Your Excellency, unto you we address this epistle.
We, who live here, in the lowest rung of the social ladder, are not in the habit of writing letters to people in high offices because we don’t want to be misunderstood as beggars and mere attention-seekers.
However, there are times, like these times, that we feel obliged to write on behalf of the many Malawians that don’t have a platform to be heard, and on our own behalf.
Our indomitable and indefatigable leader of delegation, genuine Professor Dr Abiti Joyce Befu, Mega-1, has asked us to politely correct your Excellency’s recent remarks or complaints about us.
In case your Excellency and some of us in the bottom rung have forgotten, we would like to humbly remind your Excellency that during the commemoration or celebration of your Excellency’s one year in office, your Excellency chided some of us, Malawians, particularly those who spend hours writing, voice-noting, and videoing on social media, for our general negative attitude towards the Tonse Alliance government’s performance so far.
In brief, your Excellency lamented that some of us, Malawians, don’t seem to see that your Excellency have succeeded in fighting corruption; in trying to rectify the economy left in a mess by your predecessor’s administration, and in successfully implementing the Affordable Inputs Programme (AIP).
Your Excellency, we have seen and appreciate all these attempts, but we verily and plainly say unto your Excellency, the attempts are not enough. The general bottom rung population in this country, the voting corps, is depressed, disappointed, dejected, frustrated and pessimistic; whence the negativity you seem to observe. We, the people who voted for the Tonse Alliance feel shortchanged, tinabetsa voti, because we feel the great promises the Tonse Alliance made during the 2020 presidential elections campaign will never materialise. Our enemies, the people who did not want the DPP and UDF Alliance to go, feel vindicated that we were promised the moon, stars, and the hot sun. They are now laughing at us.
Your Excellency, most of us in the bottom rung were happy to hear you promise us a Malawi where all of us would be treated equally and have equal access to opportunities. But, the truth on the ground is that some of us have had no opportunity at all in the past 12 months.
Graduate children of the bottom rung have been unable to find employment, not even an internship place in the public service. How do children of bottom rung miss on every shortlist, even for police officer recruitment? Why are the children of people in the topmost rung found on every list?
Even trained teachers and nurses have been languishing haplessly at home. Yet, we all know that the Malawi public health service sector alone has an over 52 percent vacancy rate. Almost 40 percent of vacancies in local councils are unfilled. Malawi has vacancies. Why are people not being employed? These are part of the one million jobs your Excellency promised.
In the past 12 months, all we have heard and seen are public lectures about how to become entrepreneurs and job creators. We are told to change our attitudes, mindsets, be more hopeful and less cynical, and creative. We wonder why the public lecturers themselves don’t create the jobs and become entrepreneurs.
Your Excellency, you might have heard one Catholic Bishop cry out on behalf of the bottom rung people that “pa ground sipali bwino”. He was not joking. The prices of goods have skyrocketed and have become unaffordable. Electricity, water, data, and mobile phone services are very expensive. Mobile data providers pretended to have reduced the prices but bottom rung users will tell you that ma data sakhukhalitsa. Imagine an internet data bundle costing K7 000, equivalent to the price of one 50 kilograme bag of maize, vanishing in less than five days. Why is internet in Rwanda, Mozambique, Zambia, and Tanzania cheap?
Your Excellency, the situation on the ground is just hopeless and negative. Ntherandi, a Pule, Malawi enafe sakutikomera.
Those among us who saw the good side of the Kamuzu Banda government expected some of his approaches to be improved on. The Ministry of Works should get back to repairing our rural and urban road networks.
Right now, township roads in Blantyre, Lilongwe, and Mzuzu look like we have just emerged from a Gaza war. Right now, our cities are so filthy we wonder why the Kamuzu era cleanliness cannot be brought back.
Your Excellency, when you one day visit Blantyre, just walk down from Sanjika to Chilomoni market, M’bwelera, Gadaga, Chatha, and other places unannounced, and see for yourself the filth in our midst.
We acknowledge that the Covid-19 pandemic has affected delivery your programmes, but disease and death should not stop people from living. As you promised on social media, “stop walking the government; start running it.” You have just 48 months in which to prove that you and the Tonse Alliance are worth voting back into power. Four years to go.