Wise One: On why a presidential jet is something we do not need now

“A presidential plane is not a luxury; it is a necessity. It enhances the president’s ability to work effectively. It is a tool without which no chief executive can effectively execute his duties in the 21st Century. Yes, Malawi is poor. But we are also in the 21st century. And fate has called even the poor Malawian nation to operate within the 21st century with appropriate tools.” Dr Cedrick Ngalande

My good Facebook friend, the learned Dr Cedrick Ngalande,presented his case as to why, contrary to public opinion, procurement of a presidential jet for Malawi should be a priority within our priorities.

Travelling commercial: President Mutharika  on Malawian Airlines

Travelling commercial: President Mutharika on Malawian Airlines

His case springs from a photo that found its way onto social media, showing President Arthur Peter Mutharika patiently standing in a queue waiting for a plane, as if he is a mere human being.

This, Dr Ngalande eloquently argued, is haram.Skipping the politics of presidential planes, he went to townon arguments often raised against buying a presidential plane, and volunteered his own reasons why Malawi must buy a presidential jet.

His case revolved around the following issues:

  1. a) Popular misconception vis-à-vis planes;
  2. b) People equating presidential planes with lives of the poor dying for lack of medicine;
  3. c) The cost of time lost when the president spends days and hours in queues;
  4. d) Increased risk for leakage of confidential information;
  5. e) Security considerations and costs and
  6. f) A phenomenon which Dr Cedrick Ngalande terms “advertising poverty”.

Against the background, I want you to join me sifting the issues he has raised – one at a time.

  1. a) Popular misconception vis-à-vis planes:

Dr Cedrick Ngalande, on top of the many problems we have as Malawians (e.g. poverty, kusachedwa kuyiwala – identified by Atcheyaetc.), has diagnosed a new one.

Thisfresh problem, he says, is that we wrongly associate planes with luxury. As a result, he continues, when we hear about presidential planes,all we think about is the president living large.

The learned doctor then says medicine missing in our hospitals,potholes on our roads andlack of textbooks in our schools can wait because they will be there forever, but a presidential plane is something we cannot do without.

The insinuationsof the good doctor’s line of thought are very clear. First, he is implying that although missing drugs in hospital mean people dying from curable diseases, the lives needlessly lost are worth much less than having a presidential plane.

Secondly, he wants to convince you and me that although the pot-holes on our roads are just a symptom of the broken down infrastructure against which our airports are not spared; we must still prioritize the plane.

Where it will land, taxi and take off, matters less; that a plane needs a smooth and well maintained run-way; all these are to Dr Ngalande of secondary importance.

That to get to the airportin a manner that the president does not waste time needs roads that are free of potholes; is something – according to Dr Ngalande’s logic – we should worry about only when we have a presidential plane.

With respect to education, he seems to be asking: What after all is education – usually facilitated by availability of textbooks – compared to Malawi owning a presidential plane? Other than the infamous Boko Haraam, I have heard no-one else belittle education any better.

I should add that while I found Dr Cedrick Ngalande’s arguments on prioritizing a presidential jet over roads and drugs bizarre, his throwing to the back seat our nation’s education needs in preference ofa presidential plane is something I fail to understand; coming as it is from a PhD holder.

I expect clarification from him on this one, reconciling why he found it necessary to pursue PhD level education, when education can in fact, be tossed aside so that Malawi buys a presidential jet.

His second line of thought, that equating presidential planes with lives of the poor, who die for lack of medicine but who will die anyway, is comparing mangoes to apples, I agree.

Medicines are a matter of life and death, while presidential travels and jets arenot. Education is a matter of life and death, and presidential travel – on personal or chartered jet is definitely not.

Pothole-free networks of roads play an undisputable role in national development, while some (if not most of) presidential trips are quite pointless.

These are facts.

Therefore the supremacy of availability of medicines, the essentiality of textbooks in schools and the requisite need for pothole-free roads over procurement of a presidential jet is something that I should not even be debating, in the least with someone who ought to know better.

With respect to time lost when the president spends days and hours in queues, I would have expected Dr Cedrick Ngalande to quantify and value this “lost time” before concluding that it is the ordinary citizens who lose out.

Look at it this way: Malawi has had presidents since 1964. Doing simple arithmetic, we have amassed 51 years or 612                months or 18360 days in terms of hours: 440640 hours of presidential man hours.

