December 23, 2013
There is a new but naive lexicon that has come out of the State House these days to explain dubious presidential or government decisions that raise questions in the mind of Malawians.
When a UK-based upmarket public relations firm, Bell Pottinger, was hired and paid top dollar to launder the tattered reputation of Malawi in the eyes of the international community in light of the now ubiquitous cashgate scandal, hard up taxpayers were told that none of their money at Treasury will be touched to settle the bill but that unnamed well-wishers have picked the tab.
When President Joyce Banda was seen criss-crossing the globe in a shiny private jet that can only be the preserve of the List A Hollywood celebrities or Wall Street blue chip firms, the same explanation was quickly offered that once again Malawian taxpayers were spared the bill in the arrangement.
Finance Minister Maxwell Mkwezalamba was on hand to validate this.
In the mind of those who concocted these statements, it is supposed to appease Malawians so that they can sleep peacefully with the knowledge that their tax is safe and that their CEO has found other sources of income to fund her huge appetite for constant global travel.
There are two things here. It is either that those who speak for the President and government think that we, Malawians, are a bunch of ignorant idiots who can be appeased with candies like children or they, themselves, are so naive to believe that consent can be manufactured for Malawians to believe that their President can get freebies from unnamed benefactors and get away with it.
Well, it now turns out that both the Bell Pottinger deal and the shiny jet that is flying our President to wherever she fancies in the world are being bankrolled by some South African firm that also supplied our military with gunboats for patrolling Lake Malawi.
This is no brainer here and it is profoundly insulting Malawians to think that a dumb explanation to the effect that they are not paying anything for the two jaunts would placate them. It is common knowledge that there is no such a thing as a free lunch and so the questions that those who think they are clever at State House or government must answer Malawians are: What is in there for the benefa-ctors that are carelessly throwing their largess and spoiling our President with it?
Why do these so-called spin doctors think Malawians can accept their lousy and empty propaganda they are so adept at churning out and accept that it is alright for the President to be in the pocket of special interest groups? If they think there is nothing wrong with the arrangement, why are they so keen to keep the identities of the benefactors under lock and key? Why should our President be flown around by somebody? What is the price on the country?
And why are, we, Malawians so laid back to accept this arrangement? Is this not abuse of the mandate that we gave the President to govern us all?
Where in the free world would this be accepted and why are we accepting it? Would an American president, for example, be flown around in an all-expenses-paid-for arrangement by a private enterprise? I bet that that would be a subject of the endless Congressional inquiries and I would be surprised if that dreaded word of impeachment would not be uttered in the end.
The belief is that a president should not abuse the presidential mandate and trade it for anything else. Why then are, we, Malawians accepting anything less? Why do we not care?
My advice to my President is simple: Stop being overly naive and risk being overrun by shadowy characters that have no sense of morality, accountability and good governance in their vocabulary. In the end, you would be the only one paying the ultimate price, by which time they would have jumped ship to the next occupier of our State House.
It is simple common knowledge that human beings always have motivation for what they do. There is no free lunch in this world.