Clueless leadership is as bad as overstaying: Malawi is an example

Professor Patrick Lumumba of Kenya was once quoted as saying  ‘a good dancer must know when to leave the stage’.  He said this in the contest of Heads of State who overstay in power with lame excuses that it is people who want them to remain in power.  In fact, Lumumba also said the best time to leave is when people want you to stay.  In this way, one leaves behind a good legacy.  Unfortunately, most leaders who overstay are also corrupted with power to the extent of mystifying power as a preserve for them only.

Prof. Patrick Lumumba: a good dancer must know when to leave the stage

It is common knowledge that leaders who overstay clearly show that they have run out of ideas.  However, they deliberately pretend not to see that people are just tolerating them.  The institutions fail to work properly and the end result is that people suffer.

To cover up such a bad situation, leaders corruptly surround themselves with henchmen and hero-worshippers who defend leaders without knowing what they are defending them for.  What has been observed in Africa is that overstaying in power even writes off all the successes that a leader might have achieved.  The country just remains relevant because of its sovereignty—having its own flag and national anthem.

Meanwhile, it can be said that, through experience, Heads of State who remain in power for too long are just as bad as newly elected ones, with characteristics of being clueless about running a government, let alone, a country.  In Malawi, at the moment things are really falling apart.  Malawians are getting deeper into poverty as institutions fail while corruption and stealing of public resources are the order of the day.  It is not an exaggeration to say that the Peter Mutharika government seems to have failed after being in power for only three-and-a-half years.  The government does not want to accept this fact and that the majority of Malawians are just tolerating it.  Strangely enough, the government continues to make more promises (in addition to the unfulfilled ones) in an attempt to build trust.

One would wish if Malawi had/has a system whereby a failed President and his government would stand down to avoid further destruction of the country.  Regrettably, this is not on the cards of President Mutharika and his government.  The idea of waiting for five years to change a failed government seems not to make much sense. There is need in this country to find a lawful way of recalling a President. The excuse that changing government now and again Malawi cannot afford makes no sense.

In fact, tolerating a failed government is much more expensive and a total loss.  Systems of government become completely incapacitated.  Imagine, at the moment electricity supply is a privilege of those close to the power that be and to the point of even denying hospitals. The same goes for water supply.  Imagine, again, in this country converting public resources into personal fortunes seem to be a vocation for the elite. All what is stated here and much more maladministration out there, justifies a peaceful change of a failed government in midstream.

Having said the above, it is indeed clear that a Head of State who overstays in power is just as bad as the one who has just taken the reins of power but clueless about running a government or leading a country.  The current leadership in Malawi is an example.  Though the Mutharika government tries to show that the economy is improving, it is hard to believe amid unprecedented levels of suffering.

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Petulo Mutharika

You are right professor. I think other professors are more professors than others. This professor needs to be stripped of some of his titles. What a title to a clueless man. What a big head to a brainless man.


I think the problem in Malawi is a combination of too many factors at play. Old age is the most important reason our president should use to leave power. He is six incapacitated and he is out of tune over 90% of the youthful voting population. He has proven ineffective match with the current affairs of good governance.


true true…akanganyawa atitopetsa

Santana wa Satana

Olo akakamire tithana naye sikale.

Incompetent President
Incompetent President

Probably the best article for the month of December

nkonsimphile gumede

the truth and nothing else but the truth. thanks, boss!!!


Truthful good writing Madam. This clueless govt was supposed to go well before

Sapientia Superat Moras
Sapientia Superat Moras

‘It is common knowledge that leaders who overstay clearly show that they have run out of ideas.’ Are you sure? I can think of many leaders who are always coming up with new ideas. Their problem is that they have no idea how to implement any of them. They are all teachers, preachers and lawyers – hot air machines. The exception is Saulos Chilima, but the hot air machines ensure that he is permanently sidelined. They want him to remain a man of potential, not achievement.


Good point, Ms Sapi

How can we expect our politicians to walk the talk if all of their pre-political experience was limited to talking the talk?

M Sizini

SSM and Thitherward

Your conclusion is based on false premises (or in your case, Thitherward, licensed premises). Parliamentarians do not implement their decisions. That is the function of the government departments. If implementation is inadequate or ineffective, blame the civil servants who are too involved with social media to concentrate on their work.

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