Two weeks ago, I arrived in Blantyre on the same flight with a couple of governments ministers and officials who were coming back from the SADC Summit in Botswana.There they were; calling themselves “honourable” and feeling quite self-important sitting in business class while stealing poor people’s money.
Malawian politicians steal from poor people every single day, without any sense of shame. And I use the wider definition of stealing here to embrace expenditure on the sort of things that benefit politicians to the detriment of other members of society. For example, using public money for ministers to fly business class is theft. None of this is essential expenditure but they want it because it makes them feel important.
The vast amounts of money spent on big cars for our politicians is theft. Twenty-seven fuel-guzzling SUVs on the president’s convoy is theft. Keeping over 80 Permanent Secretaries on the government payroll is theft. Money frittered away on all sorts of jobs created in government and quasi government organisations for the sole purpose of employing people who could never hope to find a job in the competitive private sector is another fine example of theft.
So, if you counted up all the wasted money since Malawi gained independence in 1964, we could have virtually eradicated poverty by now without having to rely on any donors for handouts.
From MCP to UDF to DPP to PP and now–back to DPP–the story of our politician’s greed and arrogance is the same; they have squandered the country’s resources and goodwill and have made us an increasingly unattractive place in which to invest. They instead spend most of their time self enriching and squabbling about whose thieving hands should be closest to the pot of gold.
Today, everything of essence in Malawi in in short supply; the new normal is to go for days on end without running water and without electricity. The only things we seem to have in abundance is dust, blackouts and incompetence.
At Queen Elizabeth Hospital, one cancer specialist, Dr Leo Masamba–God bless his soul–attends to and endless stream of suffering patients each day. For most of them, he can do very little because the country does not have a functioning cancer unit and does not care to have one.
When our friends the Chinese asked what they could do for us in exchange of them plundering our natural resources, we asked for a hotel and conference centre and a stadium and a shopping mall and presidential villas and kickbacks in cash. Not ambulances for public hospitals, not dialysis machines, not cancer treatment centres in Mzuzu, Lilongwe, Blantyre, Zomba. None of that.
When we sold the country’s presidential jet, one version of what happened to that money says we bought bags of maize to distribute for free to Malawians in an attempt to buy their vote. It sounds funny, I know, but if it is true it tells you how silly our leaders tend to be. I don’t know where Joyce Banda is hiding these days, but wherever she is I hope she sleeps easy at night.
Then you have Goodall Gondwe saying Malawians will be clapping hands for this government next year. This man either lives in a fancy double-storey house in some posh area of Lilongwe or he simply is living in cloud cuckoo land. These are times of hardship and it would be good if nobody made a mockery of the suffering of the people. What Goodall said was deja vu for many people. Was he not the Minister of Finance when this country ground to a halt with no fuel, no friends and forex just a few years ago? And what did he say, then? Sad to say but some of the ministers we have are an impediment to progress and belong in a museum rather than in government. In the many years they have been ministers of this or the other, you could count the contribution they have made to progress of this country on the amputated fingers of one hand.
The truth is Malawi is going broke and struggling to meet most of its obligations. Next year will, in all probability, turn out to be far more worse than this year; which will merely highlight the insincerity of Goodall’s prognosis.
Without meaningful investment in Malawi, the situation can only deteriorate and the finance minister will be looking for ways to squeeze more out of you and the dwindling percentage of economically active Malawians. Next year, the Kwacha will tumble to record lows against major currencies and many things will cost three times what they are costing you now.
So at what point of next year will you be clapping hands?Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :