I was not convinced at all about why a bank that has declared 192 percent profit should fail to give interest to its clients, who, by virtual of keeping their money in the bank, are that bankâ€™s shareholders.
It does not take witchcraft intelligence to know that banks survive on their clientsâ€™ money.Â So, I told the Standard-One bank official that I would not leave the bank premises without money. The bank official knew I was serious. So, he called me to his office. We found two people there, an elderly lady and a young-looking man. From their dressing and haggard faces, I guessed they were poor villagers or ghetto dwellers.
â€œTake that seat, sir,â€ the bank official waved me to an empty seat before introducing himself as Joseph.
He explained that banking rules were very rigid and that he could not do anything to change them.
â€œThese clients,â€ he said, referring to the two people we had found in his office, â€œhave a problem understanding simple banking procedures.â€
â€œThey also want interest?â€
â€œNo. The young man claims that the lady is his mother and they want to transfer his fatherâ€™s account to his mother,â€ Joseph said.
â€œWhere is the father?â€
â€œThey claim he died.â€
â€œSo, you want the dead to own bank accounts?â€
â€œNo. The bank needs proof of death.â€
I asked the young man in Chimalawi about his father. He explained that his father died at home and was buried there. Naturally, they wanted to transfer the dead manâ€™s money to someone alive. But, the young man complained, the bank insisted that the only acceptable proof was a hospital death certificate; not even a letter from the village headman.
â€œNdiye,â€ the young man said, â€œwe have asked the bank to come to the village and dig up his grave to prove that my father indeed died.â€
Joseph, the banker, looked at me and asked: â€œDo you now understand my predicament?â€
â€œSorry, I have my own problems. I need my money. I am not leaving this place without money. You have two choices: you close my account hic et nunc and give me whatever is available in it or you give me a personal loan.â€
â€œI donâ€™t want to lose you. I would rather give you a personal loan. But I will need a letter from your employer,â€ Joseph said.
â€œI am not employed,â€ I said.
â€œThat makes my life even more difficult.â€
â€œI am happy it does because when I came to open the account, you never asked me about my source of money. Today, you are busy asking me unnecessary and childish questions. Am I getting the money or not?â€
Joseph stood up and went to an adjoining room. Meanwhile, I took the newspaper on the coffee table and started reading about politics and politicians.
The most interesting item was DPP presidentâ€™s admission that, as minister of education, he failed to run the University of Malawi. I smiled and wished Jean-Philippe was around to ask how a person who admits having failed to run a mere ministry can run a full government. â€˜Thatâ€™s how politicians damage themselvesâ€™, Jean-Philippe would have said.
â€œPlease fill in these emergency loan forms,â€ Joseph, the banker, interrupted my newspaper reading.