When talking about countries in Africa which have turned around their economies and brought about tangible development, Rwanda and Tanzania stand out.
Rwanda is a country that had a genocide in which one million people died in 1994. But now, 25-year later, Rwanda is a different story. Its development is beyond any imagination. Under the leadership of Paul Kagame, Rwanda has gone as far as making its own cars and this is a country where importation of second-hand items, including clothes (kaunjika), is not allowed. Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, is probably the cleanest in Africa. Corruption and abuse of taxpayers’ money, which destroyed economies of most African countries, especially Malawi, are totally unacceptable in Rwanda.
Turning around an economy can easily be done provided there is a leader with an agenda for the country and the people. For example, among other things, the President of Tanzania John Pombe Magufuli impressed his countrymen; by using the available resources, he made beds and mattresses for the biggest hospital in Dar-es-salaam so that no patient would sleep on the floor. This is unlike in Malawi. The leadership considers it acceptable for patients to sleep on the floor.
Magufuli believes in saving resources by reducing travelling, including going to the United Nations General Assembly (Unga). This is unlike President Peter Mutharika, who goes to each and every Unga, even if there is nothing to address the assembly about. This year, his speech included domestic politics to which most people had no time to listen to. Hence, during his speech the assembly hall was almost empty as compared to when Kagame took the floor. The hall was full as people wanted to hear from a successful President.
It is possible that Malawi can achieve such success provided there is leadership whose main agenda is to bring progress to the country, instead of using Malawi and its resources as a stepping stone to ill-gotten wealth as is the case now. There is no direction as the country gets poorer by the day. Since Mutharika came into power in 2014, Malawi is just a cauldron of all manner of problems—ranging from corruption to food shortages. The Mutharika government has totally failed to find solutions. Hence, corruption and abuse of taxpayers’ money have been institutionalised.
So far, the President has no time to solve any problems in the country, instead he is well occupied protecting his position. This is why there are the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) cadets who publicly warn people that whoever plays with the President will hear from them.
Unfortunately, the cadets will know too late that what they are doing is not beneficial. Some anonymous commentator rightly stated that when it is political rallies, leaders mobilise the youth, but when job opportunities come, they mobilise their family members and friends. This is a wake-up call to youths such as cadets.
Meanwhile, four months into his second-term, Mutharika is yet to find his feet. He is now caught in the crossfire of nationwide demonstrations calling for the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson to resign because of the May 21 alleged fraudulent elections. These are the worst demonstrations since 1994. It is naïve for anyone to think that Mutharika can have a solution to the demonstrations. He can call for dialogue but experience has shown that his government can hardly hold dialogue with anyone.
Malawi desperately needs a focused leader who is ready to learn from fellow successful leaders. A leader, who just barricades himself in State House, while protecting his position like is the case now, is not wanted.