2016 comes to a close today and will be remembered as a bad year. It has been a bad year in many ways. Economically, Malawians are feeling the pinch as the cost of living is soaring with no hope that things will turn the corner. Not even authorities can hide this fact. The economy has tanked. Inflation is high at 19.9 percent at the end of November. Families barely survive. Around half the population is starving. Reasons for this are many. One of them is the bad weather. The other is the lack of foresight by the leadership. Donors who usually assist the country turned away from us for reasons that are well known. We have not been keen to tame the tide.
Corruption is perceived to be at the highest level since the dawn of the multiparty dispensation. The saddest and most worrying part of it is that the administration is not only making any effort to curb it, but also shielding those behind it. President Peter Mutharika is on record as saying his administration will not prosecute Cashgate cases that happened during the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) regime. And so far Mutharika has been content in blaming Cashgate on the JB administration. And yet all Malawians know that Cashgate started long before JB came on the scene.
I will not get into the details about the 13 files that the Auditor General handed over to the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) for further investigations in connection with the K577 billion—now reduced to K236 billion. These are not just files. They are about companies and people that have been responsible for the theft of K236 billion of the taxpayers’ money—about a third of the national budget. With all this looting of government resources and no commitment from the government to stop it, no one can blame the donors for turning away from Malawi. Who would want to put their money in leaking bucket? The onus is on the DPP administration, and in particular, Mutharika and his Cabinet, to see to it that the status quo does change.
Otherwise he should not cry foul when people say he has failed Malawians. He should not bury his head in the sand like an ostrich hoping for miracles to happen. So far, Mutharika has not told Malawians what his plans are to lift the country out of the mess he has successfully plunged them during the past two-and-a-half years he has been in power.
Long periods of power outages, water shortages, closure of higher learning institutions, theft of drugs in public hospitals, resulting in thousands of deaths that could have been prevented all speak volumes of the poor leadership we have in this country.
As a bad year, 2016 has ended as it started on a very bad note with tears flowing from my eyes. My dear mum was recalled to glory on December 19 last year and laid to rest on December 21. My roommate in college for four years and confidante, Owen Nezar Wanda, breathed his last on December 17 this year after a short illness. Then on Friday last week, what was supposed to be celebration turned into mourning as I lost a daughter-in-law and grandson. I don’t even have the energy to put words to describe the circumstances of their demise on this column. It has been a disastrous year. May their souls rest in peace. I can only turn to God to comfort us and thank all those who have been around us to comfort and cheer us. May God bless you all. n