Friday, August 7, 2015

APM-Ntata Empty ‘Talk’: Helpful or Harmful?

The office of the president may not have a job description. True. That be true as it may, it is certainly every citizen’s expectation that whosoever is president will act in a manner reasonably expected of a president; and, sad to add that picking fights is sure not one such expectation.

The above may somewhat be too much of an expectation given the fact that the president is human too—he has feelings capable of being hurt. That is the reason why, at the risk of courting criticism, the president’s move in suing one Allan Ntata may not be entirely unpresidential.
Mutharika is said to be picking fights with Ntata

That being said, however, it is now almost obvious that the president has had his feelings hurt so much so that he has left government business to fate. This becomes clear when, only a few days after the Ntata-Nyasatimes legal suit, government released a press statement to the effect that Allan Ntata is one tried and tested fellow. It is at this point that we now ask, “Is this APM-Ntata empty talk helpful or harmful?”.

The quick answer will be it is. Yes, this empty talk is both helpful and harmful. However, caution has to be sounded here that the empty talk is more harmful than it is helpful.

The APM-Ntata talk is helpful in that now every avid follower of current affairs knows how much hurt certain ‘talks’ can cause to people a million times powerful than ourselves. Or, for lack of a better expression, the hurt Ntata has caused president Arthur Peter Mutharika through his ‘empty’ writings is one best captured by the old adage “a pen is mightier than a sword.”
Ntata is believed to be dragging president into a fight.

Also, the APM-Ntata empty talks may be a helpful as it wards off other would-be Ntatas. To this end, the ‘talks’ are a veritable warning the Ntatas in the writing business to watch their writings for fear of stepping on the president’s sensitivities. Wacky as this reason sounds, it still remains a reason, so ‘newsmongers watchout!’

The above being said, of special concern is the harm the APM-Ntata empty talk brings. Firstly, it is harmful for the simple reason that it has proved capable of derailing the president’s attention from the more serious issues—Kwacha depreciation, drug shortage, dwindling education standards, salary delays and all that. President Mutharika seems to see it all normal to pick a fight with Ntata dedicating his time to outclassing a guy that looks after himself and perhaps a couple other relatives forgetting that he, being the president of this poor nation, has the hopes of the fourteen million souls heaped upon him. Alas!

Additionally, his picking fights with Ntata is to Ntata’s advantage as it is Ntata who gets the limelight—he is seen as a biggie who speaks and the president responds. Mind you, APM is the president. And so a public figure. The thing is: a public figure is a public picture; whoever sees it comments about it. Public as he is, one is free to graffiti him the way they would have loved him rule the nation just as people graffiti a picture to make it look the way they would have loved it look. The point being driven home here is that the president is essentially a public poster of a nation. This implies that as long as the Peter Mutharika remains president, the Ntatas and the nonentities like this author will always take pride in dragging the president into a fight once in a while.
Furthermore, the APM-Ntata fights have the dangerous potential of gagging the media. This is bad for a nascent democracy like Malawi. We are, as a nation, too young to tolerate such a fight. The media will effectively be unnecessarily forced to censor what they publish especially if the stories likely touch on the president’s sensitivities.

Here it is, this piece this serves as a plea to the president to focus on the big picture which is proving relevant leadership that responds positively to the fears and aspirations of the nation. The plea here is that the president should modestly contain his anger, honorably deflate the insults, and confidently deal with critics. Otherwise getting involved in every empty talk makes the president lose sight of the big picture, and that is not healthy for our nation.

Reaching this far, it is hoped that the point is made; the point being that the president should see the big picture and leave us—the people that make a name by ‘naming’ those with names—to our writing and talking business. So don’t give us the platform Mr President, keep your eyes, your attention, and your focus on the bigger picture.

In the long run, it is hoped that the foregoing has made it clear that, whatever the intents of the people involved, the APM-Ntata empty talk is more harmful than is helpful.

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