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No Holds Barred: Hand-wringing, head-shaking by the nation- Folks, we’re doomed


This is the week when your columnist should not have written. This is the week when the entire nation should just have sat to reflect on the introspection that has been going on at the Public Affairs Committee (Pac). All the ranting and raving we do on this page was better presented by the intelligent men and women who gathered at that meeting.

For nine months, we have been arguing that this government is clueless. The people leading it are only very happy to remain in power without knowing what to do in the posts they occupy. They are only very happy to buy expensive motor-homes and to walk on red carpets without the responsibility that goes with the job. They are only too glad to boast that they are very, very rich, when the people they lead are poorer than church mice.

At the Pac conference, participants said it better, and the summary that comes out is this: be afraid, be very afraid.


All the facts we already know. The country is ravaged by famine. The kwacha is becoming less useful than toilet paper. Inflation is running away. And our leaders are fast asleep, waiting for the next trip to America.

No photo best captured the I-don’t-care attitude of this government than the one that showed Presidential Adviser on National Unity, Vuwa Kaunda, reading a newspaper and Minister of Information, Jappie Mhango, playing with his phone while the conference was going on.

No speech better represented the cluelessness of the government than Finance Minister, Goodall Gondwe’s, which we can summarise as follows: Yes, there is very high inflation, but there is nothing we can do about it, neither the president nor anyone, so get used to it. What happened at Pac was hand-wringing and headshaking by the nation.


This government is fond of saying that people like criticising it, but they do not bring ideas for turning the situation around.

The Pac meeting did exactly that. Economists, religious leaders and others put their ideas on the table, yet even as they did so they admitted that ideas are not what this country has lacked.

Resources and ideas we have plenty, but we choose wrong leaders. We choose people who, once elected, think: ‘It is our time to eat.’

Henry Kachaje, my colleague on the opposite page, put it more bluntly: we elect thieves to high office, not unlike Aesop many years before Christ was born, who said, ‘We hang petty thieves while appointing great ones to public office.’

Blessings Chinsinga said the same thing in a different, more polite way: since 1994, we have had accidental presidents.

All this is true. Without his brother being president, it is doubtful Peter Mutharika would ever have become one. Some people are born great, some achieve greatness while others have greatness thrust upon them, William Shakespeare said, and Peter Mutharika has had greatness thrust upon him.

Likewise, the accidental and ruinous presidency of Joyce Banda could not have been possible if Bingu wa Mutharika had not died in office.

It is important for us to understand the background of how our leaders became leaders.

When Bingu wa Mutharika appointed Peter to three ministries, he achieved nothing there, not at the Ministry of Justice, not at the Ministry of Local Government, and certainly not at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

How, then, did we expect him to achieve at the higher post of president?

There is such a thing as the Peter Principle (the name is just a coincidence). It says that some people may be brilliant at a certain level, but when you elevate them too high they lose their brilliance. That is what has happened to our Peter.

That he would fail was always a given. What is difficult to understand is how some out there found this man, despite his clear track record of underachievement, worth voting for to high office.

It is even more frightening that he has already declared himself candidate for 2019, despite all this palpable failure. He, in fact, declared himself candidate back in 2014, only two months after winning elections.

What should we expect? The total collapse of the economy is imminent for sure. To cling to power, they will start tactics similar to those Macbeth used in Shakespeare’s tragedy of a similar name; remember that scene? ‘Hang those that talk of fear,’ he says to Seyton.

Issa Njauju, a very senior official, was murdered, and this government can be suspected of being behind the murder, because until now it has done absolutely nothing about it.

The fear, then, is that those who disagree with this government might face Njauju’s fate of being killed like a dog, because a government that is failing to lead could resort to desperate measures to stay in power.

But Pac has always been there to stand for the voiceless since 1993, and it is continuing to do what it knows best without fear. The government had tried to throw a wild conspiracy theory in public, something about Leader of Opposition Lazarus Chakwera wanting to take over the government through a coup of some sort. They went so far as to link the Pac conference to the so-called Chakwera’s coup. When they saw that the public laughed off those suggestions, they stayed quiet.

In civilised societies, people honourably resign when they have failed to govern. This government must resign before it is too late. They have failed miserably. They have no clue what to do. And they must let the people elect others who are more capable, others who can deliver.

People say there is too much negativity out there, but negativity does not come without cause. People are hurting. The buying power of their currency is eroded.

Life is hard. And yet they have got to eat and afford the basics of life. People have to enjoy living in this country, the only corner of this earth they can call truly theirs. If we cannot find life bearable here, where shall we go? In South Africa they kill us, they say we should go back to our country. Where shall we go?

So people have reason to be negative. At the core of our thinking, we all want President Mutharika to do well, to succeed, but that is only possible if he, too, wants to succeed. From the results of his two years in power, it is clear he does not want to succeed. And that is our curse.

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