To say that at the moment there are signs that within three years Malawi will see prosperity, is indeed wishful thinking.
When President Bingu wa Muthalika addressed the nation on 24th June 2011, he pose a question. He asked why Malawians were doubting him. This was a revelation that he too, had realized that Malawians are doubting his capabilities of running this country.
In fact, the President should not have asked the question of doubt. He should have realized that, even the speech he was giving, which some media dubbed it empty, offered no solution to the problems of forex and fuel shortage, zero deficit budget and countless others. With such mediocrity in addressing important issues, why should Malawians trust him?
It is not an exaggeration to say that at the moment people publicly debate the bleak future of this country. What comes out of such debates is that no one knows where the Muthalika government is taking this country to. It has so far brought Malawi to its knees. Businesses are closing down and throwing more jobless people into already flooded streets. Almost all ordinary Malawians have a story of misery to tell.
It is true that during Muluzi’s era the Malawi economy was on a downward spiral. However, some people still proudly say that their small businesses were up and running and money was not as scarce as it is today.
The problem with the Muthalika government is that it has failed to translate the much talked about economic growth (on paper) to tally with the situation on the ground. It goes without saying that, if there is growth people should be living a much better life. This is far from it. It makes no sense when the government looks at the subsidized fertilizer coupon as the alpha and omega of development. Just like any other person in the world, Malawians need money. Unfortunately, Admarc is very unreliable and people have to sell their maize to private traders at a give away price.
Malawi is a laughing stock in the SADC region when it comes to development just because of having doubtful governments. The government should just wake up and take the bull by the horn. President Muthalika and his cabinet must be serious and start discussing issues without fear of reprisals from anyone. Instead of giving threats of expulsion to a courageous MP like Henry Phoya, his voice of reason must be emulated. If cabinet ministers continue to be passive in order to protect their positions, this country will soon reach a breaking point and become ungovernable. The positions that people want to protect will no longer be there.
The Muthalika government blamed Muluzi for running down the economy. Fair enough. When it was in minority it used to blame the opposition for delaying the budget. It is now in majority and the budget just sails through and yet things are falling apart. It has no choice but to blame its own mismanagement.
The DPP needs to be reminded that the same Malawians, who gave them an overwhelming majority, will kick them out of government if people continue living in dire straits.
A word of warning is that when people are continuously suffering they no longer care about who takes over government, provided the leader who has failed them has been removed. This was the scenario when Dr Kamuzu Banda was voted out in 1994.
*Emily Mkamanga, Malawi’s political commentator and Nyasa Times columnist based in Mzuzu
Emily Mkamanga Email [email protected]