It is no secret that Malawi is lagging behind in development as compared to other countries in the Sadc region. Reasons for this situation are many. Probably one of the main reasons is the deliberate government diversions of issues that really matter. This seems to be by design of the government in power for the sake of soliciting more political support. Malawi is a country where more time is spent on discussing government intentions as well as vision this and vision that with nothing much on the ground.
Recently, the main civil society organisations (CSOs) organised a demonstration in Lilongwe to petition government to address their concerns which range from poor service delivery to bad governance. This covered issues such as lack of medicines in government hospitals, lavish expenditure of taxpayers’ money and not forgetting alleged nepotism in government. Surprisingly, there was another demonstration by alleged government sympathisers. It is anybody’s guess to know whether or not this group went on the streets with the blessing of government. But what is known is that it was fully covered on Malawi Broadcasting Corporation. It is public knowledge that one is given a chance to air his/her views on MBC provided he is perceived to be a government supporter.
If the idea of having a counteracting group during the demonstration was to divert attention of the CSOs’ demands then it was a real miscalculation. Any sensible person should know that such a plan is no solution to outstanding issues of drug shortages, security break down etc. At times, some people suggest that instead of demonstrations, CSOs should opt for round table discussions and probably negotiations with government. For goodness sake, does providing food and medicines need further discussions? Malawians seriously need security for their lives and property. This is not negotiable at all. The government should keep in mind that there is no way Malawians can just be complaining for the sake of it.
It is obvious that people of Malawi lack resources because of lavish spending by government. Laxity in the financial control systems has resulted in massive stealing of taxpayers’ money. Some of the lavish spending has been on the much-talked about bloated entourage to United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). The query is that people want to know who went and why. The whole idea for such a query is for government not to repeat merry making on taxpayers’ money. Meanwhile, the government has diverted attention by condemning the Speaker of Parliament and leader of opposition Chakwera for purchasing expensive cars. They are being taken as worst devils who do not care about the suffering Malawians. MBC has been having a field day airing people’s comments with no kind words for Speaker and Chakwera. Surprisingly the same MBC (a public station), was silent on the bloated delegation to New York.
Diverting attention from UNGA trip lavish spending to Parliament spending is no solution. Just as the Speaker Hon. Richard Msowoya has defended his expenditure, the government must explain properly about the New York trip. Then Malawians can make their own conclusions.
The Peter Mutharika administration should just face reality and not waste time in designing some strategies for diverting people’s attention. Doing this is just a delaying tactic in solving problems which helps no one. Problems should be looked at on a case by case basis, instead of scouting for scapegoats. Honestly is the best policy. The truth about the bloated entourage should be told failing which it will continue haunting government.