A couple of days ago, President Mutharika got emotional while addressing a press conference and vented some anger which prompted some members of the faith community to accuse him of becoming a dictator. This assertion has ignited a debate which is mainly about whether the action of the President is justified or not, considering that he was clearly reacting to a seeming provocation.
My general view is that the President is not supernatural. He has the very human feelings that each one of us has. He can get provoked and vent some anger. That is a normal human behaviour.
However, the problem is that when you are a President, you need to rise above simple human weaknesses and blunders, and behave a little more extraordinary. That is why the president has on the pay-roll, a lot of advisors, locally and internationally apart from Ministers who also serve as advisors, and even other advisors, not on the books, who can advise him through other informal channels.
This is why the President told the public that it is George Chaponda, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, who forces him to travel against his preference. What the president meant here is that, as a Minister, Chaponda advises the President to travel even when he could otherwise not have travelled.
The idea of advisors is to eliminate the ordinary-being of the President so as never to give room to human errors which are inevitable of any human President. The many advisors that the president has, makes him an extra-ordinarily stronger human to cope with the pressure and loads of stress that his office endures. This means that just like Chaponda does on Presidential foreign trips, somebody ought to have advised the President not to vent his anger on TV and this individual or individuals deserve their own full dosage of the Presidents anger for this mistake.
Therefore, the anger of the President cannot be justified just by the mere fact that humans get angry or that he has the right to be angry. The president has all he needs to keep his temper down and make decisions that do not compromise his leadership and damage his reputation locally and abroad.
The President might sometimes succumb to the urge of unleashing his fury publicly just to prove that he is not weak. But this is a temptation that every leader must resist at all cost, because venting anger is not a sign of strength, on the contrary it is a weakness that opponents can exploit so easily.
Therefore, the answer is simple. It is not right for the President to get angry publicly, not even privately. The Presidency is a delicate political office, and everything the President does or says, has serious political implications and consequences, even when the he has the right to do them.
Does the outburst make him a dictator? My answer is no. One does not become a dictator by getting angry and banging some tables. But surely, getting angry and banging tables is the behaviour of a dictator which Presidents of a democracy must refrain from, unless they idealize dictatorship.