During an interview on private-owned Zodiak Broadcasting Station in December last year, the Managing Director of the media house Gospel Kazako asked President Peter Mutharika whether he has issues with the personal attacks the Opposition levels at him.
The President replied: “I don’t take the attacks personally, although I think name calling is not right.”
This was a strange response, considering the barrage of the attacks the Opposition MCP, its leader Reverend Lazarus Chakwera and so-called activists have fired at the President from the day he took office.
Mutharika hasn’t had a day of rest, literally, from these attacks.
The attacks have been largely based on personal hate and desperation for power.
Mutharika has been name-called, as a person and as President, by the Opposition and their media and activisits alike – to rattle him and make him react the way they want to make them attract public sympathy.
But throughout, Mutharika has not hit back. He has remained unperturbed.
Elsewhere, some of the attacks would lead to arrests. Mutharika hasn’t arrested anyone who has attacked him.
He has remained cool and calm – amid all the hate, distraction and arrest-me propaganda.
His personality has been his Presidency; and Malawi is gaining from both.
There is no Malawi President in the past 24 years who has come into troubled times like Mutharika has.
In May 2014, Malawi was reeling from the heavy impact of Cashgate – the Joyce Banda project that bled the state purse over K20 billion to fund an election campaign.
Donors withdrew their budget support. Confidence was at its lowest in the econony. The nation struggled.
In 2015, Malawi suffered the worst floods in decades, which affected 15 of the 28 districts and destroyed tens of thousands of hectarage of crops. The floods washed away Malawi’s economy.
In 2016, the country fell to the most devastating drought in decades. More than 8 million people -almost half of the total population – needed food aid.
Throughout these three overlapping storms, Mutharika remained calm. He wasn’t the alarmist and pessimist that some were.
In crisis, you need a captain that is calm and focused. Or solutions won’t be found and the consequences can be perilous.
In those troubled times, Mutharika was the mainstay of stability. He was seeing further than all of us, offering leadership that Malawi needed to sail through the storms.
Mutharika has proven he isn’t one to throwaway his sense of foresight – either in turbulent times or in happy moments.
In 2017, Malawi had a good harvest. The President proceeded to ban maize exports.
For that the drums of attacks beat louder. Economists, quasi-economists, the Opposition, accountants, political analysts, unionists and pseudo-strategists and the short-sighted and envious ones lectured him. They called him names for banning maize exports.
Some even created surveys to justify their criticism of Mutharika’s decision.
They wanted to alarm him and make him come up with panicky decisions for them to gain political capital.
Mutharika never wavered an inch. He was seeing things no one could see and he knew what he was seeing.
The 2018 rainy season came; and it is coming to end. Everyone knows who has the last laugh.
Had Mutharika been rattled by criticism and personal attacks, Malawi would have made a fatal mistake.
Simply put, Malawi needs leadership that has foresight and is level-headed.
It needs leadership that sees the future, far ahead of everyone.
It needs leadership that rises above pettiness and partisanship.
Malawi needs a leader who refuses to be waylaid by personal vendettas, who refuses to yield to provocations and sacrifice national public good.
So far, Mutharika has proven his mettle in this respect. And millions of Malawians know what they want in their leadership!