Praise singers and sympathizers can try and gloss over Mutharika’s State of the Nation Address as much as they like. They will never be able to cover up the fact that his most trusted henchman and advisor, and the man pulling the strings behind his administration, found it so boring and uninspiring, that he demonstrated his disgust by promptly falling asleep just minutes after the president started speaking. Even George Chaponda himself may try to fight the fire and explain away his slumber, but the pictorial evidence speaks for itself, and he was not alone in this evaluation of the president’s speech. Many other parliamentarians followed suit.

Chaponda doing what he knows best: dozing
Chaponda doing what he knows best: dozing

I am only surprised that after such a clear indictment of the address, those that run business at the national assembly have not straight away proceeded to issues of this year’s budget instead of wasting time deliberating over the president’s address. Perhaps the allowances are speaking here- for the parliamentarians still need to spend as much time at parliament as possible in order to pass GO and collect $100.

But surely if there will be any deliberations at all over that speech, those deliberations should simply be an investigation into the points of the speech at which various so-called honourable members decided they couldn’t take any more of it and nodded away into la-la land.

Perhaps the president is angry or surprised that his speech warranted nothing but loud snores from his audience. But surely it should be rather obvious to everyone that Malawians need food, good roads, enough medical supplies and stable commodity prices that come from fiscal discipline and the stabilization of the Kwacha, shouldn’t it? Or that the government needs to provide proper security to Albinos, and fight corruption? By now every Malawian knows that we need these things. From back in the Kamuzu banda days to Joyce Banda this has been the song. So a speech that centers on these issues at this stage of our country’s maturity probably deserves the Chaponda treatment!

When late Bingu wa Mutharika came into power, he not only provided Malawians with these obvious things, but also tried to go beyond the obvious. Perhaps he knew that familiar speeches and unoriginal policies breed nothing but sleeping and snoring ministers and members of parliament. It is clear to me that we were all deceived. The dreamer died and along with him died the dream and the DPP development plan. Bingu’s Zero tolerance on corruption policy has now turned to 100% tolerance, with the president making it clear he wants to be the one controlling the ACB and not Parliament.

The 36 per cent of Malawians that voted Peter Mutharika into power expected him to follow in the footsteps of Bingu. Surely if Malawians wanted the obvious they would have voted for Chakwera!

Alas! Bingu’s shoes have proved too big to fill for little brother Peter!

If the message from the slumbering parliamentarians is not clear to Peter, let me help bring it home. It is now clear that you, Mr. President, have nothing new to offer, and are not taking us anywhere beyond the obvious. What Malawi needs is a speech that outlines a vision we can all understand and embrace, and a leader who can tell us something new, inspiring the nation with fresh hopes of prosperity.

What the sleeping parliamentarians are saying with their snores and closed eyes is that that leader is not you, professor.

Allan Ntata
Z Allan Ntata

Projects such as the green belt, the Nsanje inland port and the Malawi University of Science and Technology, and a way of achieving food security through an efficiently administered farm input subsidy program that defied donor advice, were unfamiliar and visionary ideas. This is why Bingu is remembered with fondness even in spite of his many other negative points.  Having tasted such dreams and transformational leadership, Malawians are anxious to see leadership that transcends that of Bingu and takes Malawi to the next level.

If what the professor is doing is anything to go by, however, many will agree that it seems like instead of transcending the brother and taking Malawi to those new heights, Peter Mutharika has come only to demolish his late brother’s dreams without creating any new ones. Many will also now agree that he is failing even to provide the obvious.

Sleep on, parliamentarians! Our professor leader has no vision and is no ideas to share on how to develop the nation. Indeed the worst thing of all is that he has deferred his duties, the running of the nation to his lieutenants, who in their greed are only interested in enriching themselves. Everyone can see this now although some of us saw it earlier than others.

As cabinet ministers and parliamentarians slumber away, and the president drones and mumbles the same old rhetoric we have been hearing for years, what hope is there for Malawi to truly wake up in the socio-economic development sense? Perhaps as our parliament sleeps, it is time for every Malawian to do some serious soul-searching about the role of the people in demanding transformational leadership. Only unswerving vigilance, commitment and dedication to do something rather than just laughing and joking about George Chaponda’s snoring will result in a better Malawi.

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