President Peter Mutharika is on a dangerous path. Not just because he is ordering the military and police to forcefully quell planned Hong-Kong-styled airport and border protests. Well, that is scaring enough because there is something even more troubling.
The President, has stopped listening to any voice of reason. He is only listening to himself.
That’s really scary, folks.
Were the threats to deploy the military to crush demonstrations “at all costs” as an isolated incident, perhaps we could’ve been less jittery.
But it’s now abundantly clear we’ve a President who has not only thrown all caution to the wind, but has damned any consequences of miscalculations.
And this new trait has coincided with longest summer of discontent in the history of our democracy. Mutharika’s opponents have vowed to keep pressure until Jane Ansah, the beleaguered chairperson of the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) resigns from office.
In course of their protests, now regular and deadly, the demonstrators have ravaged the economy, shattered lives of ordinary business persons, and loosened mayhem on the streets that the police and military have barely managed to handle. If there was one office with a responsibility to ensure this crisis doesn’t escalate, it’s the Presidency.
But ever since he was quickly sworn in, while the rest of the nation was engulfed in teargas, Mutharika has worsened the situation. Instead of reaching out to angry voters and opponents alike, he has constantly taunted those who lost and ostensibly angered those whose vote he did not gain. And they are many, over 60 percent of those that voted did vote for another candidate other than Mutharika.
But the President has acted as if everyone who didn’t vote for him doesn’t matter or that the nation needs healing to move forward.
Even after seeing the country fractured along regional and tribal lines in the voting pattern; even with his own convoy blocked by irate youths in the capital city, and reading about tension even in rural areas where in the past were immune to political riots, Mutharika still has not seen the need to reconcile his political and legal efforts to fight off the challenge against his presidency, and the need to unite the country to move forward.
For most part, he has remained silent while some stakeholders attempted in vain to diffuse the tension.
When he has spoken, like during his inauguration, where he pledged “force will be met with force,” or at the commissioning of new warships for the military this week, where he ordered the military and police to use “all force necessary’ to quell the protests, Mutharika has appeared reckless.
The military, for one, have no crowd control experience and equipment and the only arsenal they have, if deployed, would mean one thing—bloodshed.
And then, Mutharika himself has no powers to stop any protests unless in a State of Emergency. Being a law professor, he must know both facts pretty well. That he has decided to abandon all that common sense and project himself as a trigger happy tyrant is mind-bongling.
But Mutharika is 80 now. He has no children living in the country. Perhaps, we should see Mutharika for kind of leader he has become. He is threatening our future, to which he has no direct connection via heirs.
He is threatening the viability of this country, it’s reputation and, while watching real gunships, even the lives of the citizens he supposedly swore to defend and protect.
He is tearing apart the Constitution as if by virtue of someone just mentioning that they will hold demos at an airport, some basic rights vanishes.