Tough times ahead for Malawi -Idriss Ali Nassah

Two weeks ago, I arrived in Blantyre on the same flight with a couple of governments ministers and officials who were coming back from the SADC Summit in Botswana.There they were; calling themselves “honourable” and feeling quite self-important sitting in business class while stealing poor people’s money.

Former president Banda  after appointing  Gondwe as  Economic Planning Minister

Former president Banda after appointing Gondwe as Economic Planning Minister

Malawian politicians steal from poor people every single day, without any sense of shame. And I use the wider definition of stealing here to embrace expenditure on the sort of things that benefit politicians to the detriment of other members of society. For example, using public money for ministers to fly business class is theft. None of this is essential expenditure but they want it because it makes them feel important.

The vast amounts of money spent on big cars for our politicians is theft. Twenty-seven fuel-guzzling SUVs on the president’s convoy is theft. Keeping over 80 Permanent Secretaries on the government payroll is theft. Money frittered away on all sorts of jobs created in government and quasi government organisations for the sole purpose of employing people who could never hope to find a job in the competitive private sector is another fine example of theft.

So, if you counted up all the wasted money since Malawi gained independence in 1964, we could have virtually eradicated poverty by now without having to rely on any donors for handouts.

From MCP to UDF to DPP to PP and now–back to DPP–the story of our politician’s greed and arrogance is the same; they have squandered the country’s resources and goodwill and have made us an increasingly unattractive place in which to invest. They instead spend most of their time self enriching and squabbling about whose thieving hands should be closest to the pot of gold.

Today, everything of essence in Malawi in in short supply; the new normal is to go for days on end without running water and without electricity. The only things we seem to have in abundance is dust, blackouts and incompetence.

At Queen Elizabeth Hospital, one cancer specialist, Dr Leo Masamba–God bless his soul–attends to and endless stream of suffering patients each day. For most of them, he can do very little because the country does not have a functioning cancer unit and does not care to have one.

When our friends the Chinese asked what they could do for us in exchange of them plundering our natural resources, we asked for a hotel and conference centre and a stadium and a shopping mall and presidential villas and kickbacks in cash. Not ambulances for public hospitals, not dialysis machines, not cancer treatment centres in Mzuzu, Lilongwe, Blantyre, Zomba. None of that.

When we sold the country’s presidential jet, one version of what happened to that money says we bought bags of maize to distribute for free to Malawians in an attempt to buy their vote. It sounds funny, I know, but if it is true it tells you how silly our leaders tend to be. I don’t know where Joyce Banda is hiding these days, but wherever she is I hope she sleeps easy at night.

Then you have Goodall Gondwe saying Malawians will be clapping hands for this government next year. This man either lives in a fancy double-storey house in some posh area of Lilongwe or he simply is living in cloud cuckoo land. These are times of hardship and it would be good if nobody made a mockery of the suffering of the people. What Goodall said was deja vu for many people. Was he not the Minister of Finance when this country ground to a halt with no fuel, no friends and forex just a few years ago? And what did he say, then? Sad to say but some of the ministers we have are an impediment to progress and belong in a museum rather than in government. In the many years they have been ministers of this or the other, you could count the contribution they have made to progress of this country on the amputated fingers of one hand.

The truth is Malawi is going broke and struggling to meet most of its obligations. Next year will, in all probability, turn out to be far more worse than this year; which will merely highlight the insincerity of Goodall’s prognosis.

Without meaningful investment in Malawi, the situation can only deteriorate and the finance minister will be looking for ways to squeeze more out of you and the dwindling percentage of economically active Malawians. Next year, the Kwacha will tumble to record lows against major currencies and many things will cost three times what they are costing you now.

So at what point of next year will you be clapping hands?

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35 thoughts on “Tough times ahead for Malawi -Idriss Ali Nassah”

  1. wadabwa mt says:

    you are right these politicians are greedy and they really contribute to all the problems that we are facing.

