In the democracy that Malawians are enjoying, every person has the freedom of speech. He or she has the right to his opinion.
As it were, this freedom goes hand in hand with responsibilities. This is even more so on the part of the President who must be exemplary at all times. Whatever the President says has an influence, and is usually taken as the gospel truth and the people react accordingly.
The angry reaction by President Peter Mutharika at the press conference on his return from the United Nations General
Assembly (UNGA) meetings a few weeks ago left an indelible mark as a talking point or something to write about. Among other things, in his angry mode the President went as far as saying that Malawi is broke.
Such a statement coming from the head of State is scaring as it is short of saying the country is finished.
His statement brings hopelessness about the future of the country.
Assuming that the President really cares about people’s feelings, he should have found a better way of relaying the financial status of the country.
Telling it as it is that the country is broke, some people might think the President has run out of ideas on how to keep the country afloat. In fact, it goes without saying that if the country is broke now, it means it had money at some point.
Therefore, it is the poor financial management by government that has made it broke.
The most recent example of financial mismanagement was the bloated Malawi delegation which went to UNGA.
What is worrisome is that some corrupt people might intensify stealing and abuse of the little resources the country has under the cover that the country is already broke. The President should avoid making statements that can easily destroy the country.
The other thing that the President said at the press conference was that he is super rich and does not need any taxpayers’ money.
If the President does not know, it is generally unethical for one, let alone the head of State, to brag about being rich, especially when the majority of Malawians are sinking deeper into abject poverty. Even Dangote, who is the richest man in Africa, dodges questions about how rich he is.
Instead, he talks about his businesses then people can make their conclusions.
Without doubt, the President might have inflicted the worst torture on Malawians who have to struggle to eke a living and pay taxes for the President’s upkeep. While boasting about riches might look macho, it is unhelpful.
Meanwhile, the President should know better that despite being rich, people can still query him on abuse of public funds.
The President should also avoid using demeaning language to people of Malawi.
For example, he once referred to the voice of the civil servants who are asking for a salary hike as ng’we ng’we ng’we. He further asked them to resign and join the private sector if they want good salaries.
Really, Mr President? Demeaning language from a head of State is out of order. For a country such as Malawi, which has a brain drain problem, it does not make sense to show civil servants the exit door.
Some people may argue that the President is a human being and can get annoyed. This does not hold water because he has all manner of advisers to put him in the right mood when addressing people.
Mr President, your position does not allow you to think aloud.