By Malawi Exclusive
True to the saying that good leaders manage different opinions and conflicting expectations, President Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera fits the bill through the recent Press Conference. In the wake of a successful trip to Mozambique there were so many expectations from different divides waiting for their concerns to be addressed. Gauging from the comments on social media, it was evident that the Mozambique trip generated interest from a cross section of people.
Again, it is often said that power tend to get the better of people’s minds. But though we captured the proceedings through television, one could feel the relaxed mood and the friendly ambience that characterized the Press Conference. President Chakwera was composed, did not lose touch nor resort to banging the table in an emotional outburst when tackling the questions from reporters.
What stroke me the most was that there was no sense of self importance and arrogance in his tone as was the case sometimes by his predecessors. It can be argued that it is too early to tell but what can be clearly seen is that there is a good relationship between the media and the first citizen. Members of the Press were free to ask questions without fear of being harassed and after the presser, there was no hostility whatsoever. This is a remarkable departure from what the country used to witness.
Evidently, if there have been accusations from his critics that the president lacks clearly defined pattern of leadership, Monday evening’s press conference has perhaps cleared that out. The president demonstrated that he is his own man and that he cannot be forced to do something he does not believe in especially if it doesn’t benefit Malawians.
President Chakwera was so emphatic on the issue of rule of law, separation of powers and interference in the operation of governments’ institutions that were established by law to oversee justice. This issue came to the fore when a journalist put it to the president that he is protecting some people who are thought to have been involved in corruption. The Journalist was so particular in his example when he mentioned businessman Zuneth Sattar who is alleged to have been involved in several corruption deals.
This is where the president set the tone clear on his stance on corruption. He was clear on this issue that the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) should operate independent of any due influence. Similarly, anyone being accused of being involved in corruption should be brought to book, be heard and let justice take its course. The president reiterated his firm commitment to fight corruption and stressed his total support to Martha Chizuma who has been the subject of public scrutiny following the leakage of an audio conversation she had with the unknown friend in which she spilled some issues related to her work with the ACB.
Again, the issue of crop inspection featured highly during the Press Conference. The question arose from the members of the Press that there is a growing discontentment by Malawians with the president as he continues with the crop inspection exercise as it is costly and a waste of money.
The Malawi leader said he was inspired to undertake the program following his experience when he was a Member of Parliament. He said there was a time when the Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee (MVAC) presented cooked up data in Parliament which painted a rosy picture about the food situation in the country only to discover that the report did not project the true reflection on the ground.
Having said that, the state president was forthright in his response and assured Malawians he appreciates different views on the matter. He noted that despite some people having some misgivings about the project, the farmers he has so far visited have been thrilled by his visits. He said the crop inspection program is intended to help him understand the crop situation and the likely food estimates first hand rather than relying on reports and memos presented to him by officials from the Ministry of Agriculture.
Furthermore, in the wake of Vice President’s departure to United States, the media was awash with different versions of the vice president’s interview he granted to journalists at Kamuzu International Airport. The vice president’s remarks seem to have heightened speculations of an apparent rift between two major partners in the Tonse-led government.
Apparently, there were two talking points emanating from two intertwined context to be specific. The first one was where the Vice president said ‘’the Ukraine war and Covid-19 should not be the excuse for not fulfilling promises made to people’’. The second, where he revealed that ‘’at an opportune time the contents of the agreement [between his party and the MCP] will be made public’’. However, the president did not want be drawn into the unnecessary controversy.
The president did not want to dwell on the issue and he allayed fears of the tension between himself and his vice. However, he said the issue about the contents of the alliance is the subject of all the alliance partners. ‘’One cannot just wake up and reveal what is contained in the agreement. The decision to make any announcements is subjected to the agreement at a convened meeting to announce the contents.’’
The Press Conference was not just about engaging members of the Fourth Estate, it was a platform where opinions were formed about the president. It was particularly interesting to note that his social media critics have been silent in the aftermath of the impressive Press Conference. The President won the hearts of many and managed expectations of both his followers and his critics.