Malawi Pres. Joyce Banda jolly ride gone on long enough -Newspaper columnist

Newspaper columnist George Kasakula writing in ‘My Diary’ column published in Weekend Nation on Saturday June 1  says  the majority opposiiton must rise to the occasion and halt the jolly Joyce Banda merry-go round.  The column is re-posted  below, full text:

The injustice of poor Malawians swallowing the bitter pill prescribed by the IMF and administered by the Joyce Banda government to cure the ailing economy while she and her ministers continue to wallow in obscene opulence exemplified by constant travel has gone on long enough.

The national budget Malawi’s Finance Minister Ken Lipenga presented on Friday has one clear underlying theme and it is the continuation of Malawians living in abject poverty as they will see further dwindling of their disposable incomes to rising inflation.

Forget about the kwacha gaining because it is clear it is due to the tobacco selling season currently underway which has seen the steady inflow of some US dollars.

Malawi Pres. Banda
Malawi Pres. Banda

Pay no attention to the narrow K20 000 ($50) pay as you earn tax free band as it will have no significance in the carry-home pay of salaried employees.

But while Lipenga was tellingly upbeat in impressing upon Malawians to brace for more cuts and painted a bleak picture about the future of subsidies in health, agriculture and even education, he has decided to double the budget for State House, vice-presidency and internal travel.

There is a general agreement among media, opposition and other commentators that this mistimed allocation is a ruse to fund PP campaign for the 2014 elections.

The travesty of it all is obvious. It is not only a blatant abuse of taxpayers’ money but also a moral crime against poor Malawians to attempt to use their hard-earned money to fund a campaign of one political party merely because it has found itself in power.

It is either all parties are funded or none at all. This is called justice and fairness, a prerequisite of any fair competition.

But the folly of us all suffering while the President and her cabal of ministers and officials are swimming in luxury through constant trips has run its course.

As I am writing this, the President and her entourage are hopping from one capital to the other, attending meetings and talk shows whose immediate value to all Malawians is hard to fathom.

The last time I checked she was in Tokyo, Japan, after stops in Ethiopia and Dubai. Only God knows where else she is intending to fly to after the Tokyo jamboree.

What we should be assured, though, is that when she is done, she will come home, gather her band of PP hand-clappers and then shepherd a few journalists to a carefully orchestrated press conference where her eager officials will concoct a few false figures to falsely paint a picture of the immense benefits of the trip.

But this would be the last time Malawians will ever hear of the matter until the next scheduled trip to other exotic parts of the world. We all remember the other day when Malawians were told that the country would start exporting tomatoes after a trip to Equatorial Guinea that only served to form a quorum for some obscure Africa-Brazil partnership forum.

But I insist that this circus has gone on long enough. This time our MPs, currently considering the budget, must do something about it.

The parliamentarians have a moral obligation to Malawians to refuse to pass the three inflated votes unless they are reduced to sensible levels.

If this would mean the shut-down of Capital Hill, so let it be. Malawi would not be the first country where a budget impasse has led to the closure of government. It has happened in the US on many occasions. It is called accountable governance.

It also happened during the first term of Bingu wa Mutharika. The only difference then was that the opposition was fighting against nothing as the economy was performing before DPP became a monster after the 2004 elections.

But the time has come for a dosage of that if only to stop this endless party at the expense of all Malawians.

The opposition MPs, now in majority, must rise to the occasion and halt the jolly Joyce Banda merry-go round.

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