Malawi poorest nation in the world versus Valentine

Malawian President Peter Mutharika has earned a new accolade; he is now Arthur Peter Mutharika, President of the poorest country in the world. This is after the latest calculations by the World Bank indicated that Malawian has the lowest GDP and per capita income in the world. This is the first time for Malawi to attain this status 50 years after independence from colonial Britain.

President Mutharika and the First Lady grab a kiss on a valentine

President Mutharika and the First Lady grab a kiss on a valentine

Some people have quickly criticized the Bretton Wood Institution, arguing that the calculations were wrongly done, and that there is no way Malawi can be poorer than the Central African Republic or Somalia and other war-ravaged nations across Africa.

Whichever way we choose to look at this, the fact remains that Malawi as a country has earned a tag that it is the poorest country in the world. Unfortunately, it is a tag that will hang on us as a country at least for the foreseeable future. It would also be the lens through which the rest of the world will look at us, and if we will fail to do the right things, it is sure to be there for the long haul.   It is a painful reality and very real.

It is usually a norm for passengers on a sinking ship to place all their trust in their captain. A strong captain demonstrates courage and leadership; he embodies hope and assurance, and offer hope to his charges even when circumstances appear to be dire and hopeless.

Do Malawians see courage in Captain Peter Mutharika? Do they get any assurances that things will get better? Does his track record inspire us that we are in safe hands, and that we will sail from these turbulent waters any time soon?

President Peter Mutharika’s track record is littered with a not-a-so-inspiring narrative in as far as being a manager of people and institutions is concerned. The young brother to former President, late Bingu wa Mutharika left Malawi in the 1960s to pursue academic objectives and only came back after his brother became Head of State in 2004.

He was immediately roped in as Chief Advisor to the President. How he performed in that position is very difficult to ascertain in the absence of key performance indicators for presidential advisors or indeed other top government positions.

During his brother’s reign, the current captain of the sinking Malawi ship held a number of ministerial portfolios, and the picture that immediately emerges is that of insipid performance by an absent minded professor who is far away and removed from the daily experiences of ordinary Malawians.

It was during the time he was Minister of Education that this country experienced the worst duel between the President and the University of Malawi in the infamous academic freedom saga. Conspicuously absent during that period was Minister of Education Peter Mutharika.

He never appeared anywhere in the equation; not even convening a single meeting with university dons to iron out differences that had left students months out of lecture rooms. He could not even issue a ministerial statement. It was as though the country did not have a Minister of Education. The best he did under the circumstances was to disappear to the United States of America (USA) for three months.

During the time he was Minister of Justice, Malawians saw the DPP administration enacting some bizarre laws whose only aim was to entrench the party’s grip on power. Some of the laws empowered the Minister of Information to ban publications that he deemed not in public interest; the law about police invading people’s privacy and searching without a warrant, as well as the law forbidding High Court Judges to issue ex-parte injunctions.

It was also during Peter Mutharika’s time as Minister of Foreign Affairs that this country sent packing British Ambassador, Fergus Cochrane-Dyet, in one of Malawi’s lowest diplomatic moments since independence. The ambassador was given 72 hours to leave Malawi for allegedly communicating to London about President BinguwaMutharika’s dictatorial tendencies. It was a feat that even Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe – a man famous for British bashing – has never achieved and could only look with envy.

Now here we are stuck with the same man as the country’s fifth President since independence (how he became President is still a mystery). Are the fruits of that mediocrity and his style of leadership not already manifesting?

Just eight months into his presidency, the country is down on its knees and sitting at the summit of the poorest nations in the world. Global Fund – the major donor to the National Aids Commission (NAC) – has just announced it has ceased funding the organization for “failing to meet some funding criteria”.

This is coming after Mutlhako wa Alhomwe, a foundation affiliated to the President, and Beautify Malawi Trust (Beam), an organization that is run by Peter Mutharika’s wife, Getrude Mutharika (the woman he married immediately after assuming the presidency), and whose core duties is cleaning the environment, refused to refund money that was wrongly obtained from NAC.

Despite calls from Malawians that the money should be refunded, the First Lady is stubborn and adamant. She maintains she did nothing wrong and sees no reason for her organization to pay back the money. Once again her husband – the captain of the sinking ship – remains mum. He sees nothing wrong about this whole affair, at least based on the statements from some of his advisors.

