IF manners make the man, then vision, tolerance of opposition voice, and financial prudence make the 21st century great leader. Inspired by the foregoing , therefore, whosoever, by ‘divine’ chance or electorates’ choice, becomes a leader and lacks vision, silences opposition voice, and mismanages the economy, is, politically speaking, a small politician.
Though her democracy is nascent, Malawi has quite a good lot of history to write home about in the areas of leadership and governance. From Kamuzu Banda; arguably, Malawi’s greatest autocratic statesman—never mind the oxymoron—to such leaders as Bakili Muluzi—the greatest politician—and Bingu wa Mutharika—the visionary leader—through to Joyce Banda—the take-every-advice leader. It sure is a good array of leadership to learn from!
Expectedly, common logic convinces one that whosoever succeeds the former should pull less and less leadership eccentricities and gaffes. Given this history, one expected Bakili Muluzi to be a little wiser, so was Bingu wa Mutharika then and now Joyce Banda. But alas! That was not the case with Bakili Muluzi. Neither was it with Bingu wa Mutharika, nor is it with Joyce Banda.
Now at the pinnacle of government hierarchy, president Joyce Banda has moved from the sweet-VP old self to, sadly indeed, a donor-worshipping and take-every-advice leader. Her administration has not borrowed a single leaf from Kamuzu Banda—the belief in contact and dialogue.
Unfortunately, yes unfortunately, the Banda administration has adopted two leadership eyesores from her beloved predecessors: Bakili Muuzi’s economy-draining policies of handouts and Bingu wa Mutharika’s policies of trampling the constitution, giving a deaf ear to opposition voice, and that of globetrotting.
Perhaps every Malawian is witness to this. The presidency has now a 101th role, that of being always on the road giving food handouts from such townships as Ndirande and Chilimba to University students—Chancellor College and College of Medicine in particular.
Today, the Banda administration is a bedfellow of intolerance, corruption, and demonization of political opponents. It is not surprising these days to hear the president and her vice talking to the populace like they are talking to their Dutch uncles. Such is perhaps the new meaning of presidency, yes, perhaps it indeed is.
It is commonly held among leaders and the led alike the world over that every leader has to exude leadership traits in such a grand scale as to make him/her different from the ordinary men and women. One such leadership trait is projection of vision.
The projection of vision is such a great issue that leaders are doomed to be booted out of position should they fail to manifest it. In Malawi, sadly though, President Joyce Banda does not inspire confidence in the way and manner she and her administration articulate their vision leaving such Malawians as the author to conclude that she and her administration do not have vision at all.
Whenever there is talk of vision, one hears the present administration making reference to some international organization, country, or president as having said so and so. Here, one wonders as to how the international community would look at the Malawi issues with such precision and concern as a bonafide citizen, like the president, would.
Still, one wonders if the present administration would pursue such donated vision to great heights given the fact that it seems it has no mental capacity to develop a vision of its own let alone implement a donated one.
The lack of vision is most probably the cause for the loss of direction in the administration. The local media is awash with reports of how the Banda administration is busy trashing every single advice from opposition; and how it is making every effort to silence the opposition in 2014 during the elections. The latest one being that of the Vice President ordering the Attorney General to revive Mr. John Kapito’s case as a way of silencing him so he calls off the January 17th mass demonstrations.
As tenable as the foregoing is or can be, one is tempted to conclude, as does the author, that Malawi is being currently led by small politicians with no vision whose survival rests on silencing the opposition, and mismanaging the economy through travel and handouts.