Fuel pains down my ‘tank’!

So fuel prices have hit another high after slumping just a few weeks ago. The happiness that came with the cut in the pump prices did not only get me excited as a pedestrian, as I hoped minibus people would react likewise, but also got me excited as a Malawian, since my bread price would somehow have to also be reduced and fertilizer subsidy programme find relief in its courier to rural dead ends of the country.

That was not to last. I just woke up, rather a bit late, to hear that the guys at the price control body have realised we might have made a ‘shody’ mistake a few weeks ago, when in the haste to make JB’s leadership meet the 100 days joy-rollercoaster, the price slightly dropped – but making big differences for those namadyabwino’s who fill up to the nozzle. For jerrycan and 5 liter can motorists, well, they still recognized some change – no matter minor.

And now we have to readjust our lives to the new prices. As normal people, and not as normal minibus owners would take, we envisage that there will not be any transport fee hikes this end. Mhhhm, but we do not always think the same when it comes to capitalism or liberated markets and business scales. The minibus owner will this time quickly raise that fee – and will not listen to our reason to keep it at bay.

“Pump prices are up, madam. What do you expect? Tikakudyerani kuti?” that is what I expect to hear come Monday.

Some weeks ago when I protested why those latest little minibuses with a stringent capacity of three per seat were seating four of us at MK150, the minibus guys said though fuel had gone down, they were not bound to comply. And that is the greed that is well known in the lives of Malawians.

Landlords latest have also had their share to rake in the Kwachas, particularly after the JB infamous but all-important 49% or so devaluation – at the behest of the West and its hedge-money IMF and World Bank calls. Beggars are never choosers, claims the Queen’s subjects!

Well,someone told me they moved out of a near dilapidated house with no plan but coming at MK25,000 a month. For the past three or four years the family has been a committed tenant, there has been no painting, no nothing. No nothing at all! It has just been ‘pay-day is up, tenant’!

And to say more, the house price is now jumped up by a good 10% – adding insult to the fact that those employed in the private sector seem to be privy to the objectives that labour unions stand for in Malawi. Well, there have been promises of hikes in the most basic of take-home ‘perks’ for all, but who in the Asian of Malawian origina and the so called private sector and NGO world has responded? Government may have taken a step – but oops lalala for the rest of Malawians.

As if that is not enough, rolls in the cash-hound, Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA), to hit us hard where it already pains. Of the three types of tax ‘regimes’ that they hunt with, they tout themselves of scraping off one but without doing much to bring relief on the remaining two in most cases. Imagine though the taxable fee has jumped to the first MK15,000 graced, with the rest in God-knows why percentages been chucked off, there is little the business and indeed the workforce can smile about.

The jargon itself remains cryptic and the people running rounds holding ‘allowance-less’ meetings with specialized group also of either marginalized ‘communication skills or of deliberate prickle-my-foot world. They all seem not to want to explain the truth as it is.

Now that the fuel is up – I also expect the bread to do its best. Already sisterhood in the arena of the night have almost doubled their ‘wares’ cost. Ha ha ha ha! And that is not all, the trend is attracting housewives and college (including little school girls) to secretly trade what their mama gave them. Life is becoming tough indeed!

Negotiable yes, in some instances, but the way Malawi does not control its business sector in terms of charging is really worrisome. Sometimes you even wonder if there is a system at all, or if this is just one breakless truck pushed down the God-help-us ravine!

Stitch – stitch and stitch – the so-called private schools are also playing to their game, all in the name of devaluation and of course, the recent slight hike in fuel will add to the argument. That is sick, considering the state that is most of the private ‘academies’.

Malawians, as nimble JB warned, will have to brace for it – and that is not all. We also have to quickly start devising new ways of survival.

Off the history books, we can learn from how the Indians (or you call them Asians of Malawian origins, as if we have Malawians of Asian origins tuck neatly somewhere in red-Asia) have managed to survive by spreading their business. They carry up to ten passports a human piece, and lace all the streets of each and every nation and continent with no end in sight of their population dwindling. That is what I call a knack for survival.

They know where to move in, how much to multiply or reproduce, and how to take care of their cash under their beds and pillows as we run dry of foreign exchange. Late Bingu might have been right or wrong, but he also had stacks of cash in his ‘house’, they say?

Well, its all about the slight hike in pump prices that is unveiling all this nonsense. And whatever we do, Malawians will never know where to hold balance of the economy, as they will keep wondering what political remedy to employ to fast-track its economy like the Chinese.

Talking Chinese, they have quickly borrowed the Indian ‘spread-sheet’ philosophy and can now be seen happily married in the doldrums of Chinsapo, Area 23 and what else have you – with no government checks on the now much talked about ‘migration problem’.

Don’t talk about the Congolese, Rwandan, Somali and other nationals that have taken over business in every corner of village and township in Malawi. Ahem, they have also taken over my brothers’ sisters whom they use as a great ‘migrants stay-permit’ to success.

Marriage laws and fuel? No connection? Yes – someone better rewrite this article if you dare!

These are all fuel pains down my tank. Ha ha ha ha!

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