The abuse that Malawians have allowed themselves to be subjected to by a government department called Road Traffic has reached such an unacceptable level that civil disobedience—that is, refusal to obey oppressive laws– would be justified just to make a point that enough should be enough when it is enough.
Where in the world do you hear that citizens have to spend a whole week just to get a government document that they are paying for? Where in the world do you hear that a simple license, certificate of fitness (COF) of a vehicle or transferring of ownership should take you through countless meandering lines that take you a whole week to go through?
And what kind of country and government can allow that? Do we have leaders in this country and do they wish the country well or they are busy fattening bank accounts and they do not give a damn as to what happens to the citizens?
How can government keep quiet and treat it as normal when its productive citizens spend days on end at Road Traffic switching endless queues just to get a mere COF of a vehicle when they should be in offices creating wealth that can take this country forward?
And what do we get in the end? It is a headline that actually government has tripled the revenue from Road Traffic since it installed the so-called Malawi Traffic Information System (Maltis).
Malawians have always known that DPP administrations specialise in bringing laws and policies that impinge on people’s rights and privileges. History is there for all to see.
But this time, the DPP administration has gone too far to make money at Road Traffic at the expense of people’s suffering.
For the past three months, there has been nothing at Road Traffic but a huge outcry of people complaining of the long periods they spend on queues because the so-called Maltis is slow coupled with inefficient staff mostly of people who don’t know a thing on how it operates.
A whole Catholic bishop condemned this abuse of citizens by the DPP administration while it makes money to fill up the budget hole created by the donors’ withdrawal of aid due to Cashgate yet nobody in government seems to listen.
Imagine someone from Nsanje coming down to Blantyre to renew his licence. He or she would have to spend a whole week in the city. He needs to plan for food and accommodation. Really? Is this necessary?
The response of the responsible minister, Francis Katsaila, was to visit the Road Traffic in Blantyre where for seven hours he failed to renew his license.
To me that should have been an indication that the system has failed and it was time to change course. On the contrary, Katsaila has continued to praise it despite that he personally failed to get a document on that day.
As for his boss, the President, he has remained eerie quiet and oblivious to the cries of Malawians.
The truth is Katsaila has failed to provide leadership and come to the rescue of Malawians. He promised to open more centres in Lilongwe and Blantyre but nothing has materialised.
He does not even know that the problem is with the design of the system that it is intrinsically slow and cumbersome although it is making a fortune for government to burn.
In normal circumstances, Katsaila should have been fired for causing misery of the citizens of this country by endorsing a system that is causing us to suffer.
He is still is his position to continue championing a system that is failing miserably and he has no idea about how to change if only to alleviate the suffering of Malawians. It is not just in his head, right now. What is in his head is loads of cash that the DPP administration is carting home right now to blow.
This is not the leadership that Malawians deserve for we did not commit any sin to deserve it.
This country is dead and in need of burial. Unless there is revolution in how it is run, we are going nowhere. The Road Traffic is just an example of how rotten Malawi has become.
Government is abusing us at Road Traffic and we all accept to be shepherded into obedience so the DPP administration can make money at the expense of our misery.
- The article appeared in Malawi News on the ‘Hitting the Nail’ column