Without initiative, says Bo Bennet, leaders are simply workers in leadership positions. This has never been more spot-on for Malawi except that ‘workers occupying leadership positions’ actually ‘work’ to earn their keep.
In Malawi, ‘workers in leadership positions’ do nothing except sitting and scheming how to pinch the odd donor buck, if NAC-gate is anything to do by.
Since NAC-gate is now a matter that National Aids Commission has to ‘clarify’ to its donors, and later to be the subject of a yet another audit to be buried under the carpet, if we are to take the Minister of Health at her word, I will let sleeping dogs lie.
Having said that, the picture quickly emerging is that: close to six months from May 2014, it is as if there hasn’t been a change of government at all.
A quick analysis of our recent history cements this as a fact we must get used to, whether we like it or not.
In six months or so, back in 2004, late President Bingu wa Mutharika had already won over a sizeable number of sceptics.
Cynics who had fought, and fought tooth and nail Muluzi’s (the then president) bid to put late Bingu wa Mutharika in office, for fear that wapakaliyala adzayamba kuyimba belu were in six months, silenced and satisfied that Malawi now had a president who meant business.
By the end of Bingu’s first six months in power, every one (except those crying foul for his dumping the United Democratic Front) was singing “Halleluiah” and marveling at how great the Almighty is, and how indeed, His ways are not ours.
Although years down the line it turned out that they had celebrated too early, when one comes to think of it; the Bingu of the first term, the Bingu of the first six months of his reign; was a Bingu of the people, a Bingu who would lock up thieving ministers, a Bingu who was destined to take Malawi somewhere better, not to where he eventually left the poor country.
Then came Africa’s second woman president, Joyce Banda. Within six months she was presiding over a contented Malawi, with Malawians grinning ear to ear.Why?
Because within a record time, Joyce Banda had made amends with everyone that had been peeved by her predecessor’s contrarian behaviour.
Dollars, euros, rands and pounds were freely flowing into the economy, fuel queues and sleep overs at filling stations quickly became a thing of the past.
Once again, the celebration proved to be a bit premature; and here we are, driving in reverse gear, and with each passing day, sinking deeper in the mud.
Looking at the incumbent’s first six months against the stellar first-six-months performances of vintage Bingu and Joyce Banda, you and I can say, without fear of contradiction: that the election in May 2014, might as well have been a ballot to hire a non-worker into the number one post in Malawi Limited.
Six months on from May 2014, reminiscent of a president-less country, the feeling that Malawi is lacking leadership and direction is overwhelming and getting worse.
Six months after taking over the baton, the best this government is doing is creating the impression that it wants to experiment with how far Malawi can go on autopilot, and how much longer Malawians can tolerate a government that consumes taxes and nips donor money while providing no services, offering nil direction and taking a ‘deserved’ nap under the impression that fixing the economy is something that some being (a UFO) will come from Mars to do.
No-one following events and lack of development(s) in Malawi has any doubt that currently, there isn’t a single soul working on fixing the economy.
For every action, there must be a reaction. Therefore, if someone was taking action on fixing the economy, and doing this well; the reaction would not have been a Kwacha heading for the chasm.
If someone, employed and paid to fix the economy was not sleeping on their watch; inflation would not have been growing at an alarming rate, critical services and operations grinding to a halt, while journalists – from nowhere evolve, into a priority pro-poor investment area.
Naturally, given the unattended to economic malaise, service provision is suffering to the detriment of the people who depend on the government the most i.e. the real poor. And the poor, in any sober definition, do not include that lot that after being wined and dined, were thanked with MK50,000 donated to Malawi to fight HIV and AIDs.
This begs that question: when shall our leaders learn that you can fool some people some time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time?
With one hand, they extend a begging bowl; and with the other they and their cronies,are busy pilfering the little that the donors had given for the cause of those that are stricken with HIV and AIDS.
And look at the looting:a third (MK50, 000) reportedly went to the journalists, and two thirds (MK100, 000) into you-know-who’s wallets, wallets that should already be bursting with taxpayer’s money.
If “cash-gate”will one day be defined as “the malpractice of making hefty payments to connected suppliers for supplying nothing”; the current government’s invention, “NAC-gate”, will be explained as“the art of a presidential economic advisor fundraising from donor-funded NAC, for events that have little or nothing to do with AIDs and some lucky character at the State House purloining a third of the loot.”
Disgusting isn’t it? The more things change, the more they remain the same. The feeling of déjà vu is unbearable for any patriot.
- Nyakuchena Ganda is a Nyasa Times columnist