The recent, unprecedentedly televised meeting between the President Peter Mutharika and the Public Affairs Committee (PAC), if anything, succeeded in underlining the fact that our successive leaders quickly lose touch with the reality.
I therefore agree with those that have established that the meeting was, for the Executive, a lost opportunity; for PAC, an exercise in futility and for the poor, yet another slap in the face.
Let’s begin by looking at the first and probably the main point of contention, which was in fact pointless and completely off-tangent: the question whether or not the Mutharika presidency is transformative or transactional.
Let us, for argument sake, say the Mutharika administration was – asit isdesperately wanting to claim –“transformative”.
What evidence would we have seen in Malawi?
First and foremost, rain or no rain, as long as Lake Malawi and the Shire River, amongst others are flowing, hunger and electricity supply should never have been issues.
But nay, this administration cannot give a substantive account of the status of the Greenbelt Initiative or the loans obtained for the same. Instead, it is investing resources in selling to the rich, equipment which was intended to transform the fortunes of poor farmers.
If this presidency was transformative, by now it should havesolved the issue of ghost workers in the Ministry of Education and made the concrete steps to reform our archaic curriculum which is centuries behind and is the reason why a Malawian graduate cannot survive without a paid job.
If transformative leadership is about inexplicably slicing the Education Budget by K500million in favour of a State House Banquet hall, then indeed this administration deserves full points!
If transformation means the political leadership feasting when there are no learning and teaching materials in schools, with teachers perpetually paid on the sixtieth or ninetieth of the month;then indeed, PAC, is rude to label President Mutharika’s leadership as falling short of being transformative.
Good health, without doubt, is the foundation of any meaningful livelihood, productivity and development.
But under this very same administration, the campaign promise of modernised and better equipped hospitals and health centres has evolved into breakdown-and-neglect of hospital equipment such as CT scans and shutting down of dialysis units in referral hospitals coupled with shortage of essential drugs.
If this administration was indeed business unusual, the indescribable efficiencies in the procurement and supply chain management at the Central Medical Stores Trust should have been history.
Yet, the leadership believes that it has, this far, been transformative.
Let’s talk about the rule of law as in people enjoying a crime-free life, a prerequisite for socio-economic activities.
Even if we sidestepped the plight of albinos and the dangerous living that has become the norm for our business men and women; publicdisapprovalofthe security lapse is just too loud for one to ignore.
Mob justice, according to Timothy Thomas Fortune, is the most forcible expression of an abnormal public opinion; it shows that society is rotten to the core. With respect to the Malawi situation it goes a step further: it shows that the public has lost trust in the State, the JusticeSystem and the Police.
Imagine this: a group of irate villagers storming a police station, breaking into a cell, pulling out a suspect and right on the police premises, administering mob justice on the hapless chap.
Is this indicative of a people thriving under a transformative leader? No. This is further evidence that the leader and his people are living on different planets.
And if I, Hon MapwiyaMuulupale, said this is akin to a failed state, could I be faulted? How and why?
If all this was happening under the watch of a ‘lay man’, it would have been endurable.But happening under the watch of a Professor of Laws, it is a disgrace to the profession.
And such leadership cannot, under any circumstances, claim to be transformative.
So, Mr President, yours is not transformative leadership. If it were, you wouldn’t be inundated with deadlines from several actors like donors, civil society, and the public through PAC.
If your leadership was up to the mark, all these appeals wouldn’t be a thorn in your flesh. You would, in fact be happy to get views, ideas, suggestions and even criticism to fuel your transformative efforts.And hey, if you don’t take kindly to deadlines and ultimatums, then get into action.
Flipping the coin to the other side, PAC, in its collective wisdom, insists that the Mutharika administration is “transactional”.
On this point, I beg to differ. Iunreservedly agree with President Mutharika, Hon Kaliati and all those folks that have beef with PAC.
President Peter Mutharika’s is not transactional leadership for the simple reason that it does not even begin to qualify for this grade. It is way below this grade.
Transactional leadership gets the basics right BUTfails to transform.
By basics I mean basic education, availability of maize – the basic food stuff, safety and security for people and property and availability of basic essential medicine and equipment in hospitals.
I have made a case in the first part of this article that all these are in a dire state, and if they are in that state; his government cannot claim to have earned the transactional accolade. “Accidental”, “shambling” and “dysfunctional” are attributes that resonate more.
Now you may be asking, what Hon MapwiyaMuulupale, do you suggest we do to get out of this situation?
My recommendation: it is high time we all rallied around PAC to give this body the moral support it needs.
We should not fall in the temptation of focusing on PAC’s ‘democratic deficit’because PACis not an elect body, no.
The truth is: no-one needs to be elected into any office or capacity to ask an elected leader – living on tax-payers money – to deliver on his or her campaign promises.
To quote from the report PAC presented to the President:“As a country let us not continue to wait till the system collapses politically and economically then we start acting on these observations. Let us act now in order to prevent violent conflict in our country.”
This is not about PAC nor about President Mutharika. It is not about the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) or the Malawi Congress Party (MCP).
It is about us, about Malawi and about the millions we are condemning to eternal poverty by our collective non-action.
Why should it be none of your business when,for our fellow Malawians in villages, poverty has become a permanent friend?
In a round world like ours, where we can never predict our fortunes for tomorrow with certainty, a stitch in time could save nine.
With due respect to the State President Professor Peter Mutharika, I have only one piece of advice, it is high time he stepped down from his ivory tower.
Do I have a deadline for His Excellency? He has enough on his plate, therefore I will not add one more.
But as sure as the sun will rise tomorrow, a day cometh when the poor will have nothing left to eat but the rich. And with villagers boldly invading police stations, it is difficult to imagine what and who they will spare.
That day, mark ye my words, will mark the end of “accidental”, “shambling” and “dysfunctional” leadership.
- First published in the Daily Times, Friday April 29, 2016