Welcome to 2019. This month we assess the past 12 months, that made 2018 annus horribilis, a terrible year during which only those like us, born to always be happy, could afford a smile. We will identify what worked; what failed; who and what stood out in 2018.
Today we profile our top five public institutions that made Malawians feel somehow good and hopeful.
National Roads Authority (NRA)
The Roads Authority is a Malawi Government department responsible for construction and upgrading of road and related infrastructure. It has demonstrated that Malawi has engineering talent, skill and supervisory expertise. The improved roads in Blantyre, Lilongwe and Mzuzu cities and in rural areas speak volumes about what Malawi can achieve if we stop stealing from ourselves, genuinely reject corruption and kickbacks at all levels, become patriotic, visionary, selfless and ‘uMunthally’ ethical. We can achieve a lot on our own if we improve on governance and accountability to ourselves. It has confirmed that political will, not amount of money, drives development. With political will, the NRA will rebuild the Kamuzu Great Lakeshore Road or M5 in 2019.
However, stop erecting ‘ridges’ on these beautiful national roads. Your ‘maize gardens’ on our roads damage vehicles and cause accidents. Find another clever way of regulating speed. This is a people’s directive; not request.
MCA-Malawi is another Malawian public institution that delivered in 2018. Those who care know that due to the poor human rights and governance record of the DPP administration, the US government withdrew its Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) funding to Malawi’s Millennium Challenge Account (MCA). The fund was renegotiated and restored when Joyce Banda succeeded Bingu wa Mutharika.
Up to last year, MCA-Malawi worked frantically to implement all its programmes, the most outstanding being the infrastructure development programme which restored and upgraded ESCOM’s power distribution networks. The massive substations you see at Phombeya near Phalula, Nkhoma in Lilongwe, Luwinga in Mzuzu and Bwengu in Mzimba and other places across Malawi are products of MCA-Malawi. Wherever and whenever you see a sign shouting out, “From the American People”, know MCA-Malawi was there.
MCA-Malawi has delivered. If you have problems with power today, don’t blame ESCOM; blame EGENCO because ESCOM cannot distribute what is not generated. So, congratulations MCA-Malawi
Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC)
The Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) has proved to be extremely organised in readiness for the 2019 tripartite elections when we will elect the next set of parliamentarians and ward councillors and a president and vice president, the runningmate.
To avoid last minute congestion and disappointments, the MEC rolled out phased registration of potential voters. Although, a few people felt left out due to the slow start occasioned by under-functioning equipment, confusion between registration for elections and national identity cards, and the arbitrary cut-off age date for eligible first-time voters, the MEC has had a largely smooth voter registration and verification exercise.
What remains is how the MEC will handle the counting and announcement of the results of the 2019 elections. What happened in 2014 was shambolic and extremely shameful. Wasn’t it? Some stakeholders even alleged that President Peter Mutharika was voted for by the MEC itself, meaning that the results were doctored.
Malawi Defence Force (MDF)
Throughout 2018 the Malawi armed forces worked diligently and professionally to keep our country and people safe from external aggression. The armed forces conducted military funerals and burials of prominent Malawians in 2018 than in any other year before.
The MDF Engineering Battalion, once again, lived to its excellent name. In previous years, it was called in to erect emergency bridges and other services; but in 2018 it was used to construct some roads, pavements and drainage systems of our highways.
Congratulations MDF and we look forward to seeing more of your contributions in 2019.
Despite reports of corruption here and there, the local (city, municipal and district) governments have largely worked and delivered. Among others, they constructed stadia in many districts, new markets, modern bus stations and guardian shelters in hospitals. Some, such as Zomba, now have solar powered street lighting.
We hope in 2019 they will build roads and collect rubbish from often ignored areas such as Zolozolo in Mzuzu, Chilomoni in Blantyre, Kawale in Lilongwe and Chikanda in Zomba.
The performance of local government councils in 2018 has demonstrated that Malawi needs more decentralisation, more self-governing districts and regions, and, even, federalism because micro-governments delivered and more targeted development that central governments.