africa and will continue to haunt development.
The production however, looks more too long although Likongwe argues it is the same time frame and the climax again lacked the much needed punch, it dragged with actors failing to apply the energy that sparked in the early scenes.
"I like the production, I watched it when it was being premiered but it has changes now, the issues are relevant to our present day government. I wish if some of these authorities took time to watch such productions. It's not that they are penalizing them but provoking thoughts and at the same time jacking them up," said Gerard Tebulo.
Some key actors starring in the play, which was also staged in Zomba and Ntcheu over the weekend include Juliet Royo(Mrs Doko), Thlupego Chisiza(Khomo, special assistant to president), Yankho Seunda (university student), Geoffrey Mbene (Nganga ) , Vanessa Maloya(reporter). Others are Jafali Amadu Mussa, Catherine Phiri, Robert Magasa, Joshua Bhima, Alinafe Samuel and John Duma.