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Peter Mutharika, Pac clash on leadership

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President Peter Mutharika and the Public Affairs Committee (Pac) Thursday could not clearly agree on the former’s leadership style with Pac insisting that Mutharika’s government is transactional rather than transformative.

Pac presented to Mutharika different issues, at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe, recommendations and actionable resolutions from its 5th all-inclusive stakeholders’ conference that took place in Blantyre on February 17 and 18 this year.

Pac said that Mutharika’s government’s policies are failing to come up with tangible improvements for the lives of Malawians across the country.

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But among other things that Mutharika was not amused with was the recurrence of the religious institution’s observation that his leadership is not transformative.

At one point, Mutharika demanded an explanation of what Pac meant that his leadership is not transformative before any discussion on the communiqué could start.

Mutharika defended his administration’s development progress, saying there is visible evidence including the community technical colleges, courting of investors, infrastructure development like roads and reforms in the public service and finance management.

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“You are talking about transformative leadership, that this government is transactional rather than transformative. Now,

let me say this: we have done a lot of developments in this country,” he said before asking one member of Pac to elaborate what the institution meant by saying his administration is not transformative.

“Maybe before we start this discussion, one of you should give us a definition of transformation and the strategies that it entails. What is transformation and why is it that what we are doing is not transformation?” queried the President, adding that in its communiqué, Pac had mentioned five times that his leadership is transactional.

He further accused the institution of presenting its issues in broader terms on which he said it was difficult to provide clear and specific responses.

“You are saying that people are saying the country is going in a wrong direction; then tell me the right direction,” charged Mutharika.

However, it was when Publicity Secretary of the influential quasi-religious institution, Peter Mulomole, gave a bold response that the President agreed that the discussion should continue.

Said Mulomole in his response: “What we are saying is not that your government is not doing anything but we are saying we can do much better than is the case currently. For instance, we have the [Farm Input Subsidy Programme (Fisp)] from which no one is graduating because we are subsidising consumption.

“We are not saying we should do away with it, but maybe we need to re-organise it. In your manifesto, you are talking about subsidising building materials and not building houses for people, and we expect that this too has to change.

“Malawi realised, long ago, that tobacco is not viable these days with different problems including the anti-smoking campaign. We can venture into other crops like legumes… This is not a personal or party attack but for the betterment of all Malawians,” said Mulomole.

After that, Mutharika appeared to agree with most observations which Pac made in the communiqué even though he still reiterated at the end of the meeting that he did not agree with the observation that his leadership is not transformative.

Meanwhile, both sides have agreed that a special taskforce should be formed to look into some critical technical issues in the communiqué.

Some of the issues include the appointments of senior public officials, reforms in the election system and the appointment of cabinet ministers.

During the meeting, Mutharika was backed by 12 cabinet ministers and presidential advisors including George Chaponda, Patricia Kaliati, Samuel Tembenu, Jappie Mhango, Peter Kumpalume, Hetherwick Ntaba, Collins Magalasi and Synom Vuwa Kaunda.

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