Today we are wrapping up our official tourism appreciation of this city, the former capital of Nyasaland and Malawi, the former headquarters of the most notorious jails in Malawi, the former headquarters of the now-destroyed or unbundled University of Malawi, the current Garden of Eden and, still, uncontested capital of zipiyo and Domasi bonya.
We love Zomba and Zomba loves us. G-String too, loves us. Of course, a few outliers might hate us. So, we are likely to be here again soon, most likely after this year’s do or die May 21 Tripartite Elections.
Prevail may the candidates with the best and most convincing proposals to uplift Malawi economically, to make us achieve our vision 2020 next year, to stop the wanton tormenting, killing, selling and eating of people with albinism and to assure us peace and rule of law.
As promised, we visited and appreciated Zomba Mountain and the surrounding areas. We have been to Machinga and the surrounding areas. Only yesterday, we were at Chancellor College, the future ‘fake’ University of Malawi.
We appreciated the new buildings that have sprouted there in the past 15 or so years. The most outstanding change is probably the rare sight of foreign non-munthu faculty as university teachers are sometimes collectively called and modification of buildings to ease mobility for people with physical disabilities such as wheelchair users.
We went into the ageing college staff common room for a drink. It was almost deserted.
Al Hajj Mufti Jean-Philippe LePossoin, SC (RTD) requested a fantakoko while Prof Dr Abiti Joyce Befu, MG 66, MEGA-1 and AMAI (RTD) and the Most Paramount (MP) Native Authority Mandela demanded Castel ginger. Nganga Maigwaigwa, PSC (RTD) and I, the Mohashoi, did not want to pretend. We went for Chikanda rum on the rocks to provoke the muse in us.
Seated far from the counter, a young-looking staff member was busy browsing newspapers and talking to himself.
“You see,” Jean-Philippe started in a hushed tone, “in some settings, talking to oneself is considered a symptom of mental volatility but in the university system it is called pensiveness or loud thinking.”
We laughed like conjoined twins.
“Great,” the loud-thinker said, “the Supreme Court has got things right. We need these tractors back to till our agricultural land. Government must explain how it disposed of the same and where the rest went.”
“He is referring to Tractorgate,” I explained to Nganga who did not seem to understand the loud-thinker.
“But the tractors were formally and officially sold! What’s the fuss?” Nganga wondered.
“I understand,” Prof Befu, “You were not yet on the team when we uncovered the tractor scam. Sometime in 2011 Malawi obtained a loan from India to purchase 177 farm tractors and 144 maize shellers to support Bingu wa Mutharika’s Greenbelt dream. By 2013, the tractors and maize shellers had not reached the intended farmers… “
“I know that,” Nganga said.
“You don’t,” Jean-Philippe said, “Only 101 out 177 tractors were sold. To date, 76 cannot be traced. Nobody knows how many of the 144 maize shellers were sold and where the rest went. We, the Bottom Up delegation who investigated the tractor theft alerted some members of Parliament and the issue was later picked by the Ombudswoman’s office.”
“The Ombudswoman concluded that there was maladministration in the way the tractors and maize shellers were sold and recommended that some of the sellers be prosecuted, but the Attorney General saw no problem and admonished the Ombudswoman for overstepping her mandate,” I added.
“Is maladministration not a longhand for corruption?” Mandela asked rhetorically.
“Yes, anything associated with bad governance”, I added.
“It baffles me how this country thinks. Your Vision 2020 says Malawians aspire to be a food self-sufficient, healthy, happy and middle-income country by next year yet you steal the very tools that should take you there,” Jean-Philippe said mournfully.
“Imagine someone vaporising a tractor!” I said.
“Our work must continue to trace the unsold 76 tractors. Where did they go? To a farm in Zimbabwe?” Nganga said buoyantly. n