Malawi enters period of ‘dizziness unusual’

‘Do the things that you fear, and the death of fear is certain.’ – Emerson

The dizzying pace at which everything seems to be going horribly wrong in Malawi is frightening. We seem to be perfecting the art of self-destructive behaviour in ways that the world can only watch in incredulous awe. Instead of coming together as one in the midst of national problems and collectively working towards solutions, we are more eager to pull in different directions with mindless tenacity and regardless of the consequences.

Chikabvu Nyirenda

Chikabvu Nyirenda

It boggles the mind that at a time when the government is on life support and practically in a financial coma, all its three distinct arms are hell-bent on squeezing life out of it by insisting on wage and salary increments that cannot be reasonably implemented at this point in time.

The total lack of exemplary leadership and contradictions are shocking when you consider recent revelations of executive and legislative salary and benefit adjustments against the government’s dismal fiscal realities. One gets the impression of leaders that are lost in denial and are failing to get to grips with a precarious situation that promises to get out of control at anytime.

The top Executive arm has reportedly awarded itself hefty increments, the senior members of the Legislature are swimming in luxury and the Judiciary is clamouring for a piece of the non-exixtent pie. Meanwhile, the lower echelons of these arms of government are separately fighting for equally meaningful increases in their packages.

The ACB is about to initiate strike action, parliamentary staff are already in mode, university staff have downed tools and judiciary support staff have now entered a fourth week of non-work action. All the while, judges and civil servants are closely watching developments and threatening to react to any perceived negative responses from government.

Add to this, the now frequent electricity blackouts and water shortages that have generated so much anger and frustration in the general public space, and you have only one thing: a total mess!

The current scenario speaks volumes about how the affairs of government are run in this country. We do not have a proactive comprehensive framework for proper analysis of issues and situations to inform strategic decision-making that takes into account all possible relevant scenarios. Instead, we seem to have a reactive governance structure that works on continuous fire-fighting with no discernible unifying objective.

The focus is on short-term ‘fix-its’ that lead to other complications that are then treated with the same ‘pompo-pompo’ medication. Hence, the DPP administration, like others before it, finds itself in a potentially fatal vicious cycle of demands triggered by an initial inability to be brutally honest with itself and the Malawian people on the hard road ahead and the need for sacrifices following the donor aid freeze that had an immediate impact on our economy and the resources available to government to carry out its programmes.

The original sin was to increase salaries of civil servants without addressing the impact of the adjustments on a budget that already had a huge deficit. In addition, the failure to identify the knock-on effect of this action in terms of alleged previous ‘trigger agreements’ with the judiciary and other institutions and the natural instinct for equity from other quasi-government bodies leaves a lot to be desired and smacks of high-level incompetence. And, most worryingly, to build hefty increases in salaries and perks for the president, vice-president, cabinet ministers, senior government officers and members of parliament in an austerity budget is highly insensitive and offensive.

Can you blame civil servants, ACB staff, university personnel, parliamentary officers and the judiciary for adamantly sticking to their positions for significant adjustments to their lot following these revelations?! Why should everyone tighten their belts when the political elites refuse to walk the austerity talk? And imply, by their actions, that there is plenty of money to splash around. And to add insult to injury, the whole Minister of Finance, Goodall Gondwe has the cheek of defensively justifying the indefensible increments of the president, vice-president et al as part of the harmonisation of salaries!! How can the still highly suspicious donors take Peter Mutharika’s DPP administration seriously in the face of such wanton self-gratification and hypocrisy!?!

As things stand, I would not be surprised if all the feverish attempts to restore the confidence of Malawians and donors have suffered a major set-back. Actions speak louder than words and there are serious trust issues with greedy leaders that are only concerned about their welfare at the expense of the country.

The fact that President Peter Mutharika and VP Saulos Chilima have – mark the words – deferred receipt  of these immoral increments is a mere face-saver and does not absolve them from the recklessness of incorporating them in the budget in the first place. They should have led by example and flatly refused any increment as a matter of principle! That would have set the tone for APMs presidency and could even have formed the basis for strongly objecting to the ill-advised, spineless decision to increase civil servants salaries under our current dire circumstances.

