Some 54 years ago Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda took over the leadership of Malawi from the colonialists. Being the first African President, he wanted to prove to the colonialists that he was capable. Therefore, he first of all made sure that the standards, especially of doing work, were maintained. At every opportunity, he could appeal to all Malawians across the board to work hard on whatever job they were assigned to do. Indeed, Malawians were known for their discipline, hard work as well as producing high standards of work. Mediocrity during Kamuzu’s era was totally unacceptable. People would follow rules and regulations with no short cuts. This is how the civil service was admired throughout the region. Those were the days when no civil servant would suffer because of late salary payment. The same cannot be said now. Even just being paid is like a favour, let alone being paid enough and on time.
Malawi’s mediocrity is just as bad as corruption and plunder of public resources. With all due respect, the Prof. Peter Mutharika administration seems to have institutionalised mediocrity. Doing a perfect job in government is very rare and leadership seems not to care. By accepting mediocrity, Malawians are paying highly. For example, poor road and building construction which have a very short life, are all over the country while a lot of taxpayers’ money is spent on them. Being in a mediocrity mode, some of the so-called investors from China and other countries are simply vendors who vend in kaunjika, roadside sales of potato chips with non-descript meats etc. Seriously speaking, the government is to blame for these foreign vendors. The vendors have tested the waters and have seen that they can freely vend without any hassles. One wonders what type of visas, permits and business licences the Malawi government gives to these foreign vendors. Malawians have been complaining about the unfair competition that they face from the foreign vendors. Unfortunately, Mutharika and his government seem to have no time for such complaints. Therefore, one is forced to conclude that probably the petty foreign traders are among the expected foreign investors. In fact, the government should be aware that the Malawi economy is at its lowest ebb; therefore, poor Malawians cannot accommodate unfair competitors.
It goes without saying that both the leadership and government should know how a good economy looks like. Surprisingly, and because they like mediocrity, they celebrate even a slight economic growth which makes no positive impact to the poor people of Malawi.
Currently, the public debate in the country is about the missing of registration kits. As it were, registering for the 2019 elections is very vital to the extent that Malawians naturally do not want the process to get wrong at any point. Due to knowing that in this country anything goes, MEC seems to have not taken serious the issue of the lost registration kits. They casually say nothing was recorded on the machine. This is neither here nor there, and not convincing. It is obvious that Malawians want to know under whose custody the machines got lost. Indeed, it makes a lot of sense for someone at MEC should pay for the mistake.
For goodness’ sake, mediocrity should have a limit. Important matters such as elections and development do not need substandard work. MEC should know that Malawians are looking forward to credible elections which will truly define the acceptable future for every Malawian. The Mutharika government, too, should not be based on half-measures to progress. Mediocrity should have no room in Malawi.