There was so much chatter and conversation on social media last week about our deviating national standards and as you know every year running to the Independence day, we are accustomed to adorning our visible landmarks with lavish decorations.
This is meant to set the tone for the 6th July, the big day that Malawians of all walks and class come together to celebrate our freedom and liberty.
We do this in such a splendid display to showcase our milestones and how much we have progressed as an independent nation of free and innovative people with great unshackled minds.
So, the grandeur has to be on point. This is no time for half stepping. Period.
Of course given the unique circumstances, this year we found ourselves challenged by the pandemic.
Notwithstanding, most Malawians were not expecting too much. We simply were just expecting something inexpensive but impressive in its austere simplicity.
Nevertheless, it had to be something befitting such an auspicious moment.
However unlike what we have seen in the past, the substandard this year was agonising to say the least and clearly spoke loud of how fast we have deteriorated and how we have been departing from our usual accepted national standards.
Although literally true, in its ugly display the said roundabout decorations portrayed such an important message, abstract as it may be; that we are a nation with no standards!
It was painful to see the president being forced to publicly highlight this misnomer in his public address and that he was able to accept this as another low.
A visibly frustrated president who could not hide his angst and worry, bemoaned the lack of standards.
Clearly from his speech I reckoned that he realizes that there is a collective leadership and responsibility deficit in his own team.
I totally agree with our leader, standards are a measurement of our performance threshold. It’s usually a reflection of where we as a people are standing and should be in terms of development and aspirations.
In other words, when we are looking at 57 years of independence, it’s our standards at all levels that should constitute a yardstick against which we can evaluate and appraise our progress on.
The president challenged us to be asking questions and I thank him for being honest and for accepting the reality.
He said that we have to start holding those that are in places of leadership to account for everything including standards of their work.
Now, I personally believe that this president means well for the nation and that he has all good intentions to change the course of Malawi’s path.
However I find it difficult for him to accomplish his agenda for one big reason, the team he assembled is incorrigible.
They have a deep seated aversion for everything that seem to understand things better than they do.
They do not consult, in other words they can not learn. They have stuck up minds.
It’s becoming clear that with these kinds of less sophisticated minds we will be pushing ourselves into a kind of extreme retrogression instead of progressing. Suffice to say, our president doesn’t need a cabinet of “yes bwanas,” he needs great counselors.
Remember great organizations recruit rivalries to reach potential milestones.
President Chakwera should consider reconstituting the cabinet and getting rid of every one who is unexposed and incapable of making the Tonse agenda successful.
Mr President you began your statement by quoting your own words, which am paraphrasing; “While it is the generation of our forefathers and mothers that accomplished their goal of our national liberation, and their children accomplished their goal of political liberation, it is this generation that must accomplish the goal of economic liberation”
While it is is true and important for President Chakwera as the leader of this nation to acknowledging the existence, validity, or legality of the process that took place in order for us to gain liberation, it is not enough just to reduce it into another verbal jargon.
It is equally significant for our president to borrow a leaf out of our founders play book.
Had it been that our founding fathers lacked the intentionality and ambition to raise standards, and if they were not guided by national pride with stern leadership, there wouldn’t have accomplished what they did.
It is that type of intrepidity with absolute and resolute courageousness that we would like to see from the president.
We gave President Chakwera alone the constitutional mandate to be the CEO of the nation. Therefore the buck stops with him.
If need be, Mr President fire every one who wants to sabotage your agenda by making you look like a weak leader and a failure.
If you fail to stop them now, soon you will be paying a price. Your name and your legacy will be dragged into this mediocrity. This will be smeared all over you.
Our forefathers were poised and unwavering in their pursuit of freedom.
There was a huge manifestation of patriotism that was emphasized by the leadership of that time.
The quality of leaders determined and dictated that standards were adhered to through and through.
Sadly true, It was until later when those who inherited the mantle from our founding fathers took up the reins that they started destroying the standards which were set before us and unashamedly knocked down the blueprint of that legacy.
Yes in 57 years we probably don’t have much to showcase for. That is not because we didn’t start well, but rather it’s because we lost that strong ambition and determination along the way.
In the retrospect, we can remember that at some point we were in the right trajectory, with much to show for.
Our home grown industries were blossoming at such an exponential value, and our national turnover was steadily unstoppable.
Those were the days when our factory lines were full and our machines were humming in Kanengo and Malangalanga.
We had a vibrant textile industry with companies like David Whitehead.
We made our own Nzeru radios, assembled our cars at Mandala, made car bodies at B&C, our buses were built by PEW, Portland cement and many other industries.
Our commuter services were on point, with ever on time City liners and city to city buses just like in any other developed countries.
All this was possible because there was enough political will and stern leadership.
Our leaders like the late Hastings Banda and Late Bingu were dreaming in color. Yes they were men with flaws, no doubt about it, but they were neither relativists. They knew what they wanted and they followed through with tangible action.
During our glorious days we were self sufficient in agriculture, our hospitals were stuffed with medicines and supplies.
Our education system was unsurpassed and envied by others, having produced some of the most incredible leaders who rose to become giants in academia, engineering, research, public health and other sectors.
Our labour market was fairly managed with a stable availability of jobs.
So if we take a hypothetical look at the 57 years of our independence our assessment will be a mixed bag.
The best we can do is to fairly look at each administration and how they performed. However that will not provide the solutions.
We can only learn from our past experiences, both the good and the bad. And what we will decide to do with those lessons is totally up to us.
Let me agree with President Chakwera that indeed this generation has to be the one that has to accomplish economic liberation.
But at the same time, I also feel compelled to remind the president and his team that it’s totally incumbent on him and the Tonse administration to set the standards and the tone for a desired future for our children and the generations to come.
And for that to be a reality we need to ask our leaders some of the uncomfortable questions, we need to provoke them into action.
So my humble starting point will be no where else but where the president stopped.
Can he and his government point at what they have done and accomplished in the past year?
If this is the generation that must accomplish the goal of their economic liberation as the president stated, what kind of investments has this government set as clear and measurable goals and career readiness standards for our children?
We continue to hear of our children failing examinations and we see a decline in the competitive levels of our children’s performances.
What kind of incentives is the Tonse government going to infuse so as to stimulate passion and frame a new direction for this generation.
What kind of compensation do our educators get so they are able to define the skills and knowledge that our children must obtain to be prepared for college, work and life?
Are we harnessing the right gifts and placing right priorities in the right places?
If this generation is the one that must accomplish the goals of their economic liberation, what kind of incubatory process do we place them on?
We continue to hear of old retirees coming back into the job market, where are these young people going to gain experience as we have not seen any massive apprenticeship programs?
If this is the generation to accomplish their goal of economic liberty, what kind of health care service delivery standards are we setting up for them?
Are we learning and building a health care system that is capable enough of producing outcomes that are consistent with our national vision of creating a healthy and productive Malawi?
What about our political leaders, will they continue changing laws that only benefit and satisfy their political ambitions?
We are tired of seeing our politicians constantly refusing to refrain from constant constraints of liberty beyond the extent necessary to protect and maintain liberty itself.
When you Mr President refuse to convince your majority whip and his caucus to stop amending laws without proper consultation with the right stakeholders, what precedence are you setting.
What standards of labour practices are you setting when you take away the Right to strike by workers and you refuse to acknowledge that striking is part of the fundamental Rights and principals of workers in a progressive nation?
Yes maybe it could be true that certain laws have to be amended but not political expediency. Every amendment has to reflect people’s will and has to be done after a wide consultation.
Let me remind you that the political liberation that you rightly stated in your speech was broadly achieved because citizens exercised their right to demonstrate. This very Tonse government is in fact a product of those demonstrations.
Our problems cannot be solved by any form of coercion but only by agreement, where citizens and workers are allowed to voice out their grievances without fear.
Our nation needs a deep soul searching.
When we look at what was displayed on our roundabouts using tax payers money, something should begin to inform us that we are going down the wrong way.
We are not even going backwards but we are going sideways.
It’s either our priorities are not okay, or we have incompetent people running our systems.
These are people who do not understand quality and how work must be performed accurately and effectively.
When we have players who are lacking the needed sophistication in understanding quality, our service development and delivery will always suffer because those responsible have no benchmark.
And so far what we have is not encouraging at all.
We have to remember that in a human body, a fever in and of itself is not a disease but it is a telltale sign that an infection is brewing in the body.
I could be wrong but I am convinced that what we saw on that roundabout was not coincidental but it is in fact the new normal with us. We love ugly and have lowered our standards.
It is a sign of a nation that is battling a sickness. And if we only try to treat this deep wound by simply covering it with a bandaid, and hide this acute illness by simply taking aspirin and panadol, we might only control the symptoms but we risk to foster it to reappear over and over again.
We need to find the root of the infection and in some rare cases if it is cancerous we might be required to cut it off so that the infection doesn’t move to the other parts.
Just like the previous DPP government erected their ugly monument next to parliament, we have also emulated them and we have erected ugly pieces everywhere in our systems.
These are clear symbols of the ugly reality hidden within our fabric.
Nonetheless, I am hopeful that this also will come down. This generation will not let it be. We will not stand idle. This generation will ask questions until we reach Canaan.
“Mchipululu simofera, Ku Kenani tikafika koma mochedwerapo!!!”
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