Good governance analysts and social media fanatics have condemned former President Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika (APM) for developing and submitting an unsolicited Tropical Cyclone Freddy recovery plan to the United Nations (UN).
Mutharika, who hitherto has persistently refused to take part in mobilizing financial and material resources for supporting survivors of the stormy rains, took Malawians by surprise when he submitted what he has termed as recovery plan pegged at K1.4 trillion.
The former Head of State claims that his recovery plan focuses on supporting the recovery needs for the people affected by the cyclone.
“The total estimated requirement for disaster recovery and reconstruction needs for the identified and affected sectors is Mk 1.4 trillion which is equivalent to US$1.34 billion. The plan highlights damages suffered by various sectors among others Agriculture and Livelihoods, Education, Health and Nutrition, Housing, Transport and Energy, Water and Sanitation. These damages include crops, land for farming and infrastructure,” reads the executive summary of his plan.
But this has angered Malawians, who argued that APM had no powers to develop and submit such a plan because he is not in charge of state affairs.
“In what capacity has developed and submitted the plan? As a former Head of State of a mere citizen? I think the man is indeed old and needs to rest,” reacted Brenda Kadwala of Area 25 in Lilongwe.
Another Lilongwe resident, Lyson Kwenda Msimuko, wondered whether Mutharika is using his retirement well, fearing his bitterness about loss of power would take him to worse heights.
“I mean how can a whole learned constitutional lawyer draft and submit an unsolicited recovery plan to development partners? This man is up to something else, which Malawians must guard against. He is not a patriot as he claims and must be avoided at any cost,” said Msimuko.
On the other hand, a governance commentator Benedicto Kondowe observed that Mutharika’s recovery plan is not clear on the institutional framework.
Kondowe also noted that the plan is silent on accountability mechanisms, fearing granting such a plan its wish would lead to abuse of resources.
“Secondly, the recovery plan must be placed within the existing government efforts or policies. I have struggled to see the connection between the proposed plan and the one championed by the government. The HE addressed Parliament on the recovery plan and the cost implications. Therefore, one would love to see how the proposed plan is complementing or adding value to the government’s efforts,” he said.
He added that the plan is not clear how the proposed plan intends to work with key MDAs and councils in the identified sectors of focus.
“It is good that the plan is premised on shortfalls in the government disaster response. But addressing some of the identified challenges requires a clear strategy of cooperation with government MDAs, DPs, NGOs and councils . Otherwise, running the proposed plan parallel to government processes with the earmarked investment might not be strategic and beneficial,” said Kondowe.
At the height of the disaster, President Dr. Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera invited his predecessors to Sanjika Palace to discuss and identify measures for addressing effects from the storm.
While Bakili Muluzi and Joyce Banda welcomed and honoured the invitation, APM stayed away, stating that he had no solution to the challenges the survivors were facing because he is not a ‘technical person’.