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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18 thoughts on “Simango ‘thinking aloud’ on how to fix Malawi economy: ‘Magufuli’ everything”

  1. Gera says:

    Shame my country

  2. PAC says:

    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

  3. ambuje apali says:

    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!

  4. chibweya joe says:

    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

  5. mjiba says:

    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 problems can be solved by putting the plug on the lootepoing that is going on at Capital Hill. A lot of these are to do with putting in place systems that actually work and having a public that makes leaders/workers to be accountable for their actions. You said a driver taking a govt vehicle to go 300kms to attend his aunt’s funeral while everyone is without transport at the office??? really? where is the discipline system in govt which can deal with this nonsense. who issues fuel for the driver to travel, who inspects vehicle log book and mileage and then penalises the drivers for unauthorised use of govt vehicles? Do we have managers at Capital Hill who are prepared to enforce the discipline code in MPSR I dont think so everyone wants to look cool and be liked by surbodinates kuopa kunenedwa wankhanza. Accounts personnel building mansions and having unexplained wealth. Expand the list of officers to be declaring their wealth to these idiots as well. But what about persistent hunger, disease, poverty? Where is the food sufficiency for Malawi, where is the green belt initiative to rid Malawi of hunger? What happend to the rice irrigation schemes which were a good pilot for future irrigation schemes in Malawi. Ask Cassim Chilumpha what happened to his irrigation scheme in Nkhota-kota just on verge of Lake Malawi?Implementation, Implementation. Disease control. Our hospitals dealing with preventable diseases,malaria, diarrhoea, which if we can take the right approaches like constant furmigation of areas which breed mosquitos and have the right messages to the people, there would be no drug shortages in the hospitals. I remember earlier on in the run up to Multi party politics in Malawi we used to read a lot of publications telling us wrongs that the MCP government was doing. One such wrong was the self help initiative called “Youth Week” where every community had a week of activities designed to restore essential services to roads, bridges, schools and even sometimes construction of shelter for the elderly. These publications told us that this is bad and undemocratic. Malawians now have no sense of self help and independence. They rely on the government for everything from food on their table to putting money in their pocket. Ha ha ha Magufuli everything No. Rather Kamuzu everything bwa!!!!!

  6. Mnjonja says:

    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 to participate in the so called cash gate – corruption scandals as you have mentioned Mr Simango – The insightful.

    Inflation always remains in double digits, the local currency continues to depreciate, no jobs for the energetic and educated youth.

    No training for artisans. the skills that develop the nation. Most graduates can not even express themselves in English

    These continuously lead to poverty and inequality. To a larger degree, economic development is hindered by those who have access to Government resources. They use the opportunities to enrich themselves instead of proper allocation and utilization of these resources.

    only these few are leading a comfortable life in Malawi and the rest are suffering severely. They even enjoy the luxuries of having purchased love from young ladies all over . give them a huge amount of money. Let them expensive apartments let alone buy them cars. This other young lady’s monthly salary is only about K85,000.00 but she stays in a house of K225,00.00 per month. More to this, a purchasing Clerk at the medical stores built a mult-milliom house along Mchinji Road

  7. Harbson says:

    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?

  8. Zasintha says:

    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!

  9. Honeycomb Chidyauzu says:

    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.

  10. Alex says:

    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.

  11. Toby Antonio says:

    Today a police official visiting stations is given a goat we don’t know why and where the money comes from Malawi is bleeding indeed bwana Simango

  12. Kadausi says:

    What an article. Thanks again Charles. I like the way you appropriately use the word ‘stupid’ Charles.

    First time I saw it was in 1993 on front page of The Democrat, in Lilongwe. It read ‘Bakili Muluzi is Stupid’.

  13. Tan'gatan'ga says:

    Agreed 1000%. I was a civil servant for 20 years. What Simango has said is as good as Gospel Truth.

  14. Monica Hara says:

    That is my man, Simango the writer who calls a spade a spade. Although fingers are pointing to the leadership(President), I feel those who were given responsibilities to assist in running the country are the ones to blame. These days all people are looking at is the way and means of getting rich through stealing in order to be like their friends who are sailing in money to day through the same means. As long as those who pilfered government money are not punished, their property amassed through theft is not confiscated, expect more of the same practices. What we are saying here is that people were basically caught red handed carrying money that wasn’t belonging to them, others even constructed mansions that not the government can afford building and nothing has been done to date, not even kudabwa kuti ndalama zache anadzitenga kuti. With such passiveness nothing will be there to show. HKB brought the “Forfeiture Act” but our learned folks came along and scraped it. These Indians who are externalising the meagre forex we are managing on couldn’t dare do it in those days because they knew what was going to hit them in the face. Some of the problems we are facing are the making and contribution of every Malawian. How do you expect sanity in a nation if a Reverend is behaving and acting like a Hollywood actor but donning the clothes of the men of God, everyone is seeing and instead of condemning these actors we are the very people encouraging them to continue living as atheists – zoona? As long as people don’t want to change the way they look at issues in a country, we will perish. Don’t expect to see a foreigner coming to tell us what to do. Use people like Simango, Ntata etc not Mutuumodzi.

  15. sam says:

    Deaded, indeed

  16. kanchenga says:

    Wau simple and straight. So near and yet so far away. Why do I say so far away. There are two things involved. One illiteracy among voters. Two tribalism and regionalism. One fact that everyone tries to avoid mentioning but you have done so cleverly is that democracy and development do not share one bed in an underdeveloped country. That is why I have great respect for Dr. Banda. As far as I am concerned Malawi needs a leader like that as long as he is not surrounded by hand clippers to turn him into a lion.

  17. Ndaziona Ndatha says:

    Can`t agree more. I remember once upon a time at the start of IFMIS, when hard disks were removed from computers, and system reported “Missing Operating System”. What followed was approval at speed of lightning to call briefcase IT company to quickly “fix” the problem. Your guess is as good as mine on the price for replacing the Government`s own hard disk drive, and how the “money was disbursed”. That was the gospel according to computer operators. And the secretaries dared not be outclassed: so it was not uncommon to see reams of paper moving out through the windows only to be resold back to the same department because important document could not printed due to having “no paper”. And as “protocol” demands such issues break all the rules of procurement procedures in the name of “urgency”. So what Simango truthfully exposes rings very loud bells to some of us who witnesses the decadence right from Muluzi`s time.

  18. Kenkkk says:

    Excellent and listen you dpp govt. You cry for suggestions from people or oppositions, there goes a very good suggestion to improve our economy. That is the alternative solution you have been crying for people to provide you.

    Chilima’s reforms should go deeper as per the suggestions here from our patriotic son.

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