A call to President Mutharika: Stop being unpredictable

By Ganizani Desmond, a blogger

In his song, Multipartidisme, Alpha Blondy sings:

The teachers are angry

Their trade union rights violated

Students are angry

They want more freedom!

Doctors are angry

Because they are poorly paid

The workers are angry

Because they have been oppressed

The government is angry

The empty state coffers emptied

Everybody is angry!

We all know, of course, how this story ended. The people of Ivory Coast – where Alpha Blondy comes from –  did not live happily ever after. The tragedy is still a fresh wound on the continent of Africa. Thousands of lives were lost. God knows how many years it will take for the wound to heal.

Mutharika: Mr Unpredictable

In our case, the country is obviously on a dangerous path. The person leading in the fracturing of our nation is President Bingu wa Mutharika. The President has never made secret of the fact that he is unpredictable. Unfortunately, this unpredictability is hurting the unity of our nation. On 21 July, for instance, he spoke of the need for dialogue, and the following day, he was all for confrontation, threatening to ‘smoke out’ the demonstrators.

On Sunday the 14th of August, in his national address, he reiterated the call for unity, but on Monday and Tuesday, in his whistle-stop tours, he incited street vendors to harass demonstrators. It is like being ruled by a mad man, this “unpredictability” thing. We need a stable mind.

On Tuesday night, the newly formed Presidential Contact Group released a joint statement with Civil Society announcing the commencement of dialogue. Here is hoping this is not another exercise in vanity, seeing that the President is unpredictable and might reject any suggestions that come from the dialogue.

As we went to bed on Tuesday, the people in my home town of Lilongwe were angry, agitating to spill onto the streets even without the leadership of the civil society. Some, out of anger, went as far as voicing suspicions that civil society leaders had pocketed K10 million each in bribes from the Government of Malawi to discontinue the demonstrations, which is, of course, not true.

I call upon the President of the Republic of Malawi to stop this unpredictability nonsense and to lead with a sober mind. The majority of Malawians are angry. In Chinsapo these days, it is dangerous to walk while wearing the cloth of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

While the President has a huge part to play in restoring sanity to our nation, we the people also have a duty in expressing ourselves in as peaceful a manner as possible. We must not let temper get a hold on our reason. It is uncalled for, for instance, to beat up anybody because they are wearing the DPP uniform. It is their right to associate with any political grouping of their choice.

We also all agree it is wrong to loot or to be violent. The moment we become violent, the whole demonstration is discredited. Civil Society leaders need to put in place mechanisms for the prevention of looting and violence, if these demonstrations are going to bear any fruit.

Everybody is angry, but our problems are solvable – if only the President stopped being unpredictable.

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