In Nation on Sunday of October 14 2012, we read that 71 percent of people who participated in a survey declared that President Joyce Banda has failed to rescue Malawi from fuel and foreign exchange shortages as well as plummeting living standards due to the devaluation and subsequent flotation of the kwacha.
I read the newspaper after I had just read a foreword of a book An Illustrated Guide to the British Economy by Bill Jamieson.
The foreword was done by Sir Alan Walter, erstwhile economic adviser to former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher.
Part of the foreword reads:Â â€œBut from the rhetoric of political platforms and, alas from much media reporting, one would imagine that Britain is a country of homelessness… indeed one might well imagine that we are still at the bottom of the league table….in part this is due to genuine, undiluted, blissful ignorance.â€
It is not unusual for people in the country and elsewhere to express their dissatisfaction with the delivery of the newly-elected government or president.
Malawi attained self-government in February 1963. For all practical purposes, the governor of Nyasaland was simply carrying out directives by Prime Minister Hastings Kamuzu Banda.
By the beginning of 1964, one would come across people grumbling about a number of things. Some glib-tongued politicians had told them that once Dr Banda assumed presidency, life would be simple because there would be no tax and employment would be offered to all of them.
During the second half of 1964, my job at the Ministry of Finance included analysing tax returns from all the districts of the country.
In every district, few people had paid taxes. My British colleagues and bosses would say: â€œWell, so Africans are also human; they are not paying taxes to their own government.â€
When the 1994 multiparty era started, people once again pitched their expectations too high.
But under the influence of a vicious and anti-Muluzi press, you would meet people grumbling openly: â€œWe have been deceived by the UDFâ€.
Â Some were expressing nostalgia for the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) regime.
Muluzi and his supporters pleaded with people not to go back to the â€˜Egypt of Pharaoh.â€™ This was in reference to the cry of Israelis in Sinai Desert, saying: â€œDid Moses take us out of Egypt to die in the desert.â€
When starting the journey with Moses, the Israelis assumed the journey would be rosy up to Canaan. It turned out to be full of thistles and scorpions.
If people are dissatisfied with JBâ€™s six-month performance, it is not entirely her fault. It may partly be the fault of the people themselves or those who were giving them false hopes and expectations.
For Malawi to experience great achievement in its foreign reserves and petroleum imports, it must first produce and export a lot of tobacco, tea, sugar, coffee and other commodities.
The Joyce Banda administration started at the beginning of the dry season. For anyone to blame her for not turning around the economy within the six months of the dry season can be due to what Walters described as â€œgenuine, undiluted blissful ignorance.â€
The trouble in Malawi is that even those we regard as well educated they do not seem to update their knowledge through constant reading of quality newspapers from abroad.
Anyone reading the article â€˜Counting the Costâ€™ in BBC Focus on Africa of October to December 2012 should know factors affecting President Bandaâ€™s performance.
Due to their own economic difficulties, donor countries, most of them members of the European Union (EU), have their own priorities. True, they pledged to help African governments but as Matthew Davies, author of Focus on Africa says in the mentioned article that â€œwhen money is tight, promises are loose.â€
Some of the programmes JB would have carried out required immediate funding and support from donors. But some are talking of giving budgetary support in the next financial year. This is not surprising. Towards the end of the MCP era, donors suspended their financial support. When the United Democratic Front (UDF) government took over, the donors took time than expected to resume funding programmes, including budgetary support.
Those who claim to be voices of the voiceless should not forget to enlighten people about the realities of this world. –To be continued on Monday