President Bingu wa Mutharika just returned home this week from a hashed-up holiday in an undisclosed location. That the President is entitled to a holiday like the rest of us is not an issue - and after a grueling and ultimately successful campaign season, who can even begrudge Bingu a breather - perhaps on the seaside in swimming costumes and a glass of beer on the side!
Be that as it may, I feel as a country, we should have been told - at the minimum, that he was going on holiday, even if the destination remained a secret (for whatever reason). But it seems in the typical mode of the Big Man leadership style, the President is not even comfortable saying he is going on holiday to nurture the impression that the Big Man never rests.
The sad part of all this over-secrecy is that rumour quickly fills in the void. Is the President sick and in hospital somewhere? Did the grueling campaign cause some slipped discs requiring unforeseen medical attention? Perhaps he is getting a regular medical check-up? where is he being treated/ checked? In a hospital or is he being prayed for by some faith healers somewhere? Perhaps getting attention from a sing'anga akunja? ?
The long and short of it is that all this unnecessary secrecy, far from propping up the Big Man image that our President and his advisers seem so keen to cultivate, only serves to undermine it. The President would not lose any authority by openly stating that he is going to take a short holiday or even stating that he needs to go for medical check up. He is human after all.
If I am to go on holiday, I just don 't go attending conferences and then decide to extend my stay by taking a holiday. As taxpayers, we are the President's bosses and need to be told what he is doing, and preferably, where. For all the tax-payer money he gets to spend at our expense, the least he can do is to let us know what he is up to. That is not too much to ask.