Listening to Mr. John Kapito on the famous Zodiak’s ‘Tiuzeni Zoona’ programme on Sunday afternoon, he sounded a very angry man. Mr. Kapito, the all powerful and only Chairman of Consumers Association of Malawi (CAMA) for decades now, alleged during the programme, the People’s Party (PP) Government, led by President Joyce Banda, had failed the people.
Mr. Kapito alleged that fuel prices are going up “everyday” and thus the prices of basic human needs are also going up “everyday”. He said people cannot, therefore, afford “dignified” livelihood anymore; people are walking to their workplaces as they cannot afford a bus fare.
Mr. Kapito said President Banda had surrounded herself with “bad advisors” who “spoiled” former President late Bingu wa Mutharika and that if she does not remove them, she is doomed to fail”.
Fair and fine, Mr. Kapito. One may wish to appreciate that in a democracy, like ours, every Jim and Jack has a right to express their opinion. However, such opinions are more useful when they are communicated without any personalized emotions like Mr. Kapito seems to be doing.
Mr. Kapito suggests that it is wrong for anyone to trace any economic problems that the nation may be going through to the previous government. That is irrational thinking at its best because it is simply not true. Any problem does not come from without; there must be a source.
Many experts agree that to successfully deal with a problem, it is very useful to identify and appreciate its cause. It does not simply add when Mr. Kapito suggests “let us not talk about Bingu; let’s just fix the mess we’ve today”. There is adage that ‘we all learn from our mistakes’ and surely new governments will always learn and improve on the predecessor’s commissions and omissions.
But in any case, the devaluation of the Kwacha that Mr. Kapito bases most of his arguments could not have been avoided by any leader or government worth their name. It was a necessary evil that President Joyce Banda herself warned of “short negative effects” but “long-term positive gains”. The President had never hidden this fact.
She recognizes that in order for Malawians to enjoy a prosperous future, they have to first get their “house in order”.
“The conditions will get rough before they get better. But we will face the challenges together as a nation,” explained President Banda in her maiden State of the Nation Address on May 18, 2012 as she outlined her administration’s Economic Recovery Plan of Action.
Mr. Kapito lives in Malawi to appreciate the enormous political, social and economic challenges that Malawi faced just four months ago under the late President Mutharika. Malawians were literary reduces to mere spectators as Mutharika and his team ran down the economy; chased away diplomats and investors; and crushed dissenters with unprecedented impunity. It is closer to naivety to forget all that so soon, Mr. Kapito.
Mutharika had driven the country back to the Stone Age with his attacks on democracy. Jails and graves were filling up rapidly with people who were not dancing to the tune of the self-styled Great African Chief.
People were suspicious of being reported to be against the Ngwazi the Conqueror and the unitary state was cracking with people discriminating each other on ethnic make-up.
This was a far greater threat to Malawi as it would lead to the abyss if left unchecked. Mutharika was a poisonous snake to the people’s aspirations, peace and harmony. There can be no denying that Mutharika was not good for the country.
In only four months, President Banda has put to rest any lingering doubt of her ability to revive the fortunes of the country that had been eroded by the autocratic Mutharika regime.
When she was sworn in on April 7, 2012, President Banda had very little breathing space. The problems faced required to be tackled, not one by one as others before had the pleasure to do but all of them together-political, economic governance and the foreign relations in Europe and America.
From 2009 under Mutharika Malawi’s image and reputation had been damaged almost irreparably. Apart from internally simmering anger, the country was without a single friend. President Banda braved pejorative statements from the previous administration and its operatives.
President Banda acted quickly and decisively. She declared reconciliation and forgiveness. It sounds easy when said at present when there is calm and some strong signs that lessons have been learned from abuse of power not only by a president but by their lieutenants as well who perpetrate even worse evils.
She put in place measures of transparency and accountability, which Mutharika avoided. Government internal auditing, which had been stopped, were revived so that the leakages of state and government funds were detected early and action taken.
President Banda had inherited an economy spinning out of control from mismanagement and corruption that fed on each other. President Banda had to grapple with the messed up democratic environment that Mutharika tried to use to rule forever.
Mr, Kapito, currently, Malawi has been accepted back into the nations which are free and democratic.
*Anganile Masambo is a columnist for Nyasa Times and writes from Lilongwe