It is no longer a rumour as it was few weeks ago, Malawi Savings Bank (MSB) and Indebank have been sold. I wish I could extol government for selling MSB, which many claim was on verge of collapsing—thanks to political interference (read toxic loans) in the bank and politically connected people who ransacked and left it hemorrhaging.
There are reasons many argued for and against the sale of MSB, but that is a discussion for another day.
There is a nudging feeling that is compelling me to air my thoughts on the matter. I find it grossly disturbing that President Peter Mutharika after telling Malawians that he will put on hold the sale of MSB until when he is convinced that there has been enough debate and consultation on the pros and cons of selling it went against his promise.
I remember how many Malawians took to social media networks commending Mutharika for finally coming out of his cocoon and offering direction on the matter. Many even christened him ‘a listening president’ who has the welfare of Malawians at heart.
Little did we know that Mutharika was simply pulling wool over our eyes—he had already made the decision and was waiting for the perfect time to put pen to paper. There was a feeling among many, if reactions on social media are anything to go by, that perhaps Mutharika is a man of his words. He was indeed given the benefit of the doubt but, unfortunately, he has just proved that he is not a man of his words.
I have a feeling that government was waiting for MPs to pass the Budget to avoid the “Section 65 number one, Budget number two” scenario which paralysed Parliament during Bingu wa Mutharika’s reign.
I have not been outside Malawi and even if I were, in this age of Internet, I would still have heard and read about this public debate. It never happened and that’s the general feeling one gets when you read comments on social media. What did Mutharika really mean by public debate if no public was involved in making the final decision? Could it be that he meant his inner circle is the public? So much for a listening government.
From the look of things, even Parliament has been caught unawares. Just a day after it recommended government recapitalisation of the bank, MSB was sold. Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe must have been looking at the MPs and laughing at them. We all have been played for fools.
And typical of us Malawians, we will sit with hands akimbo and grumble about it without doing anything. For those who can, they will spend hours on Facebook and Twitter and sulking. We seriously need to learn that no hashtag or Facebook post makes things work if we do not get up and do it.
- The article appeared in the The Nation newspaper