One would be f o r g i v e n to think that we have turned the corner in view of the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) Extended Credit Facility (ECF). Of course it is not in my place to dampen the spirits of those who are pregnant with optimism. I won’t steal their thunder. The ECF could be a breather we all needed, if only the ghosts from the past won’t come back to haunt us.
I am not a harbinger of bad news. But sometimes it helps to think the worst such that when a little good thing happens we get super excited. You see, it is not the first time the IMF and other players have come to our rescue by heaping on us loans. I know that there are many in our midst who would sing the achimwene musaop e n g o n g o l e , mukaopa mudzagona ndi njala song. After all, even the biggest economies have loans. Looks like I digressed. All I am saying is that we have been through this path before. From the look of things, this won’t be the last time. This ECF offers us $174 million over a period of four years. You can divide that by four to get our annual windfall. And the old saying that proof of the pudding is in the eating comes handy. Surely, this IMF dosh come with conditions. Only time will tell if this is a good thing for us ordinary folk. I am always wary of the small print.
In his address to fellow Malawians, the President was clear on what needs to be done to turn the corner. Let’s cut unnecessary expenditure. How I wish His Excellency also called on all of us to stop our corrupt ways! He might have hinted on dealing with those who are messing up our economy.
One needs not dig too deep to come up with sobering stories of how much is lost to corruption in this country. Actually, at one time, someone said that we might not need external budgetary support if we plugged the holes of corruption through which our money drains away. The austerity me a s u r e s t h a t t h e President has announced are only welcome if they really work this t ime around. Such measures have been used before but I do not remember a time when someone came back to tell Malawians the gains realized from them. Of ten, people have simply devised new ways of circumventing the announced austerity measures.
The resumption of the ECF and the announced austerity measures won’t stop the vultures from c i rc l i n g i n . C h ances are they are already salivating at prospects of nibbling even this ECF. With prospects of more financial taps opening and flowing our way in view of the IMF’s nod, corrupt fat cats might already be greasing the palms of key decision makers, after all pa ground sipali bwino and those who have mastered the art of gift-giving know when to give it for a powerful effect later. Our past does not provide the assurances that we need. We can’t suddenly be trusted with managing financial windfalls.
Tr y to look back and you will be greeted by ghosts that are lurking in the shadows of Capital Hill and the business community. Ghosts that roam Parliament building. Ghosts that sometimes sneak into the State House. All these ghosts usually lie low, waiting to spring into action the minute money passes by. Unless we banish these ghosts, we will always be haunted, with or without IMF’s ECF.