Listening to Malawi President Bingu wa Mutharika’s speech at the Independence Anniversary Celebrations in Mzuzu on Wednesday, one immediately felt Malawi still has a fundamental challenge; one that needs serious recasting in the way this country is governed.
It was unsettling to hear the State President declare that Malawi is a success story? In fact, it called into question what it is that makes a country a success story.
Yes, the President cited his major development projects, which include new or rehabilitated roads across the country. He mentioned the gift from his Beijing friends—the new Parliament Building in the Capital City, the upcoming five-star hotel and conference centre in Lilongwe as well as the new universities he has planned for the country, including the University of Science and Technology now taking shape in his home district, Thyolo.
The President also boasted of the rule of law, freedom of the press, good governance and overall economic progression as aspects that make Malawi a success story?
The question is: Was Mutharika talking about the same Malawi we all know, one whose governance has been questioned both locally and externally? Was it the same country that has chronic forex shortages resulting in empty fuel stations, long vehicle queues that are causing congestion in urban areas? Was the President referring to the same Malawi which has a catalogue of challenges in the health, agriculture, education, industry and manufacturing sector?
Was the President pretending Malawi is not subject to the academic and media freedom disputes now raging in the courts? Was the President oblivious to the fact that our traditional donors have virtually packed their bags and left Lilongwe?
In brief, what development was he talking about when the ordinary people’s quality of life, the real indicator and determinant of human development, still remains below any targets?
We beg to differ with the President.
Malawi has been billed as being among the poorest nations on the globe and there are ample indicators to attest to the same.
Our fear is that the President is in denial. He, once again, lost the opportunity to outline his fresh initiatives to take Malawi out of the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of development.
Malawians know what condition their country is in. The least they expected in Mutharika’s July 6 address was to be treated like children or brainless citizens.
Mr. President, give your taxpayers and voters a break. At 47, Malawi cannot go on being fed on empty rhetoric. It needs collective nation-building, honesty and a sense of direction.