During his address at the 51st independence celebrations, President Peter Mutharika unveiled three pillars namely integrity, patriotism and hard work. What is integrity? It is the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness. It is the honesty and truthfulness or accuracy of one’s actions. Integrity can stand in opposition to hypocrisy. In other words, integrity is saying what you mean, meaning what you say or promise, then doing what you said you would do. Integrity is congruency of your words and actions.
Is it possible to know if a person has integrity? There was once a government official called Daniel who had integrity: “At this, the chief ministers and the satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent.” (Daniel 6:4) That is how integrity looks like in public service.
I am a strong believer that integrity is a spiritual and moral virtue and not merely an academic or intellectual word. Moral virtues flow out of one’s heart and not intellect. When there is moral decay in people’s hearts, their physical conduct follows suit. Malawi is a country that is visibly sick and in dire need of moral restoration. Our president, alluded to this fact when he said; “The spiritual health of a country determines the thinking, the attitudes and the character of a nation.”
Our leadership must take the lead in demonstrating the virtue of integrity in their conduct. There must be congruency between what our leaders promise/promised and what they are doing – that will be a demonstration of integrity to the highest level. For example, there are some reformatory promises that Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika and his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) made to the people of Malawi in their 2014 manifesto and campaign. Below are a few of such promises:
“The DPP government will reduce concentration of power in the presidency. Appointment and removal of the Director of the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB), the Auditor General, the Director of Public Prosecutions, Malawi Human Rights Commission Executive Secretary, the Malawi Law Commissioner, the Director General of the MBC, MACRA Director General, and the leaders of other accountability institutions shall be appointed on MERIT through a Special Public Appointments Committee.”
“We will pass and implement the Access to Information bill. We will pass and implement a number of laws including: a Law on Handouts, and a Law that will prevent sitting Members of Parliament from benefiting from increasing their own salaries and benefits… The DPP government will pass and implement the recommendations from the constitutional reviews, including facilitating implementation of the revised Section 65 (Crossing the Floor automatically) and bring back the revised Section 64 (recall provision with proper safeguards to present abuse) of our constitution.”
“We will prioritize Education and aim to eliminate illiteracy by 2019. No child should have to walk more than five kilometers to attend school. The teaching profession will be upgraded and make it an attractive service in Malawi.”
Malawians gave the mantle of leadership to Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika and his party on trust, persuaded by his promises. Integrity for our president in this case simply means “doing what he promised before elections”. It is therefore worrying to hear statement like; “If there will be any bill that takes away any power from the president, I will veto it”.
“They failed to take some of my powers, we floored them”. Maybe the president might wish to clarify to the nation what he meant in the DPP manifesto when he said; “The DPP government will reduce concentration of power in the presidency”. What did he mean when he said “we will pass the Access to Information Bill?”
What did he mean when he promised to prioritize education and aim to eliminate illiteracy by 2019? How does he hope his government will achieve this mammoth task while his own Finance Minister reduces the education budget amidst ululation and jubilation by his own DPP Members of Parliament?
What does the president mean by saying we need to embrace integrity as one of the pillars for our nation? Unless people are clear about what the president means, it will be difficult for the rest of us to follow his leadership in embracing this critical virtue. If our leaders cannot lead by example by walking their own talk, they need to realise that it will be an uphill task to call upon Malawians to embrace and practice the pillar of integrity.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :