Indeed, it is baffling how, given the crises, including the protracted Judiciary strike that has left the countryâ€™s prisons over-spilling, politically motivated arrests can be at the centre of the national political vortex as is the case now.
We are quickly degenerating into a nation of fear and fear-mongering where the media and civil society organisations (CSOs) are threatened with unspecified action allegedly for not respecting the Head of State. We have become a nation where the President demands respect rather than working hard to earn it, claiming he is our father.
Well, my father is a retired Admarc marketer living as a farmer in Karonga. He certainly is not pushing 80 nor does he have anything to do with any failed policies, rusty leadership stylesâ€”and he knows his bearings, thank God. So thanks for the offer to be my father, but I have to say no. I am quite happy with the one that I have.
That said, I regard myself well-brought up, so respecting deserving people is not a problem. It only becomes a problem when I am being forced to do it, especially when those demanding my respect have not given me any reason to do so other than that they are older than yours truly and were lucky enough to be elected heads of State. That is not enough for me, unfortunately.
Now, let me return to the issue of using the police to run this country as if we are in a state of emergency. We are not and it will be a grave mistake for the administration to even consider it.
These gung-ho police activities in major cities and towns are just sucking away money, harvesting futility and further damaging our already charred international image which the administration has really worked hard to disfigure.
The country has so many things to worry about other than a young politician hoping to be like father by aspiring to be the countryâ€™s president one dayâ€”and there is nothing wrong with that anyway!
I do not understand the administrationâ€™s obsession with some vocal human rights activists and journalists who are only doing their job.
What issues does the government have with a legitimate body in the name of Public Affairs Committee (PAC) organising a conference whose outcome is a call for the Head of State to either resign or call a referendum on his leadership? Our Constitution guarantees freedom of expression.
But the zeal with which government is dealing with these issues is amazing and could have produced a lot of good results for the country if it were applied to the following problems, which are just a tip of the iceberg:
1. On Thursday, the United States Governmentâ€™s Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) met to decide whether to lift its suspension of the $350 million energy grant meant to help upgrade the countryâ€™s electricity infrastructure. Given our atrocious human rights and economic management record, the odds of reclaiming the project are very bad. How much energy and resources is the administration deploying towards winning this grant? Below zero.
2. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has suspended Malawiâ€™s economic programme it supports due to the administrationâ€™s economic slippages. That suspension has also cost the country budget support, thereby shrinking the national cake, which has in turn caused shortages of essentials such as drugs, fuel and foreign currency. Governmentâ€™s performance in this area is a straight F.
3. The hapless administration has added new items to queue for after fuel and forex. We now line up for sugar, Maheu, bread and prostitutes. Any convincing move towards ending these embarrassing episodes? Nada!
4. The rising cost of living is running wild. Instead of chasing and arresting this monster, the government is arresting people this monster is ravaging. Does that make sense to any right-thinking member of society?
5. President Bingu wa Mutharika publicly invited the World Bank to come to Malawi and offer his government technical advice on how to save and revive the economy. The kindred spirits left their comfortable offices and homes in Washington to come to the rescue. When the time came to meet the highest decision-making authority in the landâ€”President Mutharikaâ€”the Head of State was somehow not ready to hear the truth and decided to evade them on the pretext that the mission comprised people who are too junior to him. Boy, did he expect Robert Zoelleck to show up in the dusty streets of Lilongwe to humour the President of a Third World country who is begging for his help? Some things defy logic.
6. The courts are on strike, paralysing the justice delivery system. Where is the President in all this? Yes, that is rightâ€”he is somewhere at a rally telling donors to go to hell, frothing at anything that moves and indignantly declaring that he will hang around until 2014 without gauging whether people still want him.
The point is that Mutharika should stop overestimating his importance. He should also turn his guns away from his people and aim them at the countryâ€™s real enemiesâ€”rising poverty rates, shortages of commodities, runaway prices and, yes, his own underperformance, among other challenges.