Business as usual for gov’t as trimming of funding exposes the poor

Funding for government ministries and departments in Malawi has been trimmed by half this month following a directive by the treasury. This should read “following a directive from the Office of the President Cabinet (OPC), via the Ministry of Finance”.

The trimming follows government’s payment of about K 400 million for SADC membership in arrears and a billion kwacha towards the 2014 electoral processes.

“For this month we have funded most of the ministries and departments half their requirements, mainly on account that in July and August government had to meet some expenses especially on our SADC membership arrears and electoral process,” said Ministry of Finance spokesperson Nations Msowoya speaking to Zodiak Broadcasting Station.

Apparently, this has been as a result of a drop in the inflow of cash into the system and according to Msowoya, Capital Hill is working on modalities to address the challenges.

“We have advised ministries to re-adjust their cash flows. Some seasonal activities will of course be affected but those that need just to be postponed we hope there will be no impact,” said Msowoya, in a fit of wishful thinking.editorial

The truth and the fact is that the decision means that crucial departments and ministries will fail to perform their duty i.e. delivering services to the public; while State House and presumably cabinet ministers, will continue criss-crossing the country to deliver a cow here, a goat there, a bag of ufa to the odd needy, a speech here spiced with the occasional badmouthing of perceived opponents.

 

Reportedly, Malawi’s window to the world, namely the Civil Aviation Department at the Kamuzu International Airport (KIA) has been allocated only a third of its monthly operational budget, a development which will adversely affect performance.

As we speak, the whole airport has no fuel for fire engines and stand by generators.

Now imagine that the Nairobi Airport-type fire accident happens, what will remain of the already dilapidated airport?

However, such a scenario should be the least of our worries because in a country where the majority of people live below the poverty line; very few people care for a functioning airport.

They have graver matters of life and death to grapple with to be concerned with the safety or efficiency of an airport they will never use in their lives.

This cut is a death sentence for these people who mostly depend on public hospitals. This cut will be felt most in the education sectors by both teachers and students.

This cut means that even beneficiaries of the one cow – one goat, will be denied the vital services of agricultural extension workers who need fuel to cover long distances to reach out to the marginalized. This is just one dimension.

The private sector provides goods and services to government ministries and departments. Therefore, this engine room of development and growth will also feel the pinch because obviously, no ministry or department will pay for services and goods delivered.

This means that our private sector will be denied of working capital and a business without working capital, is not worth the name.

We could go on and on – but this lamentation will not change things or bring urgency to our leaders whose thinking is restricted to accumulation of personal wealth and appeasing cronies and relatives.

This is why, as a people, we need to ask ourselves several hard questions. When did President Joyce Banda realize that Malawi will host the SADC talk shop? When did Capital Hill become aware that next year is an election year? And what preparations and contingency plans did the State House care to institute?

The answer is nothing.

All of the State House and government machinery’s attention was on Malawi’s assumption of the symbolic chairpersonship of the Southern Africa’s exclusive members only club. Now do our people deserve this? Is this the best we can do?

The response is a deafening no.

We have been chaired the SADC before, it never translated into tangible developments for our people. A couple of years ago we spent a fortune globetrotting, posing as Africa’s liberator under the banner of chair of the African Union.

The outcome was huge hole in our foreign exchange reserves and the severe boost to one person ego; that in the final analysis did not do him good. Is there a way forward out of this mess? Now that you are asking, we will give you an answer.

The answer is yes, there is a way and it lies in each one of us.  2014 is around the corner. Repeating the same mistakes we have been making in choosing our leaders will be insanity.

At the Nyasa Times, we want to urge Malawians to scan and scour the horizon, look up to people untainted by mediocrity and corruption, rally around such to enable them to rise to the helm to truly change and move our people out of the cluelessness endemic in Malawi.

The quality of the life you and your children will enjoy in future depends on the quality of your resolutions now, which you will sign, seal and deliver in May 2014.

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