Congrats Mr. President
by Ephraim Munthali
I am one of President Bingu wa Mutharika’s fierce critics but I also admire him a lot. My long held view—which I will always defend even with my last breath—is that Mutharika is not the best leader we can have in a democratic country like Malawi.
In the three years he has been in power, his ‘I don’t-give-a-damn’ style of leadership has polarised the country so much that his reign has never been smooth as he presides over a country split into warring camps but he is too pre-occupied with himself to notice.
The opposition see in the President a man whose dictionary does not stock the word compromise. Thus, they too want to show him that they are made of steel. It’s a futile tag of war which, were Mutharika a good leader, he should have seen and written off as such.
In his quest to get his way at all cost, Mutharika has raped the Constitution so repeatedly that the country’s most important book after the Bible may need long hours in the operating theatre to be stitched back to normal without leaving a deep wound that could keep hurting Malawi for generations to come. In short, his governance record in the short period he has tasted power is appalling to say the least.
But his leadership faults aside, the man is a good manager who delivers his pledges in most cases and has pumped life into an economy that was on its death bed for too long as it awaited the eventual death that any run down economy meets—a crisis point.
Of course, most people say they have voted him Nation Achiever—which does not normally entertain politicians by the way—because of his charity work through organisations such as the Silver Grey Foundation.
But the truth is that the man’s strategic management of the economy and the food situation in the country has made him so popular both among the middle class and the poor that any opportunity to show just how grateful people are will see the President at the summit of every popularity related vote.
Whatever the case, however, this is a well deserved recognition of the man who has restored pride and self belief in us as a people; regained for us the respect of our neighbours and the larger international community; taught us that it’s possible to live again; that instead of feeling sorry for ourselves, we can do something about our poverty; and has given us reason to think positively about the future.
Congratulations Mr. President. I hope that this award will also go a long way in helping you work on the other weaknesses that your opponents pounce on to derail your good progress and discredit your person and efforts.
Don’t be a boss but a leader Mr. President. The difference is that leaders are servants of the people, including their critics and opponents while bosses turn the people to be their servants. This is something I ask you to reflect on in 2008. Happy New Year, Sir.