BLANTRYE, MALAWI – Malawi President Lazarus Chakwera has warned Malawians against overpraising and overdepending on him, a tendency that he says can turn presidents into dictators.
Chakwera spoke Friday in Lilongwe during a commemoration of the country’s first president, the late Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda, who many say was a dictator during the 31 years of his administration.
Chakwera, who became president after a rerun election last June, said it’s sad that even during this democratic era, people want a president to respond to every little thing, while also praising the president as they would a god.
Without directly referring to Banda, Chakwera said dictators are made by people who always idolize their leaders.“You want the president to respond to everything, including where to draw water, how to look after your children, your household, even what you want to wear,” he said.
Banda, who led the Malawi Congress Party, or MCP, ruled Malawi from 1963 to 1994, when he lost the presidency to former President Bakili Muluzi of the current opposition United Democratic Front.
During Banda’s one-party system of government, many people were forced to go into exile, while others were killed by state agents.Chakwera, the current leader of the MCP, said his desire is to serve all Malawians.
“So long as I am president, and God gives me breath, the powers of this office will only be used to serve you, never to rule you. So help me God,” he said.
He warned Malawians, however, that if they over depend on him, they should not blame him if he becomes a dictator.