President Banda and her cash donations

Am I the odd one out who gets irked by politicians’ myopic cash donations to the poor? Or do I have some like-minded people out there?

Disclaimer:  I am not a development specialist. However I too have an experience of life and surely I am entitled to express my views.

I am always annoyed to see politicians in Malawi giving cash to the poor without thinking through the implications.

Don’t get me wrong, I am a believer in helping the disadvantaged. But surely, as a government, we can do it in methodical ways. Isn’t it the very reason we have budgets and economical planning?

President Banda donating items to a prisoner

As I recall it, the cash donation trend first reached madness levels during the reign of Bakili Muluzi. I remember the former president literally throwing cash from his car to street vendors at Ginnery Corner in Blantyre. Shameful!

History repeats itself as they say and some things never change. Yes we are back at it. This time it is our beloved President ‘Abiti’ Joyce Banda at it again.

Only less than two months in office so far K2 million to the Boxing Association, K1.5 million to Red Cross and over K4 million to Maula Prison and still counting! (Not that she has been literally throwing cash the Muluzi way but if we are to learn from the past that is how it all starts.)

It has always been my view that it is myopic of the leaders and poisonous to our minds for leaders to give out cash to people in the way we see in Malawi. Of course there is a place for cash donations in our society (a topic for another day) but we have to pay more attention to the motive behind and the manner in which such donations are made.

It begs belief for the president to go about giving cash donations when she has the whole government machinery in her hands to institute meaningful donations in systematic ways.

Somebody enlighten me please: does our government pile bundles of cash in the palace for the president and his ministers to be splashing where ever they go? Secondly, as a country, do we have policies on how politicians can make ethical donations?

It appears that our leaders are ignorant of the long term implications of the cash donations they make. Or are they wilfully blind to its consequences?

Cash donations put pressure on all people in Malawi. Those who think are needy all they expect are donations from the purportedly better-offs – “mwatigulira/mwatibweretsela chani?” On the other side, the so called better-offs are on the constant pressure to splash.

To Abiti: Surely this madness can be nipped from the bud. These early days in office are an opportunity for you to lay down some decent standards. You and the cabinet can clean our spoilt donor-oriented minds by being meticulous in solving the poverty in our country.

Cash donations to the disadvantaged are surely not the best way forward. They are not a long term solution to the endemic poverty in the country. Well, if you insist to go on splashing please do so in secret after all that is what scripture advises all of us! Isn’t it?

My congratulations and all the best as you reign Madam President. Lots of love.

*Cryton Chikoko is a Barrister-at-Law, ex-broadcaster and ex-dentist. He has Masters’ degrees in Law, Media and Theology. He tweets latest UK legal news @cryton (!/Cryton)

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