And looking at where Malawi is in all spheres of development, have these 446,760 hours delivered value for money, jet or no jet? And can anyone president, incumbent or ex-president, say that I failed to develop Malawi because I was spending days in transit on air-ports?

If your answer is “NO”; then should we really worry about a president losing a few hours or days in transit? In my view the 5 years or 60 months or 1800 days or 43200 hours, give or take even 30 days of travel time, that we give our presidents, are enough for a performer to deliver – even after spending time looking glum at an airport.

Come to think of it, even if a Malawian president spent two months queueing in airports, we could not get any poorer.

“Just to visit Lusaka, the president will need to set aside 2 days. Whereas, with his own plane, the journey would take a mere 45 minutes,” argues Dr Ngalande.

On this one, as a minimum, I expected Dr Ngalande to first,explain the benefit of visiting “Lusaka” before factoring it in as basis for buying a presidential jet. If the trip to Lusaka is yet another pointless trip that our roaming presidents make, then the issue is: should the trip take place at all?

It is not thatI believe that the presidential plane must be bought only when every soul has been fed and every pothole has been filled; no.

I, for one, believe that the president should show value for money before I decide that his time is indeed precious. So far, this is not evidence. I have not seen the promised business unusual yet.

And this being the case, I have no problem with the current or future presidents hanging around airports. In fact, I look forward to meeting them at airports, to ask when the government last brought medicines for rural hospitals, paid teachers and what they are doing to turn Malawi’s fortunes around.

With respect to security considerations and costs, if the current president cared any about these, he would have disbanded redundant and inefficient National Intelligence Bureau (NIB) for a start. Because it is not a secret that NIB is just draining our resources without contributing to anyone’s security.

Given that funds spent on security in transit are a drop in the ocean compared to the costs incurred to sustain NIB,if Dr Ngalande wants to have beef, he ought to have beef with the existence of NIB – which is a much bigger problem.

On the phenomenon Dr Cedrick Ngalande terms “advertising poverty to the world”; while I agree that we need to start making smart decisions; I do not think our lack of a presidential jet is advertising poverty.

Truth is: our poverty is so blatant, so obvious, and so impossible to hide that it needs no advertising at all. It speaks for itself – you just have to go to the townships, districts and villages and while you are at it, visit a rural primary school.

Even if we wished to, there is nothing we do could to advertise our poverty. It is just the stark reality, the sad truth about Malawi whose presidents love “chartered” or private jets.

To conclude: for presidents who work and deliver, and in those countries where leadership facilitates fast-growing GDP among other things, a presidential plane is worth considering.It could even be an asset IF it is actively used to increase their nations’affluence.

With respect to us, we do not fit the bill. If anything, availability of a presidential plane or one chartered by “well-wishers” just becomes a distraction which enticesour leaders to undertake mysterious and often useless trips, sneaking in and out of the country, with really nothing to show for their expeditions.

I rest my case.

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28 thoughts on “Wise One: On why a presidential jet is something we do not need now”

  1. Concerned Citizen says:

    My friend, if Malawi was a country that was working well viz-a-viz Rwanda, then you had a case. But we are failing in the most basic of the basics.

    If you save time, then what do you invest it in?

    We are in the current setting a very unproductive country, and hence the saving of a few hours with the status quo will not make a dent in our countries fortunes.

  2. niggger says:

    i wonder if the one posted above article did philosophy….to me logically this is not what the Dr meant for instance ,he didn’t mean life of people or patients are less as to compare with the current need of plane he meant to say that drugs in hospitals will be needed at all time whilst this plane once purchased we have closed the chapter of need ok….

  3. FootSoldier says:

    Again, a very patriotic piece The Wise One. Left to me, I would not buy this useless man even a toy plane. Real planes are for productive individuals, this indolent is not, has never been and will never be productive!

  4. Muzamudziwa iyeyo weniweni. Presidential jet ndi ya office ya president osati Peter. Ife sitizalola Chakwela kuzamayenda pakabanza monga achitira wanuyu. 2014 chakwera bomaaaa! Mcp yagwira nsewu as the journey continues

  5. The Patriot says:

    The message from Malawians is loud and clear, sitikufuna kuti ofesi ya President igule ndege! APM and his army of advisors should get this message loud and clear. Inu a DPP or Mulakho or whatever, osazitengela hard nkhaniyi. Its not about APM, or Chaponda or Mwanamveka, its about the economy! Even if it was Chakwera or Amai ruling, Malawians wouod have opposed buying a Presidential jet!

