“I joined the revolutionary ranks at 18, and all I wanted was to make the revolution succeed,” once said Deng Xiapong, the man widely accredited as architect of modern China.
Today, China is challenging the US as the world’s biggest economy.
“Yet”, to quote Dambisa Moyo’s widely-acclaimed book, Dead Aid, “it is worth remembering that just 30 years ago, Malawi, Burundi and Burkina Faso were economically ahead of China on a per capita income basis.”
What happened in the ensuing years is intriguing, but sad. As China rose, Malawi tumbled.
Five Malawian presidents have reigned since. Can all these leaders, individually, look the people of this country in the eye and say: “While in office, all I wanted was to make our nation-building to succeed.”
Can President Mutharika, with the shadow of the Pioneer Investments deal, say that the meagre development; a few bitumised roads and community colleges, is all he could muster in his tenure?
Evidence is plenty that our leaders have sold us a dummy.
Instead of investing in our people, they have plundered this country—abusing the very poor people’s taxes to enrich themselves.
To consolidate power, they have championed reckless policies that divide us. They promote tribalism in the guise of protecting cultural heritage — so that they continue looting, while the masses are blinded by tribal loyalties.
At any opportunity, Malawians are being encouraged to think they belong to their tribe or region of origin first. Thanks to that, a system of cronyism and patronage is well entrenched. Bad leaders win each election.
As the top few get everything, the bottom majority scramble for crumbs in form of limited resources and opportunities.
This is the reason quota system of selecting students into public universities is a crime. The system was designed out of one man’s pettiness and misconceptions against one region. But as we are finding out today, its consequences are far-reaching.
Born out of failure to provide enough spaces in public varsities, it’s the worse solution available. Instead of building a merit-based society and promoting oneness, it reminds, children and parents alike, that we are not one.
Like Rwanda, in 1994, it’s a demon that can drag nations into hell. It’s evil, period, to tell a child who has scored more points than another in another district, that he is least deserving of public university simply because the total population of the district of origin is smaller.
And, after all these years of intermarriage, what rationale is there to judge our children’s talents based on their so-called district of origin?
Take my son, for example. His mother is from Blantyre and father is from Lilongwe. He was born in Mzuzu, but has lived a bigger part of his life in Lilongwe. His father’s passport cites Ntcheu as home district, and his mother Blantyre.
Yet, his father is a fruit of intermarriage between a Ngoni from Ntcheu and a Chewa from Lilongwe. His father’s father was a fruit of intermarriage between a woman from Ntcheu and man from Dedza. His mother is also a fruit of a long chain of intermarriages. He has Ngoni, Yao, Chewa, Lhomwe blood in him.
What business does the State have deciding where my son comes from or tag him any tribe?
Today, demons of corruption, too, are now being rolled a red carpet by those entrusted with leadership to eradicate them.
How do you explain the rationale of a whole President paying back allegedly stolen money to the alleged thief? How does that pass as fighting corruption or strengthening governance institutions?
How do you ask people to cough more to pay for electricity when no day passes without newspapers reporting on alleged fraud at Escom?
Escom, according to its board chairperson, was in a robust financial position a year ago—a whopping K18 billion surplus in the kitty.
Today, Thom Mpinganjira is covering his eyes in shame as he begs government for a K50 billion bailout.
What Mpinganjira cited as the reason for Escom’s malaise was nothing knew: misprocurements, which in raw language means massive corruption.
Evil is getting fat in this country, with devastating effect. Today, one out of every 16 new-born children are dying before their fifth birthday; hundreds of children are learning under a tree on empty stomach, hospitals are without doctors or drugs; thousands of women dying while giving birth, etc.!