“A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government” –Edward Abbey
Within the short time he has been in office, President Peter Mutharika has exuded frightening levels of inability for due diligence.
Look, staff turn over at State House in the eight short months is, to say the least, scary. It seems every day someone is losing their job.
Well, the official term is ‘redeployment’ but that is just a ruse to avoid paying the victims millions in compensation.
Apart from one aide who was reportedly sacked for misconduct after it was discovered that he was drawing two salaries, no reason is given for the sacking of the rest.
But I think good and fair labour practices demand that the victims be told why they are being given the boot. Indeed these being public jobs the tax payer also has the right to know why they are paying several people for the same jobs in so short a time. (Remember when ‘redeployed’ – the right word should be ‘warehoused’ – these cadres go with most of their perks.)
Of course, I must be quick to add that most of these political appointments are rarely made on merit. Almost all are made without following proper recruitment procedures. You just have to belong to the right political camp; where you come from – sadly – also becomes an ‘added advantage’.
Knowledge of – or experience in – the job you are expected to do count for very little, if at all, in these appointments. After all, being an ‘aide’ or ‘advisor’ is just for ‘filing purposes’; your true designation is ‘beneficiary’ for the role you played on the campaign trail.
So it becomes difficult to shed a tear when someone so irregularly appointed is irregularly removed. After all most of these cadres do not merit the jobs they are given.
But, notwithstanding that, one would have thought the new Mutharika administration would be progressive in both its politics and running the affairs of State. Was its rallying mantra not ‘doing business unusual’?
So it beggars belief, therefore, for an administration with such a lofty agenda doing things the way they have been done before, even worse. If truth be told even before a year in office is over Peter has bested all his four predecessors when it comes to booting out cadres he himself roped in.
Of course such a record paints the President as a ‘no nonsense’ fella who brooks no mediocrity. Like his big brother who publicly celebrated having ‘three bright young brains’ in Ralph Kasambara, Gustave Kaliwo and Ishmael Wadi but ended up sacking all of them, Peter may cast himself a macho man who does not look at friendship or someone’s face when dealing with matters of performance.
But, sadly, this also does not reflect well on his planning prowess and due diligence in vetting his foot soldiers, as it were. Look, Peter has the free hand in recruiting aides or advisors. In fact, as we have seen in his village of aides and advisors, he does not even have a cap on how many he has to hire.
With such unfettered freedom, one would think the President would have the chance to hire only the best. But, in the absence of the reasons why his staff is being shaken almost daily, one would safely conclude that Peter is not satisfied with performance levels.
So if incompetence is indeed the case, what does that say about the President’s recruiting standards?
Look, it does not reflect well on his person for the President to lose two press secretaries even before one year is out, for example. The Press Office is strategic as it is responsible in projecting a good public image of the presidency. One would expect the President to take time to hire a team he could trust at least for five years.
And how does one lose an Aide de Camp within a year? An ADC is a crucial position for the holder is literally an extra hand of the President’s. These fellas carry the President’s briefcase, arrange the big man’s diary – who to meet and when, such kind of stuff. These fellas know whatever the President is up to.
So some of us who wish him well were kind of disturbed to learn that Peter has fired his ADC. Like I said above, the ADC knows everything about the President. Is he safe if he cannot get it right even with someone in whose hands his very life literally is?
My point is it is scary for the President to lose trust in people he himself hired in so short a time. If the reason for this amazing staff turn over is incompetence, how did he hire them in the first place for – unlike in ‘normal’ jobs where one can beat an interview panel with illustrious papers, Peter literally has a free hand in selecting those he personally feels can advance his agenda.
To get the crème la crème recommended candidates must be seriously vetted, their qualifications, experience, competence, even sanity and health, must be seriously scrutinised as well.
But, at the rate Peter is firing his staff left, right and centre, it seems no background checks are done.
The implications of these ‘mis-appointments’ go further and deeper than the ‘victims’. They reflect badly on the President’s abilities to make proper selection of the team that will help him manage our lives. It is about time he seriously examined those he has trusted with the responsibility of recommending people to him. Does he have qualified people? May be it is high time we questioned his handlers’ capabilities, knowledge and wisdom in matters of State. He owes that to the nation.
In representative democracy it has to be demonstrated that the ‘more knowing’ are leading the ‘less knowing’. What is the quality of people who help him decide for Malawi? If the aim of the public reform agenda he recently launched is to ensure merit, it should start with him demonstrating that merit exists in his yard.
Otherwise the unprecedented turn over of human resources at State House is worrying and reveals a lot about lack of professionalism in managing people. Good management is not just about wielding the power of hiring and firing. It is about presenting oneself that one chooses the right people and manages them professionally. Prudent selection of cadres and providing them with meritorious job security is what one expects from a good CEO, more so from the topmost CEO in the land.
Otherwise the downside of sacking people every day is that potential appointees will be scared of these positions for they have become poison chalices. Look, these sacked people had established careers before that important call from State House to serve the President. Now their careers have been disturbed – if not shattered, some permanently.
So otherwise well-qualified people will think twice to take up these jobs. And Peter will be faced with the scenario of working with not-so competent people whom he will be firing again after a short time.
There is one adjective for that – scary!Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :