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Honourable minister, it is the people’s verdict

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Yet gain in a matter of weeks another senior minister stands up and makes a huge mistake in purporting to discredit the value of the people’s assessment of President Peter Mutharika and the Cabinet of which he is Czar.

There is every indication the leaders are not learning. That such a valuable learning source is trashed and instead blamed on the machinations of an opposition party is for lack of a better word absurd. Honestly.

How are people to express themselves? If as per democracy leaders are accountable to the people, the electorate, how else are citizens to seek accountability than project their observations through occasional assessment?

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Clearly, the leaders are refusing to learn simple truths about leading a democratic society. But I urge you to listen to this very carefully because there may be no other chance:

You see success for government lies not in the constructions of its leaders, but rather in the observations, opinions and feelings of citizens. The truth is that what people see – wrong or right, bad or good – is what ultimately matters when the electorate moves to decide.

In matters political, it is not rationality or lofty thinking alone that counts; emotions and emotional intelligence has a tendency to overrule rationality in many situations. As part of good leadership and exemplary participation in the national narrative, listening and taking into account opinions and perceptions of the people is strategic not a weakness.

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After all in the final analysis as we note here it is not what leaders see, feel or believe; it is what the people experience that defines matters.

How effective the president is will be judged by what the president achieves in Malawi for Malawians, through Malawians. Yes, leaders will obtain diamond honours from high sources but what use are these if the citizen is hungry, jobless, insecure and despondent.

The bottom line is who should cabinet be serving? Should we define good leadership by pooling together externally determined honours even where shortfalls at home are legion? Take it or leave it, the feats achieved locally for the good of the local population will be the ultimate basis for judgement.

I honestly wonder if the cabinet along with its Czar ever considered why Vice President Saulos Chilima and Trade Minister Joseph Mwananveka scored 80 and 70 per cent respectively in the much abhorred assessment.

Well look back and countenance the number of articles, reports and voices that supported Vice President in what he has been doing. Retrace the 20 months gone by and note the volume of work moved by this one young man. VP Chilima has done in 20 months what would take 60 months for an average opportunistic Malawian politician to just initiate – if ever!

Incidentally, George Kasakula couldn’t have put things any sweeter. Assessments such as the one in contention put together opinions based on observations collated over a time regarding performance against official plans, job descriptions and expectations of the people.

It should not require the science of formal research to build opinions on what leaders have achieved or not. Nice as that it would be it is absolutely unnecessary. Nor must it be put as an imperative. Is observation not a research method anyways?

In any case, the core matter here is that Malawians are expressing opinions based on a sense of the collective. The people of Malawi have expressed views on what matters to them in the affairs of the nation and such free views do not contend with anything fundamentally scientific as to approach.

Let’s take this further. What research science do I need to subject the observation that MBC is DPP, dominated against policy pronouncements of the party? Or better still does it demand scientific research to advise government to shut up about the ‘treasonous three’ or risk litigation? When we say ‘the writing is on the wall,’ is it always scientific fact or pure observation?

I think it is sad that the Hon Minister for Information considers the assessment a campaign against the DPP government and to insinuate that it is MCP machinations is an unjust almost criminal allegation. The minister has applied inference; is inference not from critical judgement and is it unsound?

I do not know how easy it will be for the DPP government to claim to be a listening government after this outpouring of agitated reaction to such innocuous and perfectly admissible public opinion.

And I do hope that DPP realises it is on a roller coaster towards intolerance. Ruthless castration of an ATI Bill; plus un-procedural arrest of MPs; plus dismissal of an MP’s child from internship; plus the present uncalled for outrage is a frightening succession of undemocratic events.

I wish our leaders came to terms with post-1994 reality:

Malawians are a liberated lot maturing in the art of political participation and representation of the voiceless; whether leaders disagree with public views is a risk government chooses to take.

Being assessed, criticised, satirised is the pain leaders must endure for leading a free society. Leaders will not always be in their comfort zones, learn this! Discharging anger or distrust of legitimate opinions is a serious weakness for leaders who take their authority from a liberal Constitution.

Much as leaders are free to react to issues from the public floor to their own peril, cultivation and maintenance of an aura associated with dignified leadership is priceless – if any ambition to lead remains.

I urge leaders to learn to see, read, hear or dream but act predictably as per principles of democracy. You cannot achieve firm dignified leadership by being reactionary, generating fear or being intolerant. Zimenezo iyayi!

My last word, I have not seen a Malawian cabinet that has appreciated observations of the people presented in the manner of a consolidated assessment report. Nor am I aware of a courageous enough cabinet that has kept its peace and learnt quietly from the free counsel of a free people.

DPP dare to learn. Be the difference you want.

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