On a number of occasions, President Peter Mutharika has been assuring Malawians that he has a listening government in place. After four years of his rule, what is stated here is very doubtful. What is clear is that the government has no time to listen to anybody more, especially those people with complaints. The proof to this are the never-ending problems which range from high level of corruption to lack of jobs. People have come up with a lot of suggestions to sort out these problems, but the government is very impervious to suggestions. Meanwhile, President Mutharika has a number of advisers and it remains a mystery about what advice, if any, these people give to the President. Needless to say that the advisers seem to have nothing to say, but just run errands in representing the President at funerals and weddings.
So far, Malawians have been having peaceful demonstrations and petitions to the President and government, and there has been no response. Instead, the government, through various spokespersons, has been outrightly condemning the petitions, and saying that it is a waste of time.
Unfortunately, they deliberately forget that the petitioners are disgruntled Malawians seeking audience with the President, who is supposed to provide solutions to their problems. If the President cannot serve Malawians, then to whom is he answerable?
On April 27 2018, CSOs have organised nationwide demonstrations to register their displeasure with the President and his government for ignoring people to continue languishing in poverty because of poor governance.
In Lilongwe, the CSOs want to take their petition to State House so that the President can personally receive it. This will be unlike in the past, when petitions to the president were sent through other government channels.
In response to CSOs’ request, the President’s spokesperson, Mgeme Kalilani, was quoted in the newspapers as saying that the President would not avail himself to receive the petition because he is not party to anything associated with the demonstrations.
Kalilani also said that getting the President out to receive the petition is ‘wishful thinking’. If what is stated here came from the President, it really begs the question whether he knows his responsibilities. He is in charge of a country of 17 million people of which he has to attend to their requests and be part of them. The way he receives praise singers should be the same way he should receive petitions.
By refusing the petition, the President seems to be in denial about his failed policies which have dragged the country into deeper levels of poverty.
It is this denial that the government is failing to come up with solutions to problems such as that of lack of sufficient electric power, deal with corruption and many more challenges.
The government and its entire leadership think all is well in the country. Instead, even day light corruption like the K4 billion scandal is taken as being normal.
This State House response of saying that expecting the President to receive the petition is ‘wishful thinking’ is executive arrogance and ridiculous. State House staff should know that the President is for all people and not just them at State House. If the President wants to live a secluded life of not being approached about any problem in the country, he must know that this is a recipe for the country getting ransacked and by the time he will know about this it might be too late.
In conclusion, the President should not live in denial. He must realise that he is responsible for all Malawians and that their problems are his as well. He must be seen to have empathy. The appeal to him now is to rescind his decision and receive the petition on April 27 and start working on it right away for the sake of Malawians.