There are several facts regarding President Peter Mutharika’s situation, which as human being and a well-groomed son, I truly sympathise with and as such, I wish him all the best during this difficult time and I sincerely hope his family love him enough to protect him from opportunists and vultures.The first fact is that he finally returned home on Sunday, 16 October. The second is that we all saw that for some reason, only his left hand seemed to be functional.
His former Communications Advisor and my good friend, Mr Bright Malopa was at pains to convince us that the inability to use his right hand was because of a ‘golf elbow’ he suffered in the 70’s.
Call me a doubting Thomas, but I don’t believe that crap.
The third fact is that his first scheduled official engagement should have been the launch of the National Identification Program last Wednesday.
It was cancelled indefinitely and without explanation.
And of course he finally addressed a press conference on Friday.
These are the indisputable facts on the ground.
On top of these, are rumours and speculation fuelled by the absence of clear and adequate information from State House and government regarding issues surrounding the presidency.
For those concerned with good governance and for us who want our constitution to be respected at all times, these are trying times.
All common sense (or is it Uncommon Sense) points to the fact that something is not quite right with the presidency.
It is said that the first rule of political public relation is to give people information. In the absence of information, questions set off rumours, and rumours soon become facts.
Thus in the absence of clear information from the government, the nation has been left to speculate, and the information coming from the rumour mill, fuelled by the official silence, is frightening.
We have been warned that we should not spread “false” rumours that the president is unwell.
So imagine, if you will, that the president was ill in New York. Would it be all right to fly him thousands of miles to Malawi just so that those making that decision should parade him to the people and dispel rumours that he was not in good health?
What would be the motivation for this kind of behaviour? Why would the president’s ministers and assistants not want us to know that the president was ill?
From a political and constitutional perspective, if the president were ill and the nation was officially informed as such, then section 87 of the constitution would need to be invoked, with the likelihood of DrSaulosiChilima, the Vice President, becoming acting president until such a time when the president was declared fit again.
It is very likely that this would then mean that all those political bigwigs who were castigating and side-lining the vice president would then find themselves face to face with the prospect of losing their power and influence and perhaps even being prosecuted first for preventing the invoking of section 87 itself, and perhaps corruption and other offences.
On the other hand, by not making the illness official ministers and assistants ensure all stories of illness remain rumours, making it difficult and even legally challengeable to invoke the section.
And so, pursuing this line of enquiry, we are close to or in a situation where Peter Mutharika has evolved into a political football; probably even against his will.
He will be ferried up and down the world from one hospital to another, while those that are attending to him know full well that doing this further reduces his chances of recovery.
In their selfish view, putting Peter Mutharika’s life at risk is better than making it officially known that the president is unwell and not recovering to protect their interests from the potential threat of the Vice President ascending to power.
As I have indicated at the outset, my reasoning here is hypothetical.
Nevertheless, it is important to enquire as to why as far as facts are concerned, they seem to be pointing to the fact that such a hypothesis is not too far from the truth.
It is important, however, for those that may be tempted to make a political football of the presidency in this manner to remember that this was tried before and it didn’t work.
I was there. I saw it fail.
Machinations never succeeed to hide the truth. Soon or later, the truth outs and those that have failed to uphold the law face the music.
I was counsel to the president in 2012 when a president died in office.
The one thing I learned that gave me confidence and allowed me to walk away from it all with my head held high was to always be on the side of the law in such circumstances.
One might be powerful today, when the temptation to break the law to protect self-interest is so strong, but sooner or later, things will change and the wages will be paid.
Should Peter Mutharika be kicked about like a football and the Constitution trashed just because some people are afraid of reaping what they sowed?
I do not think so.
Malawians, let us do the right thing. The time is now.