Malawi has had three different presidents and therefore has been exposed to three types of political leadership styles in a period of about forty years. Just as people have different facial appearances, the three leadership styles are also bound to be different. It is like saying the same game but different rules for instance founding President Dr Banda came to fight colonial rule. The groundwork involved bloodshed.

As forerunner president, his pre-occupation was to break the colonial rule and bring national independence to Malawians for them to decide their own destiny. After achieving his main objective, it was imperative for him to develop infrastructure such as roads, schools, hospitals, the University of Malawi and move the capital from Zomba to Lilongwe. These were means for citizens to realize accelerated social and economic development.

The second president of Malawi, Dr Muluzi was pre-occupied with the fight against dictatorship to bring about democracy. After achieving his main objective, his government undertook the tasks of setting up a market economy, advocating human rights and the rule of law. He subsequently moved the National Assembly from Zomba to Lilongwe.

The third president Dr Bingu wa Mutharika was elected to consolidate democratic gains and promote economic gains. In his effort to promote economic development, he is implementing the Shire Zambezi Waterway Project to reduce inland transportation costs. He has also modified the national flag to provide a symbol for national progress since independence. When all these are added up, they represent significant national achievements since colonialism was forcibly removed.

It is unfortunate that instead of looking at the three leaders as Malawian nationals who had specific purposes to achieve, opportunists look at them differently. What matters most in leadership, are the purposes and conditions under which the leaders operate. Each one of them had an agenda to fulfill. Dr Banda fought against colonialism to bring about self rule and national hood. Dr Muluzi fought against dictatorship to bring about democracy and human rights. Dr Bingu wa Mutharika was elected to consolidate democracy drive economic growth and perfect governance.

No two leaders can be the same. One important lesson is that leaders must have a compelling reason to take up national leadership challenge. This is what incumbent Malawian President has been doing since he was elected president. Unlike his predecessors who had a specific challenge to fight corruption and improve apparent governance weaknesses. Besides that he has continued moving the economy forward for citizens to enjoy a better quality of life. The Shire River has been there since Malawi became a sovereign state. But the president saw an economic benefit in using it as means for water transport. When this project is operational, it will help to reduce both transit times and costs of our exports. Recently, the president has modified the national flag. The idea of modifying the flag has a physiological purpose of triggering the nation into a forward movement in their minds. What is the point of talking over leadership when everything is left as it was found?

Now Malawi is chair of the African Union. This is a great achievement. The president must be commended for his bravery to accept the leadership of the African Union. Malawi is leveraging this position well.  It is a fact that Malawians living in the Diaspora no longer require lengthy introductions.

In conclusion, I want to advise fellow Malawians that the incumbent president is a man of his own class. He should be supported. It is wrong to believe that different presidents can have the same leadership styles. It is also wrong to make presidents to  have enemies. Citizens have the right to disagree with them.

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ZIMENE MUMAKONDA

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