If the post election period between 2014 and 2016 has taught us anything at all, it is that Malawian leaders, no matter what good intentions they confess, preach or claim at the time of their acquisition of power, they are commonly denominated by how soon they succumb to greed and self enrichment as power gets to their heads.Kamuzu Banda had good intentions when he became the first president of the Republic in 1964. But soon, power went to his head. He declared himself life-president and brutally silenced critics and opponents, while amassing more wealth for himself and his cronies.
By his death, Kamuzu Banda’s wealth as an individual exceeded that of Malawi as a nation.
Bakili Muluzi followed the same self-enrichment formula set by the late Kamuzu before him. Coming into power with so much good will at the dawn of the new Malawian democracy, Muluzi soon lost sight of the tenets of democracy that had become almost his identity, and his swansong to Malawians was the undemocratic acts of a man blinded by the love of power.
Muluzi pushed for third term and open term bills, and having failed on these, went for a ruling behind the throne strategy that backfired terribly. He left the political arena a disgraced man, still desiring the power and the unexplained wealth that the presidency had brought him.
The late Bingu wa Mutharika promised much after his controversial break away from Muluzi’s United Democratic Front. And for a while he seemed to be determined to deliver even during very politically turbulent times. But he soon followed the same well-travelled road.
Mutharika soon endeavoured to demonstrate his newly found power after 2009 elections by changing the Malawi flag, a needless idea that simply betrayed his vanity.
Mutharika then attempted to make Malawi parastatals and civil service’s staff lists resemble that of the Thyolo district council, a move that exposed more clearly his hubris and blinded him to the vision that he had once had for Malawi.
Self-enrichment was also evident in the building of expensive mansions and mausoleums, numerous property purchases and at one point even an intention to open a bank.
By the time he passed away in April 2012, Mutharika had managed to transform a goodwill that had evidenced itself in an overwhelming electoral victory to a populace that was baying for his blood and which even celebrated as his body lay in state.
In 2014, president Joyce Banda’s appetite for wealth and power by far overshadowed all those that had gone before her. Hers was a very unusual appetite and thirst for power and self-aggrandisement indeed!
That a president who spoke love, forgiveness and economic development at the ascendancy to the office could so comprehensively transform that into unscrupulous plunder of state resources and a major cover up of rampant corruption coupled with needless persecution of her critics, all in a space of 18 months is a new Malawian record.
It sends shivers down the spine to look at what the hope that was Peter Mutharika and DPP has transformed into also in such a short time.
Mutharika, though his controllers and henchmen, has jailed journalists, let hospitals go without drugs, failed to solve Blackouts and water shortages, failed to provide on time salaries for civil servants on numerous occasions, and planned and continued to preside over the extension of Cashgate- the most disturbing and devastating looting of state resources ever seen in Malawi. Indeed, Mutharika has gone one better than Joyce Banda by protecting those suspected of being involved, and shackling the ACB from doing its job.
And as this greed and thirst for power has gone unchecked by Malawians too shocked to do anything about it, President Mutharika has used state resources to pay for international sightseeing that has had nothing beneficial for the Malawian economy.
The biggest betrayal to Malawians in spiral descent into oblivion, however, and one that must be corrected decisively in 2014 if the Republic is to survive at all, is that of an opposition divided and too selfish to recognise its duty to Malawians.
To an analytical observer, it should be quite easy to understand why I call President Mutharika a puppet. President Mutharika’s leadership failures are matched only with his aides’ determination to control him into making them rich at the expense of the poor taxpayer.
If we understand the cost and the result this will bring to a country already on its knees, the first and foremost concern for Malawians would be to put aside their personal differences, their selfish ambitions and their hunger for absolute power and unite in one goal and one goal alone: to rescue Malawi from certain death and oblivion.
Surely, should it not be easy enough for civil society, activists, and all patriotic Malawians to come together with one accord and one goal of saving the country?
What we see in Malawi are people caring more about their pockets and their stomachs than their country, resulting in broken down action plans and accountability initiatives. Opposition leaders are unwilling to work as a team for the good of the country. An opposition whose leaders all are obsessed with becoming president, and believing that the next Malawi leader in 2019 will be them easily forget that there always is room for only one president at the top.
If anything, this betrayal, this failure to unite on behalf of Malawi at the time when she most needs her so called children and protectors to stand up for her, reveals that none of those aspiring for the Malawian presidency actually have the selflessness and the magnanimous spirit required for true leadership, let alone statesmanship.
In order to save Malawi from the certain death that will surely come upon the country should this clueless, decadent, corrupt and unscrupulous leadership continue, the only real guarantee for Malawi is the strength that will be found in a unified sense of purpose.
As we enter 2017 and cruise towards elections in 2019, the Malawian opposition and the Malawian people must unite or die.
We cannot afford to remain in the comfort of reckless abandon that has featured in our character and attitude. Somehow we have managed to watch helplessly as one individual after another took everyone for granted to ransack our country.
Take it or leave it, at this moment in time, the biggest menace facing Malawi’s survival is its own leadership. Peter Mutharika and the DPP are dangerous to Malawi. I say this not out of hate for the President’s personality or for any personal reasons, but because I know from having inside knowledge that those surrounding the president, the “puppet controllers” are as cunning as they are incompetent, selfish and unfeeling.
What Malawi needs is a leader with an active, youthful brain as opposed to an active mouth.
Fellow Malawians, opposition and activists, now is the time to unite to save our country!