The troubling trial with being a Head of State is that, once catapulted into the heights of power, you get captured in the crucible called ‘trap of power’.
The trap of power is where, if you are President Peter Mutharika in August 2019, you hear nothing but praise and worship from Nicholas Dausi and Mark Botomani; yet on the other hand, you hear nothing but attacks, ridicule and challenge from independent media, Timothy Mtambo and opposition grouping with firebrands like Richard Mwendo Banda.
In other words, when you soar to the heights of a Head of State, it is not easy to get a vivid picture of what, really, is happening on the ground; yes—on the ground where the people you are leading stays. There is barely anyone, out there, to dust off to you weighty words you must here with regards to the reality on the ground.
Most Heads of States, of course, understands this trap. To solve it, unfortunately, most Head of States, in trying to have people they trust close, ends up bringing their relations close through hiring them in key strategic public positions.
In settling for the closest relation, the philosophy is clear: your brother, your sister, your parents, your uncle, your step son, your son-in-law, your spouse, yes all of them, they can’t betray you.
Well, they can’t, seemingly, betray you; but Malawi’s political history, since 1994, is replete with examples of how most of our presidents orchestrated their fall in trying to safeguard the interest of their relation at the expense of the public.
Look at Bingu wa Mutharika.
Bingu’s first term was spectacular. However, the first time Bingu riled the public wasn’t when a word went all over that he wanted to use taxpayers’ money and buy the posh Maybach car.
It was when his young brother, Peter, fresh from US, was seen in town using State House vehicles yet he didn’t have a public office.
Instead of addressing that apparent case of abuse of office, Bingu—in trying to protect his brother, regularized the move by appointing him his advisor on Constitutional issues.
Interestingly, just after that appointment, the first thing Peter did was to; again, put his brother in a fix when he got involved in buying Malawi Housing Corporation (MHC) houses in Nyambadwe below market prices.
Troubled, Bingu tried to defend the move saying Peter is a Malawian, as such, he has every right to everything Malawian. It was all in defense of his brother.
Even during his second term, much of Bingu’s political troubles started when he started positioning his brother as his successor.
Bingu’s first move was to position his brother, then an MP, in key ministerial positions such as Education, Justice and Foreign Affairs—which, in all of them, Peter faired terribly to the detriment of Bingu’s government.
The second move, by Bingu, was to start bulldozing his brother to power by eliminating those who looked potential successors such as Joyce Banda and Henry Chimunthu Banda.
We all know how protracted the war was between Bingu and Joyce Banda; the war that put the country on pause—all because Bingu was protecting the interest of his brother at the expense of the public.
Blood, I am telling you, is thicker than democracy.
Look at Peter Mutharika’s presidency.
APM started getting a bad name, principally, because of his wife’s increased involvement in governance issue through his son, Tadikira, and Norman Chisale, the president’s bodyguard.
Mutharika’s failure to keep his wife away from government saw a wayward stepson, Tadikira, being a symbol of State Houses’ extravagance.
Further, because of the wife’s relation to Chisale, all key people from Mutharika’s political base, the Llomwe belt, were whisked a far—something that brought cracks on the wall of DPP’s political base.
In fact, to underline that, DPP’s main reason of fall was their decision to kick out Saulos Chilima. But why was Saulos kicked out? It was the wife’s decision to have her relation, the unquestioning Everton Chimulirenji, take up the mantle. We all know how this ended.
The point is: You can have a relation who is educated and qualifies for the job you want that person to occupy to ensure that, as a president, you don’t get caught in a trap of power.
But look here, President Chakwera, blood is thicker than democracy. In the face of demands of your relation, you get conflicted because, as history has shown, most leaders end up choosing priotising interests of their relations at the expense of the public.
That is where the problem starts and that is where is advisable to keep your closes relations away from the circle of governance.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :