Surprise office visits by the President, not productive

Basically, there is no better way to describe the Malawi economy than to simply say that it is very poor.  Sugar coating it with some positive statements about imagined future successes can hardly reverse the situation. In fact, there is nothing which can cover up the abject poverty that Malawians are facing.

There are countless reasons as to why Malawi is in such a poverty predicament.  But they all boil down to lack of money for the government to achieve its promises. When President Peter Mutharika came into power in May 2014, one of his main promises was to deal with corruption which includes cashgate.  Now after more than three years both corruption and Cashgating have become worse.  The President and his government have failed and even more so to prove that the Joyce Banda administration championed Cashgate.

Indeed corruption and Cashgate are deep rooted in Malawi. Fraud cases are reported in the media every now and again. These are huge large sums of taxpayers money. Most Malawians have been looking forward to government reforms to seal the loop holes. But this too has failed. At the rate the government is being ransacked expecting an improved economy soon is just a wishful thought. What the country needs now is a serious government with strategies of controlling and monitoring the use of tax payers’ money. Currently, this is missing. If it were available frauds would be discovered and exposed much earlier instead of waiting for billions to miss.

Naturally, people would expect positive results from close supervision and monitoring of government departments and other agencies.  But not much should be expected from surprise office visit by the Head of state as President Mutharika recently did by visiting Escom headquarters.  With all due respect, that was a very unproductive visit in terms of reducing the current serious load shedding the country is going through.  The President’s visit was more or less like a familialisation tour.  In fact, a one off office visit cannot help.  The government might be saying that people should appreciate that after the visit the President promised that after 18 months the electricity situation will improve.  But the government should sympathetically look at the businesses which have been lost on the way.

The other thing to say is that most problems that Malawi is facing can easily be sorted out if politics is taken out of government business. Malawi is blessed with so many learned people full of technical know-how. Therefore, if jobs were being given accordingly, without political affiliation, there would be success in most sectors. It is so disheartening to see some people holding positions of which they have no clue about except that they belong to the ruling party.  Most parastatals have not been performing well just because the board members are appointed on appeasement basis.

This country needs a meaningful think tank instead of waiting for a presidential appointed ‘task force’ after a disaster has happen. This is unproductive.

Above everything else, the country needs a listening government which takes note of what whistleblowers are saying and what the ordinary Malawians want.  When President Mutharika came into power, he said poverty is his greatest enemy. But by and by, he seems not to be fighting poverty, but his critics.  Hence, poverty seems to be winning the battle.  With this state of affairs, there is no hope for a better future.

Other unfortunate thing now is that due to the coming 2019 elections, the government will mostly be busy with the election preparations and very unlikely that solving current problems will be a priority. The situation might getting worse until 2018.

One can only appeal to government to concentrate on productive action rather than window dressing exercises like the President’s visit to Escom office. n

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