My dad raised me with some good advice: ‘Always tell the truth. Always shoot from the hip. You might not have many friends, but you’ll never have enemies, because people will always know where you’re coming from.’” – Pink
Now that Pres. Peter Mutharika has settled into the business of actually governing Malawi, I too must settle into the business of working on and with his conscience so that together with all Malawians of goodwill, we can make Malawi better in all the spheres that lie within our power to influence.
The motivation was and remains simple but cardinal. Holding all things equal, Pres. Peter Mutharika was elected on the strength of the promises he made to Malawians as per the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) manifesto.
Everyone who has read that manifesto will agree that it promises, on top of cement and iron sheets, the moon.
Now, this herculean task of bringing the moon to Malawi is not one that three beings (the president and his deputy and a minister of finance cum economic planning) can hope to achieve.
The natural starting point therefore is appointment of a full cabinet – of twenty as promised. So far we have nine – I will not comment on the quality yet because first, there are more to be appointed.
But at least, we have started. When the team is complete, I intend to desist from commenting on the quality – unless of course I see therein someone who looks a square peg in a round hole.
Point is, politics being what it is, “success” or “failure” in previous ‘lives’ does not always proportionally denote “success” or “failure”, respectively, in the ministerial position. Every cabinet appointee has equal chances of making a positive or a negative impact, depending on how they conduct themselves in their new appointment.
Having said that, how then can I help the appointed nine and the eleven still in supposition?
I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts.” – Abraham Lincoln
This is where the meat meets the bone. Politics in general thrives on lies, half-truths and spin. This need not be so. If the cabinet, yet to be completed, is to help Pres. Peter Mutharika and Malawi, the only thing coming out of their mouths should be the truth.
Pres. Peter Mutharika must be told the truth – on every issue – whether he likes it or not.
We, the general public, must also be given a good dosage of the truth – all the time. Why? The best case authority is the pre-April 2012 era, when no-one was able to face late Bingu wa Mutharika with the truth that he had lost popularity, had become irrelevant and that he needed to change.
There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth; not going all the way, and not starting.” – Buddha
As Buddha wisely observed, in this regard, one can make two blunders. Either not learning and starting to say the truth or to be happily peddling half-truths. I would urge the nine, and the eleven we are still waiting for, not to forget this.
All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them.” – Galileo Galilei
If not intimidated and if not appeased, the commentators in our media – most of the times – tell it like it is. Therefore the cabinet members and Pres. Peter Mutharika will not need to sweat to discover the truth. And the truth, when discovered, will be easy to understand and hence find a way of working around the potential potholes.
If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.”
This is attributed to Mark Twain, and I will add or subtract nothing. A cardinal rule this one, for everyone that does not want to end up “explaining” or “clarifying” this and that.
However, all this does not make Pres. Peter Mutharika’s job any easier. Because out of the same truths, and the truth notwithstanding, he will many times be given, in bad faith or in good will, bad advice as was given to his late brother.
What to do?
When you encounter seemingly good advice that contradicts other seemingly good advice, ignore them both!” said Al Franken.
What did Al Franken mean? Pres. Peter Mutharika, being a lawyer and a scholar, should understand this one. Put simply it means: do more research, ponder a little more, and come up with your own decision. The buck, after all, stops at his door.
Aware that I have quoted heavily and explained a lot of wise sayings in this write up for the president and cabinet, since there can be nothing for me without me, I will wind up with a lesson for me and other scribes from Oscar Wilde. Oscar’s principle was to always pass on good advice. Why? Because this is the only thing one can do with good advice. And why should I waste it? Why should you waste it? And who the heck are you trying to impress with your hand-clapping skills when, in fact, you can be more helpful by providing good advice?
My final word to the President is to avoid becoming addicted to predictions just because one or two were fulfilled. Pres. Peter Mutharika should not let any soothsayer (be they economists, or ‘prognosticators’) to hoodwink him that: I can forecast!
If forecasts were this easy, good dentists would have been able to forecast how many teeth one will have when one is eighty. However, good dentists do not do this.
Good dentists just give you good advice to fix problems.
And this takes us to where we started: the advice must be rooted in the truth, if not the truth, independently verified facts, free of political spin.
The cabinet, or rather forty five percent thereof, is here; let development begin or brace for a rough ride. And before I forget, permit me to convey congratulations to those nine fellas, rest assured you are on my radar 24/7.