The statement from Global Fund (that NAC failed to meet funding criteria) is a diplomatic statement. What they really wanted to say was “we have stopped funding because beam remained stubborn and refused to refund our money”.

What we are experiencing now is only a pointer of the things to come under the stewardship of Peter Mutharika. The question is: Is he the captain to take the Malawi ship out of these troubled waters?

As Malawi is being declared the poorest country in the world, the only picture you see is of Mutharika kissing Gertrude on Valentine’s Day. That is Peter for you.

*Hastings Kandoje is an economic, social and political commentator. He writes for Nyasa Times in his own right

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31 thoughts on “Malawi poorest nation in the world versus Valentine”

  1. Wa uzeni osidzo says:

    U pple u r indeed fro poor warm heart of africa.u just show ur ignorance wen u comment with the aim of an insult to the writer,uyu mukuti ndaniyu….uyu ujeni….yeah mr kandonje if i am right with sp.u cant start checking the factfile of someone starting fro its bottom.u r quiet so called toddlers…..

  2. Bima Matheza says:

    We Malawians love our Political parties more than our country, in the end we vote for parties regardless of the quality of their leaders. wakuba yemweyo…

  3. chepetsani says:

    Chepetsani mapwando kuti tisunge ndalama. valentine ili ndi pindu lanji kwa ife anthu a kumidzi. koma mumangowonongerapo ndalama zomwe zikana nthandiza anthu ovutika ndi madzi osefukira. if a family can be run as this government is being, no one can like to be a member of such a family. no priorities.

  4. Jimbo says:

    Jackie Toto No. 13 What you say is absolutely true. A country is comprised of people, in Malawi’s case about 16 million. It is said that a country gets the leadership it deserves. This is true of Malawi. Why on earth did the country go and choose for President the brother of a former failed President? Why vote for a party (DPP) that was responsible for killing people protesting against its rule in 2011? The only reason APM is President is because he rigged the election. People know this happened, but what have they done about it? Until Malawians grow up and practise true democracy by choosing the best party and leader for the job of running the country and leave aside tribalism, regionalism, favouritism, etc. will they get the country back on its feet and moving forward.

  5. bubu says:

    kiss yophuzilira a pulezident yakukulu milomo ngati auyimba mlushu

  6. bubu says:

    iyetu akunena zomwe akudziwa ngati munthu payekha, he got a story to tell of him and leader of the sinking ship. musamunene akukamba za pitala obela mavote inu ndinu pitala?

  7. Zan says:

    Why were all these allegations about Peter hidden the time he was running for president? People wanted amai out of power in came Peter… Why do we Malawians vote for a president only to later castigate them later? Malawi has had 5 presidents but it only seems that all the presidents that came after Dr Banda did not do anything meaningful to take Malawi and its economy out of the woods..Malawi needs leaders that really love Malawi and its people. Put aside the tribalism, Malawi needs visionary people, selfless people working in the government..

  8. Manyeretsa says:

    Mbuzi ina ya ntolankhani ndimeneyi….kulemba ngati akawerenge ndi ana standard 3

  9. jimmy juga says:

    Much as I respect your opinion Mr Kandoje .The issue to do with Malawi being poorest country is a collective responsibility . I expected you to put forward suggensions on how we can imrove our economy instead you are busy highlighting some one weakness.Even those countries that are rated better than us their leaders have shortfalls. Lets all accept that indeed our nation is poor and needs some thing to be done by Malawians. The problem is attitude Mr kandoje as journalist help your govt the importance of production.Malawians

  10. jimmy juga says:

    Much as I respect your opinion Mr Kandoje .The issue to do with Malawi being poorest country is a collective responsibility . I expected you to put forward suggensions on how we can imrove our economy instead you are busy highlighting some one weakness.Even those countries that are rated better than us their leaders have shortfalls. Lets all accept that indeed our nation is poor and needs some thing to be done by Malawians.

  11. wakawaa says:

    Akutuma chani?

  12. Mweneku Muzi says:

    So poor people should not kiss their wives…………stupid journalist

  13. Samikwa says:

    This article Mr kandoje is a lacks substance,its swinging everywhere like an amateur journalists learning to use a have talked about president past deeds while he was a Minster,how does that link with being ranked the poorest nation on earth? Hosting a valentine dinner should not be a crime,president and his wife needs respite,the White house and Downing street do holds dinners as I suggest you should think more logically before picking up your iPad giving us such half baked analysts.cheers

  14. Andy moses says:

    Kikkkkk buzy loading.

