Trending now is the amount of time that President Arthur Peter Mutharika took to put his message across during the opening of the 46th session of Parliament on Friday.
Malawians across the board may be excused for failing to understand why the President said it all in 25 minutes, a record by Malawi standards since attainment of independence. However, that does not mean that what he did was wrong politically, constitutionally and communication-wise.
As a President of a republic he dispensed his constitutionally-mandated message to outline where we are coming from as a nation, where we are and where we are heading to.
To fault him solely on the length of his speech only exposes our preconceived biases that have no empirical backing at all.
In 2713 words Mutharika did well on length than US founding President George Washington who in 1790 words gave what is the shortest speech by any President of federal free world.
In that vein, the two hold striking similarities beyond their brevity. It is a safe premise to compare Washington and Mutharika on the basis that the former was a pacesetter of leadership in the new free world while the latter has come to instill a different culture among Malawians in issues of governance and public service delivery.
It has always been said that pacesetters are not easy to understand simply because they initiate new ideas for the benefit of long term goals.
Surely, there are plausible reasons why Mutharika did what he did. Here is a leader who understands the situation his country is in and the kind of work-ethic needed to put things right; as such he is sending a strong message that let us talk less and act more.
The best platform where he can display that gesture is where every representation of the citizenry is available.
Only at a Parliament opening session do we have the Presidency, 193 lawmakers, foreign missions, civil society, and academia all in one place. There is no better place for any calculative leader to preach a message of ‘more work than talk’ than at Parliament’s session opening.
Another factor that might have informed Mutharika’s decision to unravel everything in 25 minutes is probably to do with his audience analysis.
One needs to look critically at Mutharika’s address to understand how it fits into modern social dynamics.
Here is a leader whose focus is to push his speeches on varying digital platforms in packages that make it easier to digest on youth-friendly social media which has become the most interactive form of information dissemination.
The President fully grasped the notion that to engage with both the rigid and fluid media platforms, there was need to make his speech readable and even shorter for his reading if you subtract applause from the live audience.
For a corporate communicator that Mutharika is, he threads out a trend out of any situation and relays it pragmatically while creating an opening for his audience (citizens) to understand their role in any resultant demanded action.
This is why the President managed in 25 minutes to calm those in despair over food shortages by explaining how his government has already purchased enough maize to avert any food anomaly that might emerge in few months time.
In 25 minutes he faced those with hope for Mother Malawi and encouraged them never to give up even when things seem dim.
This is why he emphasized that the economic problems Malawi is facing should challenge everyone to rise up and take their rightful role in building the nation.
Having spoken to the vulnerable and the hopeful, he within the same 25 minutes challenged those who choose to pick political fights at the expense of real development issues.
He found time to speak to all the state’s leadership strata to help them understand why it is of great importance to pull in one direction for the good of 17 million Malawian.
This far, anyone still doubting the contents within the President’s 25 minutes? Did he in 25 minutes point out the wrongs of Malawi’s economy? Yes he did. Did he in 25 minutes say what his leadership is doing or intends to do to alleviate the effects of any economic hitch? Sure he did.
He, in 2713 words, said all there is to be said on what government is doing to ensure good service delivery by government to its people.
Time is now to realize that we have a President whose way of doing things might be a departure from what we – for five decades- have called conventionalism.
Mutharika is proving to us that he has studied what Malawi’s needs and has found out that the country needs home-grown solutions to domestic needs not long and winding speeches that only end up eating the precious time that can be used for other productive endeavours.
In 25 minutes, he set the pace for a new way of doing things towards a better Malawi.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :