At the height of the fuel and forex shortages which literally paralysed all corners of the country, Malawians were sleeping on the queue at fuel service stations; companies scaled down production and many people lost their jobs. Commuters felt the pinch when bus fares skyrocketed.
But then President Bingu wa Mutharika was completely unaware of these things and challenged those who were saying there was no fuel in the country to lie down on the road and see if a car would not hit them.
That is how far removed Bingu was from reality that the economist in him truly believed the presence of some vehicles moving on fuel illegally procured from Zambia and Mozambique meant there was no fuel crisis.
In the face of Malawians demanding their right to assemble and express their opinions; to seek quick remedy in the face of a government becoming ever more autocratic, his government passed legislation that ensured that police would crack down on citizens and that no injunctions to the government would be allowed without an elaborate and exhaustive procedure to deter anyone from challenging the decisions of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration.
But the loose cannon that Bingu had become at the time could be forgiven, for calling donors stupid for speaking for Malawians, for blaming Satan for the country’s problem and for publicly defwending transgressors of people’s rights and freedoms such as then Inspector General of Police Peter Mukhito.
Bingu was at his wit’s end, the country was unravelling right before his eyes and souls of 20 people who died while he was addressing a public lecture that no one remembers now must have been haunting him all his nights.
The same forgiveness cannot be extended to the professor of law that the nation has as a President currently when he equates importation of goods and service to sound economic management.
According to the President, Malawians now have a high sense of taste and can afford to buy imported cars and that fuel service stations sprouting up all over the country are a sign of a growing economy.
As his convoy passes Area 18 in Lilongwe or Chichiri Trade Fair grounds in Blantyre, the President does not see the high number of vehicles that stay for months without being sold, he does not know that those vehicles translate to the millions in forex that have left this country due to our gluttonous nature to consume more than we can produce.
Whatever happened to the promise of turning the country from consuming nation to a producing one when the whole President can take pride that his people are importing excessively?
It would take the whole year to fact check the 11 page New Year address but some of the content was just too laughable for words. Imagine how painful it will be for the President to eat his words when the promise of ending blackouts forever and making power shortages history come November, 2018 does not come pass?
When Bingu came into power in 2009, he told Malawians that the country had developed beyond recognition, so developed the sunrise on the flag became a full blazing full white sun. Not long after that there were fuel, power and forex shortages and the people did not like him as much as they did on May 20 2009.
Just the fact that the same institutions that have been in existent for 53 years under different administrations including the DPP have failed to resolve the challenges facing the country should tell the government that APM is no miracle-maker.
Only a President that has no clue what is happening in his own country can claim that new jobs have been created when over 3 000 people lost employment in 2017 and 1 500 in the year before.
It would be kind to believe that the President could not have written the litany of hogwash that was presented as a New Year address on Monday, he had to have been misled by someone who thought patting himself on the back for developments that are actually depressing was the perfect gift to Malawians.