The virtual insolvency of Malawi Savings Bank (MSB) should make all those who deposit their earnings with a commercial bank wonder what would happen to their money if the bank became insolvent. This is not unusual for commercial banks. Insolvency is more unusual where State banks are concerned.
In well organised bank systems, commercial banks are required by law to take insurance covers for clients’ deposits particularly small savers. Imagine you have been making deposits for old age and now you are an old man, incapable of finding a job or even working for yourself because you are bedridden, you learn that your bank has become insolvent and is unable to pay back your money. How do you face such a grim situation? Where a government has the welfare of the small man or woman at heart, it takes over the liabilities of the insolvent bank and recoups itself from the liquidation of the bank.
Since our government is apparently unable to save its own bank except by selling it off, we wonder whether it has arranged to rescue small savers in case of any of the commercial banks collapses.
Releasing relevant information can be reassuring to the public. If government had from the start assured the public that their savings with MSB were safe and that whatever happens people will be reimbursed by government, there would have been no run on the bank as it has been reported. The only assurance we were getting were those from officials of MSB itself. Only assurances from President Peter Mutharika and Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe would have earned maximum public confidence.
Foreigners enquire carefully about the political stability of a country before they decide to take their capital and invest there. Potential political instability can be detected in Parliament. If the minority ruling party is failing to pass its bills in Parliament because the opposition side is hostile, this might give doubts to potential investors about the future of the country.
In old democracies when none of the contending parties has won an overall majority, it negotiates with one of the opposition parties to form a coalition. In West Germany after World War II, coalition governments were the norm rather than the exception. Even after German reunification coalitions are formed as a matter of course.
At the time of writing this piece, UDF members of Parliament (MPs) who are sitting on the government side are liable of being kicked out of Parliament because of Section 65 of the Constitution. Is there no provision in our Constitution for the formation of a collation government?
We understand there is a backlog of cases in courts to handle. Let us not waste courts’ time with injunctions and counter injunctions as we did in previous regimes. The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and United Democratic Front (UDF) should just form a coalition government and get busy with urgent matters.
At the beginning of the multiparty era, I remember the late Aleke K. Banda as Minister of Finance saying the trouble in our politics is that the opposition wants us to fail. That attitude remains the stigma of our multi-party system. In Parliament, there are MPs who feel that they are not doing their duty unless they frustrate the efforts of the ruling party. They must grow out of immature party politics.
Wastefulness is the order of the day in public and private activities in Malawi. For decades or more, we have been reading of devastation of Chikangawa and Dzalanyama forest reserves. It seems the ministers concerned are either incapable or unwilling to come to grips with the problems because some bigwigs are part of the culprits.
I don’t know when the Dzalanyama Forest Reserve was launched but I was there more than 60 years ago when plantation started at Chikangawa. I remember the late Paramount Chief M’mbelwa II ordering people dwelling on the Viphya Plateau that is called Chikangawa to move to other parts of the district so that plantation work could begin. The people abandoned their villages. In the manner trees in Chikangawa are being looted or sold, one wonders if local people are benefiting. Now that the M’mbelwa District Council has representatives, it should make sure that outsiders do not rob local people of their natural heritage.
Malawi is a former colony of Britain. We have retained a number of British traditions. One tradition which deserves revival is the professionalism of the civil service.
We must draw up a code of guidance of the civil service. This code should give civil servants security of tenure. One reason why too many civil servants have been involved in corrupt practices is insecurity of tenure. Whenever there is a change of government, some top civil servants—down to the level of district commissioners—find themselves being tossed around, some are demoted and others prematurely retired. This is wrong; civil service belongs to the nation or State not the ruling party.