At the heart of Malawi’s continued impoverishment is a question of poor governance, not lack of resources to harness.
This country—as President Lazarus Chakwera echoed Bingu Wa Mutharika’s ‘the country is rich but Malawians are poor’—is endowed with everything that Mauritius has.
The reason Malawi is failing to harness its resources and develop, like Mauritius did, is all about the question of governance.
When we talk about governance, we are not talking about Lloyd Muhara being drunk with power to the worse of attempting to send a legitimate Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda to an early retirement.
We are not talking about this because Muhara’s insane moves were only a result of an erroneous bigger picture.
When we talk about governance, we are talking about the interplay of the three arms of government—the Judiciary, the Executive and the Legislature, and how decisions made from these three define the tone of how this country is managed.
From Chakwera’s diagnosis, in his inaugural State of Nation Address, he sees that the Executive is too powerful, the Judiciary is too underfunded, the Legislature is too subservient, and all three are too corrupt.
The Executive is too powerful—it considers itself sacred, makes bad decisions and, without being checked, it gets away with it. That’s a fact!
The Legislature is too subservient; to mean, it is only eager and prepared to obey its political masters unquestioningly with due regard to the wishes of their constituents. That’s a fact!
The Judiciary, though independent, suffers from chronic underfunding, something which paralyses its effectiveness. That’s a fact, too!
But above all, these three arms of government, as Chakwera rightly said, meet at one intimate addiction to being corrupt.
In other words, something I agree, Malawi’s governance system is broken; as such, the continued impoverishment cannot be reversed unless the governance system is fixed.
For such a diagnosis, Chakwera’s SONA rates best.
In fact, even medically, the first step to healing is to ensure you get the right medical doctor to run a successful diagnosis of your problem.
However, the actual healing happens when, after rightful diagnosis, the doctor must correspond with rightful prescription.
In the case of Chakwera’s speech, we are seeing a case of a rightful diagnosis of malaria, but instead of being prescribed with the rightful L.A; the doctor prescribes you with magnesium.
Chakwera’s speech hasn’t deal much on how he will pull a 180 degrees turn in giving the right prescription to the broken governance system responsible for Malawi’s failures.
For instance, his SONA fails short, till now, on key specific measures, legislative or administrative, on how the Executive, especially him as the Head of State, will reduce the strength of his office.
What we wanted to hear, which is specific, is something akin the boldness of saying ‘I am therefore delighted to report that within the past 40 days, the draft National Civic Education Policy has been finalized and is ready to launch.’
On reducing the powers of the Executive, Chakwera has, again, just sold the nation beautiful dummies and it’s sad.
Let’s go to the legislature. Its crime is in MPs being subservient—following political masters. To change this, I expected Chakwera to underline two things.
One, to announce that his party, MCP, will not be involved in poaching MPs from another party; and two, his government will ensure that Section 65, which protects voters, is strengthened and implement to stop the wanton crisscrossing of MPs.
The trend is the same with the Judiciary. Their biggest challenge, we agree, is funding. However, Chakwera, in his SONA, has only urged Parliament to consider an increase of funds given to Judiciary.
I was expecting, as a head of state and also one with a good majority in Parliament, to be blunt and say: ‘my government will allocate funds to Judiciary that will be more than 5 percent of the National Budget—an increase from the current 1 percent.’ Again, Chakwera only made a lip service.
All in all, Chakwera was on point to diagnose Malawi’s governance problem as key to the country’s continued impoverishment. However, in terms of prescription as to what needs to be done, he has completely missed it.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :