Kachaje on Malawi economy: What is our excuse?

In one meeting which I attended, a question was asked; “What should Malawi stop doing to make economic progress?” One diplomat responded in just four words; “stop looking for excuses”. I can’t agree more.

Kachaje

Kachaje

We seem to be too obsessed with finding and inventing excuses to justify our economic malaise and stagnation. We blame it on the withholding of budgetary support by donors, as if we are entitled to taxes of other nations. We blame it on floods and yes, of course, on cashgate – everything it’s because of cashgate. We have perfected the art of making excuses so well that we might as well start offering degree courses in Excusiology.

Think of this: Malawi has a land mass of about 118,484 sq km, five times the size of Israel, a country situated in a very hostile region covering only 22,072 sq km. Malawi has about 24,000 sq km of fresh water bodies that comprise three good lakes and over ten perennial rivers that criss-cross the entire length of the country. On the other hand, Israel has meagre 2% of Malawi’s water mostly sourced from de-salination.

Most of the land in Israel is desert and rocky. But guess what? In 2012, Israel exported agriculture products worth about US$2.4 billion! And what did Malawi do with all the fresh waters and its vast arable land? It produced and exported some cancer-producing poison called tobacco worth about US$270 million and about US$200 million worth of food crops. What is our excuse?

In 2013 Malawi had a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of a miserable US$3.7 billion, just about 1.3% of the GDP of Israel that stood at a staggering US$290 billion! Life expectancy in Israel is 80 years for men and 84 years for women according to the United Nations. In Malawi, life expectancy has just risen to 54 years, thanks to lots of free medical aid from donors.

I can almost hear you arguing that it is unfair to compare Malawi with Israel. “Why not pick another African country?” Yea, another good excuse. If you want to progress in life, you don’t compare yourself with other failures. We need to raise the bar high and start challenging ourselves.

We have been too comfortable in mediocrity to the point that getting back on track of an IMF Extended Credit Facility has become our national major goal. When did qualifying for a drip in the intensive care unit (ICU) become an achievement? (…to be continued)

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Ngoma, Thomas, London
Guest
Ngoma, Thomas, London
8 months 12 days ago
Economic development of a nation is too serious a business than most people realise. Yes it is rocket science indeed! As I have asserted on numerous occasions, there is nothing on the political horizon of Malawi currently that can save this nation economically. When I return I promise to bring the industrial revolution that this country badly needs to break with the current Malthusian epoch economic stagnation and start creating wealth. I am 200% confident that we will all galvanise ourselves under my leadership into a national powerhouse. Agriculture will always be with us but it not the starting point.… Read more »
Stevenson makungwa
Guest
Stevenson makungwa
8 months 12 days ago
I can see from the various comments that Malawians have solutions to our current problems. God Almighty gave us all the resources. The National anthem says it all. What we lack is ACTION. ACTION SPEAKS LOUDER THAN WORDS. And who should start the ACTION? Simple question. YOU AND ME. Not our political leaders. After all it is you and me that put them there through elections. We have numerous NGO’S in the name of fighting for the poor. Is this true? How many churches, prophets, professors, doctors, highly educated people do we have and what are they doing to develop… Read more »
Youth League Chairman: Kawale 1 market
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Youth League Chairman: Kawale 1 market
8 months 12 days ago
Well, a good starting point for self reflection and introspection as a country. However, Mr Kachaje, perhaps you should have asked the diplomat to expound on his answer. I am one thousand percent certain, he would have told you: “malawians cannot demand good governance”. Why this is the case – should probably shape your future articles. Here are a few contextual insights into our current woes and chaos. In 1994, we voted a very well thief with a previous conviction of misappropriation public funds, into the highest office in our land. He ended up machinating the victory of a well… Read more »
Balamanthu
Guest
8 months 13 days ago

It is owing to minds like those of the “Analyst” that this country does not move forward.There are times in life one has to examine themselves whether they are making progress or not.As a country, we are not and we do need drastic measures to change our situation.Bootlicking like the Analyst who cannot tolerate alterantive views will not help

Okay
Guest
8 months 13 days ago
Interesting comments and article. One thing that comes clearly is the mark we Malawians are known of. That is, self denial and blame shifting accompanied by wasting time by being theoretical than practical. For how long shall we curse ourselves? For how long shall we condemn each other? Foe how long shall we blame APM and any sitting president? For how long shall we point fingers at others including God? For how long shall we expect everything from Government? Haven’t we discovered that those who have realised the secret of hardworking are doing well in the same land we think… Read more »
khwangwi
Guest
8 months 13 days ago
What do we have? What can we do with what we have? We should trim our service offerings to be in line with our productive capacities. I have lost track of what some ministries are doing, like the ministries of Agriculture, Tourism, Economic planning etc. Our economy needs to be redesigned to match with our economic output. We need visionaries and transformational leadership in all the key sectors of the economy. We should not react to economic events but we should shape such events. It is possible with self-denial and less politicking. We need to use zero-base strategies in order… Read more »
Achimidzimidzi
Guest
Achimidzimidzi
8 months 13 days ago

I think MUST can offer Excusiology, as it is in the Lhomwe area and most of Lhomwes don’t accept any reasoning apart from theirs due to very poisonous snakes their eat. e.g. mamba, m’bom’bo nalikukuti ….

Zuze
Guest
Zuze
8 months 13 days ago

Joshua the St Michael- Did Israel cashgate the $3.115 billion? You are dull.

Zuze
Guest
Zuze
8 months 13 days ago

Henry Kachaje’s has only compared Israel and Malawi on Agriculture and water resources. What are we doing with our water resources? You Malawians, you hate people with brains. Nsanje which is highlighted in your national anthem.

Aningo
Guest
Aningo
8 months 13 days ago

A masterful piece!! Judging from the prayers at BICC last weekend, we are already set to blame “bad rainfall” for the sure poor harvest this year. What we need to produce food is not rain; we need agricultural technology that will make use of the available water for crop and livestock production. Talking of agriculture without control over water is nonsense.

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