PRESIDENT Peter Mutharika is an irony. He is a typical Janus: that mythological double-faced Greek god known for his contradictions and opposites. Janus has one face opening doors and the other closing them. Janus has a role on beginnings and endings, and war and peace— binary opposites.
Janus reveres in opposites. In town, there are huge billboards of Mutharika starkly staring at us like a charged high priest making a call to his people to have integrity, a hardworking spirit and patriotism. For the impressionable and those very new in town, the billboards tell a story of a leader who wants his country to be a model of all other nations.
But they are wrong. The truth is, Mutharika practises the exact opposite of what he preaches on the billboards, rallies and whenever he opens his mouth. The past month, Mutharika’s party, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) made headlines for all the bad reasons. Mutharika’s henchmen went about coercing parastatals and city councils to fund the shindig that is known as Blue Night.
Whether out of sheer naivety, depressing cowardice, blatant buffoonery or rotten desperation to impress and to be politically correct, public institutions were made to release funds to the glee of the blue camp. And when the party was pressed to explain its side, its Secretary General Gresselder Jeffrey and Vice President for the Central Region, Hetherwick Ntaba—with a legendary air of hubris— dismissed the enquiry as zachamba and nonsense.
It was only after some civil society organisations tenaciously pursued the matter to the courts that, sensing imminent danger, Jeffrey and her DPP were left with eggs all over their faces and started pleading for dialogue on the matter. But you and I know that the DPP does not have the word dialogue anywhere in its lexicon.
The party is known for its brutality, impunity and arrogance and there is no way someone can trust its calls for dialogue. Just like the USA maintains its stand that it does not negotiate with terrorists, Malawians must also take a stand against having dialogue with a party that knowingly abused public funds. The larger picture on this issue is not about the K13 million—this excludes figures that have been hidden— that the DPP grabbed from councils, but about systematic abuse of public institutions by political parties that are in power at a particular time.
Obviously, during its time, the Malawi Congress Party (MCP)abused public resources just like the United Democratic Front (UDF) and People’s Party (PP) did in their time. The mistake you and I will make is to allow this to continue forever. What we must be very afraid of is that the K13 million figure that is being presented to us is just a comma in a thesis of theft that the DPP has authored since 2014 when it returned to power.
Apart from the Blue Nights, how many more party functions have parastatals and councils funded under duress?
Mutharika, as someone who wants us to believe his sermons of integrity, hardwork and patriotism, should be the first one to preach to his party that forcing councils and parastatals to fund his party is in no way a sign of patriotism, integrity or hard work: it is raw savagely, pure coercion and utmost barbarism. But Mutharika being a man of ironies as he is, sees nothing wrong and has not uttered a sentence of condemnation of these diabolic acts. When Mutharika was campaigning for the presidency in 2014, he made all sorts of sweet promises.
With four decades of stay in the civilised world and a professorship of law to boot, one would expect Mutharika to be a special president who understands and respects the separation of government and a party. But he does not. He is just that ordinary Malawian president who rows in a boat of corruption and bigotry drifted by tides of impunity.
Typical of Janus, Peter has two faces: One face preaches about integrity yet he is the very antithesis of the same. Had Peter any iota of integrity, he should have been the first to rebuke his party zealots against forcing public institutions to make dubious payments to his party. If Peter was in any way a patriot, he could not have allowed that Malawi-Zambia maize deal happen on his watch.
If Peter believed in the spirit of hardwork, he could have been encouraging his party to explore honest fundraising ventures other than having easy money through coercion of public institution. All said, Peter must know that the three years that he has been in power has not been the best for him and many of us.
The hallmark of his leadership has been that of irony where he says this and does the other. It is almost impossible to take Peter seriously because what he says is not what he does: a very double faced character. Just like the mythical Greek god of duality, there are so many similarities between Peter and Janus.
WHO GAVE THE ORDER?
IF at all those who were in the infamous taskforce that was instituted to probe the stampede at Bingu National Stadium were paid, they must return the money for a job badly done. After the nation lost eight people—seven of whom were children—it was widely expected that the disaster of that magnitude needed serious and tenacious probing. But after weeks of work, or was it leisure, the taskforce led by one Zangazanga Chikhosi just came up with some writing that actually speaks of nothing. All one can read in the report is what we have already been discussing at Ndirande Ma Flats with the likes of Lameck, Mbuya, Mphatso, Makwinja, Honde, Mayiye and Trouble. Nothing new or amusing. When you have eight people dead in such a circumstance and obviously because someone made an error, it does not make sense that some so-called taskforce should waste our time scratching an issue off the sides instead of hitting it on the head. The whole taskforce was a farce and the resultant report is nothing but spurious. What people, especially me, want to know is who exactly made wrong and selfish decisions that resulted in those deaths? There must be someone who made decisions. It is that person that we all want to know and expect to be punished for recklessness that cost eight beautiful lives. Elsewhere, heads would have rolled by now but because we are such a cannibalistic nation that has less regard to life, someone is still on the job despite being responsible for eight deaths. This country must get serious and if there is one thing that we must not let go then it is this issue. We cannot lose eight lives and all we have is some useless report that only serves to protect wrongdoers.