What other information does the State House—or even the Democratic Progressive Party—chuck out at us that is either wrong or not timely or both?
I ask this question in view of the storm in a teacup that President Peter Mutharika’s trip to the United States of America has brewed over the past week. And it has been messy.
Excitement or ignorance—or something in between—drove the State and party machinery to feed us information that was so patently false and so embarrassing in its contradiction you would expect them to hang their collective heads in shame never to be lifted again.
In the continuing narrative to establish the link between US President Barack Obama and Mutharika, an outlandish claim was made to the effect that the Malawian leader had been invited by his American counterpart.
A more plausible explanation was that he was, in fact, in the US at the leisure of the International Conservation Caucus Foundation for the 2015 US Congressional International Conservation Gala.
As it turned out, both pieces of information were wrong. As for Obama, I suppose the American president had next to no control over the guest list of the gala.
And, indeed, there was a gala. But it had taken place on March 19; Mutharika, it turns out, had been invited to a dinner on April 22.
I am prepared to give the President’s numerous handlers a wide berth for misinforming the nation. I am assuming they have no idea about the difference between a gala and a dinner. Maybe they can’t tell the difference between an event taking place in March and another in April either.
I’m tempted to think the President was trying to pull wool over our eyes, but for what purpose? Was there more than just a dinner in the US at stake? As my thoughts are running wild, I am imagining Mutharika was, after all, invited to the gala. But our president has a reputation for procrastination.
So, suppose, in keeping with his reputation for dithering, he knew about the date, forgot about it, and then remembered he had to go to Washington for an event in March and went regardless. And then he caught his hosts unawares.
I am inclined to believe the dinner was hastily arranged by obliging hosts who did not want to embarrass their visitor. I have a justification for my hunch. The press statement announcing the dinner was only released on April 15 when Mutharika was already in the US. Maybe they just delayed in announcing, but the coincidence was unusual.
While we are at it, Mutharika asked the nation to tighten their seat belts as the national economy navigates the narrow straits. But, the extravagance of the president—leaving 10 days early, with an entourage whose allowances could feed an entire village for a month—is a study in irony. Couldn’t he have left tomorrow and made it to dinner in time? n