If, at the start of 2016, you expected your Finance Minister to deliver a forecast bristling with real hope, laced with the absolutely necessary reassurances for a jittery nation, you were to be disappointed.
“The fate of the economy is in God’s hands”, Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe said.
It is quite iniquitous that deceitful politicians who have got Malawi into this mess over the years by a combination of greed, theft, arrogance, lies and ineptitude—even killing—are the same politicians that now say they want God to bail this country out of this malaise.
The story of Gondwe is that he often was portrayed as this Knight in Shining Armor, with years of experience at the highest levels at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the man whose wisdom we must trust.
His decision to go public with this rather startling confession of defeat and failure must be trusted, too. The economy is in free fall and is showing no signs of slowing down.
Instead, it is Gondwe who is showing palpable signs of wear and tear.
It would help if, after placing the economy in God’s hands, the minister owned up and resigned.
Gondwe might not singularly be responsible for all this mess, but he must take the flak.
He, as the Finance Minister who told us late last year that Malawi will be clapping hands in joy for his government in 2016, must accept responsibility for the decadence into which the country is now wallowing.
But he will not own up and he will not resign knowing very well that Malawians are a docile people and there will not be a robust debate—nor demonstrations in the streets—on his ouster because a Minister of Finance who places the fate of a country’s economy in the hands of God has, effectively, abdicated his responsibilities.
So true to form, after Gondwe put God in charge of his ministry, the next day life continued at its customary, sedate, mulibwanji-tilibwino respectful pace all over Malawi.
This meek Malawian syndrome is heavily discernible in the people’s reaction to government blunders: they will quickly adapt rather than work tirelessly to bring blundering public officials to account.
Malawi is a paradox.
You cannot claim to be broke, yet your president runs around in a wailing convoy of vehicles three times the size of Jacob Zuma’s motorcade, for example.
That display of unfettered power on the presidential motorcade and its high-powered fuel-guzzling SUVs and Mercedes Benz must leave many with a sense of awe and revulsion.
The sheer extravagance of it must leave ordinary, hungry, Malawians with a feeling of disgust.
Depending on occasion, there can be anywhere between 20 and 30 vehicles on the motorcade as President Peter Mutharika moves around town.
The amount of petrol and diesel used by the presidential motorcade in a single trip must be obscene.
Tragedy for Malawi is that its leaders are so preoccupied with their political survival they do not care two tambala for the long-term economic stability of the country and the welfare of the people.
The people of Malawi are, frankly, on their own. Even Gondwe knows that God helps those who help themselves.n