During the press conference, following his alleged successful trip to Malta, South Africa and England, President Peter Mutharika came out clearly that he does not appreciate being given deadlines.
Apparently, there is a petition from some quarters with deadlines and threats that if nothing gets done by such and such a date, unspecified action will be done. The President has decided that he will not listen to any of the deadlines. Probably, he sees it as plain disrespect of him as President.
Now, some people have already started criticising Mutharika for speaking boldly, with some saying: “He does not listen.”
But please, ladies and gentlemen, understand the President. Firstly, he is a Malawian. Although he has lived in Tanzania, United States and other places, Malawians do not take deadlines seriously. This is in our DNA. And so when he says deadlines will not work with him, do not take that personal. You may know it is not just you.
The European Union (EU) and other development partners, aka donors, having given our governments—this one and previous ones—various sorts of deadlines. Deadlines work in Berlin and London. In Malawi, our concept of time is different from the concept as understood elsewhere. Deadlines are meaningless. If anything, they are plane rude. Where respect and mutual understanding prevails, you give each other time to consider the issue and respond at the time she or he finds suitable.
The second issue we should all realise is that by the time Bingu wa Mutharika died, there were several deadlines he had been given by all sorts of people. Bingu, unlike Peter, took all the threats seriously. He was an old man who should not have paid attention to the deadlines. He thought hard about them, slept little and spoke about them when he had a chance to do so. Tension escalated until his body just gave up. Deadlines killed Bingu. Peter has known that if he takes these deadlines to heart, his health will be in jeopardy. So, he has appropriately adjusted and no amount of deadlines will faze him. They call it learning from experience and coping.
The President relies (in fact, I do not know if he does) on his advisers. Let me state the issue again. The President has advisers. They can give good or bad advice. The president can take or disregard such advice. It is up to him really. What I know, though, is that if I were the President and I was choosing advisers, I would go on the market and get the “smartest people” around. Those who I believed were cleverer than I was. It is like if you were a PhD student. Who would you choose as an adviser? A Standard Five learner? If you wanted an adviser in insurance, would you choose Mr Chris Kapanda, Felix Mlusu, Stain Singo or you would choose Adamson Muula? Would you choose an eunuch as your marriage counsellor? n