On Thursday, President Lazarus Chakwera admitted that the country’s well-being; the viability of the economy and ability to wade off a serious Covid-19 crisis is not in our hands, as the country’s ability to vaccine our population is at the mercy of the international community.
As the President rightly stated, this is not a new story. It has been the case in the many other crucial vaccination programmes as well. The President suggested this shouldn’t be something we should be ashamed of, because, as he rightly stated, Covid-19 vaccines do not come cheap, even more so for countries on this part of the Sahara.
What was unsaid in the President’s briefing, is that much of the rest of the health budget, too, is still very much dependent on donor money. The same can be said of the development budgets for education, transport and water supply. In short, funding for the most crucial parts of our shared lives, we tend to outsource it.
What our national budgets tend to support more robustly are politically-correct activities such as subsidy and expenditures easy for the nexus of politicians and business, aided by civil servants to loot. A story as old as the nation’s existence, too.
But that is beside the point. The point is, 57 years after we attained independence, this ought not to be the case. The poverty and under-development around us, all making horrific view, must serve as a reminder of the gigantic task we all have in remaking this country.
It’s not one man’s job. Not a job for one administration. But leadership is vital. And leadership is everything.
To that end, we expected the Tonse Alliance administration—one year in power last week—and its good president, to end the culture of wastage that has gone on unabated in our government for far too long. But we are, unfortunately, left to bemoan with the same old refrain: The more things change, the more they remain, in our case, horrendously the same!
Think about the recent trip by board members of Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra) to Dubai, for example. Ostensibly, this trip was a learning tour for the new board members so that they can conduct their business better.
The question that springs to mind is: Weren’t there any other options available, other than flying out a whole 10-member board to the Middle East, book it at expensive lavish hotels and pay the entourage’s allowances?
History tells us that statutory corporations such as Macra, Mera and Escom have always operated with impunity and are used as fat cows to be milked by successive administrations. Cocky executives have decided to use the revenues they generate to live luxuriously, while funding political parties and enriching politicians at the expense of the rest of the resource-challenged public service.
All this, was supposed to change with the arrival of the Tonse Alliance.
For one, Tonse Alliance captured the nation’s despair over this state of affairs eloquently than anyone else who has ever campaigned for political office in this country. Not only was it able to tell us what was wrong, Tonse Alliance told us how they change the game.
But Tonse is gaming the game now…
To give President Chakwera his due, majority of his appointees for such statutory bodies were astute, or at least well qualified. But our politics being as treacherous as it is, several partisan folks, friends and family also got rewarded to these supposedly lucrative posts.
But you ought to realise, brethren, that academic and professional qualifications alone do not guarantee integrity and the nexus of same old politics and desperate folks have seen the same old abuses of the past resurfacing.
When such scandals emerge, the obvious refrain is to be simplistic and acclaim the ‘system’ is full of cadets who are either behind the dirty deals or corrupting the minds of the supposed good Tonse men and women.
It makes corruption look like a partisan DPP innovation than Tonse at odds with the Tonse DNA. That shallow thinking forgets that some of the Tonse members have been political prostitutes, anyway, jumping from one regime after another, and no political party in Malawi has any DNA but other than opportunism and self-preservation.
It also underplays the reality that corruption is a cancer of this society that is older than the country itself. A cancer that has engulfed every fabric of the society. A cancer that doesn’t wear political colours.
That was all a huge digression, I am sorry. All I wanted to say really is, we remain in the words of scripture “a very childish nation” when facing a crisis such as Covid-19, 57 years after independence, we can’t afford to procure our own vaccines. And the long detour above, tells you why we are in this sad state.