It is almost a tradition that recently elected leaders have their offices assessed in their first 100 days. With this tradition, political players around the world were all eyes waiting to witness how the America’s first black president would be rated in his first 100 days. Malawi, just as any other country in the world, is no exception to this usuance.
In the May 19, 2009 parliamentary and presidential elections in Malawi, Dr. Bingu wa Mutharika, Democratic Progressive Party candidate, was announced the winner. Following his landslide election victory, Dr. Mutharika made an inaugural speech at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre on 22 May 2009. In his speech Dr. Mutharika pledged to implement a number of priorities as a way of consolidating the “gains” his government achieved in the past five years.
In the final part of his speech Mutharika made an assurance to the Malawi nation that he will be a good man on the political scene. On this important note, Mutharika promised to serve the country with no regard to a person’s political party affiliation, race, tribe or creed. Mutharika has however miserably failed on this promise if recent media accounts of his political life are anything to go by.
There are accusations alleging that the first citizen’s choice of people to fill highest echelons in government departments smacks of Thyolo tribalism. Still adversely opposed to his promise that he would be the president of the people is his recent by-election campaign speeches.
During the by-election campaign, Mutharika was reported to be buying the votes of the electorate by making it a point to the voters that if they do not vote for a DPP candidate in the area development will be a stargaze. His electioneering in the by-elections was every inch a reflection that what he said on the day of his inauguration, at least on this issue of political accommodation, was nothing but an attempt to win the ululation and applause of the people since his campaign was marred by mudslinging and pillory.
Mutharika’s pledge to “heal the wounds and bruises” that were caused during the campaign period was systematically reneged as his by-election speeches emphasised on demonizing opposition candidates while praising DPP candidates. On corruption, Mutharika made interesting statements that enlivened his belief for a new, corrupt-free Malawi. Sincerely in his voice was he as he elaborated his belief that corruption is a menace to a society and remains the world’s greatest encumbrance to development.
It remains a sad fact that the much-touted zero-tolerance for corruption follows no real direction 100 days after. It is the same old faces with the same accusations of witchcraft that they were hunted for in his first five years term. This practice is giving Malawians fertile ground to discredit his anti-corruption drive labelling it as a political ‘witch-hunt’. The situation is as though Muluzi, assuming the allegations that he pocketed k1.7 billion donor money is true, has been, is and will be the only corrupt person in Malawi.
The import of this argument is not in the least to say that the Mutharika administration is doing a disservice to Malawi by bringing the former president to corruption charges. But what raises the eyebrows of many a Malawian is the twist the former president’s corruption case has taken. The argument is that the Mutharika administration’s anti-corruption drive should better take a new turn where corrupt people are brought to book without fear or favour.
The anti-corruption campaign of course be intensified but it be not lopsided in the sense that only people from the opposition benches meet the wrath but those on the government side spared with an aim to silencing the opposition. Allocating more resources to the anti-corruption alone will produce no tangible results but fairplay and neutrality will do.
What is disconsolate to the minds of many in Mutharika’s first 100 days in office is that the campaign is characterised by political appeasement, cronyism, favouritism and other self-serving ‘isms’ which can do Malawians no justice at all in as far as the fight against corruption is concerned.
It is upon these observations that one would categorically say that the Mutharika administration has execrably failed in its avowed aim to making corruption history in Malawi.