Pick up and read your manifesto again, Mr. President

The talk on social media is that it is by some political miracle that the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) managed to win a single seat in Mayani North Ward in Dedza.

The expectation, they say, was for the DPP to lose all the six contested seats.

One would look at this expectation as a mere social media joke, but it paints a larger picture of what the DPP has become.

Could these by-elections be a macrocosm of the political mood throughout the country?

That question should exercise the political minds at our universities and other political junkies.

But things are not just adding up. It seems the centre can no longer hold because, if the truth be told, the biggest loser in the just ended by-elections was President Mutharika.

And he did not lose to Malawi Congress Party (MCP) leader Lazarus Chakwera. He lost to a man who literally jumped out of retirement to embarrass his late former boss’s brother.

That man is Sidik Mia whose chips are now up a thousand fold for the political acumen, savvy and wherewithal muscle he has shown. And he was not even on the ballot!

There are several issues that maybe accelerating the DPP to its political grave and, all of a sudden, making MCP look like some establishment with alternatives yet there is nothing new that can be a game changer for this country under an MCP administration.

But after beating DPP in back-to-back by-elections, MCP has added a new wave of momentum. Whether the party of Hastings Kamuzu Banda can ride this momentum to the 2019 general elections is up for debate.

There is no ambiguity, however, in the Tuesday voter’s message: Mutharika and his DPP must man-up or they will be sent packing come 2019.

One of the issues making people to turn to MCP is President Mutharika’s nearly invisible leadership style.

He is not available when he is needed most by his people and when he emerges from under his desk; some people have already filled the void and are running away with the narrative.

He plays catch up—and then bungles it. Take his blood sucker messaging. It came late and only managed to fuel the crisis with its lack of clarity, even seriousness.

On several occasions, as a newspaper, we have written editorial comments urging the President to talk to his people or at least show he is in this country.

President Mutharika is so detached from the people. He gives the impression that between him and Malawians there are people that tell the President what to do.

He also gets issues from Malawians through these people. In such a set up, we are not sure the President gets the true picture of the country’s state of affairs.

I believe President Mutharika is a good man who deeply loves his country and means well, but I do wonder whether he may just be a President at a wrong time.

The 21st Century demands leaders that must inspire and connect with the people. Gone are the days when leaders were glorified, worshipped and looked at their people from the Ivory Tower.

And apart from this leadership catastrophe, you also have a President who has surrounded himself with expired politicians who by now should have been in the archives as antiques for history to reflect on.

Mr. President, a message is as good as the messenger. Sending someone with too much baggage to campaign for your candidate would have been laughable if it were not so tragic.

Leadership is not selling ice cream. It is not being nice or being told what to do always. It is getting rid of your cronies if they start misleading you.

This is why your brother, the late Bingu wa Mutharika, fired his trusted aide Ken Zikhale Ng’oma when no one expected it.

This is why your brother fired Yusuf Mwawa for abuse of office because graft dents a leader’s image. Remember that there are carrots. But then there also sticks for good reasons.

I also noticed a number of influential people like Vice-President Saulos Chilima, Patricia Kaliati, Noel Masangwi, Bintony Kutsaira and many others that they were not actively involved in this by-lections campaign. Why? Are they disfranchised?

If there is an internal squabble in DPP this is the time to fix it. You can’t afford any in-house fights.

This is the time that the DPP needs serious rebranding. Fire those gossipers that are cashing in by trying to alienate Vice-President Chilima and other leading figures in the party from you.

They are doing it for personal gains not for the party, let alone the country. You need your Vice-President more than ever before. He appears to have fairly good standing among Malawians and can help the DPP rebrand if you let him do his work properly. He is the lone sheep among the many wolves in your DPP.

And, of course, take some time from your ever busy schedule to read your party manifesto once more.

It might just refresh you on why you run for president—and why you won.

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