It is either President Peter Mutharika has a problem, or he is a problem.
Look, he wants to lead all of us with the governance privileges of Kamuzu Banda.
You see, Kamuzu Banda, mwina tayiwala (maybe w have forgotten), was a dictator, a bad one. During his reign, he, yes he alone, had all the power.
That is why it was never our business to be told how he was governing us. I am saying it was never our business to be told the number of people he could take to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). I mean it was never our business to be told, or question, the private jet he could hire.
With Kamuzu, we lived and perfectly internalised the lie that he was supreme—a deity kind of, an all-knowing, infallible Kamuzu who, everyday, meant well for all of us.
But with years, time stirred our consciousness. We understood that we were living a lie; that it is us, as a people, not Kamuzu, who define and shape how we want to be governed.
That is why, Mr President, in 1993 we sent Kamuzu’s dictatorship to hell. In sending dictatorship to hell, the message was clear: We do not want to be governed as if we are children—we want to define, ourselves and how we want to be governed.
It is unfortunate that, 22 years later, President Mutharika wants to govern all of us, including our wives and children, as toddlers.
He wants him alone, of course, plus the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) gurus, to define how we should be governed.
Nowhere has this been more evident than in the way he and his government have handled the UNGA trip.
You see, we all know and I can even testify that government does not fund every Malawian delegate to the UNGA.
Last year, for instance, my editor, Edyth Kambalame, was part of the Malawian delegation to the UN, but she was funded by the UN.
What Malawians want Mr President is to know how many, from the delegates, were funded by our taxes. Period.
Unfortunately, Mr Mutharika’s government, true to the dark ideals of Kamuzu’s dictatorship, decided to hide everything from the public.
In this age, yes the digital age, it is foolhardy for a government to hide things from the public because people will use their way, often wrong ones, to find out the hidden information and launch a speculation spree.
In fact, that is what happened. Conflicting figures began to emerge both from government and the media—figures that did little to address the problem at hand.
I sat and wondered: Why is government failing to come out clear on how many went to UNGA on government ticket? Akubisa chani? (what are they hiding?)
I expected Mutharika, during his sermon on Thursday—one disguised as a media briefing—to come out sober so that he clears up all the hullaballoo.
There went a whole President, a person with decorum of ‘His Excellency’, going emotional and losing every sense of maturity.
All Malawians expected from you Mr President was to explain, like a President, not an emotional villager, how many went on government ticket, the hired jet expenses and, again, how your government will deal with the IMF.
Malawians, Mr President, did not expect you to bang tables, to shout emotive words such as ‘nonsense’ three times, to attack the media and the opposition as ‘irresponsible’ and also to go all out, like adolescent, boasting about how rich you are.
Some things, to be honest, are easy to discern and handle Mr President. The rule is simple: Stick to issues at hand.
You see, like I said weeks ago, Mutharika is running quite a broken country, battered and burdened by the rising cost of living. We are an angry nation.
The least we expect is to have our intelligence insulted by a President saying: “I don’t need your money”. Let us face it: If you do not need our money, then why are you still getting allowances and salaries from our taxes?
Let us face it. I don’t think President Mutharika means wrong for this country. He has the heart and there are countless examples.
But it is not a sin, or something to demand an apology for, when Malawians demand to know how their money is being used. It is called transparency and accountability in democracy. It is not something to be angry about. Thanks.