An analysis of President Joyce Banda’s State of the Nation Address delivered on 8 February reveals that the current Malawian President is been led into a path of delusions. Somehow, after 8 months of a leadership, which has brought Malawians into financial hardships ever, President Joyce Banda (apparently now a Doctor of Economics) is deluded that the Malawian economy has recovered.

In a frighteningly short 8 months, President Joyce Banda’s State of the Nation address exposed the disturbing signs that the president already has fallen victim to delusions that normally are associated with a leader’s decline and fall.

It is quite inexplicable how the Malawian president could stand on the podium and declare to the world that Malawi has recovered economically. The only explanation is that the President, happily spending her newly acquired and unexplained wealth, is not in touch with the reality of the life of ordinary Malawians.

When people are dying every day from treatable diseases and illnesses due to acute shortages of drugs in the country’s public hospitals, and the Government’s central medical stores have announced that there are no medicine reserves and the sick are being told to go and buy medicines at private pharmacies, it is hard to understand how President Banda defines recovery.

Could it be that President Banda does not know that the civil service was about to go on national strike due to poor salaries and skyrocketing prices of basic commodities? Is the President unaware that the University of Malawi is on the verge of closure due to inadequate government funding and the general population is facing very severe hardships because of austerity measures imposed on President Joyce Banda by the IMF and other international donors?

As far as macro-economic stability is concerned, it is clear that the focus and the emphasis are on an Economic Recovery Plan that will be financed by donors. The delusion here ought to be obvious. A donor-financed economy should never be thought of as recovered. If independence and sovereignty are to mean anything for Malawi and indeed for Africa, leaders that see economic recovery as a product of the restoration of donor dependence ought to be rejected and ousted, dismissed as brainless and deluded, unworthy of leading modern Africa.

In their collective wisdom, the people of Malawi decided to put in their constitution a requirement that the Head of State shall declare his or her assets. This was done primarily to clog avenues of corruption, where a person in office suddenly becomes rich in a manner that does not correspond with his or her known means of income.

Whether the law obtaining at the moment is weak and has gaps which need filling does not make the law redundant. Until it is amended, that law must be obeyed as it is. The fact that President Banda continues categorically to refuse to let Malawians know how much wealth she had as she entered office pollutes the whole notion of her purported zeal to fight corruption. Her State of the Nation Address was therefore simply form without substance- a total delusion.

The fact that Banda’s State House is not leading by example in terms of reining in expenditure makes a mockery of the whole concept of austerity measures alluded to in the President’s State of the Nation address. The president’s blatant display of double standards in this regard is as embarrassing as it is again demonstrative of her lost sense of reality. One would have expected President Joyce Banda to regret the fact that at her insistence, State House has already spent its whole annual allocation of K2.6 billion in six months.

The president was expected to show remorse, as she surely must, that an austerity presidency presided over phone calls expenditures that cost the taxpayer over K68 million when the message is that everyone must tighten their belts. At a time when the president blows K13 million to finance her Santa Claus escapades where she distributes items amounting to a mere K1.3 million, it should insult even her own understanding and sincerity regarding her gospel according to Saint IMF that government has tightened its fiscal discipline.

The Banda administration has recently come under strong criticism for the persecution of Journalist Justice Mponda and the threats received by Journalist Rebecca Chimjeka. The President is adamant that she will blatantly defy the law and the constitution and refuse to declare her assets, and she continues to use patronage to sabotage the implementation of Section 65 in Parliament.

In faithful African tradition, those that have made it the norm to support her with total blindness to reason happily encourage Banda’s delusion in this area. Political support now is taking the form of an art; simply stupidly clapping hands and ululating; using the mouth and the hands without using the brain. In the 8 months under Joyce Banda, the State of the Nation is that the rule of Law and fundamental freedoms are not just under threat. They are trampled upon with impunity. Yet in the State of the Nation address, President Banda gives a description of a utopian Malawi. Which Malawi is the president talking about?

Perhaps the President did not need to explain the implications of the fact that since her ascendancy to the presidency, the Malawi Kwacha has been devalued by over a hundred per cent, with the dollar trading at K385 as compared to 160 in April 2012; and that disposable incomes have almost evaporated. But surely, she could not look her people in the eye and declare that the Malawi economy has recovered!

Going by the fates that have historically befallen delusive African leaders, the startling delusions in President Joyce Banda’s State of the Nation Address signal that her decline and fall is nigh.

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ZIMENE MUMAKONDA

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