“The beauty is that through disappointment, you can gain clarity, and with clarity comes conviction and true originality.” – Conan O’brien
If you are in Malawi or outside it, as a Diaspora Malawian, the current vibe you are catching so far is that of a strong simmering widespread dissatisfaction with how government is conducted itself, so far.
There seem to be a growing strong sentiment indicating a mismatch between the needs and expectations of people and what government is offering.
It’s not surprising that others are might even suggest that perhaps this government is an enemy of progress and reforms.
This is because of the quasi arrogance and the clear deficiencies that this government has continued to display.
I personally still think the plot is still salvageable only if the president is going to be willing to listen to the many voices that are raising constructive criticism.
Otherwise indeed this entropy and lack of predictability is surely leading into a fast decline into chaos.
With most prices for consumables rising uncontrollably, life is becoming unmanageable and most people are starting to panic.
The demands on president Chakwera to start delivering on the promises he made are relentlessly growing.
More especially among the young people, a critical demographic with a high population in the job seeking phase, there’s a growing concern about the prevalent disparities and the widening divergence in social justice and economics.
Every indicator is clearly showing that we are on a wrong trajectory.
However it is important just to just zero in on the real delinquency.
What has caused the stagnation of our systems and public sector reforms?
Our leaders need to give us answers as to why they are failing to produce results that are consistent with our national goals. They need to explain why the country has failed to walk in tandem and alignment with our development Agenda.
Truthfully speaking, the sad thing about this is that the stalling of the process and progress to reform, and the lack of the zeal to improve is somehow deliberate.
Consequently by this action alone our leaders have consciously chosen to inflict pain on the nation simply just because they don’t care.
They benefit from the very broken system and will at all cost challenge anybody who dares to change the status quo.
I do not want to believe that they are the enemies of change and progress. However their inaction and complacent display is very telling.
After pledging to remove the rubble, we expected that every shred of debris including the truss that provided anchorage for corruption and its remaining pieces would be dealt with.
It’s no secret that the ones anchoring and holding this corrupt system are people in high places operating in such stealthy manner.
It’s a cartel that has successfully carried out a state capture by systemic political corruption with a significant private interest to influence all decision-making processes to their own advantage.
You remember when Martha Chizuma was appointed by the president to be the ACB Czar, the sabotage that happened with PAC was not only orchestrated by DPP, numbers don’t lie. It was the same group of few individuals including some of the closest inner circle to the president that were trying to stand in the way.
So when the president had sanctioned his deputy to head a task force on public sector reforms, we were all excited and had all the expectations that things would be changing for the good.
Every one was anticipating to see what the task force was going to be able to come up with.
We eagerly wanted to see what was going to be recommended for our leaders to implement as necessary steps towards recovery.
However, there was a deliberate manoeuvre to stop the report and it’s recommendations from being implemented.
As soon as it landed on the president’s desk, the powers that be quickly jumped on it to stop it from reaching fruition. It was sabotaged and rendered dead on arrival.
To be honest, there can only be one explanation why the whole executive should shun its own findings and opt to remain archaic.
These people within the establishment are enemies of change and progress.
Yes I said it without equivocation because there is no logical consistency in the defense that the president’s team has been putting out as to why the president chose to conceal the findings.
Information management is a very critical aspect and should be managed by very mature players who are able to anticipate and articulate in such a way that they are able to redirect the narrative in a positive way without being seen as being overly condescending.
When the press secretary speaks the president has spoken and what the nation is expecting to hear from the president right now is only the assurance that he is in control of the situation.
Feeding Malawians every week with a presidential daily is no longer relevant right now.
What Malawians are hungry for is to hear what actions and plans our president and his government will be carrying out. They want to understand why certain decisions are being made by the president.
Those are the things that the communications team should be pre-empting.
Evidently the lack of seriousness in their corresponding answers will continue raising further questions on the coherence of their purportedly willingness to reform.
A progressive government should not only be idealistic but must always be realistic.
Therefore they should not be afraid of putting its citizens to sit at the center of the engines of its systems so they could justify their claims of being transparent.
It’s only transparency that can fully promote accountability. You can not operationalize the most progressive law in the land (Access to Information) and yet on the other side you choose to be selective with what you want to give Malawians.
Malawians have a right to know how the structure of their civil service is built.
