Happy new cheer! Malawi should not remain in the past, let us propel her forward

Standing on the threshold of the new decade, we at Nyasa Times want to share our reflections over the past decade with you compatriots. The objective is to challenge you on various fronts.

Our general assessment is that this new year 2020 should not be just about changing numbers. We should also turn a new page. Hence our kick-starting this dialogue on why – as a nation – we are where we are.

Some would ask, where exactly are we?

If there is one thing that all institutions that operate in matters to do with development agree, it is that Malawi is among the least developed countries (LDCs) and that unlike her neighbours, Malawi reminds one of a “stunted” child.

This is after over fifty years of independence.

To rub salt in our open wounds, we were recently awarded a ‘badge of disgrace’ and made spokesperson for this band of nations.

This, fellow Malawians, is not on.

It is a clarion call for us all to rethink, reconsider and resolve to change the direction our country is heading to.

In terms of our respective roles in the ways we can and should take part, we are in three categories plus one.

The first is the public sector (i.e. the civil service); the second, the private sector (those operating businesses or working for various companies), and the third, civil society -i.e. all those not in the former two.

On the dawn of this new decade, we want to address each sector in turn.

The Public Sector:

Going by the media and other reports in the just ended year and the gone decade, our compatriots in the public sector were far from convincing in their dedication to their roles and performance of their duties.

Increasing incidences and reports of corruption, failure to professionally dispense services in their  mandated roles, negligence and provision – in many cases – of less than satisfactory deliverables.

A good example is the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC).

To hit the nail on the head, this institution has singlehandedly stopped the clock in Malawi.

Malawi is at a standstill.

The nation and Malawians are in suspense because MEC’s management of the May 2019 elections was questionable enough to warrant a marathon constitutional court case.

Why did the Courts find MEC with a case to answer? Short cuts, amateurism, ill-advised decision-making, lack of the requisite seriousness and an unprecedented opacity in its decisions are why.

MEC, fellow Malawians, has a sacred duty. MEC is the Biblical equivalent of prophet Samuel. Thedifference with the Biblical setting is that in the wisdom of those who created democracy, MEC is supposed to manage elections in a transparent manner whereby each voter is assured that their vote has been counted, once and only once.

It is only by doing this diligently and transparently that MEC can live up to the standard that prophet Samuel was meeting in his role as the anointer of Israel’s kings.

Hence, MEC’s actions and processes should be beyond reproach.

Without veering into matters of law; even just looking at the management aspects of the May 2019 elections, one wonders whether MEC Commissioners and management are actually paid or whether they are just volunteers doing us a favour, for free.

The quality of the May 2019 elections leaves that much to be desired.

Hence, we hope and pray that not too far from today, the five wise lords and lady of the Constitutional Court will deliver a judgement that is not only just, but is also perceived as just so that Malawi can start moving again.

Private sector

Coming to the private sector which is of course driven by profit motives, we also have a few concerns and tips.

The first is a reminder to our business captains and their employees that they are the drivers of development. No government ever developed a country. It is the private sector.

Scanning the environment, one sees laxity. Instead of competitively pursuing quality in production; this sector is fast mirroring the incompetence exhibited by the public sector.

While we understand that our economy and market is small, this should not be a dis-incentive.

Rather, the small size of our economy should challenge the private sector to produce goods and services of export quality, compete on the international market and export.

Malawian diaspora in South Africa, Namibia, Ghana and other countries should find in their malls goods branded: Made in Malawi.

Secondly, we urge our private sector to live and operate by two principles. Firstly, that it is not enough to copy what has been produced elsewhere. We must aim to improve it.

Secondly, it is that challenges should not deter progress. Challenges should incite innovation.

The Civil Society:

Fellow Malawians, we want to share Benjamin Franklin’s advice vis-à-vis new year.

“Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbours, and let every new year find you a better person,” said Benjamin Franklin.

Meaning, let us aggressively fight all evils. Be they corruption, bad governance, nepotism or laziness wherever we see them. Let us expose incompetence, negligence, shoddy service delivery wherever they surface, even when and especially whenwe are not directly affected.

It is by demanding total transparency and accountability from the Public Service and by paying ONLY for quality goods or service from the Private Sector that these two sectors will begin delivering for us and for our children.

The Fourth Estate

Last but not least, we want to share a thought or two with our brothers and sisters in pens: the media corps, also called the fourth estate.

If we are to play our role and effectively compliment the efforts of the three sectors addressed above, we must deliver journalism unusual.

The goal, as per Claud Cockburn, used to be “believe nothing until it has been officially denied.” This, fellow members of the Press, has failed in Malawi.

How about: even if something has been officially denied, dig, dig and did deeper and the truth comes out?

Since charity begins at home, we at the Nyasa Times, intend to lead by example.Welcome to the new decade, whole new ball game and a new era. The revolution begins now.

We wish you all a happy and prosperous New Year 2020.

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Nyaphapi One
11 months ago

I am going to buy a new toothbrush.

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