What is development? We immediately think of it as a progression of growth and progress towards the status of the most industrialised countries in the world. We think of industrialisation and infrastructures…..a country that has highways, Skyscrapers Shopping malls or at least access to these things.
Though development is much more complex, its definition in Malawi remains simple, clean water, enough food, shelter and clothing for the majority poor. Development has more to do with creating an environment and opportunities for people to live in the way that makes them most comfortable and happy, it is not making Malawi look like United Kingdom. So, is Malawi developing? Nope!
“Government will always say that the private sector is the engine for economic growth but in reality this isn’t happening on the ground. In Malawi, the private sector is taken as something which (government) can consult if it so wishes”, (Henry Kachaje, Managing director of Business Consultant Africa, speaking at ERP debate recently)
President Joyce Banda is praising the private sector for doing well. We say thank you for praising the private sector for doing well but which private sector? In Malawi, we have got the public sector, parastatal e.g. Escom who are keeping people in blackouts day in day out. Blantyre and Lilongwe water boards who have kept taps dry God knows since when.
BUT, the private sector we know are Muli Brothers, Nation Group etc.
We are not in politics and we care little about political answers. Mulli was employing thousands of Malawians and he was paying tax to the government to help Malawians but he has been suffocated. Apart from Mulli, which other Malawian private sector are you talking about Madam?
Nation group is chocked.
So, if we are talking of private sector in Malawi then we are talking about Indians. Are these the ones you praised?
During a debate that discussed the progress of the Economic Recovery Plan (ERP) organised by the Economists association of Malawi (ECAMA), one contributor questioned why Malawi’s private sector is infested with Indians and native Malawians are not the main players.
Which private sector are we talking about? Maybe that is why Kachaje is arguing that government says one thing about private sector and reacts differently. We can now see that government is dealing with Indians than Malawians.
Why Malawi will never develop
The private sector we are proud of mainly comprises Indians. They don’t all keep money in Malawi, they don’t all pay tax. All they do is palm oil politicians and senior government officials and that is it, they are left scout free to do whatever they want. In short, Indians conjure up Malawian politics. They know how to silence State House. Now, they leave our government with little money in form of taxes to assist the majority poor. Imagine, in the 21st century, the majority Malawians do not have access to clean water, drinking together with goats.
How will Malawi develop if there are no drugs in hospitals?
Malawi is one of the most unique and fascinating places in Africa because of peace, the cultures, wild life, physical beauty and the Lake.
So it makes sense to us the Timau crew that the country should have an exceptional political state and institutions. However, each leader that comes in power has put many resources in consolidating their own power and forgetting about developing the country. Here we are talking of even basic things like expanding the real freedoms that people enjoy and removing the major sources of unfreedoms: poverty, tyranny, poor economic opportunities, systematic social deprivation, neglect of public facilities etc.
Development can mean different things to different people and more importantly different cultures. Just as not everyone strives or needs to live the life of the rich in UK our government need not model western development in that way.
It annoys Malawians when they see all contracts going to sons and daughters, relatives and friends of the President, ministers and top government officials.
It frustrates Malawians when they see all major contracts and business deals being given to Indians because they have bribed statehouse and senior government officials.
The question we always have is: Will Malawi ever develop?
If people have clean water, good road networks, good health facilities, decent clothes, a balanced diet, and shelter that is development.
If Malawians are given contracts and business deals that is development because they will invest in Malawi, pay taxes in Malawi, employ Malawians etc.
Development can mean different things to different people and more importantly different cultures.
We conclude by appealing to our headship that they should focus on and develop more natural and unique ways of doing things instead of trying to enrich themselves through dubious means. Unless our leaders start working for the people than their pockets Malawi will never develop.