Minister of Energy Ibrahim Matola’s sentiments that President Lazarus Chakwera should ignore critics calling for government officials to reduce internal and external travels and other austerity measures he instituted are unfortunate.
Calling Malawians frogs, because they are pointing out the wrongs in government is an insult—and that is putting it mildly.
Yet, Matola forgets that this is a democratic country where citizens are free to express their opinions in as far as their government is running its affairs.
Importantly, it is Malawians, whose hard earned taxes make it possible for government, including Matola, to transact their business.
We would like to remind Matola that leaders are put in positions of authority on trust by the people and these people have a constitutional right to question government, the President and public officials.
While we recognise Matola’s constitutional right to free speech and we will do everything in our capacity to defend his freedom of expression, the minister must balance his rights to citizens’ rights to demand accountability from him and other public officials transacting business on Malawians’ behalf.
Truth be told, Malawians do not deserve the insults, but respect from their leaders, especially owing to the fact that ours is a representative democracy where leaders hold their positions on behalf of the people.
We find Matola’s sentiments a sharp contrast to what President Chakwera has been saying in as far as implementing austerity measures is concerned.
It shows that the Tonse Alliance partners are pulling in different directions policy-wise. We want to believe that the austerity measures that the President announced weeks ago are as a result of a consensus of the Executive as well Tonse Alliance partners—otherwise why would Matola be seen to undermine Chakwera’s measures?