  6. Tafa says:

    I dnt knw what you mean by that.its as if you are someone from outside who doesnt know or care about this beloved nation.stop being political and analyse things as they are knowing that every single rubbish you spit will only but besmirch the good name we have always been known with..you are a wise one i guess,though i see nothing worth pointing as coming from a wise folk..it will be cool if stay neutral,and will definately have you as a lad from mama Malawi..

  7. Cedrick Ngalande says:

    I have always enjoyed reading thoughtful articles by my good friend ‘Wise Man From The East’. He has not disappointed with this article either. He has raised very good points.

    Folks, I am not trying to minimize the importance of medicine, roads or education in Malawi. All I am saying is that a presidential plane can help us solve these problems permanently.

    How?

    You see, our traditional donors are gone. They may not be coming back. They have given all sorts of reasons as to why they cannot support us. That is only partially true. The real reason is that it is becoming harder and harder for them to convince their citizens that tax dollars should be donated to other countries. It has nothing to do with us. We the end of the cold war, westerners do not care much about anything out there.

    This means that we need to find new partners who will support or partner in the development of our country. That means we need the president to go around the world and knock at as many doors as possible – both traditional (like governments) and non-traditional (like the industry). For instance, I would like to see him visit the Silicon Valley and try to convince these companies to do some things with the talent we have in Malawi. Malawians have good education, good accent (good for call centers) and good work ethics. It shouldn’t be all that difficult to convince those guys to invest here. The president can only accomplish such gigantic global networking effort if he has a plane.

    Of course, there are certain things we can do on our own to develop our country… things like -yes – cutting on expenses, eliminating corruption and reforming the private sector. But make no mistake, these in their own are not enough to develop the country at the pace we want. We need support and partnership.

    If we buy the plane, and if used properly, we may be able to find that support and partnership, and hence permanently solve the other problems of hospital medicine shortages, education inadequacies, etc. We need permanent not temporary solutions.

    1. Wise One from the East says:

      Hello Dr Ngalande,

      Just to chip in,

      1) If the president has none of the dreams you are talking about (enticing Silicon entrepreneurs to invest in Malawi for example) – having proved visionless this far, I fail to see how a plane will help Malawi.
      2) At the CHOGM, and on other trips he has made, he has had opportunities to meet donors and investors – without having a plane. What value would having a plane have added to those meetings? And did he make the meetings count? This far we have yet to see.
      3) Medicine shortages are a matter of better management of what we have. This entails leadership and political will. So far APM has just been shuffling players without results. Once he has a plane, will APM suddenly be imbued with Solomonic wisdom and David’s resolve? I doubt.
      4) Last BUT not least, how about appointing the right people as our Ambassadors and first and second secretaries? People who can deliver and truly represent Malawi and APM abroad so that we reduce the need for APM to globe-trot? I can name them: BUT the idiots that APM appointed and those he inherited are bufoons who are doing a bad job.

      And IF our ambassadors are failing to do the job, yet due to cronyism we cant sack them; the quick-fix of buying a plane will not solve things.

      I rest my case your honour!

  8. mwana mulopwana says:

    I think the wise one didn’t get the article right, all the arguments he has written are off points and may be the wiseman has never travelled at all,

    All points that have been raised by the wiseone are very invalid and ridiculous, Malawi could have saved a lot if the President bought a presidential jet,

    firstly you need to understand that First class and Business class are double or sometimes 3 times cost of economy class, and you need to count all the bodyguards who normally go with President to be in Business class,

    This type of thinking are savings does not make sense and this is why a lot of local Malawians fail to do business because of poor thinking which is very costly.

    1. M23 says:

      Does this man, (hope his is a man) know what he is talking about? Does he know how much it costs to maintain a jet whether flying or idle? And when it flies, does he know how much fuel it uses? Assuming we had a jet at the time UNGA was held, is he telling the readers that the 100 plus delegates APM took would have fitted in the jet thereby saving huge sums that would have been spent on air tickets? With the jet, the government will have to employ the cabin crew which has to be paid whether he is flying or not. This is just one of the many costs that will inevitably come along with owning a jet.

  9. Mpumulo wa Bata wayandikila says:

    No one can argue with this analysis. Great job Wise one. If and when Mathanyula shows up and performs I will personally buy him a jet but he has to prove to the nation that he deserves one, so far he has failed miserably.

  10. Katong'ongo says:

    Dear Wise one from the east,
    Your wisdom has been poured out and is flowing steadily on this drainage (ngalande). This means that he will never listen to you or he will despise your wisdom. Cedric Ngalande, Nakoma, Luther Mambala, Kondwani Nankumwa and mammoth blind followers of the DPP are just useless noise makers earning a living and are on our hard-earned tax payroll for defending mediocrity. Most of the commentators on this forum are either beneficiaries or hardcore obvious brutes from the south.

  11. Palikanthu says:

    Our health care system advertises poverty loud and clear!!

    Did you know that our health systems are so dilapidated that are ranked only better than the war torn Afghanistan? Yes our Hospitals are second from bottom in the entire world!! So who is worried whether APM waits in transit at airport A or B? Our people languish in worse places the so called hospitals which are just death traps he should be happy he is waiting in a posh lounge.
    Since APM, Mwanamveka and Champonda started globe trotting how much money has come into Malawi and how much improvement has it afforded the Malawian tax payer? For all I know they have spent more on flight tickets, allowances, accomodation than what has come in… they are just externalizing forex. Umbava okha-okha. These three should stop flying out and work in the country to make the economy tick.

  12. Analyzer says:

    1. The idea of buying a jet because the president was seen on a queue is absurd and naive. The president sitting on a queue is as a result of the incompetency by his protocol team. There are always protocols to address VVIP people which his team seem to be ignorant about.

    2. The president looking tired is an issue of poor health and old age.

    3. On the other hand I find it a poor argument from us who are against extravagance that ‘people are not receiving free food in hospitals let alone going begging as you say in Nsanje’. Really?

    Do we still believe that someone should have free food because he or she is sick? What do our patients eat in their homes that they cannot be provided with when they are in the hospital by their relations? What happens when someone is sick in the home? Do the government go to their homes to give them food? In ideal scenario, the hospitals were supposed to provide food under some special circumstances and requirements. Say special diets or someone has no guardians around or in an emergency. But still someone has to pay for the meal in the end. Not free. Medicine yes this can be provided.

    4. Our effort and argument should be the uselessness of these trips and the poor infrastructure we have throughout the country, poor hospitals equipment, etc. We should be worried with the president talking of economic growth only when he is in UK or in USA when in reality we have persistent blackouts and corruption is killing public service delivery.

    For that we cannot be talking of a presidential jet when we have serious issues to address. But not free food in hospitals. This may also be the reason why our hospitals are congested. Free meals may be attractive by the way but of course am not saying it’s the reason. Poverty

  13. g-unit says:

    Presidential jet is not an option for us,we just can’t afford it.
    Two things am wondering here- 1,Does cedrick ngalande stay in Malawi,if yes where exactly because he seems like he doesn’t know the real life in Malawi,maybe he stays in Area 43 where people lead an indoor life and only learn of what is happening in Malawi through the internet as if they are staying outside the country,2-am questioning the credibility of his Phd,where did he get it,because his arguments lacks flair of an intellectual person.

    How can you say that the president is losing a lot of time in airports,which time are you talking about,these guys spends a lot of time doing nothing or doing useless things like attending opening ceremonies for small things suitable for a mere councillor and you are worried with a few extra hours spent on foreign travels.

    Thanks wise one for your excellent analysis in this sensible article full of good reasoning and smart ideas

  14. Naliyela says:

    I hope what Analyst sorry Wise One from East has argued is crystal clear like water from cape Maclear to Dr Cedrick Ngalande. Our poverty here in Malawi is like a nine month pregnant woman. We cant hide it

  15. Mwalusya kuvotera wamama winu....kkkk says:

    From now onwards Leader of opposition Chakwera ,Speaker Msowoya,Ministers ,Chief Executives,Directors should use public transport going to work to save fuel costs and car maintainance until we recover our economy,because what I see here its envy to APM.The president is outside the country and has spoken nothing concerning buying the jet but u are busy castigating him.Malawians what’s your problem.If you want to be president just stand on 2019 fullstop.

  16. Nankununkha sadzimva says:

    Wise one, I feel represented with your article. Awowo a Dr Cedrick Ngalande sindidziwa kuti PhD yawoyo adaipeza bwanji. Wakuyalutsani mzanu apa!

  17. Truck says:

    IF WE CANT AFFORD TO BUY A PLANE NOW LETS JUST ACCEPT IT LATER ON WHEN ECONOMY ITS OK WE CAN BUY ONE BUT NOT NOW JUST LOOK IN NSANJE HOSPITAL PATIENTS ARE BEGGING FOOD FROM NEAR BY HOUSES DONT WE FEEL SAD WITH THAT SITUATION.

  18. Blunt Truth says:

    I agree with Wise One. There is no need to buy a presidential jet. Afterall Peter Mutharika’s trips are not benefitting the country. The economy has gone down since Peter Mutharika became President. Amangoti cashgate koma zoona ndi zoti munthu uyu akulephela. We are now being subjected to the worst blackouts yet DPP started ruling in 2004 with just a two-year break only.

  19. Patriot says:

    Njala njala chani?
    Chakudya cha chani, ife timadya ndege.
    Atero a Viola

  20. NAMATHANGA KU MAULA says:

    THE PRESIDENT IS SUPER RICH
    SO WHY CANT HE BUY A PLANE
    FROM HIS OWN POCKET LIKE
    SUPER RICH BUSHIRI ??,

    IT SEEMS OUR PRESIDENT
    LOVES SO MUCH LUXURY
    THAN SAVING THE POOR SOULS ;WHY???

  21. utitiri says:

    Well articulated let me digress a little bit and give u food for thought. Do u know that when the President fires the Inspector General of Police or the Army Commander the government loses billions of Kwachas? Because politicians do not follow the hierarchies of the police or army they appoint officers who r not in the top ten of the hierarchy as a result those who were senior r forced to retire. For example when Bingu hired Mukhito the police lost the deputy inspector General general and ten commissioners, likewise when the incumbent President hired the current army general the army lost two deputy commanders and ten senior officers. Now a senior commissioner of Police and a general get in excess of K100m in gratuity, this translates to over K2bn. Let the army and police follow their laid down professional hierarchy and procedures of appointments and not what is happening now. It takes over 30years of experience for one to become a General or a Senior Commissioner of Police and yet it only takes less than six months for a new appointed President to send into early retirement of over 20 senior officers from the Police and Army if we combine with the civil service and Statutory Corporations then we r talking in hundreds losing their jobs!

  22. NAMATHANGA KU MAULA says:

    WHAT IS THE PRESIDENT DOING ABROARD ??
    WHERE ARE THE FRUITS OF HIS
    SO MANY TRIPS ???

  23. Happening Boy says:

    Muckracker 2, why would you want a kabaza boy pay tax, I don’t agree with you on that one.

  24. S chisale says:

    Persuasive argument at its best.Give me the best education, the best road infrastructure, the best hospital facilities (personnel and medicine) a food secure people 24/7, an energy-efficient economy with non-stop clean water for everyone, I will persued every Malawian to join me in allowing our president to buy even 3 presidential jets; not until then. Thumbs up Wise one from the east!

  25. Me says:

    .”standing in a queue as if he is a mere human” kkkkk what is he if not a human? A buffoon?

  26. Mucracker_2 says:

    Dear Mr. Wise one,
    I agree with you that Malawi is a poor country, its people poor in thinking capacity up to the level of equating a plane to their mediocrity. My agreeing with you is not on the fact that its not necessary, but that our people who are poor in thought feel its a luxury. I remember another time last year when the president bought a personal car worth $100,000.00 some people poor in thinking asked why he bought such a car. In their mind they thought it was an expensive car which the president could not afford yet some people including our MPs can afford to buy such a car.
    A plane is not expensive to buy even to companies and individuals. It is only in Malawi where people spend their time talking about a plane. Even in US and China, there will always be a beggar on the street, some people who can not afford to buy themselves medicine even when its in abundance. Ever heard of Obama Medical Care? go and find out, it only tells you that even in USA a good percentage of the population can not afford medicine. To therefore equate lack of medicine with a plane is completely trash and myopic. Our problem in this country is corruption, stealing government assets (Cash-gate) and laziness.
    Why should we be giving free fertiliser? Why should more than 80% of the population not pay tax even up to K5,000-K10,000/year? Why should Kabaza person not pay tax when he is always on the roads of Malawi? Does it make sense? Is that poverty of resources or poverty of the mind?

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