“We are what we repeatedly do; excellence, then, is not an act but a habit” -Aristotle
Sometimes avoidable blunders Capital Hill and State House are making almost on a daily basis make one think someone is out on a mission to embarrass my good president.
Just look at the parastatal boards fiasco. Someone must have known how many heads make up certain boards and advise the President accordingly.
How can you have a board that only requires five people have 17 and the other one that requires eight have 11, for example?
Also, how can we make Peter announce a ‘new policy’ on disaster management when one comprehensive draft policy on the same is busy gathering dust right in his executive office?
Let us come to these issues in detail a little later; let us first demystify the presidency.
For starters, apart from the right age and right state of mind, there is no set qualification for one to be president of the Republic of Malawi. Of course, like members of Parliament, you need to be able to write in English and speak the language. You need not to be fluent, even coherent; the fact that someone checks out that you have a genuine Malawi School Certificate of Examination or you are able to converse in the Queen’s language you are good to go.
So all of us who are above 35 and can write or speak the language do qualify to run for the big office. You do not even have to have any backing from a political grouping; you can do it as a lone-ranger – a chiyenda yekha, ask Justin Malewezi or James Nyondo.
And when you finally land the job you do not have to be a ‘Jack-of-all-Trades’ at all. You have a free hand to employ all manner of people to do all the thinking for you.
What an easy job, the presidency!
All you have to do as president is to place the right people in right places. You need, for instance, a good diplomat to man your foreign affairs so that, unlike Bingu, you do not rub important donors the wrong way by running out of town one of their numbers.
So Peter Mutharika, as a forty-year university veteran, may be the most educated president among the five Malawians we have so far sponsored to State House. But Bakili Muluzi, with his humble academic papers, seems to have outsmarted everyone among the exclusive Group of Five in where to place who.
Look, if truth be told, Atcheya – in Alaudin Osman and Willie Zingani – had the best press office that is yet to be matched. And because he knew his limitations Muluzi had an inner-circle that did all the crucial thinking for him. Look at the star-studded Cabinet he had during his first term.
In came ‘Mr.-Know-It-All’ Bingu wa Mutharika. Down the line his down-fall begun when the Big Kahuna’s started thinking he knew everything from journalism to economics. Remember how he advised the likes of Mathews Chikaonda, Chancellor Kaferapanjira and Naomi Ngwira to rinse their brain in OMO when they advised him he had no choice but to devalue the kwacha?
Now let us get back to the subject of the day and how the current president’s men (and women) have let down the big man.
Ok, ok, Peter is a constitutional lawyer, of course! But it will be unfair to expect him to remember all the laws of the land at the snap of the finger.
The President depends on official advisors – and non-official ones, too, of course! – to have people to place where, for example. I can hazard a guess that nine-tenths of the names he was made to approve on various boards he has no clue as to the shapes of their faces. Some people recommended them to him and all he did was to approve them.
How could nobody then tell him how many he has to place on boards A or B? The President has the duty to fill boards but he does not have to head-hunt who to put where himself. Somebody has to do that for him and all he has to do is to endorse those folks trusting that his trusted aides and advisers have assembled the right cadres.
But, look now, the President has egg all over his face and he has to reconstitute the boards just because somebody did not do their job properly.
And, if he had a functioning advisory team, Peter should have known there was already a draft Disaster Risk Management policy in his in-tray he had just to review and approve. The President should not have been trying to re-invent the wheel in the Lower Shire by waltzing lyrical about stuff that should be incorporated in the ‘new’ disaster management policy which is already in his office waiting for his executive signature.
Perhaps this is the price we have to pay for the disruption in ‘institutional memory’ whenever we have a new tenant in State House. If we kept Capital Hill in tact while we changed occupants in State House may be – just may be – someone should have ‘remembered’ there is some draft disaster management policy somewhere before making my good president cartoon himself somewhere in the flooded Sorjin.
Of course, as President Harry Truman famously said, the buck stops at him. Peter Mutharika is the one who was supposed to place the right people in the right places to advise him how to do what.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :