Malawi limousine appetites in a bicycle economy

Recently, Parliament has come under fire for what has been dubbed ‘extravagance’. The media is awash with the ‘revelations’ of how Parliament has gone on a shopping spree for top of the range luxurious vehicles to the extent of blowing a whooping MK300 million on just four people. Watching the news and special programs specifically produced by the state controlled MBC TV, you get the impression that someone is having a good time settling scores with the top cats at Parliament other than apprehending the suspected culprits.

Malawi netball players get out of the limo

Malawi netball players get out of the limo

In other news, the man in charge of the public purse, Goodall Gondwe has put it bluntly: “Forget about donors”. He is quoted to have advised government controlling officers and chief directors to be prudent in their management of funds because donors will not provide any funds. “Do not think that if you do certain things or you fulfil certain obligations, then donors will come back. Take it from me, they are not coming back”. Interesting – if we were trying to do the right things just for the sake of winning back donors, and not necessarily for the love of our country, then we are a sick and pathetic nation.

Nevertheless, this is the kind of truth that will set us free as a nation – we are not entitled to freebies and donors don’t owe us a living. Herewith some unsolicited advice to the learned and experienced Finance Minister: Abandon the old budget template and craft a totally new one that takes into account the hard economic realities. We have come of age as a nation and we must learn to wipe our own backside. Please Sir, do away with the current extravagant budget template and formulate a completely radical one in line with the size of our economy.

Based on the explanations from Parliament on the purchase of the vehicles, probably no law was broken. Every “controlling officer” who needed to approve the purchase of the luxurious vehicles, duly approved and treasury funded the extravagance. After all, it has been the tradition that office bearers at that level are entitled to such luxury. Parliament was permitted to be extravagant because that is what was put in the national budget – extravagance. This is where we need some radical reforms. We need a budget that reflects the size of our economy and not one based on our appetite for luxurious living.

With the skewed media reporting, one would think every other government department except Parliament, is clean. But wait a minute. Count the number of luxurious cars on the convoy of the Head of State.

Look at the expensive celebrity Hummers that surround MG2. Think of the two or three official vehicles per cabinet minister. Go to any parastatal and see the luxurious vehicles parked for the Chief Executives, Financial Controllers, Heads of Departments, and you will not believe this is the same country that is going around the world with a begging bow, seeking food handouts.

The extravagant culture has not spared individuals and families. Take a drive around Areas 47, 9, 10, 12, 43 and be shocked to see 4, 5 even 6 bedroomed mansions, housing families of four. Many of them have up to 5 toilets to serve 4 family members. I have always wondered; what is the probability that each family member would need to use the toilet at the same time? But hey, we need to show off to our neighbours – it is our way of life. As the saying goes, monkey see, monkey do. We are simply walking in the footsteps of our leaders.

Malawi is a bicycle economy but sadly, whose leaders and their elite friends have huge limousine appetites. We ride in a convoy of VXs, Prados, Mecs just to go and officially open a borehole, some donated school block or some 13km road.

For our ailing economy, a Toyota Fortuner would do for most senior public servants, although I would recommend a second hand Nissan X-Trail. I drive a Nissan Note, not my preferred choice, but the size of my ‘personal economy’ tells me that is what I can afford to drive at the moment. Most hard working tax-payers drive second hand vehicles, why should those using the meagre taxes collected blow them on luxurious brand new VXs?

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53 thoughts on “Malawi limousine appetites in a bicycle economy”

  1. Jj says:

    Commenter, no a Nissan Note wouldn’t do! Dadaaaaaaaa, but wouldn’t a 25 seater minibus do the job? So what if it was sponsored?

  2. monte says:

    take agood example of mr Jose mujika using a vw bito car instead of the so called vx shame to our leaders who always want to go to state house to erich themselves.

  3. zencoh says:

    Am inspired by Charles Sankara areal son of Africa. If we can get leaders like him Malawi can change. These people they forget that they are servants so they dont need that luxury. As long as they have ahouse for free it better

  4. busy signal says:

    Amalawi always fwe fwe fwe the problem here is that we dont talk one voice, we are all devided in the sense that some guys do not see any problem with this type of extravagance. These are the by products of nepotism, tribalism, regionalism. Had we voters been walking the talk together, i can assure you we can put to a stop all this nosense and get rid of all these old timers through a revolt. Malawi doesnot need donors, plenty of worth here and late bingu was very right and even was tempted to start stealing it.

  5. manze says:

    Great article, please keep more of these articles publishing.
    Maybe people will wake up and defend what’s right.
    I am dissapointed with MR CHAKWERA for accepting this bribe. I thought he was a humble man.

    I too live in USA but I am always opposed to living beyond your means, in any society.

  6. Rocky says:

    ll also help you identify when you may have to make some pit stops to adjust accordingly.
    Issues of minimum wage and redundancy payment remain non-debatable, and the management should calculate Bella’s
    dismissal payment before she leaves the company. If you have a business then it’s crucial
    to apply new methods and approaches in order to improve your business.

  7. wilfred says:

    Nyama idzidyedwa pa maliro, ndiye asiyeni asungwana audolome ngakhale malawi ikulira

  8. Wangie says:

    Amazing article. Keep up the good work.

  9. Bikiloni Nachipanti says:

    Second hand cars yes, but we styill get reaped off through extravagant taxes… These same Goodalls impose punitive tax measures because of pride. They do not want to drive same cars as those who are able to get them through their hardwork. Lets get these people off the hook

  10. Jimbo says:

    This article really puts things into perspective and is to be applauded. There is an expression in Texas, USA – ‘Big hat but no cattle’. Put into the context of this article we could say, ‘Big car but small man’. You can easily recognise a Malawian politician – fancy suit, shiny shoes, sunglasses, big car, the stereotypical African big man. They become politicians for the power, respect and kudos the position brings with it. They are total hypocrites and undeserving of their office.

  11. London says:

    Mr Kachaje, please keep up with your tremendous writing with beautiful provocative insight. Its everyone wish to have selfless good leaders like Sankara and Mujica type.

  12. Commenter says:

    The limo that the netaballers came in was actually sponsored! Please get your facts right! what you wanted 20 women in your nissan note???

  13. ephrahim says:

    Going by bicycle is inn in the developed world. Even Prime Minister use it nowadays! It shows a dedication towards economic, environmental issues as well as a sign of physical fitness !
    It seems this values are very strange to our leaders. ..

  14. Me, Myself and I says:

    Our leaders are not patriots-they are not true Malawians

  15. Mtondoli Jonazi says:

    I do agree with Issa Kabudula – we indeed do indeed need a Thomas Sankara type of leadership and I have also personally mentioned Jose Pepe Mujica – former president of Uruguay. Mujica never stayed at the presidential palace but chose to stay at his wife’s farm, drove himself around in a 1976 VW Beetle, donated 80% of his salary to charity and had no body-guard.

    Mujica is still alive. Nobody ever made an attempt on his life. All because people loved him because he was always looking after the affairs of the ordinary person. Sankara got unlucky because of the same issues that still plague our Africa today – greed.

    Why would a poor country like Malawi splurge on expensive cars, trips, etc when there is no money for essential services like medical care? And if our leaders claim to be for the people, why do they need all the protection? Who are they scared of? Stop making enemies and do the right thing – work for the people who put you in power.

    A Toyota Fortuner is way too expensive for our ministers – get them Toyota Hilux twin cabs. They are better suited to our roads. Besides what is the point of paying more for the same vehicle? Fortuner, Hilux – same thing: engine, chassis. Someone at Toyota just thought: dudes, let’s take the Hilux, put a few more seats and make some money with it! And they do!

    Give them bicycles for christ’s sake and revive PVHO or let them car pool! Useless idiots.

  16. Dokotala Mtabeni says:

    Nice piece Mr Kachaje

  17. Munthuwamba says:

    Tell me something, you mean someone in my motherland is driving such a limo. I really would love to see it for myself when I come to visit. If we are driving vehicles like that in Malawi now, that is very encouraging. I think sitiri kutali kweni kweni ndi chitukuko pakali pano. Soon, we might be up there.

  18. Issa Kabudula says:

    Malawi tidakagonabe – we need the rhetoric of Dzuka Malawi every day, we need to be reminded and we need the SANKARA system of government, where every public savant must go back to using tax/Toyota, for economical atmosphere and why showing off when we can’t sustain. Zopempha mpaka kushubula?

  19. kharupa says:

    Za mowazo sinkhani its part of food. kwina kuli konse pa dziko lapansi pano mowa umamvedwa koopsa, go to Maputo, Nairobi, dara eslam. The issue here is we are lazy, too corrupt and our priorities are upside down

  20. all ministers deserve second hand 1998 toyota Rav4 and others starlet’s, nissan note’s,collora 16 valve

  21. article of the year.

    with our bicycle economy second hand car’s is the way to go.

  22. musekanji palibe kanu says:


  23. GS says:

    The only best article I have read in Malawi

  24. Kanyimbi says:

    Good writing.

  25. dagobert says:

    This is why I say: A guy like our HE could easly spend two days on an Airport without a significant loss to our national butget, considering his low nominal salary compare to the cost of an aeroplane. He might spend the time to improve the quality of his speeches he is going to present overseas….

  26. Kayesa says:

    I totally agree with your views here.Extravagance has engulfed us in all sectors of our economy from top level institutions to family and individual levels.i have wondered if some 30 individuals who built six bedroom houses could not use half of the money by partnering and invest that money in other sectors of the economy which are not doing fine like agriculture.

  27. Sapitwa says:

    The structure of these types of perks are no longer there in a modern economy today. People get car allowances, housing allowances, annual performance bonuses. etc. This archaic system has been subject to abuse; proven. The new reforms should have catered for this funds blowing system and get away with it. Indeed in our bicycle economy, we need radicalism to be realistic of what we are.

  28. membe says:

    I wish all reporters saw this,they are the ones who write negative stories on things they don’t have enough information on or simply want there paper bought.Shame,give us what is there.

  29. concerned citizen says:

    Good article. Remember that those
    were bot b4 cashgate. Ppl have to be ambitious. Now that de budget will be formulated according to our economy, its good. Let us not keep on crying for the spilt milk. Let us stand on our own feet with confidence. Having poor economy shudn’t make us perpetuate de poverty to de extent that our officials shud be using Toyota corollars, no. Let the by-gones be so. Let us continue from where we are and start working hard all of us then we will normalise. Let our development be sustainable. A Henry izo ngati mwaziona lero sikuti they’ve been planned today ndi zamangidwa pompopompo ayi.
    Remember Kamuzu ankayenda pa Rolls Loyse & Limo pamene only a handful of ppl had shoes on their feet. Some ppl have worked hard in order to have what you see today. if you admire. That’s good. But if you are jealousy. Then sorry.

  30. DZIKANYANGA says:


  31. Nyamakumutu Prophet wa Mpira says:

    You are very right. Why should I pay tax for such extravagance.

  32. Konza Chapasi says:

    Henry , that’s a very good article but who owns the limousine which is being shown here ?

  33. Spectator 30 says:

    They always lecture the struggling Malawians to tighten their belts while having stash of looted billions in their accounts.Does it really make any sense lecturing of a hungry person of austerity measures who has a remaining penny in his pocket to buy food for his kids?

  34. Sayimoni Bayisikolo. says:

    I do field work and I spend most of my times in rural areas..The poverty in Malawi is pathetic.The people who lead us are inhuman and have no feelings for ordinary Malawians.They are interested in driving big machines state of art cars,airconditioned and being praised by the povos for being non performers.Do these people really deserve all this?They have taken Malawians for a ride because they know most Malawians are illiterate,timid,docile whatever to tell these non performers blank out that we had had enough of them.The right word for all these people is greedy.Malawians kids are learning under the tree in this day the same as Kamuzu Banda used to learn under the tree in 1915,people are dying from curable disease because they are no drugs in hospitals,Malawi has substandard infrastructure,the agriculture sector is in shambles.Malawi has to come to a halt with this non performers.What they know is scratching they big greyed heads at Sun and Sand claiming to be looking for solutions for the shameful impoverished Malawi while pocketing fat allowances from the struggling tax players and lecturing the downtrodden tax payer to tighten their belts,while farting after eating big meals and washing down with some expensive Chardonnay.What an insult for Malawians.Its time all Malawians stopped tolerating this nonsense.These failures do not deserve all these luxuries.The celebrities we see in movies have earned their success.They work their arses 24/7 and do use tax payers money.Malawi has totally gone to dogs with the failed Dpp led by their clueless aged professor.We are going to be in graveyards by this visionless leadership if it doesn’t change the way of doing things.


    No Wonder

  36. sikusinja says:

    Unfortunately our learned finance minister is not that smart. Am not really sure why the speaker needs a K90million car when a K30million car can do for him. Like Sankara told his ministers in Burkina Faso years ago, government does not make profits, why shud ministers and govt officials drive around like they r a profit making entity. That’s why Saulos is not helping at all with his reform talk. He talks about changing mindset yet him and his boss haven’t changed. He drives around with a special chair just for him. He is okay with his president spending a fortune to go open a road. Seriously a road. So if we bask with pride in such mediocrity how can people’s mindsets change. We need to set standards. If am Saulos am telling the president we will only attend inauguration of something that improves our GDP, creates employment for more than 1000 people, has been value of more than say 5 or 10 billion kwacha, etc etc.

  37. mike bele says:

    the economy took a nose dive on1/10/2004. the then gvt. revised gvt salaries by about 300%. since that time every one retiring carts home tens of millions kwacha, and every month draws a salary fit for an employee. a month later gvt realized its mistake and wanted to put things right but the cstu put its foot down and said no. since then GG has been having nightmares, and keeps goofing. imagin if he had put his foot down to the cstu, said no to the ten or so vehicles, and no to the bloated UN trip.

  38. Koma ????? says:

    Great,,,worse and surprising, govt refuses its depts to purchase second hand vehicles….yet the economy reflects second hand…

  39. Kingsley Jika says:

    One of the best articles I’ve read for sometime. Objective, realistic, intelligent, thought-provoking, forward-looking & educative. One can tell this man has his heart on this country & such writing is good for constructive debate for a healthy democracy.

  40. Alex Likoswe says:

    Look at Triza Namathanga’s and the stollen money yet 10 months improlizonment.

    Triza when she was at parks and game reserves could not afford Maluwa

  41. Daniel Phiri says:

    Is it true that Henry drives a Nissan Note, as he claims? That’s not a very safe car.

  42. nyapapi says:

    Mwalemba articleyi bwino atatie. Those VX, anad Prados are mantained and repaired using taxpayers money, the same money whiich buys drugs, and fund other social services. Its a shame, big shame. In addition, they collect 1000litres fuel per month. Of coarse with that type of vehicle, 1000litres is deserved. But for a lunatic to say that the vehicles were legally bought just shows how empty upstairs our leaders are. The question was of substance not merely legal, the question was affordability.

    On a point of departure, i have no problem one owning a 6 bedroomed mansion from his own hard earned resources. Its very ok, and inspire others to work hard to build their own ndatas. I have problem if its bought from stolen money, from anywhere it be Government, NGO, Private sector, friends Church, etc, thats foolishness, not acceptable. But to own a mansion from own EARNED resouces, i have no problem. We need to dream big, work hard, earn the fruits of hard work. Not from Taxpayers Money

  43. George phiri says:

    We have a problem as Malawians, One day walking around Dublin 9 i saw the residential home of the Irish Prime Minister, what was there really? Three bedroomed house, one police man. Thats all. Nope walking around city centre I saw one short man akukwera merc ya 2006 but the security was like that of vip alas this is the Irish President. These are people who run good economies koma Malawi people who dont create any value want to be eeeshiiii.

  44. Malawianmom says:

    It will be parked in few months. Spare parts for that car is not a joke. This car is equipped with air ride shorkes,and it’s not made for Malaw roads.

  45. Neema says:

    koma inu mumayenda paminibus sure? inu mumakhala potani? mulingowu mukulingila anzanu? nanga inu tiuzeni zoona. Asiyeni anzanu akudya zawo. sizolandilitsa. ofuna zaulere asovenge! Alakwanji pokhala a Malawi? hehedee! backwardness basi.

  46. only says:

    xokondera basi koma likakhala boma nde sikulinyoza kwake, koma chifukwa nganzanu a mcp

  47. akusipikana says:

    An article well written. How I wish this could stick in their heads and take action. They say charity begins at home. The head of state should lead by example. GG, I hope you read this and show your boss, put your heads together and start working to improve the economy. We will appreciate you.

  48. WAMISALA says:

    Tizingotchona ku joweni
    Palibe chathu apa
    Zemo ikandimalize eeesh!!

  49. Uyo Munkhungu says:

    Good article! Pity all we seem to aim for is mediocrity in all sectors! Finance minister of Greece goes around on a motorcycle and even with Greece’s financial problems, their economy is much better than ours!

  50. pel says:

    I entirely agree with Henry here. Whatever extravagance the bulk stops at government(executive and legislature) with GG leading the way by formulating an extravagant budget for the elite.

    1. wa ku Mitchesi kujaaaaa!!!! says:

      What “bulk” stops where?
      I thought it “buck” (the dollar), buddy?

  51. Optic Computer says:

    Unfortunately, sober Malawians like you are only a handful. Worse still, only myopic guys are handpicked as directors, CEOs, of government departments and companies.

  52. becks says:

    Nice article

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