Being Head of State is a high pressure job. His Excellency Arthur Peter Mutharika (APM) holds a high pressure position. He is Head of State and Government in Malawi. He became Head of State following national elections held in May 2014.
All those who aspire to take up the responsibility of serving a nation as president are well aware of the pressures that come with the job. Thus such people are well prepared for the challenges ahead.
Undoubtedly, when Malawians vote for a president, they ideally look for an individual who would lead by example; an ethical and moral person who would not be afraid to take a stand on questions of ethics or morality, on questions of behaviour, questions of decency, and questions of justice. These are some of the basic attributes that make a leader ‘complete’.
His Excellency Arthur Peter Mutharika holds that office on trust by the people of Malawi. Section 12 of the Constitution contains what are referred to as the fundamental principles of the Constitution. Sections12 (i), it is provided that:
“All legal and political authority of the State derives from the people of Malawi and shall be exercised in accordance with this Constitution solely to serve and protect their interests;
(ii) All persons responsible for the exercise of powers of State do so on trust and shall only exercise such power to the extent of their lawful authority and in accordance with their responsibilities to the people of Malawi:
and (iii) The authority to exercise power of State is conditional upon the sustained trust of the people of Malawi and that trust can only be maintained through open, accountable and transparent Government and informed democratic choice.
From these provisions, it is clear that in Malawi, the authority to govern or exercise the powers of State derives from the people. Further, the provisions emphasise the concept of trust in constitutional governance. The sustenance of trust as a precondition for the continued exercise of the powers of State buttresses the idea that the authority to govern derives from and rests on the consent of the governed. Subsection (iii) then stresses the three overarching cornerstones of openness, representative democracy and accountability as the only means through which trust can be maintained.
Every time the President opens his mouth, he must ensure that he does so to meet the expectations of Malawians. His utterances and actions must be uniting and not divisive. President Peter Mutharika’s recent talk about an “MP from the north” is the worst thing that should ever come out of the mouth of a Head of State.
The President must endeavour to discharge his core constitutional duties, such as when appointing senior public officers, without regard to which party, tribe, region and religion he belongs to. Some of recent and previous important appointments of some top public officers have been made based on where the appointees come from or which party they belong to and not on merit.
Against the spirit of Public Sector Reforms that President Mutharika and his government are championing, the President recently appointed Justice Lloyd Muhara as Deputy Chief Secretary to Government. Do we really need a Deputy Chief Secretary when the economy is right on its knees?.
President Mutharika must work to balance the interests of all Malawians regardless of their political or tribal extraction. In the spirit of the Republican Constitution, the President must be in the forefront to tell Malawians the difference between right and wrong both through actions and utterances. As President of the country, President Mutharika must endeavour to be the catalyst for morally sound behaviour.
Our Head of State must demonstrate conviction and willpower to rid the public sector of corruption and fraud instead of waiting for foreign diplomats to point out such ills. President Mutharika’s recent admission about the existence of top level corruption is merely a drop in the ocean. He must demonstrate his commitment to root out official corruption and fraud by ensuring that the law takes its rightful course against the seven ‘rotten’ cabinet ministers that are allegedly implicated in the Malawi grand corruption scandal.
Mr. President, Malawians expect you to personally to intervene in daily power outages that are causing the rest of us inconvenience. Yes, you must intervene in saving us from the collapsing economy. Indeed, Malawians expect their government to provide easily accessible hospital services, and good schools. Government must protect us from violence and crime.
President Mutharika rode to power on the back of a promise that he would transform the way government worked in Malawi. He has not lived his promise, almost three years down the line. We still hear the same empty rhetoric about the fight against corruption; the same abuse of state resources; and utter nepotism in the appointment of senior public officers and distribution of national wealth.
The President must become the ‘genuine’ Head of State. That has to happen now.
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“A nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.”- John F. Kennedy