Ntata’s Uncommon Sense: Mutharika’s problems not old age

Those that are aspiring to take over the leadership of this country from Peter Mutharika in 2019 cannot and should not pin their hopes simply on proclaiming the fact that Mutharika is old. Peter Mutharika’s problem is not that he is old, frail, weak and tired- however true any of these factors may be.

There is a very solemn matter that is not getting as much attention as it should in this country. An equivalent of 100 tankers of fuel disappeared from ESCOM.Can you imagine 100 tankers? The sum of 1.6 billion Kwacha is being thrown around deliberately. It is abstract and designed to stop people from wondering how such a great amount of fuel can disappear and try to fathom out the identity of this very clever thief (or thieves) that can successfully hide 100 tankers worth of fuel.

As a matter of fact, the issue is very simple. It is not really fuel that has been stolen. Not literally. It is money that was supposed to buy that amount of fuel that has somehow been pilfered and can now only be found in the bank accounts of some big fish at that parastatal, or very influential people somewhere at Capital Hill.

Where exactly the money has ended is not even the most pertinent question. I suggest don’t scratch your head in efforts to figure out the answer to that one. The real question is this: Is Peter Mutharika, the president of this Republic and the minister responsible for parastatal organizations, aware of the theft? If he is, what has he done to address the situation? Why has no one been fired from ESCOM? Is there any investigation being conducted into the issue; or like MACRA, is this just another looting that people will speak about briefly while the the pillaging continues?

If you are using common sense, you must be thinking that perhaps president Peter Mutharika, the exalted Chief Executive of this republic, is probably just too old to care about such things. After all, this is the song whose solo performance was well executed by former First Lady Callista Mutharika, and to which the whole nation has now joined with voices stentorian.

The reason why Mutharika must retire and opt for a well-deserved rest, peace and quiet as a former president, so the chorus goes, is that his advanced years just obviously point to the fact that he is too tired and perhaps too frail to be tussling with the stressful responsibilities of leading a nation.

I respectfully disagree. My Uncommon Sense perspective of the issue reveals that the real problem for Mutharika is not really age but a failure of leadership. Period.

It is foolish to think that with Mutharika’s decimal track-record in Malawian politics, our best argument for asking people not to endorse him for a second term should be simply that he is old. No. We must call a spade a spade. The problem is failure to manage his assistants, his cronies, his party, his cabinet, the government, and the country.

As a matter of fact, it is equally foolish for anyone to suggest that the only basis for voting for a different leader than Mutharika in 2019 should be age- or youthfulness as some call it.

Mutharika’s failures could equally manifest in the next leader if we are not careful as a voting public. Following the fact that we were misled by Mutharika’s apparent academic prowess and were led to believe that academic professorship could automatically translate to political leadership ability, it is our collective responsibility to learn from our mistakes and instill in the next  potential leader of this country the need to understand the difference between academic success and success in political leadership; the difference between success in commerce and in the business world, and leading a political organization and managing a country.

I need to say this clearly. It is foolish to think that simply because a person succeeded in a certain sphere of human pursuit such as commerce or academia, then that person will succeed as a political leader.

The qualities and abilities required for a political leader are not necessarily the same as those required for one to lecture university students, publish articles in journals and earn academic professorships. Neither are the skills and abilities required for successful political leadership the same as those required in managing a business or a commercial organization. This is especially true when the leader or potential leader has not had any formal training in politics.

While in the commercial world, for example, one is often promoted to the role of senior manager or chief executive through the hierarchical system and therefore learns most of the aspects of the business as he rises to senior positions, in politics, the factors that propel one to becoming a leader of a political organization vary widely- from being a son of a former party strongman, to being simply in the right place at the right time without any real politically qualifying attributes at all.

It follows then that more often than not, an individual may find themselves leading a political movement without actually being fully aware of the all the aspects of what it entails and how best to succeed as a political leader.

It is for this reason that advisors are so crucial in politics. Equally crucial are the individuals a politician chooses as his advisors – how he creates an environment where those advisors can properly guide and assist him to achieve the desired end result, that of running the country satisfactorily and making it prosperous.

Have you not ever wondered why it is mainly in politics where you have these positions of advisors, and that advisors do not generally exist in the commercial world?  I have tried to look into the lives and the work of many successful chief executives of corporations, and I have not really found a track record of them having a panel of advisors that helped them make their decisions to increase profits for their companies. The reason is very simple. In the commercial world, advisors are not really important. What the CEO learns from working in various positions, added to their academic qualifications, is often enough to make them a good manager. Similarly, there are no advisors for lecturers and university professors.

When one comes to politics with the commercial world mentality, however, one is destined to fail. Advisors – good, intelligent and solid advisors that are not scared to tell it like it is – are necessary in politics because it is hardly ever the case that a leader can have all the information and knowledge required to lead a state and make decisions that improve the wellbeing of individuals at every level. Advisors are necessary because they help build a consensus within the political establishment and make sure that the leader is well-informed and has an opportunity to assess every angle of an issue, especially areas that are his week and blind spots.

Now I ask you again: Do you really think the reason Peter Mutharika is failing to sanction whoever is responsible for the theft of billions at ESCOM and failing to take measures to stop the rampant corruption at MACRA and other government departments is simply because he is old? Do you not think that perhaps taking advice from fake PhDs, valets, drivers, and others who are either too scared to tell him the truth or too focused of accumulation of personal worth to care about the country is the real problem?

