Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised at all to see President Mutharika and his Democratic Progressive party (DPP) more interested in sparring with the Public Affairs Committee (PAC) than with running the country and addressing its serious and desperate challenges of corruption, blackouts and economic decay.
This is, after all, a president who from the time he returned to Malawi to serve in his late brother’s cabinet, has never showed any capacity to identify pressing issues, let alone solve them.
In fact, I am not exaggerating to suggest that for the DPP, solving the country’s problems was never on the agenda.
After the country swallowed the sham DPP manifesto and the promises it never ever intended to keep, DPP went full throttle in the only art it knows: devising ways to loot the coffers and remaining in power to avoid prosecution. (A ploy not exclusive only to the DPP, but to Malawian politicians everywhere, I might add!)
In fact, this unnecessary mudslinging feud with PAC may not even be Mutharika’s fault here.
The presidency is a lonely office and depends on appointees to keep it informed of the state of the nation and offer advice as to which wars to fight.
In this regard, it seems that Mutharika’s hangers-on have advised Mutharika that Malawi’s burning problem lies with PAC and the comments it makes about his leadership.
It is now almost 3 years since Mutharika ascended to the presidency. Given that only 34 per cent of the country actually voted for Mutharika, I would have thought that the main concern from the word go for Mutharika and those around him would have been to demonstrate to those who voted for Reverend Lazarus Chakwera or Joyce Banda that they were wrong not to put their hope and trust in him with regards to running the country and turning it round from the theatre of corruption and greed that it had become under Joyce Banda.
Yet three years into the presidency, other than the opening of some community colleges whose impact is yet to be assessed, we are yet to witness any other fulfilment of the DPP and Mutharika’s campaign promises.
The political podium, from where we expect to hear pronunciations of policies against corruption befitting a former law scholar, or steps that are being taken to deal with blackouts and water shortages, all we hear are angry ejaculations against the opposition and critics such as PAC.
When this is added to the politically motivated arrests now becoming fashionable, and the use of the Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) as just another political tool for the persecution of critics and political opponents, one does not have to be a genius to realize that Mutharika and this administration are fighting the wrong battles, and fighting them the wrong way at that.
To the many Malawians that expect the government to create an environment that will improve their livelihoods, this is another betrayal by a man they elected to the throne with high hopes.
As far as I am concerned, there is only one decisive battle: only one fight that President Peter Mutharika needs to be fighting.
This is the battle for good governance. Fellow Malawians, the battle that this DPP administration needs to be fighting is not against PAC and other critics that simply point out where they are going wrong and could do better.
The battle should be against poverty, lack of jobs and opportunities for the youth and the corruption in his administration.
The battle should be against the crisis facing necessary basic services such as health care and education, and the persistent blackouts and water shortages.
Unfortunately, while Mutharika somehow becomes very fluent when castigating PAC and the opposition, his enunciations with regards to the most important tasks entrusted to his administration sound hollow.
It always amazes me that party officials always go to the president to convince him to say something about his critics, or push the police to arrest those that disagree with the government, or as we have seen in recent times, even use the revenue authority to persecute them.
How can people who are supposedly intelligent enough to end up in high political offices not see that in 2019 people will vote for Peter Mutharika not for winning a shouting contest with PAC but rather for improving the economy and livelihoods of Malawians and demonstrating real progress in fighting against corruption?
Is it PAC that is running the country and whose failures in this task are causing economic hardships to Malawians?
In the same vein, it amazes me how the Public Affairs Committee can continue to do the very same things they have done before and with every administration, things that have failed to work, and expect them somehow to give them different results and be effective with this administration.
It should have been clear by now that shouting contests with the government never move the country towards economic improvement or good governance.
Doing the same thing and expecting different results is foolishness.
If PAC still wants transformation in Malawi, then it is time for it to be innovative and to begin to explore new ideas to pursue this objective.
When two elephants fight, even when their reasons for fighting are petty and frivolous, it is still the grass that suffers.
As Mutharika fights PAC, no Malawian’s life is being improved. Poverty remains a problem, and corruption continues to plunder and ravage the country.
These are the real enemies the administration needs to be fighting against. They need more than just lip service treatment or backslapping conferences where people take tea and talk about problems that have been the subjects of discussions for decades.
We need solutions and those solutions can only be found when the president stop stooping this low and fighting these wrong battles.
Since Mutharika was masquerading as an academic and perhaps this is the only language he can understand, let me pose an academic question:
If he was back at University as a lecturer, and Malawi was a case study with a guy called Peter presiding, how many marks would he award this Peter guy for the excellent job of bumbling he is doing?