“If it is necessary sometimes to lie to others, it is always despicable to lie to oneself” -W. Somerset Maugham
Does anyone out there really believe Prof. Peter Arthur Mutharika was a billionaire in any currency before he became His Excellency the President of the Republic of Malawi?
Unless, of course, he or his aides were calculating his money in the defunct ZimDollars!
I honestly expect Peter himself to be the first to correct this insult on Malawians’ intelligence because there was definitely a terrible calculation faux pas on Peter’s Assets Declaration forms.
Look, Chris Tukula does not need to fly to Washington DC to verify that something was terribly wrong with Peter’s declaration papers. Even dons at Ivy League universities in the States do not earn the ‘celebrity’ figures that Peter allegedly left idle in some account somewhere in the US.
Ok, ok, someone would say Peter’s earnings ran for over 40 years and were not limited from his humble university salary. True that, he might have indeed been minting money on the side from academic papers or books he published, consultancies or speaking tours.
But, if truth be told, the amount of royalty one earns from publications or fees from speaking tours comes from name-recognition. With due respect, Peter had no name, as it were, before he became president to earn top dollar from his publications or speaking circuits, if any.
Besides, it was not like Peter was in the business of just keeping his money waiting to show it to one Chris Tukula when he becomes president. He was using his money to raise a family – maintain a wife, raise four kids, put them through high school and college.
He also said he bought a house and still maintains it in the US. And after long hours pumping constitutional law into students, he needed his favourite cigar and a tot or two of whiskey to loosen up his tired brain. All these definitely needed money.
So how could he afford to have idle money sitting pretty in some account in the US? A normal person earns and uses money. His eccentric brother-economist would have advised him that idle money is actually expensive for you still have to pay taxes on it!
So call me a cynic but I need some serious convincing to believe the buffoonery in someone who had billions of idle money – be they dominated in kwacha or otherwise stuck in some dormant account somewhere in the US – to embarrass themselves into grabbing a grossly under-valued Malawi Housing Corporation hovel.
Remember that run-down house, by his own description, Peter clung to in Nyambadwe even when it was exposed that the under K6 million he forked out for it was less than even a third of its conservative value?
And, by the way, he bought the house at the give-away K6 million and today he declares its value at only K7 million. How? In a prime area like Nyambadwe and after he pulled down the original structure and put up a better one, he must be the first one to have a property that does not appreciate in value. Or is he trying to crookedly keep in line with the undervaluation he made when he robbed it from MHC?
In fact if Peter were indeed a silent billionaire and was honestly tricked into buying that house in that prime area at less than a third its real value, he should have apologised to his poverty-stricken countrymen, claimed his payment back and bought land somewhere and put up a mansion of his choice.
But, no; the old professor selfishly and fiercely fought to hang on to it, even saying he grudgingly paid the less than K6 million because the house should have gone for much less. Now, that does not sound like someone who has a cool billion sitting untouched somewhere!
I really do not understand the hedonistic excitement of someone leading a globally-certified poor country to flaunt imaginary wealth. If I were Peter and I really had such obscene wealth stashed somewhere, I would be embarrassed to lead a country where spending a dollar a day is an impossible dream for over two-thirds of its population.
Has Peter not read about the life of the retired Uruguayan leader Jose ‘Pepe’ Mujica?
I know teachers the world over, be they university professors or primary school ones, are not the best paid professionals. Peter needed to win some rotary to afford to have such idle money even if he taught at a Washington college for over 40 years.
By the way, I have noticed Peter is increasingly becoming parsimonious with the truth nowadays. For example, he claims that when he took a sabbatical from his college to advise his brother-president on constitutional matters he did it gratis? Really?
If this were true one would think he was sustaining himself on his US money. How come then both his US and local bank accounts became fatter, if not idle, over the years when he has just been a cabinet minister for less than five years and a president for less than a year? What illegal business was he involved in? Surely for one to work for free and still maintain a fat bank balance one must be into smuggling ivory to the Far East or one must be buddies with Mexican drug lords.
By the way, if Peter were indeed frugal in how he manages his wealth there was no way he could have been busy grabbing MHC houses in Blantyre or mayoral ones in Lilongwe. Indeed he could not have allowed his wife to threaten the National Aids Commission into irregularly funding the launch of her private trust.
And have you forgotten how he was embarrassed into grudgingly putting off an 80 percent pay hike? That behaviour is not consistent with someone who has billions he has nothing to do with sitting idle somewhere in the US.
Oh, one more thing: if he gave up his Green Card as a sign of undivided patriotism why does he not close his US accounts and transfer his billions here? Does he not have confidence in our good old kwacha?
I know some people will say it is not only Peter whose assets have been published. Does it mean the other leaders’ declarations have no issues?
The answer is simple: Peter is our current leader and has to lead by example. If his declarations leave a lot to be desired and he gets away with it, what moral ground will Chris Tukula and his team stand on to go after the others?Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :