Malawi, a nation in crisis

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” – Albert Einstein

In every crisis the most important thing is a decision, decisions and more decisions.

And decisions have to be accompanied by stern actions.

Failure to have that critical aspect of forming a decisive action and the ability to process a resolution for resolving intense difficulty, trouble, or danger becomes a thriving ground and a sole catalyst for creating more problems.

Therefore the first thing that one must watch in any one who claims to be a champion for change is how quick and decisive they are. They say procrastination in any crisis management is a sin.

Casual indulgence

Now let’s come back to our topic at hand mother Malawi. If we are to be honest enough, we are seeing a shocking level of casual indulgence of our national matters by our leaders who clearly seem to be failing to come up with any solutions to effectively deal with and stop these disruptive and unexpected events that are already threatening to harm our nation indefinitely.

The level of negligence and lack of seriousness by this government in dealing with national issues is not only concerning, but will eventually cost us heavily in many aspects.

I know it’s in our natural propensity as Malawians to mask our anger with pretence that all is well even when deep down in our gut we know things are not working the way we thought they would be.

The change we voted for

Suffice to say when we voted for Tonse Alliance, we voted for one thing only, “change.”

But that change can only be realized If we continue to challenge our leaders by keeping them accountable and honest.

We don’t have to shy away from asking them tough questions otherwise we will risk dragging ourselves into a deeper hole than we were before June 23, 2020.

We need to demand answers from the President and his team as to why they have failed to make those tough decisions; what is stopping them?

State capture or incompetence?

Like I have always asked, is there any state capture by some “powers that be” with a gun on the president’s head?

Or is this administration plainly incompetent?

It’s not that the major culprits behind the scandals, corruption and failures that have rocked this administration are mysterious. It’s not even a case of them hiding in plain sights.

Everything that has gone wrong with this government circles around the same few individuals and we all know who they are.

But the billion dollar question is why the president is hesitant to fire them?

Why is he unwilling to even raise a finger.

Austerity measures

Even in this economic turbulence, we were expecting to see the president unveil his plan to implement austerity measures, demand greater fiscal transparency, responsibility and accountability that will free up much needed funds to resuscitate our dying economy.

Unfortunately the best they could settle for is more taxes and tariffs.

I know that for government to effectuate certain things efficiently, they have to collect enough revenue. But it’s also true that every progressive government does not thrive on taxing the poor but rather by creating more economic activity for its people especially the marginalized and vulnerable.

It’s immoral in this economy to force poor people to pay high rates at toll gates just to access our public roads without considering giving them alternative routes first.

Instead of punishing the poor first, our government should have considered downsizing and streamlining so as to stop unnecessary spending.

I was actually surprised that the President still insisted on going on a long trip instead of remaining home to focus on finding solutions for a quick economic recovery.

This could have signalled a potential start of fiscal belt-tightening measures by his government.

This is how other mavericks like late Magufuli of Tanzania managed to build a robust economy.

The truth is that these presidential trips are very expensive and can’t be sustained on the backs of poor Malawians.

Sicker, weaker and less safe

Now that our leader has just returned from his long trip abroad galavanting, he has found a nation that is sicker, economically weaker and less safe than when he left a few weeks ago.

This sounds like an over exaggeration but the truth is that Malawi within just a short span of time has been clearly surfing and riding waves of all sorts of contagious disease outbreaks like scabies and leprosy.

It’s easy to think that this is a laughing matter, or crack a joke or two about Blantyre folks with Mphere.

But I beg you to take a deeper look and see the looming danger that could be more problematic.

Let us for a moment try to think and imagine if this was something more lethal like Ebola? Do we think our public health system could have the capacity to stall the spread and keep us safe?

What happened to an outbreak that was localized in Dedza first to jump and spread fast and find space in Blantyre and Mzuzu?

Were there any mitigation efforts by government to stop the spread?

Talking of stopping the spread, isn’t it ironic and paradoxical at the same time that Blantyre water board would find it appropriate to announce the adjustments of water tariffs in the midst of a serious scabies crisis like this?

Isn’t clean water the much needed resource for families and communities to stay hygienic snd safe?

Again this just demonstrates how we are continuously failing to implement cohesive and comprehensive measures that can put the public safety of the country first over any other matter.

As am writing now, there has been several out breaks of leprosy clearly showing that our public health system is also in total shambles.

We as a nation have failed to provide a safe habitat for our most vulnerable segments in our society.

Like I said, we might crack a joke or two about these issues but the truth is that this is no laughing matter.

There’s a clear pattern of mismanagement and system failures in many areas of our public sectors.

There seem to be total negligence and a deliberate omission of expected or required action by those who are supposed to be manning our systems.

The failure by the president’s team to comply with the basic rules of logic and common sense is quite abhorring and can not be accepted by Malawians at all.

In other countries this could have warranted the president to reconstitute his cabinet with a new set of counter measures to remedy the situation.

For example coming from a scathing and witheringly scornful Covid 19 season, one could have expected that by now our government should have upped their approach to health risks prevention.

Our health policy should have been expanded to invest more and put much emphasis on prevention than treatment.

They should have put primary care and community services at the center of its agenda in such a way that more citizens would have been drawn for active participation.

More especially with economies like ours where resources are always scarce and finances are not available for procurement of equipment and medicines, the only winning strategy is that of an ideological commitment.

We could have chosen to follow the Cuban model of public health system. Regardless of their third world status, they boast and pride themselves as world leaders in healthcare delivery.

It is Government that has to be in the forefront of setting a culture of hygiene and disease control by educating the masses employing a robust civic education machinery. Currently the funding for that even is anaemic.

If this government is serious about change and the welfare of its people, then they can’t underfund the very ministry that has the mandate to safeguard the commitment and protection of citizens’ rights.

A half-hearted commitment to Civic Education ministry that can amplify the level of citizen’s understanding and engagement in public initiatives, is Government really shooting itself in the foot.

It just shows how our government’s priorities are off and how much little we have learnt from our experiences with Covid-19.

It is time up for this display of lack of vision and cluelessness that made us lose more lives that otherwise could have been spared during the covid-19 surges as we constantly left citizen education and engagement as an afterthought.

I parked here parenthetically because the security and prosperity of any nation begins with the health of its citizens.

It seems the blunders we did on covid-19 pandemic failed to teach us the importance of a multi-faceted and a multi sectoral approach in effectively achieving goals for the public good.

To top it all the shocking reality is the entire cabinet coming up with a budget that made no future provisions for Covid surges or vaccine procurement, even as we see well-resourced nations still continuing to fight the pandemic.

A national budget is a statement of intent by government to its citizens. It reveals the attitude and exposes the priorities that government has laid down for its people.

This lack of decisive yet comprehensive solutions is what is wrong with our whole approach to almost everything be it raising electricity, water and housing rates in a stagnant or declining economic climate, with rising inflation.

Or whether it is facing multiple breaches in systems leading to exam leakages at Ministry of Education.

And barely on the heels of an inquiry of one govt hotel expenditure in Lilongwe we see there is abuse of funds even at key government offices.

Who is going to blow the whistle on corruption? Someone has to make a decision.

The truth is we have totally degenerated into a record low and it’s not only fair to even ask if this government is up to it, it is only right for the government to start giving us answers as we demand to have a candid conversation with the president.

And am sure if you ask many Malawians if they are better off today than they were before this Tonse alliance took over, the answer will be a resounding no.

Let’s be honest, this cataclysm is growing by the day and there are no signs of recovery anytime soon.

Obviously our leaders seem to be all over the place and the president seem to be surrounded by such incompetent folks.

And we all know that to a large extent our problems have been self made. It has been exacerbated by a complete lack of urgency on the part of the leadership.

It imperative for us as citizens to take our stand, not only it is totally justified, it is in fact within our rights to question those who have been tasked with managing our systems.

For example now, there are many questions about our ministry of health. Is it capable enough? Has the line minister responsible performed to our satisfaction?

Why has our public health system totally collapsed at such unprecedented rate?

By this time we thought lessons could have been drawn from how we failed to mount a successful Covid 19 response.

Now to add salt to an already painful wound, the high costs of living and the ever rising prices of basic necessities like cooking oil and fuel have increased pressure and raved up levels of uncertainty and angst in many people.

Only the few, the elite and the politically connected are the exempted ones.

As for the rest of us, all we are noticing are steady trends of a nation that is showing serious signs of a fast decline, degenerating into chaos.

The deteriorating security apparatuses and shocking stories of people disappearing and being abducted leaves us with more questions than answers.

But like they say “when the going gets tough, the tough get going”

In the end it’s only ordinary Malawians who can truly change Malawi. Those who are willing to raise their voices and to sacrifice themselves to fight hard until real change is realized.

May that one man or woman who can save us stand up now or forever hold your peace!!


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