It seems to have become very typical of President Lazarus Chakwera to choose to be absent, literally and emblematically, when the country is going through serious crises.
It is as though he is allergic to problems that require leadership at the highest level, when, essentially he is supposed to be the face of every attempt to address them.
This other day, at a time Malawi was battling one of the worst fuel crises in recent memory, the President flew to Egypt to attend a climate change conference to where it was possible to delegate one of his ministers.
Forex was obviously used on the trip, even though the amount may not have been very huge. However, in situations like those, every dollar must count.
The President and his henchmen used every term in the book to justify the tour even though it was very clear to the perceptive mind that for Malawi, nothing was really going to come out of that meeting in the Egyptian resort city of Sheikh El-Sharm.
Stories flew around that from the trip, Malawi was going to benefit a lot and that the much-needed solution to the now-perpetual fuel crisis would be found.
Those who have taken time to study Chakwera and his allies knew another dummy was being sold to Malawians.
After all, they have sent across a strong message that they are not a team to be trusted, for they have sufficiently reneged on their promises to fervently fight corruption and improve the welfare of their people.
With that in mind, it was easy to deduce that the outing to Egypt was nothing but a futile money-draining adventure that only sufficed to serve Chakwera’s strange predilection for air trips.
He has been to several international summits from where he has returned with promises of great benefits for Malawians.
So far, we have not seen much coming from such adventures.
Chakwera has chosen to travel outside the country even when the general feeling is that he should stick around and be with his people struggling with numerous problems, some of them triggered by his government’s cluelessness when it comes to prioritising the welfare of the citizenry.
Elsewhere, you do not see a President hopping onto one plane to another, taking long intercontinental excursions at a time his people are spending nights at pump stations to get a drop of petrol into their cars’ tanks.
Leaders who know why they are in those positions will suspend everything that can be suspended and be with their people during moments of crisis.
The present fuel crisis is not minute.
Motorists are spending nights at fuel stations without any hope that the strategic commodity will be there the following morning.
It is as though we never learnt any lesson from last year’s crunch which hit hard many sectors of our troubled economy.
It is also as though Chakwera never heard the cry of Malawians who desperately sought his leadership in that acute fuel shortage situation.
Otherwise, he would not have taken that flight to the United Kingdom (UK) to attend the coronation of Charles III and his wife, Camilla, as king and queen of the UK and the other Commonwealth realms.
While Malawi’s longstanding relations with the UK might require that our president attend the event, circumstances back home would persuade our former foreign masters to understand that Chakwera skipping the event was necessary.
After all, we have a high commission in the UK which would represent the President without draining any forex at all.
In fact, like has been the case before, we should expect nothing tangible from the trip beyond just attending the coronation ceremony.
Even the catalogue of auxiliary events that Chakwera is allegedly expected to participate in does not inspire any hope at all.
It is the usual “having bilateral talks” with so and so that we are seeing on that wretched log that should not have been made public in the first place.
Malawians want a president who will be present during their most hours of need; not one who will not hesitate to hop onto a plane every moment there is some international event.
They want a leader who will show that he is sensitive to their plight and that, despite being endowed with all the splendour a presidential office and palace can accord a human being, he will not leave them when a crisis arrives.
What has now become so clear is that Chakwera is utterly insensitive to the concerns of suffering Malawians. He simply does not care!
Perhaps, he is not interested in what happens beyond the five years that we know he will be in office, as long as he munches our taxes and ultimately glories in the grandeur that we shoved him into.
Alick Ponje is a features writer at The Times Group. He graduated from the University of Malawi with a bachelor’s degree in education, majoring in literature in English. Follow him on Twitter @aponje