University of Malawi political professor Boniface Dulani says President Peter Mutharika has so far failed to demonstrate he is that elusive transformation leader.
Dulani observed that the instead of dealing with the core political issues that can potentially transform the country towards a prosperous future, the leadership is “constantly attending to peripheral matters that only satisfy individual egos and pockets.”
In an interview published by Malawi’s flagship daily, The Nation newspaper, Dulani said there is no evidence that Malawi politics is likely to move in a new direction.
He stated that within a few days of entering State House, Mutharika quickly resorted to the “default settlement” that the majority of existing crop of politicians is most accustomed to.
“So, while I did not envision the current settlement, I am not at all surprised it is what we have. Change will only come from below, not from above,” he stated.
The political analyst pointed out that despite claiming he would move away from the politics as usual model at his election victory speech, President Mutharika “has not demonstrated an understanding of the nature of the existing settlement or laid out any clear agenda for taking us towards a new direction.”
He stated: “The only time we have heard from the President at length was during the State of the Nation Address. However, even that came across as a hodgepodge of ideas that did not provide a clear sense of what his priorities are.
“I will go far and say that at least under Joyce Banda administration, government policies were geared towards economic recovery, even if the reality on the ground was often different. In Mutharika’s case, there is simply no clear overarching agenda that would suggest a capacity to take the country on a new path.”
Dulani also joined the chorus of criticising President Mutharika for approving his salary hike to 80 percent which has been deferred, saying the decision and its timing speaks more to the President’s lack of leadership skills and political astuteness.
“At a time when the economy is in a free-fall, a good leader should have led by example and turned down this salary hike. In this regard, Mutharika could have learnt from his predecessor, Joyce Banda, who took a rather symbolic pay cut at a time when the economy was in similar dire strait,” Dulani said in the published interview.
He said by increasing his salary by a hefty 80 percent, with matching or even higher increases for Cabinet ministers, leader of opposition and Members of Parliament, Mutharika’s government has lost “any moral ground” for saying no to the demands by the striking Judiciary and university staff, whose demands for 45 percent salary increases “now look very modest.”
The university political scientist stated that when put alongside the stories about First Lady, Gertrude Mutharika’s Beautify Malawi (Beam) Trust obtaining funds from the National Aids Commission, the President’s salary hike suggests “a leader that is completely out of touch with the public mood.”
He said the government’s claims of insufficient resources for salary increments will no longer sound credible.
“ After this blunder, the government should brace themselves for more strikes,” warned Dulani.
Dulani said Malawi has been seeking for transformational leadership and gave a verdict that “Mutharika has so far failed to demonstrate that he has the personality or skills to be that elusive transformation leader that Malawi has been seeking.”
He continued stating that Mutharika, he has not made any notable decisions, especially on the economic front, that suggest he has a vision or agenda for transforming the country.
“The majority of his decisions and actions have so far followed the old script, mostly placating his DPP co-partisans and a palpable favouritism of his Lomwe co-ethnics. Despite claiming that his government would hit the ground running, the Peter Mutharika administration has actually gone the opposite direction, with the President becoming well known for his now-patented approach of making piece-meal appointments and slow decision-making,” Dulani commented.
Dulani said it should not be a surprise that President Mutharika has chosen to insulate himself from the many challenges that the country is facing.
“During his late brother’s administration, he equally failed to demonstrate leadership when such was required from him. Indeed, one recalls a Zodiak Radio study that found Peter Mutharika was among a dubious group of six legislators that never uttered a single word for two years in Parliament. Expecting such an individual to change now that he has become President is perhaps a tad un-realistic on our part as voters,” said Dulani.
Dulani comments comes hot on the heels of the accusations by leader of opposition in Parliament Rev Dr Lazarus Chakwera who described President Mutharika as a hypocrite, saying his government is run by “distractions and deceptions, not leadership.”
Chakwera accused Mutharika of taking a “blind eye” of are so many critical issues facing Malawians.
Minister of Information, Kondwani Nankhumwa and presidential spokesman Fredrick Ndala said they will make a reaction to Dulani critique.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :