Yesterday, Jean-Philippe and I had a long Skype Video call on the current state of the Malawi nation. He was in his flat in the 14th district of Paris and I was at Manase, Blantyre.Â
Since the service is free, neither Jean-Philippe nor I was worried about the cost. The problem Jean-Philippe expected was load-shedding as electricity experts technically call an electricity blackout.
I told him that for some time now, the frequency and number of blackouts, sorry, load-sheddings has gone down.
â€œThat sounds nice. Malawi is taking off,â€ Jean-Philippe said, smiling into the camera.
â€œBut the bills are harsh,â€ I said.
â€œGood things are expensive!â€ Jean-Philippe retorted.
â€œThe problem is that our incomes have remained the same despite the satanic devaluation. The people in power are taking too long to understand the peopleâ€™s frustrations.â€
Jean-Philippe stared into the camera like someone possessed. He was blinking but did not utter any word. I took the opportunity to go and make a cup of tea. When I returned to the computer to continue the conservation, Jean-Philippe had left. But his computer was on, thus giving me an interior view of part of his flat. I saw a flat-screen TV mounted on the wall, a bar fridge and a bookshelf. Jean-Philippe came back, coffee cup in his right hand.
â€œYes,â€ he said as he sat down, â€œdid I hear you mention Satan?â€
â€œYes. In Malawi if someone does not see what others see, we say he has been possessed by Satan. You remember the other day when president Bingu wa Mutharika said Malawians were suffering because Satan had sat on the country?â€
â€œYeah. But you cannot compare that period to the present. I left plenty of fuel, forex and smiles.â€
I told Jean-Philippe fuel and forex may be there but the smiles are gone. Having fuel does not make a country happy. Most Malawians, I said, cannot afford the basics of life, which include foodstuffs, water, electricity, charcoal, and even a beer to induce sleep. The drinking joints are empty by 7 pm. Public sector employees, like teachers, nurses and police officers, have not even received the little they are supposed to receive.
â€œDoes that explain why John Kapitu said the government must resign? Has he joined the opposition?â€
â€œI donâ€™t know. But the statement must have pleased the DPP,â€ I said.
â€œDPP! Have their MPs come back?â€
â€œWow! So, what are they saying to their constituents? How do they explain their va-et-vient? Something like â€˜Satan sat on me and I defected, but now that he has freed me I have defected back to my partyâ€™?â€
I laughed. Jean-Philippe sipped his coffee.Â I told him that the said MPs have likely gone back temporarily or physically because they are afraid of losing their seats should the Speaker of Parliament decide to invoke Section 65.
â€œIt is a constitutional provision that regulates MPs from criss-crossing the floor; from one party to another represented in Parliament.â€
â€œI understand. But you seem really frustrated and hopeless. Do you see any light at the end of the tunnel?â€
â€œYes. But the tunnel is too long and the light too faint!â€
â€œOk. Here is what I promise: â€˜I will be back next week to cheer you up!â€™â€