I ask you again: Do you really think we should vote for a leader simply because of their age?

No. My kind I humble suggestion is that we immediately wise up and demand from our aspiring leaders the ability and skills necessary to identify the right people to work with them as they lead!

Leading a nation is a huge responsibility. It should never be allowed to rest on the shoulders of one person, and neither should one person have the over-inflated ego to think that they can manage alone.  Collective wisdom is key, bit only the right kind of wisdom.

The bottom line is this: a leader that will make a difference must demonstrate that he is prepared to set his ego aside and seek out the best minds Malawi has to offer to advise and help him lead this nation.

If you vote for less, you will have only yourselves to blame.

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Luka
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Luka

Mr Ntata says that ‘advisors are . . . crucial in politics’. I agree. Moreover, I suggest that politicians need two essential types of advice: advice relating to international politics and economics, and advice relating specifically to Malawi. Advisors on Malawi should, of course, be Malawians. However, advisors on the African and global situations need not be. It is not even necessary for them to be present in Malawi in person. For example, I think that every presidential candidate should be presented with a set of the collected speeches of Professor PLO Lumumba, in both print and movie formats. Ideally,… Read more »

#DzukaniAmalawi
Guest
#DzukaniAmalawi

The 37% voters who put Peter into power knew exactly what they voting for. Peter wasn’t new to politics. He failed miserably to run how ministries during Bingu’s reign. So the problem isn’t Peter but the people who vote for him to lead the nation. Most Malawian voters are incapable of critical thinking

Napoleon Muza
Guest

Nystagmus, I understand that your are a lawyer by profession. As such , you should be the first person to know what is right things to do. The president cannnot fire the escorm ceo just because he fuel is stollen. The same ceo will take the government to court for wrongful dismissal and he will be paid huge sums. The president is not a policeman, or an investigator, he is the president. His job is to run the country not a statutory organisation like escorm. Yes the management of escorm has to find out how the fuel disappeared. The person… Read more »

Derrick Milonde
Guest
Derrick Milonde

A very good read …and on point .It pains me that, as a nation we are about to make the same mistake , we never learn. I wonder kuti a Malawi vuto lathu ndi chani. We are like a trial and error nation. This APM spends 4 decades/ 4 yrs absent from this country and we choose him to lead us…i think we are still colonised in our minds.

#DzukaniAmalawi
Guest
#DzukaniAmalawi

63% of Malawians didn’t vote for him. That’s a lot of Malawians

Waku Gauteng
Guest
Waku Gauteng

Oh boy oh boy. Good writing

Nwane
Guest
Nwane

So, Ntata and your UTM friends have realised the argument that ‘Mutharika is old’ will not get you votes. You better tell Chilima, Callista and Kaliati etc all.

#DzukaniAmalawi
Guest
#DzukaniAmalawi

At least Chilima understands (corporate) governance and knows very well the consequences of not adhering to set rules. Professor Mutharika is an academic

Mphwache
Guest
Mphwache

True, true. APM has characters like Mchacha (former bus boy) as an advisor. How can you keep your ears listening to the trash that mouth can create in a day. I suppose SKC has more intelligent characters as advisors. Somehow, it is mistaken that Kaliati, Masangwi, Kalindo and Ngalande are close to his ears. These characters may the Catapillars and Gallions that need to strip up the soil for sensible leadership to thrive. Yes, they may end with big portfolios in the next cabinet, but they will not be the decision makers.

Tiyeseni Phiri
Guest
Tiyeseni Phiri

You have fallen short of advising us who to consider critically among the presidential hopefuls!

Mulopwana
Guest
Mulopwana

Allan , a lawyer by profession who has nothing to offer Malawians. The man came from his teaching job in Australia, hoping to be appointed as ACB boss by the Peter Mutharika regime soon after winning the elections. He was staying at Capital Hotel in a dreaded hair. For several times, he tried to book appointment with APM but was not granted the chance. he even made it to the gate of state house trying to get entry into the palace but was denied access. He is an opportunistic. fellow he led a group of staff at ACB to rise… Read more »

Malo A Maloto
Guest
Malo A Maloto

If anyone is looking for an example of the fallacious argumentative strategy known as ‘argumentum ad hominem’, this comment of Mulopwana’s will serve his or her purposes very well. Genuine discussion of the topic is avoided by instead attacking the character, motives, or other attributes of the person making the argument, in order to undermine him instead of his arguments.

Keen observer
Guest
Keen observer

True the issue should be are the issues raised by Ntata true or false? Not Ntata did ABC cos he is not the subject here. The subject is simply who will be the best leader after the elections & he is just trying to outline the characteristics of such a good leader should be. Now it’s up to us as a people to look into all our aspiring presidents & see who possesses those qualities.

Chemussa
Guest
Chemussa

During the 1st term of the much overrated Bingu wa Muthalika, I used to say, you shall know a leader by the company, replace that with advisors, that he keeps. Recall Bingu’s closest advisers, the famous trio?

Now we have a certain leader of a movement who is surrounded by the likes of Masangwi, Kaliati, Makonde, Ngalande etc as his bed fellows. In Typical Malawian lazy thinking, instead of seeing this as a red flag, the UTM fanatics, redolent of what we heard in 2014 are quick to say, all that matters is the presidency/leadership?

Really??

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