In general terms, no sane Malawian would fault the decision by President Peter Mutharika on Wednesday to suspend the sale of Malawi Savings Bank (MSB) so that we could all engage in a national conversation to find a fair and just way forward.
The point is, gone are the times when Malawians would accept to be rolled over and accept decisions of government that do not make sense to them or are patently unfair and therefore, unjust.
Yet going through the six-page State House release that announced the President’s decision on Wednesday, I cannot help feel a bitter after taste as it is making some claims that are wholesomely untrue.
Take, for instance, a claim that those that are against the sale of MSB are doing so on the basis of party affiliation.
This cannot be further from the truth and I think it is the kind of statement that simply attempts to mask the real issues about the sale which as a country we must sort out before the bank is sold.
Let me make one point clear. Many Malawians are convinced that the only way forward on the matter is to sell the bank because it makes more economic sense and I am one of them but I don’t think I am doing it because of the party or the individual I voted for as MP or president on May 20 last year.
The big problem which the President failed to acknowledge in the statement is that there is a lot of injustice on issues surrounding the sale that Malawians want sorted out before the bank goes under the hammer.
Malawians know that the now failing to pay.
Instead of forcing these people to pay up so that the bank is sold while it is in good financial health, this government, with full approval of the President, decided to fiddle with it and declared such loans as toxic so that the Reserve Bank could issue some promissory notes to off-set them.
This is what has riled Malawians from all walks of life and it has got nothing to do with the parties we voted for or the parties we like today.
It is about justice and fairness in dealing with matters that affect us all. It is about a government that wants to protect its supporters from paying up what they owed the bank.
It is about DPP not owning up for destroying the bank and respecting our money that we pay from a whole range of taxes that are placed on our shoulders without our express approval to be used to pay loans for rich people when poor people are dying like flies in public hospitals because there are no drugs around.
For the past two weeks, every government department that has appeared before parliamentary committees has complained of budget cuts yet government can find a way of off-setting a rich man’s loans to MSB merely because he supports DPP and perhaps funded its last year’s campaign.
It is this unfairness that has driven Malawians who are against the sale of MSB. It is about the love of our country and trying to create a fair society out of it.
When all loans that MSB is owed are paid in full and the DPP government has borne full responsibility of the mess the bank is in, it’s all systems go and the sale can go ahead, full throttle.
Even if this process takes centuries and the bank completely collapses, let it be for the alternative is also not an option.
Why should my grandmother die simply because my tax has been used to pay for a loan of some rich bugger who is connected to the DPP?
This is not about political parties, Mr President, and it is where you got it wrong.
It is about social justice, I repeat.
- The article appeared in Malawi News on the ‘Hitting the Nail’ column