The first part of her Njamba speech about Malawi’s need to push for indigenization of our economy, Speaker of Parliament and Malawi Congress Party (MCP) deputy secretary General Catherine Gotani-Hara was right.
Hara wants Tonse Alliance led by MCP president Lazarus Chakwera, once in power, to push for indigenisation and economic empowerment policies that will have black citizens in the country to have real opportunities to enter and participate in the economy.
But it was in qualifying her position, which is the second part of her speech, where Hara completely went off mark, tragically playing the race card.
She stirred racial feelings among Malawians when she, apparently, attacked Malawians of Asian origins for dominating all key government tenders in the country.
Gotani made her point when she mimicked an Asian boast.
“Dziko ndi wanu, ndalama ndi wathu (you, Malawians, own the country but we, Asians, have the money).”
If Chakwera is elected Malawi President in the fresh elections, she said, it should be: “Dziko wathu, ndalama wathu (Our country Malawi and we have the money).”
I find these statements misplaced because, arguably, they do nothing to address matters at hand than just stirring racial feelings, instilling hatred and dividing people.
In the first place, it must be underlined that this country, and all treasures in it, belongs to Malawians and everybody who legally lives in Malawi—regardless of gender, race, tribe and region.
Of course, regarding our economy, according to information seen by Nyasa Times, Malawian of Asian origins dominate every sector.
From supplying materials, property ownership to government to supermarkets to shopping malls, Malawian of Asian origin, who are in minority, have unparalleled hegemony over black Malawians who are in majority.
However, we should also not shy away from pointing out that the question of Asian dominance in the country’s economy hasn’t started today.
Speaking history, when Malawi was getting independence in 1964, the economy was entirely in the hands of white people and, of course, a few Indians.
When the shift of government was taking place, most white people sold all their properties as they were fleeing back to their country—afraid of being ruled by a black person.
The only group of people with money then, those who bought what white people were selling, were Indians. That is why most properties we have, today, are owned by Indians.
The question of why, after 52 years of independence, we are still debating the dominance of Indians is just a confirmation of the collective failure by our government to, slowly but steadily, indigenize our economy.
Malawi’s first black president Hastings Kamuzu Banda tried to address this challenge. For instance, in 1970 he ordered Asians out of local trading centres including rural areas and restricted them to Blantyre, Lilongwe, Zomba and Mzuzu cities.
However, the move didn’t bore the intended fruits. Why? Because Banda only weakened the strong without empowering the weak. Eventually, development was transferred from the rural areas to the few urban ones. And we wonder why rural areas have stagnated?
Truth be told, the question of indigenisation and black economic empowerment should not be implemented with intention of victimizing those already in the field of play.
What government needs to do is to level the playing field by, among others, listening to rational thoughts such as those advanced by politician and businessperson Frank Mwenefumbo.
Mwenefumbo wants a policy where government should make sure that a certain percentage of key government tenders must be given to Malawian businessmen.
Besides that, government also needs to empower Malawians to have money as start-up capital for business. We need services to be effective but that cannot be achieved in Malawians don’t have the capacity to provide.
This is where this debate must dwell. Not the racial hatred route that Gotani-Hara wanted to take us to.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :