Mutharika tipped to shed-off ‘bad friends’

A Kenyan governance expert, Professor Allan Odugo Mella, has tipped Malawi President Bingu Wa Mutharika to shed-off whom he has described as “bad friends” to avoid losing grip of his mandate to rule Malawians.

The Pan African Politics Forum (PAPF) Executive Director says by holding to the same advisors who have dragged him into chaos, the President will never solve the problems Malawi is going through.

He said it was pathetic that those who helped to push Mutharika towards household name in 2004 and beyond “are Mutharika’s sworn enemies today.”

“President Mutharika has the potential to drive Malawi into where it started well in 2006 and 2009 where everyone envied the economic, good governance and political tolerance miracles. But he has to make a tough decision, get rid of bad friends,” says Mella.

Some of Mutharika's 'bad friends': Vuwa Kaunda and Hetherwick Ntaba

By bad friends, the Political Scientist meant all advisors and Cabinet Ministers who have served him for too long.

“They all have turned into loyalists; they warm their seats by ill-advising your President. Mutharika must hire new advisors, Ministers and even spokespersons in his office. The new faces will tell him of the atmosphere outside the Palace and the Government, if he finds this too hard to carry-out then he will find it too hard to control Malawians,” he says.

Mello was in Malawi on a research mission towards his prescription paper to African leaders who always stick to power after their mandatory terms of office expire.

However, the Professor was sceptical if President Mutharika will listen to calls of cutting the excess “friends”.

“That is a big challenge but it can be done,” he says.

Asked on how Malawi can sail out of the current turmoil both economically and politically, the visitor said Mutharika must engage all high profile economists both new and old timers to a special meeting.

“Not these talk shows you show on Television Malawi where one person speaks and others listen, no, Mutharika should be in that meeting to listen and his secretaries take notes for his new advisors to digest after the meeting, but if he do a talk show, no one will come, professional think-tanks hate cameras and there is no show off here is a crises solving mission,” he says.

“Foreign exchange is in your country, but not in your banks….reopen the forex bureax and you will wonder how much forex Malawi has,” he says.

On political front, Professor Mella says all political leaders from opposition “must sit down with Mutharika, here Mutharika should also be a listening part.”

The advice comes at a time when the Public Affairs Committe (PAC) has asked President Mutharika to resign within 60 days expiring May 14 and  called on political parties and other civic groups to push for a national referendum if he refuses to step down.

“Malawi has drastically deteriorated politically, economically and democratically … a country on the run from 2004-09 is now bordering on a failed state,” the PAC statement said.

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