Further to the death of former President Mutharika the majority of Malawians breathed a sigh of relief. There was an air of euphoria for a change of government in the offing. Surprisingly, even some perceived diehard supporters of Mutharika were quoted as saying that his death had liberated them. To show that they meant business, even before Mutharika was buried there were mass defections of DPP MPs to Peoples Party which is now in power.
Obviously, the above negative comments and actions came about because Mutharka subjected Malawians to a very torturous life.
Mutharika and his regime left behind so many lessons and experiences for Malawians to learn from. Naturally, some people might argue that it is a waste of time to talk about Mutharika when the country has so many problems to sort out. Such people must better be told that the past is there to learn from in order to find a meaningful way forward.
To start with, for things to change Malawians should say that never again should they tolerate a tyrant to bring the country to its knees like what Mutharika did.
Reasons for Mutharika’s poor performance might be many. But they all boil down to the fact that he had not lived with the people of Malawi for a very long time. He was a mutchona. Therefore he could not relate to people let alone have empathy for them. Needless to say that Mutharika had set himself apart and painted a picture that Malawians were too cheap to deserve his leadership. One might not be wrong to say that having been hand picked he might have not been ready to lead. Hence, his trial and error policies which always back fired.
Unfortunately Malawians seem to have a short memory. Dr Kamuzu Banda was a mutchona and one can remember so well the atrocities people went through for 30 years. Therefore, accepting Mutharika, another mutchona, was a very grave mistake. Mutharika thought his rule was more to do with bragging that he was leading Malawi as a sovereign state. He was deliberately forgetting that he had brought Malawi down and its sovereignty only remained in its having a national anthem and a national flag.
Furthermore, what made the Mutharika’s rule worse was the culture of surrounding himself with sycophants guised as supporters. This culture is very distractive. Going by the adage which says, ‘ One is like people he surrounds himself with’. Honestly, there was nothing Mutharika could learn from the sycophants who were themselves desperate for some favours. They could say yes, yes to anything and everything from Mutharika. The result was the shoddy performance of his government.
So far it is commendable that President Joyce Banda has said that she will not entertain hero worshippers. She said this when she addressed chiefs. One can only hope Malawians will keep to that instead of thinking about coining some ‘ngwazi’ type of name for her which will have nothing to do with development and recovery of Malawi.
Avoiding matchonas and sycophants are just a tip of the iceberg when it comes to a catalogue of lessons from Mutharika’s autocratic rule.
*Emily Mkamanga. Email [email protected]