I don’t know about you, but where I am standing I can evidently see how full President Peter Mutharika’s tray is in his office. Issues that demand his decision continue to pile up.
There is one demanding that he assures us of our safety amidst rising insecurity. There is another demanding that he provides leadership on the sale of Malawi Savings Bank (MSB) and, again, how Malawi proceeds after the recently released Cashgate Report.
And there is the economy stupid: With donor taps officially disconnected, the economy is wobbling dangerously but, as a President, he needs to assure 14 million worried Malawians that we shall overcome.
It is cold outside for the President.
Though these issues are pressing and, indeed, do demand Mutharika’s urgency, I do not find them critical for Mutharika.
What I find critical for him—and this is something he must, underline ‘must’, immediately attend to—is the question of his public trust.
I have a strong conviction that Mutharika’s greatest challenge, today, is that most Malawians are losing trust in his capacity to provide the leadership Malawi urgently needs.
We have come to a point where we just can’t trust anything coming from Mutharika’s government.
On MSB, even when we understand its precarious financial position, we still fight every inch of government’s position to sell it. We think there are some monkey business happening behind doors.
On the economy, we just can’t trust any economic growth projection coming from government. We think they are doctoring figures to cover up a deep and shameful wound.
On the recent K92bn Cashgate report, we think the one in circulation is not the actual one, adding it has been watered down to save their perceived dirty face.
Yes, we are in a democracy where we agree to disagree. But what we are witnessing is a situation where we have vowed to disagree. This is not democracy. It is anarchy or something like that.
But how have we come to this?
Firstly, I should underline that this has not started with President Mutharika. It is a general feeling that dates way back. I think it is a feeling that stems from years of bad governance in this country. We have become a nation that barely trust its leaders because we are haunted by a painful past.
But Malawians are quite an interesting people. We are a nation that easily gets angry and, at the same, easily forgives. That is why whenever a new leadership comes in, we become hopeful of it, thinking it will be better from its predecessors.
And indeed, even when tortured by memories of DPP’s darker past, we were hopeful that the young Mutharika will be a different and thoughtful leader than his departed brother.
I am saying Mutharika inherited a broken nation, a nation that lost trust in its leaders, and his first job, perhaps in his first year, was to provide leadership to restore this trust.
It is almost without expression, then, that Mutharika has failed that duty because, today, we are doubting every leadership decision he makes.
This underlines one fact: As we continue to discuss Mutharika’s first year in office, we must emphasise that his leadership has failed short of restoring the lost trust.
The President, while preaching the reform rhetoric, has not, in principle, been different from his predecessors. He has chosen the same old road of nepotism and retribution with a strong touch of lacking transparency and accountability.
For instance, corruption is a serious disease in Malawi and committing to its fight need to be evident.
Mutharika, however, has chosen to fight corruption by shielding names that should have been in courts, not near State House, answering huge corruption cases.
Just in the past weeks, Mutharika’s governemnt tried various tricks to shield the public from accessing the released K92bn report. In fact, some parliamentarians have already questioned the authenticity of the one released.
All this boils down to one thing: Instead of taking a reverse gear, President Mutharika is taking gear two cruising to self-destruction.
Surely, at the rate the public is losing trust in President Mutharika, his the next four years will be one tough ride. Thanks.
The article appeared ‘On the Frontline’ column in the Nation on Sunday.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :