By Sydney Ndembe
Malawi as a country is said to be one of the poorest nations in the world. The question is: What are we doing about it? There are several things we can do to improve our lot.
One: Let us stop the pull him/ her-down syndrome which is rampant in all our set-ups. It seems every time somebody tries to do something, we quickly rush to put a stone wall so that whatever was in the offing should not progress. Examples of this are many.
The country is said to have lots of minerals, but if anybody suggests we mine them out the pull him/her down syndrome quickly sets in with reasons like environmental degradation, displacement of villages, graveyards or such lame excuses such as ‘we have butterflies in the area and if this is done, the butterflies will disappear’. Things that do nothing, but pull us back. Not so long ago, there was talk of prospecting for oil in lake Malawi.
But what happened? The fish will be destroyed as if the country’s economy dependsed on fish. What is our problem? ‘Democracy’ is. We think it is an open free meal ticket.
There are minerals in Zimbabwe, Zambia, South Africa, Mozambique, Botswana and most of the countries surrounding us. We cannot therefore be the only country left out. The belts of coal, gold, bauxite, gas, copper, diamonds should also be available under our soil. What is required is for us to find means and ways of getting them, digging them out and marketing them.
Whether it means getting others to come and dig them out for us or borrowing funds so be it. If you want to get something, you must be prepared to make sacrifices. For example, the green belt is one very good ideas, but the green belt will only be possible where the major rivers pass. Then why can we not create rivers to pass the dry area from the main rivers. As an example, canals could be excavated by the rivers and then take them to the dry areas and when opened, they would carry the water to the dry areas, thereby increasing the areas which could easily be irrigated and the people in the dry areas would also have a chance to catch fish for themselves.
With this, the water that is being wasted away going to the Indian Ocean would be utilised here and would reduce the flooding. An increased green belt shall also increase the volume of our food products.
The people who brought hoes no longer use them. They are now using tractors and have since developed highly. What about our approach to work? We are mostly lax where work is concerned. We are never serious at all. Look at road maintenance, we plan to put a pile of ready to use tar, but sometimes the tar is not used. Sometimes we get some soil to cover the road sides. Why should the soil be dumped there and not be used straight away. And when it comes to working, it takes us a very long time to complete a project just because we are slow workers. Is it any wonder that when the Chinese come to work here they bring their own workers? We are not just slow workers, but we steal materials at the same time. (SLOW MEN WORKING AHEAD) goes the sign, when are we going to have fast men? Do we really want to progress? If yes, then let us change this attitude. We have been able to conserve our wild life, but then we say there are too many animals and let us import lions from South Africa to and eat them. Really? Why not kill the excess number, dry the meat and export it. Would that not be a better way of disposing off the excess animals and gain foreign exchange too.
Then there are Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) whose main job is toe the line of their foreign masters and more often than not they are busy making things fail.
Ever since the word ‘democracy’ was shoved down our throats, we use every excuse for not working, strikes for more pay, better working conditions, we park our vehicles anywhere and anyhow, we walk on the roads as if we were made of steel that even if a vehicle hits us, nothing will happen. We dress anyhow, the young men have their dirty under things showing and the women dress to advertise everything they have geographically. All in the name of that lousy word ‘democracy’. How can we ever develop like that?
*Works as CEO of Malawi Against Physical Disabilities (MAP) and holds several certificates and a masters degree in Business Administration from Australia