President Peter Mutharika is an angry man.
For the past twelve months, he has been buffeted by all sorts of currents: Incessant demonstrations championed by Human Rights Defenders Coalition and a court case that he has lost.
Both the High Court sitting as a constitutional court and the Supreme Court told Mutharika in the face that he was not duly elected as President.
Within a blink of an eye, he is now facing an election that he did not think he would ever face after attaining what he thought was his last term and then hand over the mantle to his chosen successor in DPP.
The highest court in the land wiped this dream out and Mutharika’s anger is so palpable that you can cut it with a chicken knife.
After a public absence of nearly three weeks that set tongues wagging about the status of his health, being advanced in age, President Peter Mutharika came out of Sanjika Palace on Monday.
In a carefully choreographed programme whose objective was to continue his agenda of taking cheap shots at the Judiciary, he chose Malawi University of Science and Technology (MUST) in order to appreciate the “innovations” the university is coming up with to fight Covid-19.
It turns out the real aim was to hit at the courts for “ putting the lives of Malawians at risk by stopping the lockdown that his government had ordered while allowing a fresh poll to go ahead amid Covid-19 pandemic.”
Of course his ire with the Judiciary did not end there and, once again, the issue of the election came up, saying the two top courts were wrong in declaring that the May 21 presidential election was a nullity after massive irregularities that included the use of correctional fluid, Tippex, on results forms.
But when all is said and done, Mutharika is still president of this country until July 2 as was declared by the courts.
It would do the President a lot of good if he accepted and got used to the fact that the election is a reality and that the presidential poll last year, which he still insists he won, is dead and buried.
The danger with his denial of the present reality and status quo is that it will affect his outlook on things and judgement especially that he is still president who constitutionally must perform certain duties and make the election a reality which includes even choosing new commissioners and signing bills that Parliament will pass to facilitate the election.
It is not presidential to call the two court judgements against his acclaimed win last year as coup d’etat against his government because there was no presidential election in the first place after the courts said there wasn’t.
The same Constitution that makes Mutharika president also recognises the role and existence of the Judiciary to interpret laws made by Parliament.
The Judiciary has a right to exist and interpret laws the way it deems fit as per relevant laws and evidence presented before it.
The two highest courts in the land did exactly that.
The President, much as he is taking himself as the most aggrieved, should resist from taking matters personal but be the first to accept the rulings as a custodian of the Constitution and rule of law in general.
Should it really take the Malawi Law Society to issue a press release asking the President to stop making direct or indirect attacks on the Judiciary but to respect and implement its judgment when he is a former professor of law in America, the land of the free?
I am not advocating that citizens should not be allowed to comment on court judgments because courts are not sacrosanct.
However, it is different with the President.
His words against the Judiciary were tantamount to undermining the independence of courts which the Constitution guarantees.
Mutharika also wadded into the waters of Covid-19 that the Judiciary is once again to blame for stopping the lockdown which his government wanted to implement.
That again is not presidential and it is not justified criticism against the Judiciary which simply asked a question what will happen to poor people after being locked down in homes that have no food.
Mutharika’s government refused to answer this question and the Attorney General Kalekeni Kaphale opted not to go and appear before Judge Kenyatta Nyirenda to present his case why he thought we should be locked up like chickens without considering the plight of those without the wherewithal to find food while under bondage.
The President then went onto personal vitriol against former president Joyce Banda using words that I cannot print in a family newspaper such as this one.
Mutharika went overboard even though we are now becoming used with personal attacks in this campaign but nothing can justify such uncouth language though we know the President is desperate to retain the State House.
In the end, this was roundly condemned by everybody including women interest groups because the words clearly demeaned the modesty of the former president as a wife, mother, sister, grandmother and former leader of this nation.
In the final analysis those who planned the President outing on Monday missed an opportunity to put together an earth-shaking affair to put to rest those who were wagging their tongues that his absence was down to ill health and instead give the campaign, which Atupele Muluzi has championed so far, a new verve.
Certainly Mutharika’s handlers will have to manage his schedule due to his advanced age but they should do it in such a way that when he makes an appearance it is strong and he is on point in messaging.
Monday was unfathomable disaster.
Mr President, you must calm down.