I’ll remind SKC in 2020 if….

Hon Folks, did SKC pledge to create a million jobs in the first 12 months should he be elected as president next year? It’s a promise worth banking. A word of caution, though, a promise is a promise. He should expect bashing should he fail to walk the talk.

There’s no denying that Saulos Chilima has hit the campaign trail with a bang!  His pledges include giving corruption a killer-blow and ensuring opportunities are equally available to all Malawians on merit, not quota. On infrastructure, his point of emphasis is to see to it that import and exports are mostly hauled by rail, not road.

This isn’t an exhaustive list of the Chilima social contract with Malawians. A more comprehensive list will probably be in UTM’s manifesto. Worth noting is that SKC is a John-come-lately on the political arena who has brought so much excitement if only because he alone has so far attempted to answer why he thinks he is the best candidate for the presidency in 2019.

Did you hear DPP spokesperson Nicholas Dausi say Chilima was merely cannibalising the DPP agenda for 2019? That’s a sign of hypertension in the governing party. As for MCP’s Lazarus Chakwera, he mostly kept his agenda under wraps, trying to build a case mostly by criticising the incumbent, APM.

The watchdog role may justify the existence of free press and CSOs but can it also catapult the one bashing to the high office of State President?

The MCP leader still has time to package his agenda but Chilima is already way ahead in that area. The mammoth crowd that attended the launch of UTM at Masintha in Lilongwe—Chakwera’s own backyard—a week ago left with a clear take-home message. It’s up to them to take or leave it.

In Blantyre too, Chilima and his UTM crew landed on Sunday with a bang. DPP tried in vain to contain the UTM whiplash by throwing a shindig for the youth less than two kilometres away from the Njamba Freedom Park, venue of the UTM launch.

Had they known, they would’ve put their money to a good use. The youth filled up the Njamba Park so much that the more creative ones flew like eagles and perched on tree branches for a bird’s eye view of the event.

Chilima has shaken up things on the political arena, giving the electorate a third alternative to DPP and MCP. I can only assume DPP and MCP will see a good reason to up their game and not take the electorate for granted, thanks to SKC.

Back to the pledge for one million jobs SKC made in Lilongwe and repeated in Blantyre. Listening to him were the youth—his base—many of whom are jobless years after graduating from schools, colleges and universities.

Listening to him also were the rest of us worried with the reported 45 percent vacancy rate in the councils which translates into a shortage of skills for enhancing good governance. We are worried that councils lack the capacity to use our tax-money effectively and efficiently for the intended purpose.

We’ve been grieved to see the rotten walls of decentralisation falling and killing our innocent children as they leave home in quest of education in sub-standard public schools.

The teacher/pupil ratio in Malawi is probably the highest in the Sadc region and so too is the doctor/patient or nurse/patient ratio. Our public sector has gaping holes in key areas yet specialists that Malawi invested in are trekking abroad, looking for jobs because their motherland has shut them out.

If SKC has what it takes to reverse the trend (he’s yet to say how), that’s very welcome.

But creation of jobs in the public sector presupposes government having the money to pay salaries. Likewise, creation of jobs in the private sector presupposes attracting more investors into the economy.  We all know this has been easier said than done but it’s do-able. The debate is whether indeed SKC has what it takes to pull it off in 12 months.

I hear David Trump accomplished such a feat in the US. But folks, this is Malawi. Should SKC win presidential race next year, he will not only inherit power but also challenges including a very corrupt public sector, a heavy debt burden, extreme poverty (we’re the world’s third poorest country), massive environmental degradation and high unemployment rate.

There’s no denying that donors are showing signs of fatigue with the mediocrity in government and investors appear to find neighbouring Zambia, Mozambique and Tanzania more attractive than Malawi.

Up to 30 percent of the population of 18 million depends on government not just for public goods and services but even for food yet less than a million citizens pay income tax. The number of people dependent on food hand-outs doubles when floods or drought strike.

This is the reality that SKC will face if Malawians elect him next year. Should he not deliver the pledged one million jobs by May 2020, I will remind him and probably he’ll not like it.

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