If, at the start of 2016, you expected your finance minister to deliver a forecast bristling with real hope, laced with the absolutely necessary reassurances for a jittery nation, you were to be disappointed.
“The fate of the economy is in God’s hands”, Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe said last week.
It’s quite iniquitous that deceitful politicians who have gotten Malawi into this mess over the years by a combination of greed, theft, arrogance, lies and ineptitude—even killing—are the same politicians that now say they want God to bail this country out of this malaise.
The story of Goodall Gondwe is that he often was portrayed as this Knight in Shining Armor, with years of experience at the highest levels at the United Nations and the World Bank, and the man whose wisdom we must trust.
His decision to go public with this rather startling confession o fdefeat and failure must be trusted, too. The economy is in free fall and is showing no signs of slowing down. Instead, it is Goodall who is showing palpable signs of wear and tear. The truth, which we need to confront now, is that our finance minister is at his wits’ end: he is old, he is tired, he has no new ideas and he is way past his sell-by date.
It would help if, after placing the economy in God’s hands, the minister owned up and resigned. Gondwe might not singularly be responsible for all this mess but he must take the flak. He, as the finance minister who told us late last year that Malawi will be clapping hands in joy for his government in 2016, must accept responsibility for the decadence into which the country is now wallowing.
But he won’t own up and he won’t resign knowing very well that Malawians are a docile people and there won’t be a robust debate—nor demonstrations in the streets—for his ouster because a minister of finance who places the fate of a country’s economy in the hands of God has, effectively, abdicated his responsibilities.
So true to form, after Goodall put God in charge of his ministry, the next day life continued at its customary, sedate, muli bwanji-tili bwino respectful pace all over Malawi. The only difference being the lines of desperate, hungry people at Admarc growing longer and street kids accosting passers-by for a K500—they, too, now know how worthless the currency is becoming.
This meek Malawian syndrome is heavily discernible in the people’s reaction to government blunders: they will quicklyadapt rather than work tirelessly to bring blundering public officials to account.
Malawi is a paradox.
You can’t claim to be broke yet your president runs around in awailing convoy of vehicles three times the size of Jacob Zuma’s motorcade, for example. That display of unfettered power on the presidential motorcade and its high-powered fuel-guzzlingSUVs and Mercedes Benz must leave many with a sense of awe and revulsion. The sheer extravagance of it must leave ordinary, hungry, Malawians with a feeling of disgust.
Depending on occasion, there can be anywhere between 20 and 30 vehicles on the motorcade as Peter Mutharika moves around town. The amount of petrol and diesel used by the presidential motorcade in a single trip must be obscene.
Recently, Malawi spent tens of millions—some says hundreds—of precious money to add to that convoy a specialized “motorhome” for President Mutharika which, essentially, is his own ambulance. This luxurious ambulance called motorhome is a reminder of Peter Mutharika’s mortality but also of how much this former university professor has completely lost touch with reality.
He and his wife have an ambulance to themselves while ordinary people across the country are ferried to hospitals in crude pushcarts and wheelbarrows. This is a country where Mzimba, Nkhata-Bay, Chitipa, Thyolo, Ntcheu, Kasungu, Dowa, Mwanza, Chiradzulu and Blantyre have less than 30 functional ambulances for almost 5 million people.
Nurses and doctors have long grumbled about deteriorating health services characterized by widespread shortages of drugs, food and equipment, including ambulance provision.
Tragedy for Malawi is that its leaders are so preoccupied with their political survival they don’t care two tambala for the long-term economic stability of the country and the welfare of the people.
The people of Malawi are, frankly, on their own. Even Goodall Gondwe knows that God helps those who help themselves.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :