Talking Blues: A trainee pilot, national sins and a stolen horse; all in the mix

As such, along with our focus on the future we want must be some reflection on what assets we can build on presently and what sins from our past we must avoid.” – President Lazarus Chakwera, at the launch of Malawi Vision 2063, Kamuzu Palace, 19 January 2021.

A man was told that a plane will be waiting for him at the airport. He arrived at the airport and indeed, there was a plane, warming up outside the hanger.

He jumped in and told the pilot, “Let’s go!”

The plane taxied off and up they went. Once in the sky, the man told the pilot to veer westwards so that he could get a better view of the farmland below.

The pilot asked why. The man replied he was an estate agent commissioned by a prospective buyer to reconnaissance farmland up for sale.

The pilot was silent for a while, then stammered,

”So, what you are telling me is that you are not my Flying Instructor?”

Imagine the horror looks on their faces! 30,000 ft above, with a clueless pilot!

You know what? As a nation, we are cruising 30,000 ft above with a clueless trainee pilot in charge!

Where do I start?

Let’s try Kamuzu Palace, date: 19 January 2021 during the Launch of Malawi Vision 2063.

Now, make no mistake, I have browsed the document, and it is perfect. The problem is: so was Vision 2020! A roadmap as perfect as could be, which we failed to profit from but which, reportedly, was successfully adopted, adapted and implemented by the Rwandese!

Our weakness is not problem diagnosis. We are good at that. However, as Pres Chakwera eloquently put it, we need to repent our “sins”.

President Chakwera highlighted wastage as a “national sin”.

”As a people, we must cure our proclivity for waste,” pontificated Chakwera. He went on to cite nine ‘sub-sins’ including wasting:

  1. too much time on trivia and idleness;
  2. too much money on entitlements and consumption;
  3. too much land on crops for subsistence living in an annual cycle of poverty and dependency;
  4. too much aid on sustaining the careers and livelihoods of foreigners whose very professions depend on us remaining in abject poverty;
  5. too many public offices on people who sit around adding no value to our quest for good government;
  6. too many foreign embassy jobs on people who are nothing more than diplomatic tourists;
  7. too much public discourse on politics of division, one-up-man-ship, fault-finding, slander, and misinformation;
  8. too much of our minds and thoughts on gossip and frivolous tales about other people’s private affairs;
  9. too much of our business activities on get-rich-quick schemes that fuel greed and corruption now strangling the government’s entire procurement system with overpriced goods and underdelivered services.

As I have said, as a nation, our dire straights are not borne out of failure to diagnose our problems, no.

Our Achilles’ Heel is the tendency to over-analyze ad infinitum without making hard decisions and acting. This being a national disease, Chakwera is not exempt. In fact, after wasting half a year listening to his motivational talks, I can safely conclude that he is the worst victim of analysis paralysis.

If you disagree, take for instance, from Chakwera’s own speech these ‘sub-sins’:

  • “wasting too much money on entitlements and consumption”;
  • “wasting too much aid on sustaining the careers and livelihoods of foreigners whose very professions depend on us remaining in abject poverty”;
  • “wasting too many public offices on people who sit around adding no value to our quest for good government”;
  • “wasting too many foreign embassy jobs on people who are nothing more than diplomatic tourists” and
  • “greed and corruption now strangling the government’s entire procurement system with overpriced goods and underdelivered services”.

Do you know the only one individual in Malawi with the power to:

  • Act towards curbing “entitlements and consumption”?

It is Chakwera.

  • Negotiate and renegotiate aid configurations to stop sustaining the careers and livelihoods of expatriates masquerading as development experts”;

It is Chakwera.

  • Fire the useless advisors and ministers we don’t need?

It is Chakwera.

  • Get rid of diplomatic tourists, streamline and man our embassies with people who can promote Malawi’s image, goods and services?

It is Chakwera.

  • Tame the greed and corruption now strangling the government’s entire procurement system with overpriced goods and underdelivered services?

It is Chakwera.

Unfortunately for us, akin to the estate agent in the tale above, we are 30,000 ft in the sky, in a plane operated by a trainee pilot who badly needs an instructor!

Therefore, the question becomes: to change our fortunes, what “sin” should we repent?

Read on.

A man embarked on an excursion. A horse was his transportation. After riding for a while, he decided to give the horse a bit of rest. He alighted and sat under a tree shade to rest.

Soon, he fell asleep. A few hours later, he woke up and looked around for the horse. It was nowhere in sight.

He searched the forest frantically, to no avail. Then he found its footprints and started tracking them. After a while, he noted another set of footprints, human footprints which soon disappeared, implying that the man had ridden the horse and led it away.

The truth hit him: the horse had been stolen. Cutting a tree branch, he contrived a thick baton stick and searched for the horse thief.

The horse’s footprints led him to a village and reaching the centre of the village, the Village Square if you want to call it that, he swung the baton stick and yelled.

“Who has stolen my horse? Whoever it is, return my horse immediately; otherwise, I will do what I did last time when my horse was stolen!”

