This is a response I have just posted on Henry Kachaje‘s page where he wants to know what can be done to fix Malawi’s ailing economy. This was my 2 Tambala contribution to the debate, which has received tonnes of quite insightful proposals.
The summary of my response is that what needs to be done cannot be done – at least, not by our politicians. Below is my very polite contribution (my apologies to my civil servant colleagues, but something about you had to be said):
Zosatheka, a Bwana Kachaje. Fixing the Malawi economy needs guts, something our politicians will never have. You first start by stopping the bleeding, if you are haemorrhaging or if you find yourself in a hole, you start by stopping digging – and that just cannot be done, here.
Do you know how much govt spends on fuel and vehicle repairs? BILLIONS! And guess who drives that fuel guzzling VX or D4D to the market and chinkhoswe on Saturdays and to church on Sunday tiana tili tho! kumbuyo, madam atasongola? Not to mention going to bottle stores every evening? A mere driver – he uses the car 80 percent of the time on personal errands.
Do you know a government driver can take a government vehicle to go to his aunt’s funeral 300 Kms away and leave the office without any transport? His aunt’s funeral, not even his mothers. Show me one serious company that can tolerate this kind of nonsense. That is just one area but it goes to show you how blind govt has become to what it can do to increase savings.
And then there is the elephant in the room – ALLOWANCES. He-he! Tell me if there will ever be a single politician who will even mention this. Do you know how much is spent on allowances? BILLIONS!
The average civil servant at Capital Hill spends most of his/her time deploying and following up on loose minutes and memos for this field trip or that foreign trip. Here are the facts: those billions in allowances are not for teachers, nurses not even for those hard working extension officers in the villages. It is spent on a selected few who have made it their career to live their lives on government allowances.
Granted, most of them are well qualified and would do with a better salary but it is also true that most of them can easily get a better salaried job in the private sector. So why are they not going there? Your guess is as good as mine – government especially Capital Hill is a gold mine.
Solution? ABOLISH ALLOWANCES IN GOVERNMENT, NGOS AND DEVELOPMENT PARTNERS. PERIOD. But as I said, who has the balls to do that? Certainly, not any of our politicians.
Then there is the porous government payment system. How much is still being pilfered even today? BILLIONS! And, no, it’s not just about IFMIS, it’s just sheer stupidity. Yeah, there, I said it! stupidity. Want proof of stupidity? How about this: Have you ever wondered why EVERY government accounts ASSISTANT owns multiple houses and multiple vehicles when Directors are even lucky to have a single house to their name? Very simple.
When a request for funds for fuel or allowances is made by a department or a given number of people, the cashier’s offices is responsible for releasing the cheque once it has been processed and issued. Now, cheques of this nature are not issued to individuals or entities but rather they are issued directly to the banks where they will be drawn and so the cheque will be something like ‘Pay National Bank’, etc. A list of the actual recipients is then attached to that cheque and they are both deposited together at the bank. The bank then distributes the allowances or the fuel as per attached list.
What the boys and girls in the accounts simply do is detach the original list and replace it with their own! When the owners follow up, they are simply told, the payment is not ready or some other stupid excuse. Ask any civil servant at Capital Hill and they can testify that, more often than not, their approved payments never make it past the cashiers window. Now, if that is not stupid, tell me what is. First time I heard it, I thought it was a joke until someone confirmed it to me – I felt really sorry for my country, that day.
Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe is said to have, recently, told the nation that Malawi’s economy was in God’s hands? Well, that was asked-and-answered long time ago – Malawi’s economy has been surviving only by the Grace of God. Otherwise, how else do you explain the fact that the economy has been bleeding this much and yet the country still staggers on? It can only be a miracle, seriously. Because in real life, no organisation can do what we allow to happen in our government and still survive – not even for a month.
In short, our economy can do better even with the little we have if we were just to be a little frugal. But as I said – Zosatheka izi, zofunika kadziotche, needs a hatchet man, someone who does not care about a second term or even impeachment. Go in there, Magufuli everything, seal the changes with multiple layers of concrete and get out!
Until that happens, we are dead.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :