A growing majority of DPP members and Malawians in general are expressing concern about the future of Malawi under the rule of a president controlled by his assistant. Rumblings of dissatisfaction in leadership echo the hallways while the party scrambles to identify the tectonics required to shift them back onto the correct course. The issues facing the DPP are fundamental, and unfortunately it is the same theme that was seen when the DPP was at its least popular in 2012.
These fundamental issues tie back to core elements of governance that are key to the quality and effective performance of the government (or any healthy organization)
The DPP seems plagued with an indecisive leader that is relinquishing his decision making powers to individuals with a different agenda than his own, and that are bringing back a seemingly ocean of corruption allegations. Strong governance is failing for this ruling party, and this is weakening the trust that the already very marginal majority in Malawi had for the DPP. Leadership has been lacking at key times in this DPP’s short history (e.g. MSB, Public Service Reforms, Natural resources policy), and when a strong confident voice is needed, the President has not exactly delivered a convincing performance. The voices we hear are of assistants, advisors, and brainless praise-singers.
Monitoring & Evaluation
This is a key aspect of any organization to ensure all elements are performing to their goals and objectives. The DPP has demonstrated a very primitive performance feedback system that has been based on reactionary methods, a system usually avoided by any organization that is looking for continuous improvement. Dubious decisions are tolerated and allowed to become unnecessary talking points without properly being explained, for example the Presidential graffiti at Lumbadzi or the postponed ivory burning. This is very embarrassing for the DPP and shows poor planning and exposes their inability to calibrate their efforts and initiatives to accommodate feedback or changing perceptions.
Checks & balances, notably in the area of budgets and financing seem to have started already to be grossly neglected, opening the door for illicit activities that tainted the DPP’s previous time in power.
Engagement And Well-being
The President is not a good communicator and relies heavily on his more articulate ministers to be his crutch at key times. This lack of engagement with the majority of his supporters does not provide a secure sense of wellbeing. This has steadily become more apparent and is eroding support within key members of the party. The President needs to connect more closely with his people, especially those who are questioning his presence in major decision, and his leadership style that seems to defer everything to his assistant. The tactics of bullying critics will only serve to further undermine his presidency. The President needs to spend more time talking to the people he represents, not sending his assistant, and re-connecting with his cabinet and the people he is serving – this will instill a greater sense of reliable leadership and direction.
Pathways And Transitions
There is a lack of an articulated long-term vision with the DPP, in terms of succession of leadership and how the country’s cavernous deficiencies are being addressed. The country is experiencing serious economic challenges, and the DPP has not adequately explained how the country should prepare for this. The economic challenges will be further pronounced by the “scaring away” of large corporations from investing in Malawi due to corruption, political overreach and the levels of neopatrimonialism confounding the commercial process. Never before has there been a greater need for a visionary to grab the reigns and ensure that reason and common sense prevail.
Economic Stability driven by industry and not politics, combined with an improved administrative framework that will create the pathway to a new future for all Malawians is what the country is looking for. Amazingly, virtually none of the DPP leaders can properly explain how this is going to occur.
Not until this President and this administration provides Malawians with the confidence that he is in charge and not his assistants, and that he has a clear direction of where he wants Malawi to be at the end of his five-year term, can we say that his leadership is inspiring or that the past one year of DPP administration has been a success. Otherwise, as long as issues continue to be referred to assistants and those assistants continue to railroad government policy and impute their own agenda on government decisions, there is reason to believe that claims of puppetry have foundation, and that good governance credentials are desperately lacking.