Edmund Burke, the Anglo-Irish member of the House of Commons, advised those who in the face of hardships lost hope to keep on working even in despair. It is this sort of advice that the Malawi nation should pay attention to not to those who want to demoralise us with their jeremiads.
Those who send ultimatums to the government about another demonstration and those who demand referendums should have their attention brought to The Nation Business Review of January 12 2011. There we are informed that government has secured $200 million to steady the economy. Whatever one may see as merits or demerits in this financial accommodation, the fact is clear: those in office are not neglecting their duties. They are persevering despite the despair within the civil society.
We must congratulate the government for securing such other facilities as the promised credits from India and the Eldorados of the Middle East alias Western Asia. A word of caution, however, is not out of place here.
It is attributed to an Oxanian the maxim that a loan is like an umbrella you borrow in fine weather and the owner demands back in foul weather. What we borrow today we must repay at some future date. Arrangements for repayment should be put in place within the earlier part of the grace period.
It is in circumstances such as are bedeviling Malawi that countries which are now burdened with sovereign debts borrowed rather recklessly. Someone somewhere within the official and civil society circles must constantly be comparing our national assets against national liabilities. A loan is sweet the day you receive it, but sour the day you are reminded to settle it.
The Malawi nation should rise up to the challenge of patriotism by doing what will bring success to official action, success in the form of a revived economy that will benefit us all. It is not entirely the fault of the government that Malawi is in the present predicament. Our difficulties partly stem from the global economic ill health.
At least 40 percent of AfricaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s non-oil and non-mineral exports go to Europe and the United States. The financial meltdown of 2007 and 2008 weakened the economies of those continents to the extent they could not receive all the exports we sent to them. Therefore, instead of pointing fingers at perceived culprits, let us harambee (pull together).
One method of cooperating is the acceptance of bearable austerities. Those who receive enough salaries such as a deduction of 20 percent would not expose them to starvation should accept a 10 percent salary cut. This is what people in other countries who have faced a situation such as ours have done to pull through.
They know that where there is no pain, there is no gain, no sweat no sweet.
Devaluing or revaluing a currency is resorted to voluntarily with safeguards. The Western countries have been pressing China to revalue its currency the Yaun. If China agreed to do this, its exports in international markets would cost more and give chance to Western exports to compete more effectively. Chinese authorities are resisting this by saying their companies earn very small profits on what they export, and that revaluing the yuan would make these companies suffer losses, dismiss their workers and that this could bring about disorder in China. The Chinese authorities hasten to add that disorder in China would affect the world.
There is a good reason to believe that devaluing the kwacha in the present circumstances, without adequate safeguards, would ignite strikes, demonstrations, riots and gunfire. I am not one of those whose minds are closed to further devaluations but would suggest that essential commodities should be subsidised. If those who earn super scale salaries accept cuts of about 10 percent, it would be easier to persuade donors to fund food and fuel subsidies.
Allah gave the Middle East countries plenty of land, with plentiful oil, but not so plentiful water and moisture. They are short of fertile land on which to grow food crops for their population. I understand some of them have rented land in some African countries on which they grow food crops for their populations. I wonder whether they pay for the land with barrels of oil. If we had spare land in Malawi somewhere I would have said let us try this method of overcoming our fuel famine. There are times indeed when the end justifies the means.