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Mr President this is your opportunity to shine

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As Parliament forms up its resolve to get President Peter Mutharika to appear in the House for a routine question and answer session a number of issues spring to mind.

It is vital to underscore the fact that Parliament is simply demanding protection of the Constitution which obligates the President to account for the works of his government. The President is not ‘being ambushed’ and the opposition ‘cannot be demonised’ for taking government to task over its own weaknesses.

The challenge is absence of precedence. What knowledge the protagonists — Parliament and government — have is from what they have seen, heard or read. One can only imagine what will happen in Malawi Parliament.

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What is certain is that the House is not keen on advance submission of questions. This will solicit sanitised answers devoid of truth. Rather the MPs want open discussions with their Leader.

And I agree completely.

If I were a member of the House I would vehemently resist the idea of prepared questions, not only for fear of sanitisation but the likelihood of reducing the session into a monologue.

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But then for the opposition to suggest that it is imprudent for Parliament to pass the budget if the President does not avail himself comes too close to blackmail and worrying coming as it does from leaders who should be negotiating change inch by inch without being overly militant.

Yes, I understand completely the constitutionality and urgency of this matter given the numerous not-so-pleasant developments. But I still feel that threats like ‘taking appropriate measures’ are rather excessive, used at time when Malawians should be nursing a pure democracy.

Flippant tongues set thousands of fires which consume the innocent. The wise say when an elder sees evil in a child and does not correct it, that evil will kill the elder. In like manner when leaders see evil taking root in the nation and yet tolerate such evil, it will kill the nation.

I bid Parliament to get the President to come and I have no doubt that he will, for he is an honourable man.

Mr President, I appreciate the enormity of the experience of appearing before a rather belligerent Parliament. Yet this is why you are leader. Indeed, don’t we say no matter how mighty the tree, it will dance to the tune of the wind?

This is your fight and I am sure you will fight it to win.

Of course, remember that a man who elects to fight with a ram must first consider the strength of his neck. So be prepared. When the leopard is in the position of a judge, the goat will never receive a fair trial. But you will for you are both gifted in charge.

Why is it important to meet Parliament?

First, it’s fair in that your office is constitutionally required to submit before the House. As a constitutional lawyer of a very high order yourself you have the opportunity to demonstrate commitment to law — to set the standard for application of a law which previous leaders have consistently violated.

Second, let me remind you Mr President that your government came to power on ‘the ticket of difference’ not perpetuation of political oddities that have so incensed Malawians that for long.

So you are called upon not just to pursue law and constitutional order but to demonstrate a different truly transformative leadership; to show courage and to initiate transparent politics, policy formulation and development planning for Malawi.

Third, it is not as though Parliament has hidden the agenda of the meeting but being Parliament — varied, complex and sometimes emotive — be ready for a little more than what is on the table.

There is nothing Mr President that Parliament needs except transparency, accountability and humility. This is about leadership, not politics. When the heavens roar in a storm anyone standing in the open should not hold the wind responsible. It is time to stand by what you believe in spite of opposition.

Let me turn to the opposition — it is right in saying that they represent all citizens. Yes, Malawians are as keen to understand the policies government is rolling out, to appreciate the economics being pursued or for that matter, the manner in which resources of the last budget were utilised.

These are perfectly legitimate demands. It is only accountable opposition that makes such demands of government that is accountable. But opposition has to make sure that it does not leave the people behind and play out its own agenda.

First, it is wise to ensure that a session with the Head of State and Government is session in civilised representative leadership. It would be great shame if the same people who demand accountability and civility turned a serious discussion with a Head of State into a carnival of savagery.

I bid opposition to exercise maturity, civility and accountability and not for the session to degenerate into a show of frivolity, senseless anger just to embarrassing the leader.

Let’s face it, for some people anger is a permanent companion. Yet maturity bids us all to control our anger, after all a roaring lion kills not game. No one except a great fool tests the depth of a river with both feet. When a cock is drunk it forgets the presence of a hawk.

Actualisation of this call will be a major step in the evolution of democracy in this country and so both parties stand to lose if taken in spirit of anger and challenge. These are times to maintain peace and calm and as the wise say any man who ignores peace and the dictates of the divine leaves his own house open to calamity’’.

Just as we close: until the rotten tooth is removed, you must chew with caution.

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