  2. M’manja ya DPP, DPP HOOYEEEE mwana pala wasankha somba mupase somba njoka yayi, pala waromba njoka mupase njoka somba yayi.Imwe mukasankha boma liweme ili tiyeni banja ndikupilira. Wina wanena kale nyengoyi timudziwe/nkumudalira Mulungu basi, ngozi yachitika iyi tivomereze.

  3. Kelvin says:

    I am equally surprised with Mr Hassah’s sudden change of heart. But I agree with the use of the business class in flights as total theft. I remember being on the same flight with the HE Nevin of the British High Commission. He sat behind me in the economy while our Chief Spy once from my neighborhood Kanjedza was in the business class. This was at a time when the DPP had just taken over and was begging for donor funding from Britain among other donors. The owner of the money in the economy class and the begger in business class? Thats total insanity, an absolute joke!

  4. Wantchito says:

    I don’t know the writer that well but truth be told Malawi economy is hanging by the shoe lace. Soon it will crumble and very soon.
    When you drive through the city the evidence is everywhere. Dilapidated buildings, demotivated government officials, non functional hospitals, the list is endless. Those are the signs of nearly collapsed economy and our politicians do not have answers for nearly 50 years they took over from the white man. Except they have mastered looting. Shaah!

  5. Hungerman says:

    If we have failed to clap hands for the past 51 years I doubt if this will materialize just in 1 year otherwise it’s just Gondwe’s power of rhetoric.

  6. patrick banda says:

    Mr Nassah be reminded that “when the country ground to a halt”,the minister of finance was Dr Ken Lipenga while Dr Goodal Gondwe was minister of local government.

  7. Chris says:

    One must ask does malawi has the leadership

  8. Teams says:

    Koma Nachisale wandiwaza bwanji! Thumbs up and hope Idrissa and other journalists of his type gets your message!

  9. Arthur Bwampini Mutharika says:

    A Gondwe pafupi kukwawatu ulemu kikikiki…atumbuka make me laugh. Does this not remind you of Robson Chirwa. Ife atonga sitichita nawo zimenezo, Joyce amadziwanso.

  10. Greencardless Malawian says:

    Maybe Goodal means that we will be clapping hands next year coz he will be dead and we will have a new and better finace minister…

  11. Robert Zingani says:

    No! This government is caring things will change for the better,let’s help our beloved President Mutharika. I think this is time to change our mindset.

  12. Lutepo says:

    When did Goodall Gondwe held ministerial post in JB’S rule(april 2012 to may 2014)??

  13. nyolokan says:

    Would someone enlighten me as why the old picture of Gondwe and Banda when it should have been the present government..

  14. Brazilian wax says:

    Whether the writer is now, for whatever reasons, a frustrated lot or not the truth is the issues articulated are factual. Sometimes I feel like getting a gun and get it to speak for me. Malawi is damn sick!

  15. Obvious Phiri says:

    I’ve sprained my neck trying to follow the positions that you espouse because they’re mostly at odds.

  16. Bondera says:

    Malawi is rich guys only that our wealth is poorly distributed come to NRWB while govt is struggling three top guys have bought themselves latest Toyota fortuners yet the other fortuners are still ok and they have given them to their concubines Malawi uyuu

  17. Daniel Phiri says:

    If the writer want to be taken seriously, he should focus on real issues. How is ‘climbing’ business class theft if that’s what their conditions of service provides? Should individual ministers refuse to embrace what is legally theirs? If you want the benefits to be reduced, that’s another issue.

  18. Munthu says:

    Very well written article. Good observation!

  19. Baba wa boy says:

    Batayani nthawi yanu kulemba zopusa.

  20. w.moir says:

    whatever take over should invest their money in their people by bringing up new concept
    [1]…………………….invest in communities mean small shops…………….etc.
    [2]……………………invest in big company,people will find opportunity for work.
    [3]teach people to be selfemployed.there is a lot government will gain so is the people from each other.i believe this is the best way to alleviate poverty.

  21. getu maseko says:

    Nassa wadzuka tsopano? Timangokuonatu ukulimbana ndi ralph tenthani ndi kumunyoza akunena zoona ndipo tenthani ankatha kuona patali iwe ali nassa ukuimbila mfiti m’manja. Komabe tikuyamikile chifukwa chobwela poyela ndi kunena chilungamo. Boma la apm zomwe zichitike sizinachitkenso mu mbili ya dziko la malawi

  22. xxxxx says:

    Whether the story had Been written out of anger or frustration or whatever, the fact remains that he has made an attempt To exposé some malaise when some of Us have chosen To remain silent

  23. nachisale says:

    Idriss, what has happened? Have you resigned from President Peter Mutharika`s praise team? The structure, tone and argument in your article is full of anger and frustration. It is this lack of honesty by `journalists` like you that Malawi has the wrong leaders because your criticism is informed by opportunism and greed to to fill your wallet and stomach. Please, spare us from this lazy and juvenile journalism!

  24. Bwantasa says:

    I had to blink three times to make sure that my eyes were not playing tricks on me. Was this article really scribed by Idris? Kudos to APM- at least he is able to distinguish between real and fake supporters. Idris, you are preaching to deacons- please go and knock on State House door and give them this message- I should think you have direct access?

  25. Three regions says:


  26. phwado says:

    Whether you like it or not Malawi is about to boil!It will be too hot for APM ass!

  27. Kamwaze says:

    Greed benefits few and kills many and in the end the few will kill each other and there will be nobody left. Malawi is slowly but surely headed to the level of being a failed state. MCP, DPP, UDF, PP or any other party cannot salvage the situation until drastic measures are taken in order to reset the direction of this nation. What a spectacle!!!!!

  28. stain says:

    This man has just wasted his time writing trash, we are already past that level of thinking, where uko

  29. teacher says:

    Idriss sounding like a Muslim. If my guessing is serving me well then go to Nigeria and join Boko haram or go to Somali and join Alishabab. You are useless. In your article you sound like an ordinary English writer and somewhare you sound like a prophet for Malawi problems, somewhere you sound like a jealousy Moslem, still somewhere you sound like an opportunist who have missed the jackbord securing a job in manyura regime. Who are you?

  30. Mzee says:

    My fellow Malawians pse dont take notice of this daft guy. Idrissa doesnt know what he wants or he is under the influence of you know what. I used to like his articles but these days ashhh trash. Mind you publuc services are wasteful just look at the UN agencies and bodies like Oxfam all trash. What teally were you expecting from APM? Kodi ukakhala ndimbolo yayifupi and small does it mean you also have a small brain?

  31. Chinyophilo says:

    Like all African leaders malawian leaders are baffoon. All we need is to ask teh chines to buid us multip purpose dums producing electricity and putting large scale land into irrigation. We feed ourselves and use the electricity to power our old and new industries for manufacturing and processing etc. Rest will follow……But we are cursed with fools like Bakili Muluzi, Joyce band and Peter Muthalika. I am not mentioning Bingu because that guy at least invested in infrasture including power generation during his first term.

  32. makito says:

    Masharubu, I had the same question. People have no principles.

  33. drzeus says:

    I was shocked the other day when I came across a ministerial Toyota VX at a funeral which had its engine running all the time to keep the aircon on! We were at this funeral for close to 3hrs.

  34. Pete Nyandoro says:

    The article has some good sense but Ali Nassa has written it out of anger and frustration. He has been writing stories to praise APM and his DPP in the hope that he would be rewarded with a job, unfortunately APM is cleverer than him – he knows very well a TIDYENAWO and never offered him a job he had expected. If APM had offered this boy a job, the taste of his story could have been different. A Malawi osamazolowera za ulere, we should always strive to achieve our goals, easy come easy go, this has happened at MRA.

  35. Masharubu says:

    Idrissa, what has happened? I thought a few months ago you were busy clapping hands for APM yourself? Or has APM failed to give you some goodies that were promised to you? I intensely dislike Malawian scribes . They lack principles . The only one I will continue to respect is late Raphael Tenthani .

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