Nothing to celebrate about Malawi independence: Editorial

Unless the majority of Malawians are freed from the merciless yoke of poverty, independence from the colonial masters, which the country is celebrating this weekend, has no meaning.

So much is made about the fact that some countries such as Taiwan which were poorer than Malawi at independence in 1964 are now more industrialised and richer with poverty levels very low among their people.

On the contrary, 49 years after independence, the majority of Malawians continue to be crushed under the merciless weight of poverty and live on less than K400 a day. Their children continue to learn under trees and as they also die from curable diseases because the few hospitals which are there have no drugs and equipment.

We, at Nyasa Times, believe that instead of putting up lavish and elaborate ceremonies to celebrate independence from Britain, this is the time for Malawians to debate and situate where things went wrong as a means to chart a better future for our children.editorial

Where did Malawi go wrong to still be among the poorest of the poorest, 49 years after independence? Is the problem with our leadership that it has been deficient to chart achievable visions for national development? Or is it the attitude of Malawians in general of accepting their station in life without questioning it and finding ways to improve their lot? What about donors and West? Is it international trade and Malawi’s failure or inability to negotiate fair terms? Or is it management of resources that Malawi’s has been endowed with such as land, boundless fresh waters from our lakes as well as minerals, among others that have been a problem?

Answers to these questions are not easy to find and as a country we need an honest national conversation to find tangible and workable solutions to the problems.

But we believe solid and visionary leadership should be at the centre of any national plan to take the country out of chronic poverty and in the past Malawi has not been helped in this area.

Our leaders of the past 49 years have failed this country. Soon after winning independence first head of state the late Hastings Kamuzu Banda wasted so much energy propping up his own image in the process abusing the human rights of Malawians through strong state institutions and propaganda that only ended in making our people domesticated and so, not much was achieved to take this country out of poverty.

His emphasis on subsistence farming only ensured sufficient nsima while agriculture was hardly industrialised to make a real dent on people’s poverty and raise standards of living to any meaningful levels.

Multiparty democracy only brought freedom in 1993 amid emphasis on entrepreneurship as new mode of poverty alleviation yet, once again, nothing much was achieved during the next ten years of the Bakili Muluzi administration.

As for the Bingu wa Mutharika administration, it failed to take advantage of the debt relief from Western creditors to make a real dent on the poverty of Malawians and the jury is still out there on the Joyce Banda administration that got power only last year but the signs are not good at all. It is the same old story.

With these state of affairs, it cannot be business as usual for Malawi as we remember a day, 49 years ago, when the British Union Jack was lowered and instead the new flag of the new independent nation called Malawi was hoisted high.

We reiterate, until Malawians are freed from the bondage of poverty that also troubled their ancestors for so many years under foreign rule, there is absolutely nothing to show and celebrate for independence.

Our leaders have an obligation to show us the way out of this evil.

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