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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Professor Peter Mutharika: a choice of presidency?

There is a huge debate going on in Malawi. The question is whether President Bingu wa Mutharika should is planning to leave his brother after being so pronounced that he does not have a wish for third term. We hear of task forces both in the president's home and the other in his deputy. We hear of bitter politicians in DPP who are waking up to realise that keeping silence does not pay. Others have silently started pushing for a convention.n This week I am embroilled in cancer challenge that I was not supposed to write anywhere. But I thought moving my thoughts out of cancer would only work if I engaged in politics.
I am privilaged as a jorunalist to have been the first one to be granted one-on-one interview with professor Mutharika when he made decision to run for Thyolo East constituency. My opinion of him basically is formed out of the interview and his personal reaction when issue arise in the media.
Contrary to public opinion, Professor Mutharika does not leave in the State House, he has his own home in one of the Lilongwe surbubs, he informed me that he bought it soon after deciding to come back home. Everything inside is of a legal mind, all brown leathers as if in a court room.
As to whether he deserves to be a president that is a question Malawians will answer when time comes, but as to whether he has a right to run for presidency, I will say a loud yes.
Sometimes we Malawians make an issue out of nothing. Nothing as we have seen the world leading democracies such USA having Bush the father and Bush the son, we recently had Bill Clinton the President and Hillary Clinton the wife all vying for the country's top seat.
In Gabon it is now Bongo the son, and in many cases people especially Malawians have not called it erosion of democracy. My question would be so why not Professor Mutharika.
To me he is a simple man with the talkativeness of any college professor. He listens to everyone but keeps his informed opinion as his choices, and he is a man who believes he can change some of the fundemental things.
My writing is not to back 'another Mutharika presidency" but it is to give the realistic and closest view of this world acclaimed legal mind whose challenge today to become a President is not his intellectual or moral capacity, but his being a brother to the sitting President.
Professor Mutharika as his brother Bingu rightly observes is a Malawian with equal opportunity to be anything want in public or private sector of the country.
But what would the professor stand for if he was given the presidency?
His critics hide behind that he is an American by holding of a green card and he is not very familiar with Malawi. That was the same mistake many politicians used on Bingu. Bingu survived politics in 22 African Heads of States who do not have any pronounced ideaologies and yet you underated him in politics of three major parties.
On his part Bingu is a schemer and he managed to adapt to the 21st century campaign very well that left his opponents searching for answers and their parties breaking.
The other smart politician is Joyce Banda. Mark my word, she is a woman and a grassroot mobiliser par excellence. Very few politicians today can match her wit. I will talk more of her when we approach 2014.
Back to the professor. Should he become a President, he will be perhaps the country's most educated legal mind and professional in his field. I would want to believe his life time achievement including being the first African recipient of the International Jurists Award, makes him one of the most watched legal persons in the world.
As a prefessor of law, his presidency would be a model of the rule of law and good governance as he would not only have to answer to Malawians, but the thousands of lawyers he has produced across the globe should he choose another part other than respect for the constitution.
He told me of being the legal counsel for Malawians in the 60's when Malawians were running from Dr. Kamuzu Banda. He ranks along the revered Orton Ching'oli Chirwa as the first Malawians lawyers in this part of Africa.
This should give confort to all self professed critics who thinks another Mutharika coming would mean the end to the constitutional democracy that Malawi enjoys. No to the contrary, I do not imagine Professor Mutharika loosing all his life long credibility for merely political power.
Actually when I asked him if being a parliamentarian was not lower compared to his two positions as Chair of the Law faculty and African Studies, he replied that academically he had reached the pinnacle of his career.
He had two options: Retire or go into University Administration. He had offers to be President (USA universities) or Vice Chancellor (British Commonwealth). He says he loves research and training. He looks at being a parliamentarian as one way of finding our applicable solutions to the challenges the people face. After all he argued, you are elected by ordinary people who trust that you will bring change to their lives.
On his knowledge of development issues is very clear as a Chair for the African Studies department, he has extensively written, research and consulted for International finance, trade and investment institution that his beliefs in what can change Malawi look more plausible if understood by ordinary people.
One of his outsanding ideas is that instead of searching for foreign investment, Malawi can become a knowledge centre for Africa and generate its in come the way Malaysia and Taiwan did without any mineral resources.
We have been searching for investment and resources for the last forty plus years, for the first time I agreed that pursuing a double faced approach to our economic sitution could help Malawi develop fast.
Deep down the debate into quota system, Professor Mutharika sees Universities and other tertiary colleges as corners of key development. He is yet to share his thoughts on quota and I am sure when he has time we will go into such a debate later.
But his idea simply explained is that encourage professors at Bunda to do more research on improving lets take egg production in chickens, milk production in cow and even improved seed varities. Let the enginnering department and Poly expand into computer part manufacturing or low cost technology research, while we produce more doctors and nurses at College of Medicine and Kamuzu College of Nursing.
The more research we conduct, the more we expand our Universities to train others from other countries and export either human resources and technologies, allowing us for the first time to have quantifiable and our own unique exports.
The human resource exports earns Mexico billions of dollars in remittances, so too the Phillipines while Malyasia, Taiwan and Singapore really run on grants, fees and other Universities related income.
We could do speacilised HIV and Aids research, TB, Malaria and others and attract huge projects worth billions of kwacha pumped into the economy.
Kamuzu Academy and College of Medicine are the only schools bringing in forex, if we expand them, and upgrade our colleges to International research and training standards, the same stone that has split Malawi in terms of quota system could save our country from tobacco madness that has kept millions poor in the past ten years.
Further as we search for long term solutions to our poverty, the Universities offer one of the most short term solutions of our foreign exchange and developmental needs.
As I said these are ideas of professor Peter Arthur Mutharika in creating a fast track to economic development.
I have not seen him for a long time, but I dont believe being a cabinet Minister has changed him much to loose his vision on how Malawi can transform. He has many other ideas, but I was confortable to use this as i already published.
Now why should we deny such a mind and opportunity, when Americans would elect father and son. Does it become less democratic because it is in Africa.
Given a choice in the current scenario of opposition leaders, I would support a candidacy of one Peter Mutharika as I share his vision and thinking. By the way he is a link to his CV for some Thomases! http://law.wustl.edu/faculty/documents/mutharika/CV112508.pdf
Next week I take a look at Joyce Banda, Malawi's greatest community mobiliser and then Chimunthu Banda the gentleman of politics. Then we cross over to MCP and look at Chris Daza and a few silent figures whop can replce Baba. In UDF, who can stand up and take the Muluzi mantlle.
Lets debate our way to bring in the finest creme of Malawi to lead us in 2014. Ndale za ufiti zithe enafenso ana tifuna tizayime wopanda kuwopa!

1 comment:

Towera Chilalika said...

hahahahaha Ndale zaufiti zithe I agree with you. I am one of the guys who share with your opinion. Look at MCP Baba says he wants to stand again despite having a tattered image. Ku UDF ndiye we dont even know who to call a leader despite UDF having a whole pool of potential leaders. As for Prof. Mutharika, I hope his brother will not spoil the game for him in case people punish Prof. Peter for the sins of his brother.