Mutharika, the prayer warrior

Malawi is endowed with so many natural resources such as lakes, rivers, streams and arable and pasturable land. Despite all this, the past 53 years of Malawi, has been characterised by hunger. Year in and year out, Malawi finds itself on its fours, begging for food.

The twists and turns in the country’s agricultural policies—from one-party system to date—have done nothing but exacerbate the situation, leaving poor and vulnerable Malawians at the mercy of political elites whose main interest is when making hasty decisions that only aim at gaining political mileage. Their short-sightedness is what has made this country to remain poor. The lack of vision by those entrusted to lead the nation to prosperity is astounding.

Malawi, just like the rest of the world, is experiencing climate change which, among several other issues, has caused the rainfall pattern to be unpredictable. Just a month ago, the Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services, issued a warning that the country will experience normal to above normal rains in some parts of the country while other parts will experience little rain. This is also the case across southern Africa. In other words, countries in this part of the continent need to brace themselves for disasters such as floods and drought.

The warning is also a clear indication that we can no longer rely on rain-fed agriculture. One would think that with this in mind, a country whose economy depends on agriculture, would go all out to invest in alternatives to rain-fed agriculture. But no, Malawi is looking for God’s intervention and is asking citizens to spare at least three days to pray for rains and a disaster-free season.

Instead of giving Malawians an update on what the country is doing in terms of disaster preparedness and management, the President thinks the most prudent thing to do is to call for prayers. Don’t get me wrong, I am not against seeking God’s intervention, but I find it quite laughable that now the President is behaving like one of those ‘men of God’ and a church intercessor. Mr. President, you are not leading a church congregation, but a nation.

Climate change information is already there. I expected the President and the Ministry of Agriculture to tell Malawians the kind crops they need to grow, when and how in accordance with the information from the Meteorological Department. For instance, what crops should be grown in areas where there will be normal to above normal rains? What about in areas where there will be little rains? Should those in areas where floods are expected, start to move upland?

This country does not lack ideas and skills capacity, but it lacks leadership. This country lacks leadership that can lead its people in times like the one that the Met Department has predicted. Instead, this country has leadership that clearly shows that it is clueless, hopeless, visionless and directionless that it finds that lazy way out—burdening God with requests that He has already answered. Malawi’s natural endowments are not just for beautifying the country, but that they can be used to our best.

In 2018, Malawi should be talking about and investing in agricultural technologies, and not leaving everything in God’s hands. Malawi should be using climate change information that is readily available almost on a daily basis, in averting hunger. This is possible if the leadership is willing to lead.

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