Walking up and down the village’s alleyways, he shouted again and again. Soon enough villagers congregated on the Village Square and among them, the thief.

Upon hearing the ominous threat, the thief sneaked to his hiding place and let the horse loose. Someone found it and returned it to its rightful owner.

As the horse owner was about to leave, curious villagers asked, “You got your horse. Now please tell us, what did you when your horse was stolen last time?”

The gentleman grinned and said, “Nothing!” he said, “I just bought a new horse,” and off he rode into the forest.

You know who this gentleman reminds me off? Malawian voters.

When an opportunity to change the “transport,” i.e. the leadership comes, we huff and puff and put on an elaborate show for the world before replacing the redundant outgoing leader with exactly the same prototype.

Last year, judging from all the sermons which have not been followed up with action, by electing Chakwera, we just switched from operating system APM 1.0 to operating system APM 2.0.

We squandered yet another opportuniy to utilise the big stick we were brandishing and as a result, leadership-wise, there is absolutely no change in the underlying “DNA”.

What a national waste!

A real pity!

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Ndafera Nkhande
Ndafera Nkhande
1 year ago

Mapwiya wanena zoona apa Mchewa mnzangayu palibe chilipo mngakhale atalankhula chizungu cha slang ya ma peace corps amene amaphunzitsa nthawiyo.Mr President myou must know that you owe Malawians what you promised them.Look at poverty in places like Ndirande, Mtandire and Masasa as if we are in the 18th centuary.I do not think you are a listening president.

1 year ago

Three things … Agriculture , Infrastructure in this case good road network and Jobs.On Agriculture fertilizer has been provided …But we still need to grow crops all year round -Green Belt .On Roads alot needs to be done to connect agriculture areas to markets and towns.Then jobs will they Grow from our Agri Economy or do we become a Tech Economy.Next Focus for Tonse Roads…. Connect a few places in the North , Centre and South like Bingu did with Nkhoma ,Ntchisi …Focus on the Ball …You are operating in a very difficult environment where we can’t even collect enough… Read more »

1 year ago

The Trainee Pilot story will fit telling kindergarten children who don’t know what goes behind flying. Pilots train and insist on briefings and checklist which would have started in the class room and continued on the plane so he would have known the trainer. No way this would happen. Sorry for being a killjoy but the story would fit a play ground.

1 year ago

..anyone who thought M’busa can do anything is stupid! unfortunately they are in millions in Malawi including so called people who think are Malawi’s finest! Shame! you said uR giving nyenkhwe!? I to APM, I don’t even know what that word mean! Now m’busa is giving nyenkhwe to Malawians right? Musalire. M’busa wonjezela volume! DPP was u said nepostic, now yolemba ntchito ma family members mumayitchula kuti chani? Shame & enjoy!

1 year ago

Totally agree with you Mapuya. Trainee Pilot still thinks Sidik Mia and Belekamoyo will come back to life. Can’t make decisive decision to appoint a replacement ministers. Some decisions require a ministerial signature. Regrettably the voter just switched from operating systems APM 1.O to operating system apm 2.0.

1 year ago

The pilot metaphor is scary. Our president require support but he is surrounded by weak manpower. i think the most difficult part of being a president is the choosing of people to help you. He needs people to interpret his dreams. A good example is what Chilima said; He promise one million jobs. As a leader that was a policy statement; it required people around him to make it possible. There were suppose to come up with industry options: the first being creating a labour intensive industry and get more people employed. Therefore, mr president should move out of political… Read more »

1 year ago

In a simple way, brother Mapwiya Muulupale, you would have just said that Malawi is like a plane being piloted by an amateur pilot in his first flight. It’s understandable as there is always first time to do things. Looking at this amateur pilot objectively, he could have managed this plane somehow had he not encountered the foggy of Covid 19 in the space. It’s always risky to allow an amateur pilot to take control of the plane, but since experience is gained firstly through amateurism, let the pilot goes on.

1 year ago

An academic piece there

1 year ago

i’ve carefully read your article, its a well articulated piece of work. hope chakwera and his band wagon will come across it and learn few things on what to change and what to keep on. i know that you know kuti chakwera’s govt has not failed on all their promises, but there is a room to do more. he needs to clamp down tribalism, and corruption as fast as he can.

1 year ago
Reply to  bentby

But do the so called’ President’s Inner Circle’ honest enough to read & share the thoughts with the President in earnest? Or it’s defensive mode always in the name of keeping ones job. I just hope if the president or any other sensible person who desires to be a good leader when s/he can come across such Free advice can get sense out of it & leave the nonsense if any. One can be helped from such big time. It’s my prayer that blindness should not strike our Beloved & Blessed Nation’s leadership. We still hope for the Better future… Read more »

1 year ago

You are right. All they say is ‘we need enough time. Time my foot!! Our leaders are risk being called dunderheads. Chakwera. Chilima. People will start calling you Dunderheads. Chilima where are you? Now I understand who was a liability during Apm time. Chilima. Bwana Chakwera be careful with this man. In 2025 adzayima ngati ndani SKC?? Manganya for President. Kkkk.

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