Trial error governance with its ‘too late too little’ effects

This week has been awash with news that would give hope to only average minds. There have been headlines in the media that would give hope only if the situation was really convenient. ‘Judicial Workers Back to Work’, ‘First Lady’s Salary Scraped’, ‘Chanco’s First Years To Report on May 1’. These and some other headlines would have indeed been welcome if only the timing was perfect.

This article extensively argues that the recent developments are too far from bringing back smiles on the faces of long suffering Malawians. It looks at how the ‘try and error’ attitude of the regime has painfully cost the country in terms of both time and finances. Three major areas of Education, Justice and Health will be explored following this week’s media headlines to drive home a point that what would, under normal circumstances, Have been good news has, to the contrary, proved too fatal to the Malawi nation characterized by bitter sigs of ‘too late, too little’ from rational minds.

Mutharika: Asked to renew mandate

In education, this week adverts have been flighted in the press informing the new cohort of Chancellor College first year students to report at the campus on May 1. This is a group that has been waiting at home for close to a year now due to the University Academic impasse that saw the college closed for eight solid months due to what the University Dons called ‘Executive Arrogance’.

The news of another cohort of 600 students going to start their studies would have been sweet to every ear but circumstances surrounding all this leaves a lot to be desired. Firstly it should be borne in mind that the academic year at Chanco is not over yet. Normally, first years arrive only after the final year students have finished their studies in college. This allows the coming students to fill the places left by the outgoing students meaning the those who were in first year during the previous academic year go into second while those who were in third year go into the final year. Strangely, this announcement comes at a time when the current first years are still in the midst of their academic year.

The situation simply means there will be two cohorts of first years on campus. And the in-coming 600 students will all reside outside the college campus since the space does not even cater for the current number of students. Pictures have been all over the social network showing students literally sitting on the floor while others standing in the windows outside the tiny lecture rooms built in the early 1970s when the college’s population was just 400 against the current population of about 3,800 students. As if this is not enough, another cohort of first year students is coming in September. This year’s University Entrance examinations will be administered early April.

But critically looking at the sorry situation, all fingers point to the lost academic year during the long winding academic battle that lasted a whooping eight months of the college closure. These are merely after-effects of the impasse. The most painful thing is that all this could have been avoided in the first place. It did not have to take eight solid months for the government to realize that it was living in futility. Time, an irreplaceable resource, was lost. So too were millions that went towards court proceedings. Here we are, expecting the cream of our education, university students, to be operating from as far as Machinga TTC, Chilema Agriculrural Quarters, Malosa, Magomero Community College and even from the defunct Black Diamond Night Club. This is a very pathetic situation that could have been avoided.

In justice circles, the major headlines this week were to do with the judicial workers’ resumption of work. Any sane Malawians cannot be pleased with this especially considering how much has been lost in the three months of the stand-off. Undeserving individuals have ended up rotting in prison cells, police officers now have a back-log of cases to prosecute, and judges’ in-trays are full of pending cases to be handled while prisoners are packed like sardines in the cells. Justice delayed is justice denied, so the adage goes. The fundamental freedoms of the citizenry have been trampled upon during the lost three months of Malawi’s justice drought.

As a democratic nation that the government operatives always claim, we were supposed to be having, at all times, fully-functioning Executive, Legislature and Judicature as enshrined in the supreme laws of the land – the constitution. But for a whole quarter year, this was never the case. Only for the government to come back to their senses when a lot have been lost. Like the University Issue above, this was also avoidable but due to the stubbornness of the powers that be, the nation had to be held at ransom unnecessarily again.

In health sector, the dailies have screamed in announcing the scrapping off of the First Lady’s salary. Murmurs started way back in 2010 of people disapproving the salary of the president’s wife for the charity work that the country’s vice president, Right Honourable Joyce Banda, was doing without even carting home a single penny. Puzzled by the strange remuneration, this was also one of the reasons why concerned and devastated citizens marched on 20th July 2011.

As you read this line, almost 40 million Malawi Kwacha has been lost in the period which the First lady has been inhumanely receiving a salary for a job that is always voluntary anywhere. This amount was enough to stock our hospitals with medicine for close to a financial year. This means so many lives have been lost due to shortage of medicine in our hospitals when all the money that could be channeled towards purchase of drugs had gone to the fat account of the First Lady. One would tend to ask if at all this money will be re-imbursed since it has now been seen that it was been taken illegally (a polite way of avoiding the tag ‘stolen’).

Again, this could not wait for 20 lives to be lost while marching for the removal of this unfair salary. We did not have to wait for avoidable deaths in the government hospitals due to drug shortage. We could not have to wait unnecessarily for this long indeed. But like the case of the university and the courts above, this regime seems to be very good at the dilly-dallying game when it comes to critical issues that touch at the core of the very fabric holding the Malawian society like education, justice and health.

The headlines this week prompted the populace to vividly remember how long we took to mend relations with our biggest bilateral donor – the British after unceremoniously chasing their envoy. Until now, they are yet to send us another. In the process foreign aid has been drastically cut. No wonder that the queues are now not only at filling stations but also in super markets fighting for sugar that is ironically grown locally in Nchalo and Dwangwa.

This week’s headlines have really reminded the citizenry of how the tobacco buyers were embarrassingly sent packing leading to even more dwindling prices of the green gold. A development which led to the acute shortage of forex without which we could not import enough fertilizer for the poor souls in the villages.

All the illustrations above are aimed at driving home the point that the government has been applying some bizarre ‘try and error’ tactics in the delivery of service that have cost the country dearly. It has been seen how the education, justice and health sectors have greatly suffered due to this unbecoming behavior in our government. Conclusively it should be pointed out that it’s laughable when day in, day out the regime loud mouths are busy stressing how powerful DPP remains.

Just on Tuesday the DPP Secretary General Wakuda Kamanga was bragging on Capital Radio’s Day Break Malawi that, “come an election today, DPP would claim another landslide”. And my suggestion is very simple; wow, since you will win any vote today, just call for the referendum which others are agitating for!!

*The author is a Humanities student at Chancellor College of the University of Malawi.

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