Simango ‘thinking aloud’ on how to fix Malawi economy: ‘Magufuli’ everything

This is a response I have just posted on Henry Kachaje‘s page where he wants to know what can be done to fix Malawi’s ailing economy. This was my 2 Tambala contribution to the debate, which has received tonnes of quite insightful proposals.

Simango: Thinking aloud

Simango: Thinking aloud

The summary of my response is that what needs to be done cannot be done – at least, not by our politicians. Below is my very polite contribution (my apologies to my civil servant colleagues, but something about you had to be said):

Zosatheka, a Bwana Kachaje. Fixing the Malawi economy needs guts, something our politicians will never have. You first start by stopping the bleeding, if you are haemorrhaging or if you find yourself in a hole, you start by stopping digging – and that just cannot be done, here.

Do you know how much govt spends on fuel and vehicle repairs? BILLIONS! And guess who drives that fuel guzzling VX or D4D to the market and chinkhoswe on Saturdays and to church on Sunday tiana tili tho! kumbuyo, madam atasongola? Not to mention going to bottle stores every evening? A mere driver – he uses the car 80 percent of the time on personal errands.

Do you know a government driver can take a government vehicle to go to his aunt’s funeral 300 Kms away and leave the office without any transport? His aunt’s  funeral, not even his mothers. Show me one serious company that can tolerate this kind of nonsense. That is just one area but it goes to show you how blind govt has become to what it can do to increase savings.

And then there is the elephant in the room – ALLOWANCES. He-he! Tell me if there will ever be a single politician who will even mention this. Do you know how much is spent on allowances? BILLIONS!

The average civil servant at Capital Hill spends most of his/her time deploying and following up on loose minutes and memos for this field trip or that foreign trip. Here are the facts: those billions in allowances are not for teachers, nurses not even for those hard working extension officers in the villages. It is spent on a selected few who have made it their career to live their lives on government allowances.

Granted, most of them are well qualified and would do with a better salary but it is also true that most of them can easily get a better salaried job in the private sector. So why are they not going there? Your guess is as good as mine – government especially Capital Hill is a gold mine.

Solution? ABOLISH ALLOWANCES IN GOVERNMENT, NGOS AND DEVELOPMENT PARTNERS. PERIOD. But as I said, who has the balls to do that? Certainly, not any of our politicians.

Then there is the porous government payment system. How much is still being pilfered even today? BILLIONS! And, no, it’s not just about IFMIS, it’s just sheer stupidity. Yeah, there, I said it! stupidity. Want proof of stupidity? How about this: Have you ever wondered why EVERY government accounts ASSISTANT owns multiple houses and multiple vehicles when Directors are even lucky to have a single house to their name? Very simple.

When a request for funds for fuel or allowances is made by a department or a given number of people, the cashier’s offices is responsible for releasing the cheque once it has been processed and issued. Now, cheques of this nature are not issued to individuals or entities but rather they are issued directly to the banks where they will be drawn and so the cheque will be something like ‘Pay National Bank’, etc. A list of the actual recipients is then attached to that cheque and they are both deposited together at the bank. The bank then distributes the allowances or the fuel as per attached list.

What the boys and girls in the accounts simply do is detach the original list and replace it with their own! When the owners follow up, they are simply told, the payment is not ready or some other stupid excuse. Ask any civil servant at Capital Hill and they can testify that, more often than not, their approved payments never make it past the cashiers window. Now, if that is not stupid, tell me what is. First time I heard it, I thought it was a joke until someone confirmed it to me – I felt really sorry for my country, that day.

Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe is said to have, recently, told the nation that Malawi’s economy was in God’s hands? Well, that was asked-and-answered long time ago – Malawi’s economy has been surviving only by the Grace of God. Otherwise, how else do you explain the fact that the economy has been bleeding this much and yet the country still staggers on? It can only be a miracle, seriously. Because in real life, no organisation can do what we allow to happen in our government and still survive – not even for a month.

In short, our economy can do better even with the little we have if we were just to be a little frugal. But as I said – Zosatheka izi, zofunika kadziotche, needs a hatchet man, someone who does not care about a second term or even impeachment. Go in there, Magufuli everything, seal the changes with multiple layers of concrete and get out!

Until that happens, we are dead.

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Gera
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Gera
7 months 11 days ago

Shame my country

PAC
Guest
7 months 11 days ago

Iam encouraging ministry of Local Gvt. to look into District assemblies, there is too much financial mismanagement, including in Sectors like Health. DHO’s conive with Dc’s in Cashgate at the expense of Services. Certain DHO is buying expensive cars yet he doen’t have a private business that can generate the money he is squandering

ambuje apali
Guest
7 months 11 days ago

Whilst our focus is on Capital Hill, We should also look at assemblies Especially Health sectors, there is too much cashgate happening in these sectors. I know of a certain DHO who has turned down transfer x5 because of the ORT. he can do anything at will with the ORT. and yet patients have been getting Soya Pieces on daily basis for the past 9 months!

chibweya joe
Guest
chibweya joe
7 months 12 days ago

Good ideas but these measures should strart with Head of State not to get allowances when he is performing his day to day duties. Likewise ministers.
Doctors and medical personnel should not share medicines amongst themselves like ration. Extension officers are more of farmers themselves than advisors.
Contractors be it construction or any service deliveries should get what is due for the job not more than that.
In short it requires a concerted effort from both public and private sectors

mjiba
Guest
mjiba
7 months 12 days ago
Simango you have pointed at one cause of the problem which is well known. Theft and plunder of resources at Capital Hill, I will add City Assemblies, Statutory Corporations, State House. The country is sinking. But what is the solution. Magufuli everthing No. I dont know what you mean by Magufuli everything. But if it is in reference to what the Magufuli I know is doing to revamp our Neighbouring country, including laying claim to our Lake Malawi, I say No. What are the problems. Poverty, Hunger, Disease,Lack of Services etc. While I agree with you that some of these… Read more »
Mnjonja
Guest
Mnjonja
7 months 13 days ago
This is very much true Mr Simango There is a situation where people are so educated and ambitious in Malawi but there is no access to economic opportunities. Furthermore, there has been a constant limited access to basic services and no equal distribution of wealth. This is because the civil servants are continuously stealing our tax money Where do all the donor money go, year in and year out? It takes one 3 hours to drive a 50 km distance because the roads are terrible. Very much so. Most of the people who have money – the only way is… Read more »
Harbson
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Harbson
7 months 13 days ago

Government have a tendency of allowing fuel to be bought and put in Officer’s personal cars and yet they are given fuel allocation together with their salaries. Politicians are given fuel when travelling yet they claim more fuel from the departments they visit. Are these not double claims?

Zasintha
Guest
Zasintha
7 months 13 days ago

Charles has made my day. He makes insightful observations and the proposals he is making can make Malawi tick and steadily move up the development index.

DPP take note and take a decisive step to redeem your otherwise tattered image. Trim dead wood from your ranks; there are so many for comfort. You can achieve a lot if only you boldly remove individuals whose only qualification is praise singing or bad mouthing the opposition!

Honeycomb Chidyauzu
Guest
Honeycomb Chidyauzu
7 months 13 days ago

You are right Charles. Malawi needs young and dynamic leaders not these old grandfathers .They have been there for too long and the system is now rotten to the core.
Why should we still keep on bringing old people to run the Government yet we know that things are changing. We need to be decisive.

Alex
Guest
Alex
7 months 13 days ago

I love this… Great writing. The truth. In civil service this time a Driver can tell the Officers to go to hell. “Ndimabwana”. They are even grooming their kids to go to school to become drivers at capital hill. kikikikiki. My beloved Malawi. You spend years in school..only to die poor. BUT a mere driver? Is having Mansions..A mere Accouts Clerk? Having fun pa Malawi.. CRAZY. GOGOGO Magufuli. Bring in SANITY.. Or We all run..Let the Drivers and The Accounts Clerks DO the civil service. STUPID Blind People in Power.

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