Wide off the mark, Ephraim Munthali: On President Banda

An article in the Weekend Nation of Saturday by Ephraim Munthali is wide off the mark. Not really that anything by him about President Joyce Banda has ever been complimentary.

Neither is it that the President is looking for praise-singers from the media. President Banda has deservedly earned whatever nice words that have been said about her. Perhaps, much to the chagrin of those who do not wish her well.

The other day, when President Banda was barely two weeks old in office, Ephraim Munthali came forward and offered to be her chief advisor on the AU summit. Except that such a vacancy did not exist anywhere.

President Banda: People's leader

Literally writing with anger, Ephraim Munthali likened the President to the poor girl in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, better known as Alice in Wonderland who gets lost at every turn of the path.

For starters, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (commonly shortened to Alice in Wonderland) is an 1865 novel written by English author Charles Lutwidge Dodgson under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll. It tells of a girl named Alice who falls down a rabbit hole into a fantasy world (Wonderland) populated by peculiar, anthropomorphic creatures. The tale plays with logic, giving the story lasting popularity with adults as well as children.

It is considered to be one of the best examples of the literary nonsense genre, and its narrative course and structure, characters and imagery have been enormously influential in both popular culture and literature, especially in the fantasy genre.

Even in more recent adaptations and characterizations, such as in Walt Disney pictures Alice is seen daydreaming and giving herself advice instead of listening to advice of others.

In short, high IQ is not an attribute that Alice is gifted with in abundance. But according to one wise man, Ephraim Munthali, the President of this country is like Alice in wonderland. Totally lost!

Perhaps I am too dull to understand what exactly Ephraim meant when he likened the President to Alice. The whole fiasco was about the decision the President had taken to host the AU summit after she had previously criticized her predecessor over the same.

Anyone approaching the subject with some measure of sobriety must have seen how wide of the mark Ephraim was. He has not relented. Fortunately, he does not strike me as someone with any real vision than a desperate person only intent in fulfilling a self-serving agenda.

This week, for the umpteenth time, he is at it again. His take this time is that the President is travelling too much. She should lock herself up at State House or Sanjika Palace and do some work. If she doesn’t have work, Ephraim Munthali can give her some. Laughable!

Is Ephraim Munthali referring to the three foreign trips the President has made since she became President of this country or the local travels she is making? I would have forgiven Ephraim Munthali if he were from Mars or some such planet and stepping on earth for the first time.

But Ephraim Munthali is a Malawian who has lived in Malawi for the better part of his adult life. So he ought to know better. In fact, he does.

But sadly Ephraim Munthali has chosen to put wax in his ears so that he should not hear, and he has also chosen not to see and read what is well known and chronicled about what the President has done in the past three months she has been in office.

These are not feats she could have achieved locked up at the State House. The President must travel and see and interact with the people. Or how else does he sell his vision? How do they get to know her and appreciate what they want? How does she know what the people want? A president must go to where the people are.

The President cannot launch the poverty and hunger reduction programme at the State House. She cannot implement maternal health and safe motherhood projects at Sanjika. She has to connect with the people by going to where they are and speak their language.

The President could not have done much sitting at Sanjika and hoping the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) will reinstate the U$350 million compact programme; Britain will restore aid, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) will encourage Malawi’s development partners to restore aid to the country.

But this slur coming from Ephraim Munthali does not ruffle any feathers in the Presidency. It is Ephraim Munthali’s staple to see mountains where only valleys exist. If truth be told, there is no shortage of respectable and sober people who appreciate what President Banda has achieved in less than three months.

These people are telling it as it is. Of course President Banda does not even long to be appreciated. She is just doing her job. The job she has accepted to do for the betterment of Malawians. She will not even waste her time fighting back. She is too busy fighting real enemies.

And no one is saying there are no challenges either. But the good news is that there is hope. Hope for a better Malawi. The Ephraims of this world will be among the beneficiaries of President Banda’s vision and hard work. At the end of it all it is neither Ephraim Munthali nor this article that will tell Malawians what is good or bad for them. They know it.

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