We need to review how the system is designed to police itself, and how those structures are holding.
Most importantly, we need to know who is managing and running our systems.
It’s the duty of our government to ensure that all citizens are able to know how some of our laws and acts are talking to each other.
For example one of the things that created and aided the mess that led to the MK6.2 Billion Covid funds plunder was the way the law that was used for disaster management and response was designed to function.
It’s a 1948 pre-independence Act that only gives power to DoDMA instead of the line ministries.
To my surprise, there has been a revised act that has been sitting idle for over four years and parliament has not even tried to bring it up because it would limit political and external influence of the ruling elites.
So as It is now, it means that the responsible ministries can only function at the pleasure of the Secretary to the President and Cabinet (SPC) Zangazanga Chikhosi, a man who retired from retirement.
Ironically, this was the only office that was spared from being interdicted despite being the hub of everything that went wrong with the Covid funds.
By virtue of his office, the president’s SPC is a controlling officer himself and therefore by appointing him to interdict other controlling officers, it was clearly implied that he was being spared.
Was this done to cut his SPC loose? or was it done to foster a convenient coverup?
This sounded more like asking a poacher to guard a game reserve.
Why didn’t the president use an independent governance institution?
We may never know, but what we surely know is that there are few individuals who are doing all they can to stop progress on reforms so our structures remain loose and weak.
That way they would be able to siphon and create loopholes into the systems.
We can agree that in some instances we do need more than a reform but rather we need an overhaul.
Coincidentally disaster management was moved right into the president’s office.
Whether this was done in good faith or not, I don’t know. Clearly the OPC was uniquely positioned to have a direct influence on how resources would be channelled.
As of now our systems and structures cannot self control and are totally susceptible to political and external influence.
So the template of reforms should start with the reviewing of our human capacity and capabilities.
Let us remember that systems are not corrupt by themselves. It’s those who are manning them that can either willingly choose to act dishonestly in their efforts to falsify, alter or manipulate what’s at their disposal.
Hence the need for collective responsibility is imperative.
Our systems and structures have to be managed by people who are sophisticated enough to run and set achievable objectives through functional performance.
The president should not be surrounded by some incompetent individuals who are only concerned about their own survival. He needs to get rid of anybody who is overrunning him or undermining him.
We have enough capable people even within the ranks of the president that can help him solve problems and develop the means and conditions required to enable progress.
Now given the facts we have at hand, we can make a fair assessment that the president needs to overhaul his team first.
We can not even begin talking of reforms when we clearly know that the team that is in place is totally incapable.
With the contract of the Secretary to the President and Cabinet’s contract expiring, our president should find this a rare opportunity to hit a reset button and try to recalibrate the whole system.
The SPC was hired to manage the Office of President and Cabinet (OPC)and he has failed.
You don’t need any proof to believe that, just look at how disastrous our response to Covid 19 pandemic has been.
Up to now we have a full government that was not even prepared to spare resources and funding for its people’s vaccines.
Yet at the same time this government was prepared to spend almost a quarter billion kwacha for independence celebrations.
This was not only atrocious and irresponsible, it was impudence in the highest order.
The whole cabinet has no direction. Can you imagine that in the middle of a pandemic a whole national budget was passed without projecting anything for Covid-19 response?
I personally hope that the president will not have the audacity to renew his SPC’s contract. It’s time to move the country forward.
He needs to build a more lean and easy to manage team of reputable characters.
Our president is dangerously close to losing his good reputation, integrity and the trust the nation had for him.
The choice is his to make; either to remain in a milieu of falsehoods by continuing to keep those that are corrupt, or he can decide to stop that negative energy by simply divorcing himself from any queerplatonic relationship.
Mr President, it is time to accept the reality and do the right thing. We still believe in those words you gave us and we know it is not too late for you to deliver.
As you sit astride in that citadel of power, remember that it’s a narrow focus that brings big results.
You don’t have to look at how far you have to go, stop thinking about 2025 – Instead reflect on how far we have come and the small wins that we have made – In the end this is what will speak of your legacy.
But as they say, Chimakumbutsa nkhwangwa ndi chisanu and 2025 is just around the corner and very soon they will need the very people they are playing games on but remember, Gona mkuphe sapali. Touch wood, it’s a catch 22.
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