Peter Mutharika is quickly losing the plot
Last week’s arrests of some Malawi Congress Party (MCP) officials over trivial treason charges based on social media discussions and the defaced Access to Information Bill as gazetted by the government have made me realise the serious leadership problem Malawi is currently facing.
All along, I have defended President Peter Mutharika over the economic problems facing the country as I truly believe that they are not out of his government’s making but are instead a result of factors beyond his control such as withdrawn donor aid as well as drought and floods.
But I have now realised that there is more to Malawi’s problems than just the economy and maize shortages.
Until the arrests of MCP operative Ulemu Msungama and legislators Jessie Kabwila and Peter Chakwantha, I did not realise how ordinary a leader Peter Mutharika was. I honestly didn’t think that Mutharika was a type that could arrest opponents over such dim-witted charges.
I used to believe that being a law professor who has spent most of his life in highly civilized and sophisticated environments such as Yale Law School in a country renowned for extreme civil liberties like the United States of America, Mutharika could never sink so low and start clamping down on opponents on political grounds.
But I was certainly dead wrong. It is now becoming apparent that despite his high level of education and length of time spent in the United States, Mutharika is just a typical African leader with a tyrant style of leadership Malawians have long detested. So primitive and archaic, I must say.
With all the problems prevailing in the country, which include economic hardships, high maize prices and food shortages, erratic electricity and water supply, dwindling government resources and poor social service delivery, can a right thinking leader really waste time and resources arresting opposition leaders over WhatsApp messages?
Who advises the president and what is the public relations strategy of this government, if they have any? Does the president really care about Malawians’ views on some of the things he does? Is there anything about this government that can give hope to Malawians?
The same applies to the Access to Information (ATI) Bill. Why is it so difficult for an educated and highly exposed president like Mutharika to give Malawians an Access to Information law that is acceptable and meets international standards?
Didn’t he see people in the United States of America enjoying their rights as a result of a credible Access to Information law during the 40-plus years he spent in that country? What makes him think Malawians don’t deserve such a law?
I’m now led to believe that Mutharika and his cronies have so many skeletons in their lockers that they are afraid that a proper Access to Information law would expose their underhand dealings.
That is why Mutharika has even insisted that he does not want an Access to Information law that will allow people to access information of things that happened before 2016.
Mutharika will therefore do anything possible to block the enactment of a proper Access to Information law.
The ATI bill as gazetted was processed just to hoodwink Malawians and donors. But one thing Mutharika should realise is that Malawians are not fools and there is a limit as to how far he can go with his crooked way of doing some of these things.
Malawi does not belong just to one person or one group and laws and policies cannot be enacted to serve the interests of an individual or group of politicians.
There is no way Malawians would accept a bill that was drafted following extensive national wide consultations to be changed grossly and have many provisions removed just because some group of people want to hide corrupt activities they committed while in government before.
President Mutharika should just admit that he does not want an Access to Information law and that the promise he made to enact the bill in his manifesto and subsequent statements was false.
It will now be up to the people of Malawi to decide on the way forward since Access to Information is a constitutional right enshrined in Sections 36 and 37 of the Malawi Republican Constitution of 1995.
One thing for sure is that the president is losing the plot. And this has come too quickly considering that he is not even two years in office. It took six years for his late brother Bingu wa Mutharika to reach that stage.
It will be interesting to see how things will unfold in the coming months. But it really looks not promising. We could be in for a tough ride. #ThumbsDown President Mutharika.
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