If we are this irresponsible in lean times like these, one can only imagine the largesse that would prevail in better times whilst the poorest of the poor and lowly-paid civil servants continue to wallow in abject poverty. Its no wonder that donors have resolved to hold on tightly to their purses in the presence of our ‘usual suspect’ politicians. Such leadership without a conscience will not take Malawi far; unfortunately, even the opposition leaders have swallowed the bait of iniquity hook, line and sinker and have no moral high-ground to condemn the ill-gotten gains that they are now enjoying on the DPP gravy-train without remorse. Oh, cry my beloved country!

The festive season is fast-approaching but it appears that for most Malawians it will be a ‘fasting season’ due to prevailing economic hardships. One can only hope that the current pay disputes will be resolved soonest before tempers flare as the financial and emotional toll of providing the basic family necessities for Christmas overcome even the patient and wise. President Mutharika and the DPP administration need to come out of their coccoon and assertively address the concerns of the Malawian people and those of embittered staff of government and semi-government institutions in a meaningful and mutually satisfactory manner. As of now, it appears that there is total confusion and the level of incomprehension of government intentions, (in)actions and reactions is reaching alarming dizzying heights.

In his bid for the presidency in the May 2014 elections, the once vibrantly bright but now  fast-fading leader of the UDF, Atupele Muluzi, burst onto the scene with the catchy slogan of ‘Business Unusual.’ The phrase has been over-used over the past few months and has become literally meaningless as we continue to see a confused lot of selfish leaders on all fronts, both ruling and opposition, with apparently no clue as to how to rescue this country from its immediate economic and political problems in a strategic, comprehensive manner. The level of disorientation defies logic and description.

One is tempted to surmise that we have now entered an uncanny period of ‘Dizziness Unusual.’


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(Chikavu Nyirenda is a Senior Lecturer in Banking and Finance at The Catholic University of Malawi and contributes, in his personal capacity, a weekly column, ‘Views from the Sunset,’ which is published in ‘The Daily Times’ every Monday)

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44 thoughts on “Malawi enters period of ‘dizziness unusual’”

  1. chatty man says:

    Zovuta zedi

  2. benn says:

    If we are not economically okay,are they enriching themselves?

  3. Jonjo says:

    I tend to wonder if this junior moya is indeed a learned professor of law. Please journalist do your proper research on this guys credentials otherwise I don’t think he so learned as perceived! kkkk. Mbuli ngati uyu sindinamuone. Chikavu you always inspire me with your articles. Keep it up!!!!

  4. Mr. B says:

    Thank you for your contribution sir and we need brilliant ideas like yours. We have to share with others what we think it’s good for our mother Malawi. Let me beg you sir and including all the learned writers on this column that why can’t we be part of the solution. I really appreciate your articles, I always read but spare your little time also to go through our comments.

  5. kASIYAMALIRO says:

    Ndikumva chizungulire… kodi mankhwala a chizingulire ndi chiyani? Chikavu, this is an excellent treatise. Very objective….

  6. Jimusole says:

    This is the type of sense that we want to pump into the heads of those in leadership positions. Keep up the good work.

  7. pa squecy says:

    well,what can I say?fools die for lack of wisdom.These guys dont listen to anyone but themselves.lets just wait and see!

  8. dambobanda says:

    i always wonder if we have a “head” of state ambiri mumati dzikoli titukule ma citizen koma palibe chomwe chingayende opanda HEAD so if the so called head of state is just sitting phwiiii mukuyembekezera kuti ziyenda bwanji?

  9. I totally agree too!
    Bt I got these questions
    1. If JB was not a good president then how come we had good Electricity supply and water?
    2.APM was voted in power coz pple needed Him bt did these pple who voted for him knew how much benefits he would bring to Malawi?
    3. No one died with hunger in Malawi during JBs time and now why are we dying with it? JB was a great leader though she too had her own problem! I think she was far too much better than APM! She admited her failure bt this father of ours HE is not quite too good about Giving out the truth abt HIS govt!

  10. Peter Mathanyula Wakuba says:

    Chongofunika apa nkumangopanga basi. Dziko latha ili.

  11. victim Chamkhuni Lwazazi says:

    And ung’ono ung’ono (usipa) has been swallowed by ukulu ukulu (bombe). I had hope in UDF, but now I have COMPLETE disappointment. Wallowing in luxuries and saving your father from corruption cases. No truth in the ung’ono ung’ono, greed, lies and betrayal. The poor people who supported you and your party are suffering while you are enjoying. Heavens, hear us.

  12. Magetsi says:

    Kuwerengaku ndi bwino, as usual!

  13. victim Chamkhuni Lwazazi says:

    It’s like ‘Things fall apart for the tiny poor leaderless Malawi’. Everybody listen: For the time being, no salary increase from the president to the cleaner – untill further notice. The madness by each one of us must stop, no matter who or what you are, otherwise the ill nation will die.

  14. cash gate says:

    thats good move bwana Chakwera aphunzitseni anthu amenewa ndi akuba heavy

  15. kapambwe says:

    leadership at its best, the Malawian way. fools die. sang peter tosh and said mugabe. let’s wait and see. kkkk.

  16. nkunthamasese says:

    I for one I did not vote for this rubbish. He is a prof. of doom. where is he taking this country to. to ntaya? shame to those idiots who continue supporting this mess. God, stop him the way you did with his develish brother. he is taking us to his master- the devil to perish with him. Oh God do us a favour.

  17. pompo pompo says:

    amene afuna amai ……………………………..mundidabwitsa. Nanji anyirenda kwaokwaokwao palibe chanzeru chomwe mungatiuze. kangoyambani lanu dziko mukufunalo tione mukakayambana mukapita kuti

    1. vindere says:

      Akayambana chifukwa chani? Kungonenapo zammutu basi.Mxii!!!!!

  18. chatonda says:

    This is proof enough that running a country does not necessarily need someone to be a Professor as Malawians claimed. Obama, Cameron, E
    Angel Merkel and others are not professors but are doing a miraculous job as presidents. Apa taphunzirapo kuti chati mbee sichinapsye. I pity Peter and also why did he marry that Girafee who is messing up Peter’s work? What is wrong with Peter within 6 months? UKAZIPUTA LIMBA, NKHANDWE IKAMEZA MAULA IMADZIWA KUTI IKANYERA.

  19. Odala Tili Odala says:

    Mr president has proved to be a resident of failure! Please resign

  20. Cashgate1 says:

    Imwe a Chikavu, Malawi lacks leadership! Its just unfortunate that we always miss opportunity and as Malawi our electoral laws are pathetic. How do you choose a national leader with 34 or 38% of voters? Mess and 100% mess. Instead of moving 50years ahead we are doing the opposite, that’s how we define things in Malawi.

  21. padoko says:

    “Millions of people die each day because they are too poor to live.” Dear Lord, give us leaders who will walk the talk for the better of our nation. “The poor will get poorer and the rich will get more rich.” YES! …but the poorer will get more angry too!! Much more to bring down this toy Government. Mutisamale, moya!

    1. vindere says:

      Yes!! A hungry man is an angry man.

  22. Manolo says:

    Martin Luther King once said : our lives begin to end when we remain silent on issues that matter. Malawians its time for action

  23. manyenje says:

    Peter and sailors are not politicians and that’s why they Have failed to govern. Zonse akuphunzira. If Peter failed to run a ministry do u expect himyo run a country,?

  24. Life says:

    What is particularly disgusting is that the top politicians are all senior citizens (geriatrics) who should in essence be making peace with God by avoiding all types of sins; they should not be particularly bent on accumulating worth given, soon, we will be deciding how to distribute their estate. How many years do you have left (Mutharika, Goodle Gondwe)??..The best you can hope is to reach 80 years which means you have literally 2-3 years to live. You are STUPID, both of you and your advisors and your wives and your children and your everyone. I am sick of you useless animal beings. This is our country, can you please go back to where you came from…reclaim your green cards please. you have no interest for this country. PEOPLE, let us reclaim our country. Democracy means citizens having the power to govern themselves. This means, when necessary, removing those we entrust to run our affairs by FORCE. Lets DO IT!

  25. Phiri says:

    This is neither a pro active nor reactive gvt, but dormant one. When JB was taking the mantle, the situation was worse, she managed to bring things in order but these guys??? Things are deteriorating each passing day as if there is no govt.

  26. Tinkanena says:

    Tinkanena anathera nsiizi. Mwana akalilira mtengo ya mtsatsi msemele imfotetele yekha. Chosamva anachiphikira mmasamba. Kumva mkhwangwa ili mmutu. Tiyeni nazo. No tecount ija ndi imeneyi. Am sure Mr Mbendera is loving this. I can imagine akumwa thiyi wa mkaka pa mpando miyendo atakolekera ma remote mmanja sikono la magarine lili potelopo.

  27. brutsha says:

    When you vote on tribal line that’s the heavy price you pay. Peter is no such a prototype of a state president . May be those who blindly voted for him have special shops to buy commodities, special vehicles for transportation but if not then we are all in for the economic crises.

  28. Kamchitete says:

    peter before you die of kadya calista why dont you resign honourably

  29. C says:

    Chikavu has almost lunged out my concern BUT THE PROBLEM is that our Junior Moya the second, is deaf!

  30. Malunza says:

    Is it too early to call for the resignation of this president?

  31. maganga says:

    Lake Malawi belongs to Tanzania

  32. Fathi Alshab says:

    Chikavu…yiu have hit thr nsil in the head staight…. Infact how can donirs come to sid budgrt when fightengly leaders are or want to leave lavishly..resl shanne.
    i thot the opposition would ve on ths side of the poor oh jessiejabwi ndiye mwabwira dothi the Dpp kuchititda manyazi. hope its not true.
    what did leader of opposition ssy on zodiak today at 1100 sory did i miss anything worth?
    the britidh envoy was rihht adviding that its up to malaeiand to change course unfortunately not to oppodition..maybe james nyondo to msckatso…..
    Really a goodwell gondwe judtifying snything even poverty and poor governancce… my foot?we gotta get rid of the guys…..lets diften the ground so that they dink down like in quicksand dont try hold their hard.

  33. Clueless leadership says:


  34. Kanyimbi says:

    Auzeni amenewa ine ndiwabeleka nthawi yaitali koma pano ndiye andipusitsa.

  35. cbk says:

    chilima is saying GOVT has no money and strikes are still coming,how will this mess be solved and end?agonjele nzake ndani?nde ndalama amati amuonjezele president amati atenga kuti?

  36. nthandalanda says:

    A great input into APM’s head. Needs alot of pump ups, please!

  37. John says:

    Totally agree.
    No words can describe the incompetence of this gvt. Having such a huge number of advisors at our expense, one would expect that they will at least do one thing right: ADVISE!
    The stupidity and greediness of the opposition is wholly inexcusable. Especially the MCP as they seem to preach( read that as kulalata) a lot about good governance, which they don’t seem to know what it means. This is evident as at a mere mention of money, Chakwera is the first to run to the bank with Kabwila in tow ululating the justifications of the hefty hikes. Where are the leaders ( the ones with morals)?

  38. chejumo says:

    If the leaders are hypocrites what should followers do? Preaching austerity while the Executive including many unlearned MPs give themselves hefty pay rises is mockery to the poor man! Let the strikes continue to squeeze hard hypocritical APM, Chakwera, and their bunch of political wolves in sheep skin! A Malawian politician is greedy and doesnt give a damn about you and me!

  39. Dick says:

    Nyirenda, this is the true reflection on the ground. I wonder Malawians had to entrust Peter who had failed miserably to address the free academic saga, and now to rule the whole country!! Let us call a spade a spade, a true leader is well appreciated at the time of crisis like this. He appointed a horde of advisors who are doing more harm to his leadership than good. What are they advising him? raising salaries for MP, ministers , VP and president amid economic crisis? dubiously getting funds from NAC for Mlakho, BEAM and journalists allowances? Paying a deaf ear to judiciary and ACB strikes? President is proving to be incompetent at the passing of each day. If the presidency is too big a load for him, let him resign honorably

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