Columnist tips DPP on managing criticism

Columnist and newspaper editor, Gracian Tukula, has said he hopes that the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government realizes that Malawians will not give it the luxury of a honeymoon and that it needs to develop strong shock absorbers to manoeuvre “this rough terrain”.

Writing in Nation on Sunday of August 3, 2014, Tukula on his ‘Loud Mouth’ column says the pressure on Peter Mutharika’s government will be getting higher with time, especially if the people’s expectations are not met.

“With that, government may slowly start to lose patience with the critics and we might find ourselves in the same situation as we had between 2010 and April 2012 when government became intolerant to criticism and resorted to crude and brutal means of silencing critics.

“We have been promised a changed DPP this time, but no party has ever promised to torture its own people in an election campaign. The real proof of the party’s changed heart will be seen in times of real pressure. So far, I have to say the indications are not very encouraging, but I hope I am being overly alarmist. Because of the bitter experience of that time, chances are that even steam would look like smoke when there is actually no fire,” writes Tukula.

Malawi's President Peter Mutharika
Malawi’s President Peter Mutharika

Tukula observes that so far, government has done well with information that it generates on its own. He says whether it is State House, the OPC, Office of the Vice President or indeed Ministry of Information, Tourism and Culture, they have tried to communicate new information very well, keeping Malawians abreast on what is happening within the corridors of government.

“This must be commended and encouraged. Where I have problems is government’s reaction to criticism or queries. One of the major criticisms of the DPP government last time was arrogance and you get embers of that fire in some of the responses to what has been said by critics of government,” observes the columnist.

Tukula says there is nothing wrong with setting the record straight, but there is a way of doing it that suggests that a government does not want to be criticised and those that do so are Lucifer’s agents.

“Obviously, not all criticism will be fair and any government that expects anything else is not ready to lead. There are times, therefore, when government has to decide whether to respond at all because there is some criticism which is best left unattended to.

“Where there must be a reaction there must be a measure of level-headedness that maintains focus on the salient issues and no reflections on the integrity of the critics,” Tukula tips government.

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