You probably have to give it to President Peter Mutharika for courage and balls, if not for anything else. At the Midtown Hilton hotel in New York, the president had the cheek to tell a group of diaspora Malawians to be patriotic and to promote a positive image of their home country as one way of luring investors to Malawi.

I suspect that was because when he used to live in the United States after obtaining his green card in the 80s and 90s, Peter Mutharika never had any connection with anyone from home and therefore had no way of knowing what the economic development situation of Malawi was. It seems to me he still has that mind-set, and thinks that Malawians living in the United States now do not know that his leadership has taken the country from bad to worse. Mutharika surely thinks that people living in the diaspora do not know anything about what a desperate failure he is turning out to be as leader.

This is what you get when you have a septuagenarian leading you. His mind is stuck somewhere in the last century and he will always try to apply prehistoric solutions to 21st century problems.

Mutharika’s message to Malawians living in the United States diaspora was for them to think positively about their nation and not to be misled by the negative news they hear through social media about Malawi.

“When you promote the negative image of your country, you are not hurting me or the government, you are hurting the country by scaring away investors,” Mutharika said.

I would have you know, Mr President that if the hurtful things Malawians outside Malawi are saying about Malawi are true, then it is not them that are hurting Malawi and scaring away investors, but you, sir, and your failures.

But what makes this proclamation even more diabolical is not simply the fact that during the interface, the president claimed that Malawi is making progress in a number of key sectors, but that his examples were construction of roads in urban and rural areas, the unbundling of University of Malawi and rural electrification through hydro and solar power.

Was the president suggesting to these Malawians living in the diaspora that investors should be interested in Malawi now because Malawi has good roads?

Or was he suggesting that the unbundling of the University of Malawi is the key that will unlock Malawi’s economic sphere making it viable for all investors?

Surely the president was not inviting Malawians living in the diaspora to attract investors to Malawi by promising them that Malawi was a good prospect for investment because his leadership is overseeing the rural electrification project, was he?

Mutharika further said that it is high time Malawians spoke positively about their country, the potential it has to solve and overcome the challenges it is facing.

Now here we must pause and think about this a little.

First of all, what challenges is Malawi facing? Right now, I would venture to declare that electricity shortage is right there at top of the list. Availability of reliable electricity is one thing every single investor requires. Yet every single explanation that ESCOM and government have tried to give on why blackouts continue has been different and contradictory.

When he came to power, Mutharika and his DPP claimed to have all the answers to the blackout problem. Today, more than three years into the presidency, the problem is worse than before. Instead of speaking about this to the Malawians in diaspora and giving them some hope on what his government is doing to deal with the challenge, he speaks to them about a donor-funded rural electrification project that will have near zero impact on the general investment prospects for Malawi! If a potential investor asks about the reliability of electricity in Malawi, should a Malawian’s answer be “oh, but we are going to have rural electrification soon”?

Then there is the challenge of corruption. Maizegate is still unresolved. Cashgate continues with investigations and prosecutions going stale because fresher corruption scandals are coming up every day and they are now too many for anyone, let alone the ACB to shake a stick at.

At home, Mutharika has ministers waywardly and illegally firing employees and his DPP forcing parastatals and government departments to contribute funds at its fundraising dinners.

And instead of speaking about these things, demonstrating to those Malawians in the diaspora that he is fully aware of the issues Malawians everywhere are concerned about regarding his government, he decides to tell them about the unbundling of the University of Malawi and the rural electrification project. I mean, really Mr President?

You see, even if the president was too afraid to tackle the real issues and challenges facing his administration as he knows full well that he would not be able to provide answers, surely the least he could have done was explain to those Malawians why he is always extending his stays after the United Nations General Assembly. For three years in a roll, the president has used the UNGA as a pretext for medical check ups. Why not use the opportunity to tell these people about his health and why he cannot have his medical check-up at Mwaiwathu or Kamuzu Central Hospital?

How can a president who is so scared of his own hospitals that he does all his medical check-ups abroad in the United states have the guts to be telling people to be patriotic and think well of their own country? Every move that President Peter Mutharika makes demonstrates to any careful observant that he has no faith in his country and that his only use for it is as a source of free loot!

If a president cannot trust his own hospitals, has to use backup power for his palaces and does not ever want to use any government-owned facility be it the airline or even the water piped to his palace because it stinks of sewage, how can he somehow bravely be telling investors and Malawians living in the diaspora to come to Malawi and do business?

Mutharika should be grateful that I was not present in that charade of a meeting. Had I been there, we would have either come to blows or have had a serious one on one face off. I would certainly have demanded serious answers to the serious problems he is causing as president. I would have demanded that he should explain what he is doing about corruption – one thing that is seriously hurting the image of Malawi internationally.

What is he doing about his wayward ministers, the governance failures and especially the electricity blackouts? Are these not issues that a president must first fix before boring people with rhetorical speeches about patriotism?

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