Sleepless nights ahead in Malawi: Nyakuchenya Ganda column

“Sometimes I lie awake at night, and ask, ‘Where have I gone wrong?’ Then a voice says to me, ‘This is going to take more than one night.’” – Charles M. Schulz

There are millions of people in the warm heart of Africa hearing this voice as they ponder where they went wrong.

Malawi primary school pupils  took to the streets to protest delayed teacher's salaries.

Malawi primary school pupils took to the streets to protest delayed teacher’s salaries.

You can recognize a lot without breaking a sweat, and if you are honest with yourself, you would be the number one on the list. Both sides of the political divide have examples in abundance.

In this article, with your leave, I will zoom on His Excellency, Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika, the man of the moment.

Yes, the man whose brilliant ideas, as per the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) manifesto, are now progressively turning out to be not worth the paper they were written on.

For a start, and without further ado, buried somewhere in the DPP manifesto is reference or references to economic stability under the leadership of the professor.

If the run-away Kwacha and interrupted services (in virtually all sectors) are anything to go by, economic stability and Malawi are as far apart as the north and south poles.

When children take to the streets seemingly aware that a certain Kahuna has not being paying their educators; the said teachers being very same lot that added one plus one, somehow got three, and installed the same Kahuna as the powers that be in May 2014; something has definitely gone very wrong.

Again, APM as the professor likes to be called, back in the day when he grudgingly found himself in the opposing side, went to all corners of Malawi, preaching the gospel of security for all and sundry, day and night, 24/7; if he were elected as president.

He was indeed ‘elected’.

Tell me today, five months on, how many people in Malawi can claim to be safe? Even the Vice president, Rt Hon Saulos Chilima and senior ranking minister’s residences are not exempt.

The goons terrorizing Malawi, as the VP and the Minister of Energy Atupele Muluzi can testify, were not paying their homes a social visit. They had evil intentions.

And if this is happening to ‘green trees’, what unreported horrors are visiting ordinary folks like you and me?

Lucky for you and me, APM has solved it.

The other day, he issued a watered-down version of the infamous “shoot to kill” policy; robed of course, in politically correct language.

The order seems to have already started delivering, with one problem. It has come with lethal ‘side-effects’. Where these side effects will lead us to, only APM knows.

What has already become abundantly clear is that soon after APM’s rendition of his late brother’s “shoot to kill” – dressed in legally acceptable but open to interpretation terms; we suddenly have a dead soldier on our hands. A soldier who died from police bullets, a few kilometres from the barracks.

His crime: ‘rogue and vagabond’ or something to that effect.

Since when is the sentence for rogue and vagabond instantaneous death by a bullet? Even barbaric ISIS go through the notions of locking you up, before chopping your head off.

Come to think of it, we should count our blessings that the situation in Zomba did not deteriorate into a free for all “Fergusson-Missouri” type of thing. But, we came dangerously close – thanks to a vague statement of policy.

The question is: where did we go wrong? For sure, finding the answer(s) will take more than one night.

Having talked about the tanking economy, only to find APM’s administration wanting; and after putting security under scrutiny, only to prove beyond reasonable doubt that – under the circumstances – even APM’s house cannot be said to be secure, let us move on to other matters.

Chickens, as sure as the sun will rise tomorrow, always come home to roost. You know who is not playing ball now?

Judiciary support staff. Yes, the backbone of the very theatre where this presidency was contrived, are up in arms. And this, is not the first nor will it be the last strike.

With respect to these strikes, what is irritating is that the first thing, and perhaps only ‘intelligent’ thing APM has done in office; was appointing a high powered grouping to look into the Civil Service Commission, headed by none other than the VP.

This takes me to the VP himself. Going back to Charles M. Schulz’ remark, SKC – as the VP is called, must be asking that question too.

‘Where have I gone wrong?’

Then a voice says to him,

“SKC – this is going to take many nights, weeks, months, and for sure, years.”

Fact is: the Civil Service Commission assignment was – and SKC knows this – a rope gifted to him to hang himself. The writing was on the wall from day one. How?

Even before the commission or committee or whatever had finished reading its terms of reference, APM was all over the place, “redeploying” people.

Shouldn’t the “mass redeployments” have awaited recommendations of the commission, assuming that the so called “redeployments” were based on plausible grounds?

And, just when the commission was enjoying its first tea break, as the committee members got to know each other better, Civil Servants went on strike.

To pacify them, and check this: without thinking through all the implications, a 45% increment was awarded and civil servants duly returned to work.

But now, looking at the dripping kitty versus the already bloated government payroll, recently spiced with a new horde of presidential advisors, no-one is surprised that the maths is not adding up.

As a result: (a) teachers have not been paid from May 2014; (b) the awarded increase to the Civil Service – or arrears thereof, are yet to be paid; (c) Mulli, Katopola and Sons Malawi Limited and several associates – owed by the Malawi Government need to be paid; (d) those “redeployed” before their time are demanding their pound of flesh; all the while – donors are not playing ball.

As if all this was not enough, the IMF Extended Credit Facility is off the rails. And as if some elaborate sabotage is unfolding, the revenue collection body, the MRA has joined the conspirators, to miss its monthly target by a whooping MK4billion.

This makes gloomy reading, but the one thing that I cannot be accused of is attempting to depress you.

There is no need for me or anyone to do that. The (a)  free falling Kwacha,  (b) skyrocketing prices, (c) poor service delivery, (d) return of “zigubu” economics, (e) onset of “Madzi alipati” Facebook groups – a marked improvement from the “Fuel alipati” Groups, and (f) marauding criminals; are all conspiring to make a good job of depressing everyone, except “….those that are eating”.

What I want to do, with your input after due contemplation, is to take stock and use our sober conclusion to put to rest any illusions on the part of APM and his flock, that they are doing the job they begged us for.

Unless all the facts I have catalogued above are fictions of my own imagination, my own studied assessment is that APM and his horde are leading us to an abyss.

Solutions? Suggestions? Ideas on the way forward? Not that this is my job, but I will offer a few.

The solutions lie NOT in denial, but in finding honest answers to the question: where did we go wrong?

For APM, this is his homework. For SKC, I suggest he joins the rest of us and for the rest of us, the answer is obvious: at the top, is where we got things wrong.

Malawians, voluntarily or otherwise, in an election rigged or not rigged, allowed the wrong person to get to the top. Full stop.

Scribes muckraked repeatedly that APM has never had a clue about anything beyond himself, people that surround him and home boys.

Very few people cared to listen.

This why people from ‘other’ regions, notably the north and centre, want federation or secession or what have you.

It is not because they have developed allergies to being “Malawians”, no; but they simply do not want to be APM’s guinea pigs as he shoots in the dark while his mob wants us to believe he is taking aim before shooting. They simply want to manage their own affairs.

Didn’t the Academic Freedom saga, which involved university lecturers – his own professional kith and kin, and laws – his bread and butter, fail to bring out the best in him?

“It is too complicated….” – weren’t these his own words?

Re: the Republic vs Cochrane Dyet, was a matter in which APM simply needed to massage his brother’s ego and rein in garrulous lieutenants.

The old fellow, after the fact, flew around the world – at our cost – to “mend” donor relations. Why in the first place, did he just sit and watch as the relationships soured?

It is a sad, but hard fact that the man cannot, under any circumstances, be described as an inspiring leader. And what Malawi is haemorrhaging from – right now – is the lack of an able captain, who can steer Malawi away from these troubled waters.

Shortcuts, like kneeling before donors or out-and-out illegal tactics, like ‘bribing’ media corps so that they start painting a rosier picture, are non-starters.

Deliberate amnesia, like ‘forgetting’ that there is an overdue MK1.7 billion Bakili Muluzi trial in court, that needs sorting will not boost assertions that APM is keen to fight graft.

Solution lie in crafting and implementing polices that will take Malawi to economic independence, as one whole unit.

To repeat, if anyone is expecting APM to lead this quest, they have another think coming and this thinking is going to take many, many nights. The only good news is that five has years has many, many nights.

  • Nyakuchena Ganda is a Nyasa Times columnist
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37 thoughts on “Sleepless nights ahead in Malawi: Nyakuchenya Ganda column”

  1. kd says:

    5th Dec 14 judgment day…….asova

  2. Kusadziwa says:

    Good commentary though shortsighted coz it was written with a pre-conceived agenda.

    To be honest, our leaders have all committed mistakes that keep on rolling from one administration to another.

    If you have the brains that you want to demonstrate here, first you should have known that Malawi as a country is a net importer and that it goes as far as importing not only luxuries but necessities . It has no absolute means of cushioning the exchange rate. The worst that leaders of this country did was :
    1. To float the kwacha – that meant high imported inflation.
    2. Automatic pricing of fuel – you know where the price of fuel is now.
    3. Poor PFM act – government money is being stolen on the back MRA not even collecting enough to finance the recurrent budget .

    What you should have been talking here are ideas about national policies and not thinking that certain political leaders are messiahs. This is why we say Malawians in General like talking and with less action . In general they are not sure what they want . Your article is testimony to this .

  3. Kahuna Professor at Cashgate says:

    Now you all will know that the real cashgate boffin in malawi is this little kahuna, brother to ngwazi the second. He is the one who messed what could have been big kahuna’s success story.

    There he is he stole the mayor’s house. And now he is stealing our taxes.

  4. big boy says:

    Lets go for mass protest

  5. Truth says:

    A failed state?not so Mr President?Is this what u pipo mean by a failed state.

  6. Truth says:

    A failed state?no so Mr President?

  7. konyiko says:

    Still fighting the election results??get over it! it will be 5 years of bitterness that you will suffer! start building businesses in Nyika land in preparartion for secession you dumb mother-rapers! u think u will build Nyikaland with criticisms? ask Chihana what happened to his punk ass?

  8. Franco Lameck says:

    The man is too old to think and he is like a demagogue

  9. APM inherited a rotten government. As usual the so called clever Malawians have sharpened their fingers pointing at Peter not for collective corrections but for acussations If the ship will sink where will you be?

  10. Bantu says:

    komatu njonda imeneyi yalemba mwaluso, shaaaaa

  11. IT TAKES SOMETHING MORE THAN A PROFESSOR!

  12. Maii says:

    At Midnight they said Mr Chilima was the Minister responsible for civil service. Later they changed,the statwment was withdrawn and said it was a Mistake. Mr Chilima is only the chair. And APM was the man responsible for them. Some of the civil servants are on strike the man responsible is no where to be seen to resolve the issues. Alangizi munalanga zabodza Apulezidenti lero ndi izi. Patsikulo u thought u were being clever. Now u wish A Vp was responsible. Tiyeni nazo. Chosamva anachiphikira mmasamba.

  13. Thumbwefu says:

    PETER IS A PROBLEM IN ALL MATERS BECAUSE HE DOESNT KNOW HIS JOB DESRIPTION HENCE HE WAITS FOR EVIL MINDED PEOPLE LIKE CHAPONDA & OTHERS TELL HIM WHAT TO DO. SOLUTION: APM HAS TO RESIGN OR MALAWIANS NEED TO DEMAND THEIR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS BY EXPRESSING IT THROUGH A COUNTRY WIDE DEMONSTRATION TO CHANGE THE GOVERNMENT.

  14. Malopa says:

    The ship is sailing on auto-pilot, tha Captain went to sleep a long time ago!

  15. uyuni says:

    Ganda ! You are genius. you can indeed analyse issues,APM is the problem

  16. Masoambeta says:

    The weak and gullible citizens always resent Ganda’s articles.
    I am in tow as always. Keep on Ganda. Keep up!!

  17. angoni says:

    Many many nights…… zako khoswe. Kuvota ngati adya dzowawa. Malemba ananena za kufa chifukwa cha kusadziwa koma izi ndi zoziyamba Dala.

  18. Zansete says:

    Yes indeed APM and his comrades are leading us to abyss.

  19. Phodox says:

    What do I expect from Nyakuchena. Anything from where this Nyakuchena comes is always looking negatively anybody who is in the government. Right from Kamuzu banda , Muluzi, Bingu, APM ( only voted presidents) have been not satisfying these people. Unfortunately they cant make it into the government at all. Jslousy homos never succed in life. You cant succeed by force at all. Two wrong things never add up. The answer is always square one. So Nyakuchena follow what your grandpas have been doing since 1960s.

  20. PM says:

    Nzimvere mtolo, but people who live in denial will always be against views like these. They will even call the columnist names, and given him a region they hate as his home. If allowed honest discussion of things or issues Malawi would have improved.

  21. Malunza says:

    We need another president. A new captain of the ship. Let us all agree whether DPP, MCP or UDF, we will all suffer under APM.

  22. vindere says:

    The way APM is running the govt. is as though he is on job training.

  23. moto mwikho says:

    Is it difficult to keep these negative and fatalistic sentiments to yourself? What does this article contribute to the welfare of Malawi? What are you yourself doing with all the negative issues you raise? You are an enemy of Malawi, pathetic, sadistic an instigator. a prophet of doom. To you 5 months is a lifetime.

  24. Kanyimbi says:

    Izinso ndiye zopanda nzeru zeni zeni. Nkhani si APM koma ndi mavuto akalekale mwe anthu adyera anayambitsa.

  25. Chilungamo Chimawawa says:

    Don’t worry my fellow Malawians, God will punish this monster that is oppressing millions of Malawians. The only problem in Malawi is poverty which makes many people to praise someone as if he is a small god. I heard the way outgoing Inspector General of Police saying bwana! bwana! bwana! bwana! kkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk! this is what makes Malawi’s presidents to become dictators and start messing up things. Go to countries like Botswana, people have no time to praise or flatter a president. President eat what every one else eats. Thus all, but here in Malawi we take a president as if he is from heaven, no, no, no, lets change our mind set guys and be proactive, and civilized.

  26. Kumavalo Nsamaonetsa Nyoni says:

    Welcome back Ganda, but wait a ninute? You have just been rereased from……. and Nyas Time thinks you are reformed enough to start this shit again?

  27. Mbanangwa says:

    These are sleepless days for the government. Peter, it is not a mistake to do stock-taking. Ask a few heads in your government and possibly with the opposition to seek stock-taking. This stalemate will not be very good in the next 5 months. Mind you, Dec, Jan, Feb, March and April will be very hard months. If nearly 3/4 of Malawians will be grumbling by that time, things will not be very good. Take my good advice!

  28. Ma battery a mlakho says:

    Eish!YOU have just hit a nail on it’s head.ALL in all: WE HAVE A WRONG MAN AT THE TOP!WHETHER APM AND HIS IDIOTS LIKE IT OR NOT!Fortunately truth pains.

  29. Jose' says:

    It surprises me that one never reads anything “positive” written by a Tumbuka. Is it that we Tumbuka’s are just filled with rage and bitterness or that there is any grain of truth in our unending quest to “shoot down” the powers that be? in my opinion, we did not get it wrong at the top as the author would like me to think.

    Even if anyone had gone to the helm of the country’s leadership, we would have still been in the same, or worse, economic turmoil. Does the author need to be reminded that aid was not frozen during APM’s administration? It was during the Amayi administration that she even admitted “I put my political career on the line in trying to solve cash gate” – Not her exact words but to that effect.

    Bitterness will only lead to a divided nation. And let me school you with my limited knowledge, no divided people have ever succeeded on this globe. Why can’t we stand together and fight together with APM? Our time will come, but it is in five years.

    1. JIJO says:

      @Jose But during amai time things were not as hard as they are now. Am not amai’s supporter but amai was better off than Peter. It seems he is doing on job training. People thought we would do better because his brother was a President and he was so close to him and used to see how government business is run but eish he is just clueless on how to run the country.

    2. Jabulosi says:

      The author is writing above the driver or captain. If the driver or captain is clueless don’t expect anything positive!!!!! If everybody were to grab the steering then the crash would happen earlier than thought. LEADERSHIP!!!!!

    3. Southerner who hates APM policies says:

      You have a valid point. I noticed this too about Nyasatimes. I suppose it was bought by PP or amai to pull down APM. Because it tends to get people from the North to talk on its behalf, people may associate negative reporting and northerners and make it all look tribal. Its an irresponsible and dangerous thing. There are other people from center and south who dislike APM policies just as much, if not even more. Why not get them on board?

  30. tsetsefly says:

    These will be the most difficult five years under the leadership of Mr Clueless.

  31. TONGOLE says:

    IF POPE THE LEADER OF THE WHOLE WORLD DECIDED TO RESIIGN ( STEP DOWN ) PEACEFULLY / WHY CANT YOU GUYS # GOODAL SAULOS AND PETER RESIGN OR STEP DOWN
    FOR YOUR OWN GOOD AND THE POOR PEOPLE OF MALAWI ????

    WHAT HISTORY ARE YOU GUYS MAKING ????

  32. Ma battery a mlakho says:

    Eish!you have simply hit the nail on its head.All in all:WE HAVE A WRONG MAN AT THE TOP!Whether APM and his idiots like it,that’s the truth and fortunately TRUTH PAINS!

  33. CHEWA FEDERAL FRONT says:

    That naive 45% salary increment “merry-go-round” will have dire repurcussions for this APM administration. Even if donors came back today, long term damage has already been done. Just 2 days ago Chikavu Nyirenda predicted that life will become so unbearable that regime change will, somehow, be orchestrated.
    Funny thing, you talk about “Madzi alipati” facebook groups as a “marked improvement”. Look Sir, BT City is our Lagos or Joburg or even Sydney or New York; in other words, being the country’s commercial capital, it must be the best and wealthiest, replete with unmatched services. But Alas!! Men in this mediocre “commercial capital” now have water pails on their heads en-route to QECH where their pregnant wives are admitted!!!
    Since BT has evidently struggled to inspire, there is a distinct possibility that Kasungu could eventually be made the new commercial capital; it would make perfect economic sense. Ask MCP!!!!

  34. Mwakumana maxi pajama anna kumenya ma demo mulimba?

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