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:
- too much time on trivia and idleness;
- too much money on entitlements and consumption;
- too much land on crops for subsistence living in an annual cycle of poverty and dependency;
- too much aid on sustaining the careers and livelihoods of foreigners whose very professions depend on us remaining in abject poverty;
- too many public offices on people who sit around adding no value to our quest for good government;
- too many foreign embassy jobs on people who are nothing more than diplomatic tourists;
- too much public discourse on politics of division, one-up-man-ship, fault-finding, slander, and misinformation;
- too much of our minds and thoughts on gossip and frivolous tales about other people’s private affairs;
- 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?
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!
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