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When presidents don’t need to account

Barack Obama, Jacob Zuma, David Cameron, (it is Theresa May now) Francois Hollande, Angella Merkel and any other such leaders from the free world must be green with envy because of how Malawi is governed.

I am sure they would wish they were in the situation of President Peter Mutharika who can fire an Army Commander and transfer him to some obscure parastatal without having to explain to his employers, the Malawians, why he has taken such a big decision just like that.

I am sure the world leaders also do not have the luxury of an Information Minister who, in an attempt to explain the decision, ends up mumbling nonsense and irritating citizens with her quirky responses that sadly say nothing.

In their world the commander of the army is not removed willy-nilly especially half way into his contract.

There have to be reasons and they better be good reasons. They range from incompetence in managing the army—the armed forces are always fighting wars that side—to personal scandals such as keeping mistresses or poor decision making in the execution of their job that leads to unnecessary deaths be it of soldiers or indeed civilians.

In such cases, the army bosses normally resign on their own while the salacious details of their lurid affairs grace the front of the national newspapers and they go in utter shame and they blame no one for that but themselves for letting their guard down.

At the end of it all, the citizens are left in no doubt as to what necessitated their top soldier to go.

Here no one knows about it as it happened the other day when General Ignacio Maulana was relieved of command and instead made Head of Security at National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA).

This is an insult to the General, to say the least. And to add more salt to the gaping injury Information Minister Patricia Kaliati says the new post fits him because he will ensure food security in this country.

Many people, including me, did not understand Mrs Kaliati’s logic. But we do not need to as she lives in her own world where nothing has to be logical.

For us, the mere mortals, we must be contented with having a president who can fire a whole Army General without having to explain to us the reason behind it.

After all, some misguided individuals say the President did not tell us the reasons why he hired Maulana in the first place and so there was no need for him to explain at the point of firing.

And so we are left to speculate. Did Maulana cross the path of someone close to the President who then whispered lies to him that led to the General’s removal? Was the General tough as he looks and stopped some thieves from stealing from the taxpayers through the Army?

The questions can linger forever and I am entitled to speculate them as a citizen because my President has chosen to be secretive in the name of exercising the powers that the citizens of this country bestowed on him when they elected him on May 20, 2014.

But for once, the President should understand the basis of his being President.

He holds power on behalf of Malawians through their sustained trust and must always account for his decisions to them.

He was professor of law and surely he knows this better than you and me.

The question is why does he not behave like one who knows and be different from the rest?

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