This week, I reflected on the Presidential Running mates debate of March 7 2019 at Bingu International Convention Centre (Bicc) in Lilongwe which raised a number of pertinent issues.
One of which was why Malawi has not achieved much in terms of foreign investment. This is very true. While foreign investors are successfully engaged in neighbouring countries, Malawi is failing to attract them.
It can be said without any form of contradiction that Malawi is not poor considering natural resources the country is endowed with.
It is the greedy type of leadership which continues to make Malawi and its people poor.
Honestly speaking, due to corruption by those in positions of power, government can hardly come up with foreign investment deals to benefit its people.
So far, it seems most deals are made at personal level, especially at leadership level, then rubber-stamped by relevant authorities.
This could be the reason those in leadership positions are extremely rich while the rest of Malawians are extremely poor.
Unfortunately, there is no political will to reduce the gap between the rich and the poor.
There are many examples of unproductive deals in Malawi.
The most memorable one is the Kayelekera Uranium mining in Karonga. This created a lot of hype and great expectation as politicians talked highly about the expected riches Malawians would get from the investment.
Sadly, nothing worth talking about came out. Instead, there was so much destruction of the natural resources. As such, some Malawians suggested that the mine should just be closed.
Surprisingly, some Cabinet ministers could be heard saying the Kayelekera Mine was a very viable project and a good deal.
One wonders how such ministers expected their sentiments to be supported by Malawians who saw nothing tangible coming out of the mining.
With such unproductive deals government, too, had no choice but to reveal they were getting nothing out of it.
The problem is that government seems to be fond of striking deals, then formalise them later.
One cannot be completely wrong to suggest that people who negotiate deals know very well that they may flop. They, therefore, they get their share under the carpet before the deal is signed.
Malawi being a democracy, people should know all the deals and agreements the government signs and, above all, people should know what is in it for them.
Due to the habit of making wrong deals, Malawi is failing to find meaningful investors. Just imagine, Malawi has held so many investor conferences and at the end of each, the minister of Trade and Industry comes up with a positive statement that not less than 40 investors had shown interest to invest in the country.
Unfortunately, this just ends up as a wishful thinking which helps nobody. So far, instead of meaningful investors Malawi has seen an influx of petty foreign traders.
This shows how weak our laws are. What type of licences and permits do such people get?
On countless times, our small-scale businesspersons have complained about unfair competition they get from these foreign petty traders. But government seems not to listen.
Meanwhile, the most obvious reasons investors shun Malawi is unreliable power and water supply.
One can only hope that the Tonse Alliance government will quickly fix the problems.
Above everything else, the government should use experts to negotiate meaningful deals to benefit all Malawians.