Mitt Romney’s catchy phrase

Honourable Folks, watching American presidential contender Mitt Romney celebrate his victory in New Hampshire primaries early Wednesday morning (CAT) by bragging about making America too strong for anyone to ever think of standing up to it, reminded me of Billy the Kid and other cowboy movies.

As kids growing up in a police camp in Zomba, American cowboy movies brought much excitement to our make-believe world. How else could tough guys get a lion’s share of the scarcest resources—territory, booze and beautiful women—if not by efficient use of the gun to beat the hell out of their rivals?

But should Romney beat Barack Obama in the November polls, it will only be because the first African-American US President is too serious and too upright to be exciting.

It’s as if Obama were preparing America for the afterlife—no mixing of business with pleasure in the Oval Office, no catchy expression like “it’s the economy, stupid”.

Not even Africa is too happy with Obama. The best he has done is to openly unpack the truth many bad African leaders hate to hear—that they are too corrupt, too inefficient and too undemocratic. No exceptional treatment to his fatherland!

But if Republicans are auditioning for the guy who can shoot and exterminate a gang of terrorists from the gun-belt while galloping at the speed of sound, Romney is really a Mr Bean playing 007.

He doesn’t seem to have what it takes to duck a “missile” the way Texan cowboy George W. Bush did the other day when an irate Iraqi threw a stinking shoe at him while he was addressing the media when he visited the Gulf country torn by a controversial war he started after Osama bin Laden caused bloodbath on American soil on 11th September 2001.

Romney doesn’t even have the looks, voice or walking style of Ronald Reagan who swept Lady Margaret Thatcher off her feet with his cowboy antics which had charm powerful enough to demolish the Berlin Wall and end the Cold War.

If he must whack Obama, Romney should prepare for a battle of wits, not tough cowboy rhetoric in this 21st century. But I must thank Romney for using the catchy expression “failed politician”. Not that I agree Obama is a failed politician. No.

But I wonder if in Malawi where talk of a failed State invokes anger in those who think they are more patriotic than the rest of us, we could be talking about failed politicians, instead.

These are people who made promises during campaign time which they fail to fulfil or deliberately ignore after being elected into office. Former president Bakili Muluzi let us down. He is a failed politician.

So, too, President Mutharika; the only tangible thing he promised and delivered is the fight against hunger. But on zero-tolerance for corruption, he is a complete flop.

Every report on corruption, internal or external, shows the situation is as bad as it was during the Muluzi administration, if not worse. In both cases, law enforcers learn to respect sacred cows despite that the Constitution says we are all the same before the law. The consequences are that 30 percent of government revenue is stolen by the corrupt whereas poor law-abiding Malawian taxpayers fail to get even painkillers in public hospitals!

Another area where Mutharika has failed is the economy. He promised to transform it from the status of importing and consuming to the status of producing and exporting. Today, we are not only very far away from exporting but we do not even have forex to import basic raw materials. Instead, companies have scaled down their operations and people are losing jobs.

Then the zero-deficit budget; we were told we have the capacity not just to meet our recurrent budget needs from local revenue but also to steadily reduce our dependence on aid inflows for the development budget. We insulted donors and ignored IMF conditionalities.

Now domestic debt as a ratio of the GDP has gone up by 8 percentage points to 20 percent within the past two years and keeps on growing. As for foreign debt, it was at 400 million USD at the time we got debt relief in 2006, but now it is at 1 billion USD and still growing.

Who will pay for these costly political decisions? Our children, of course! But before that happens, the more government continues to borrow from the local market, the higher the interest rates will go and the more businesses will be deprived of capital.

The economy may have been growing at over 7 percent per annum for the past five years, but now failed policies have caused it to trip and start rolling down the cliff. Mutharika has failed to fulfil what he promised us.

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