by Tinenenji Kalinda
Published by Atlas Malawi
May 23, 2023
Last week was a busy one. It started with an extravagant party for Kamuzu Banda, our founding president. In death as it was in life, he remains divisive.
Bakili Muluzi ditched this public holiday, only to have Bingu wa Mutharika bring it back. No surprises there, since he displayed a few unpleasant habits of the old chap himself.
So every year we gather on 14th May to gloat over the extraordinary achievements of the man from Kasungu, who, as he never tired in reminding us himself, developed this country beyond recognition.
President Chakwera continued the script on this day, going to great length in urging us to follow the Ngwazi’s fighting spirit blah blah blah. He bemoaned the sad status of the civil service. Can someone remind this guy that he is the President of this country?
For almost three years now. So each time he gets up to whine about how rubbish the public service is, he actually is saying he has utterly failed to reform it, contrary to the promises he made in 2020.
Look Abusa, the public service will not wake up one day and suddenly become effective and efficient just because you complained about it. Lead, man, lead. A bulky public sector reform report was presented to you. What did you do? Sat on it. Ironically, just like a typical civil servant!
Anyway, back to Kamuzu and his day. I wonder if there is any wisdom in hosting such a lavish event, especially if you consider our current circumstances. OK, the dude is our founding president, broke the stinky federation, etc, etc.
But for a country so broke, so up to the neck in debt, yet to even begin recovering from the mayhem caused by Cyclone Freddy, it is outright dumb to be spending money on traditional dances and a football match between Nyasa Big Bullets and Silver Strikers.
But then, dumbness has been our middle name since independence, as evidenced by our curious culture of doing the same foolish things and expecting to turn into a Singapore the following week.
We have perfected the art of crawling forward in what we call development efforts, and then, in a bewildering feat of self-bewitchment, running back miles backwards due to consistently foolish decisions.
Soon we will be celebrating 59 years of independence. If we were a civil servant, we would be a year away from retirement. A typical servant who, on the verge of retirement, has not even acquired a piece of land, no house of his own, and living on hand to mouth basis. That’s a description of Malawi.
For years we have had fuel shortages, primarily caused by lack of forex. Any sane people, led by even a one-eyed government, would by now have sorted out this madness. But no. Instead, more energy is spent on useless press conferences and rambling press releases from MERA.
If Kamuzu is viewed as any success in developing this country, it is primarily because the five jokers who have come after him have been so inept and incompetent.
For the current head of state, the disappointment runs deep, simply because, he had the opportunity to veer this country on a trajectory which his predecessors had miserably failed. He has sadly failed.
He didn’t and doesn’t need to do anything spectacular. But no, he has fallen into the same trap as those before him. Three years into office, neither he nor his team of praise singers, can tell you where he is taking this country. He doesn’t know either, and, no, it is not even Canaan.
Two months after Freddy, there is no clue of how this nation will recover. I hear there will be a donors’ conference or something. Let me guess, we will be begging again. Pleading with our development partners to come to our aid again. Here is to more foolishness.
Firstly, why do we call these people development partners? Are they? They are not. Secondly, haven’t we talked enough in the aftermath of the cyclone? It’s time for tangible action, not anymore this or that conference. By the way, we are likely to face the El Nino weather phenomenon next year. You would think our government is busy preparing how to address this.
I can assure you; they are not. Instead, they are scheming how to launch their sticky (and probably stinky) hands into the Affordable Input Programme (AIP) bowl. Last time we bought fertiliser from a butchery; God knows what we will do this time. And then, at the peak of the effects of El Nino, we will gather at BICC with loud, rehearsed and religious wailing and tears.
Asking God to save us as he did with the Israelites in Egypt when they faced famine. Well, the Israelites had Joseph who, having known of the impending famine, took time to plan and prepare. We, on the other hand, think that prayer alone covers a multitude of buffoonery and lack of planning.
The state of this country requires extra-ordinary efforts for recovery. An unusual script, and unprecedented action. But no, we are proceeding at the same leisurely pace which got us into this place.
Our beloved leader continues his local and international gallivanting, attending all manner of gatherings, from coronations, opening this and that or attending meetings he could have easily skipped.
Every now and then he makes speeches, pretending to be angry and threatening to take drastic action against the corruption and his not-so-well behaved civil service. We all know by now that he knows that we know that he will not do anything.
What would we lose as a nation if Chakwera skipped international trips for one whole year? We would lose nothing. Those SADC, AU or UN meetings are talk shows. No wonder, Kamuzu never frequented any of them. Stay at home Mr President and reconstruct and reset your battered country.
Sadly, in 2025 we will gather again to volunteer ourselves to more collective screwing by the same or another group of leaders. Naturally they will promise us the stars and the moon. Like drunken sailors, we will believe them, only to be disappointed again. Why, I have asked myself many times, do we keep subjecting ourselves to such torture.