What kind of leader does Malawi need? Apart from the colonial masters who we chased out, we have seen four presidents but the way this country is, almost half a century later, makes one wonder if at all things will ever change. It seems the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Ngwazi Hastings Kamuzu Banda was the first president of the country and ruled for 30 years. While acknowledging his good deeds, so many bad things plagued his reign.
High among the examples of such bad things are the killing of people with surnames such as Sangala and Gadama, loss of basic freedom and rights.
Malawians were supposed to have a card wherever they went or else they would be denied services. Life was hard for the majority of our parents.
After the referendum in 1993, multiparty came in 1994 and Bakili Muluzi became the first president in that new era and second president of this country.
He brought hope as people thought he would be a good relief from Kamuzu Banda’s iron fisted rule.
During “Atcheya’s” rule, famine struck the country at some point. Some people went to the extent of eating maize bran and also spent nights on long queues at Admarc depots to buy the rationed maize.
Corruption settled in and conmen set sail with cases reported of people getting terrazzo chips instead of fertiliser.
Then came Bingu wa Mutharika. When he was handpicked as a candidate by Muluzi many thought he would play puppet. But when he took a tough stance in 2005 and left Muluzi’s party not many were behind him.
Mutharika spoke tough against corruption and had admirable visions. People were ready to loot for Mutharika, save him from impeachment and prevent Parliament not to victimise him because he had a minority in Parliament.
But then again, despite change of leadership nothing happened.
After doing some remarkable progress in his first term, Mutharika sought a second term and he won with a landslide, naturally.
This time he had the majority in Parliament. Things started going wrong for the president after having this majority. Mutharika became self-centreed and stubborn since he assumed that he was untouchable because of his parliamentary dominance.
In his second term, the country started experiencing some horrible things: Shortage of foreign currency and fuel, bad relationship with donors, the academic freedom saga and the July 20 deaths.
At one point, Mutharika openly called for DPP supporters to protect him from his critics in spite of having 24-hour protection from the Malawi Police. In this context, he obviously meant “beating up” his detractors despite his spin-doctors refuting.
In 2012, luck was not on DPP’s side as the president suddenly succumbed to cardiac arrest. His sudden death caused a sudden change of government. Joyce Banda, who was the vice- president then, became the president of Malawi. President Banda became the first female and fourth president to rule the warm heart of Africa.
Some people celebrated the demise of Mutharika and rallied behind Banda who was one of the biggest victims of Mutharika’s bigotry.
As soon as Banda took the leadership mantle, she mended relations with donors. This has earned her some global awards for “good leadership.”
Banda literary took all that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) preaches and floated the Kwacha and devaluated the currency.
She launched a campaign of personally distributing maize to citizens much to the chagrin of Malawians who equate it to Bakili Muluzi’s distributing of K50 notes.
Banda then launched a fierce touring campaign using State resources up to the point of officially oppening lodges. When citizens complained, her Vice President, Khumbo Kachali rubbished them and told them that government does not travel to their houses and should be left alone.
Ahead of 2014 after four presidents and having lived 50 years without direction, what kind and type of leader does Malawi need? A dictator, a corruptible person, an egocentric one or a clueless one? What curse is going to befell Malawi this time?
Ironically, it is all by our own making, we vote these curses to power and actually nurture them into dictators and later cry for our votes.