  15. Tawonga says:

    Mwangodana naye PETER, anthuwa agwiritsa ntchito information yakale. Muzimvetsa zinthu inu.
    Kodi kumbwambwana bwanji?

  16. Mfune says:

    Ambwiye che kandoje, musawanamize anthu apa. Data yomwe agwiritsa ntchito ndi ya 2013. Kodi panthawiyo mtsogoleri anali peter?
    Dikurani muwone akalemba report ina yomwe ifike posacedwapa muwone kuti kodi malawi ilipati.
    Akutumani eti athawa aliku america aja? Abwerako azatipeza mkwanu mkwanu thengo mudalaka njoka.

  17. Fatsan Lungu says:

    Masankhasankha munasankha nazo mbulu

  18. Marioshona man says:

    Malawians got used to noisy leaderships. Be assured that APM is one of the best able leaders in the world. By 2017 we shall sing a joyful song. Kandoje the analysis you have PResented here lacks professionalism.working at a university does not mean you are intelligent.we can also work there . Avoid producing attacking articles. The situation Malawi is in came about because of jb and where were you by then?Go away with your untimed criticism .

  19. Jackie Toto says:

    Excellent narrative about the country’s leadership. The problem in Malawi is bigger than this narrative. The problem is the whole electorate (all citizens) of Malawi. In Malawi we are very primitive, tribalistic, regionalistic, nepotistic etc etc as such we are not able to choose leaders objectively and independently. The Basis of our choices of leaders are the reasons why we choose the worst leaders. Was APM the best choice of the 12 presidential candidates who stood in the May presidential elections? Your answer is good as mine. SO DON’T BLAME THE LEADERS!!! BLAME YOURSELF!!! SHAME ON US WE DON’T HAVE THE EYES TO SEE AND THE EARS TO HEAR!! Till at such time in future when we wake up to the reality and live with the times, we will keep on electing fools and write lengthy articles castigating them. We are living in the past. DO YOU KNOW THAT EVEN IF THE DPP HAD FIELDED A MAD MAN FROM THYOLO AS ITS PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE, HE COULD HAVE BEEN THE PRESIDENT OF THIS COUNTRY!!!!!!!????????

  20. makito says:

    Mwalasa mbuyache. Ambiri sakondwera nacho chilungamo chimenechi. Nothing but the truth.

  21. ujeni says:

    We Malawians all we good at is waiting, waiting for a perfect time instead of creating the perfect moment. That is Malawi culture. People think Malawi will be developed by foreign organisations. Look even Parliament was built by the Chinese. We send kids for school abroad and they think living there is an achievement than going back home and take up reaponsibilities. We need paradigm shift in mental thinking right from the top to the bottom.

  22. one malawi one people says:

    mr. kandoje, put right information not just wat u like, inorder to shame somebody….min of foreign affairs APM that tym…not that lady from Nkhatabay?

  23. Insight says:

    Is the captain of the ship indeed strong and courageous enough to see the ship out of the troubled waters? That is indeed a million dollar question.

  24. makechisasa says:

    Indeed how he became a president of this land is still a mystery to most of us.Koma dziko la Malawi lili ndi anthu ambiri opemphera mu choonadi, sooner or later nature will take charge. Ndangodutsamo.

  25. This country is a mess. Too much greed from politician. Soon we will franchise Malawi to some rich countries to run our mother Malawi before it end in virtue.

  26. Wanex banda says:

    Up to 2019

  27. Time says:

    Is this how one would say about Peter?hold on judge him atleast after a year.

  28. Mufungwe says:

    This article sadly reflects on Muthatika’s misachievements, yet that used for analysis comes from 2013 the period Mutharika was not in leadership. I am afraid to say that such type of writing without thorough research is what is killing us Malawians. God help our country

  29. special advisor says:

    If APM has ears, let him hear. I like to be optimistic, so I hope and pray for a happy ending to any story. APM can be born again. Only re-birth can save him and us as well. But I worry. Do you say he wants to go to bed with North Korea? What is in it for us as a nation? We know this will displease our most generous and committed friends. Is it worth the risk? I don’t think so. This guy is dancing on the edge of a precipice. If he has ears let him hear. But I worry that he may be deep into a vodoo and etheism. Only publicly he selectively does a few convenient things to placate us. He is like that guy who said my father punished you with whipping, but I will punish you with scorpions. This guy might just be wors than his brother.

  30. frank says:

    Nice one

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