It is a fact that Malawians are going through hard times economically. It is yet another fact that the Joyce Banda administration inherited most of the problems from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) regime now in opposition since April this year.
But today, the issue is not who created the mess. We need to move forward and focus on finding concrete solutions that will improve our situation. To do that, we need to discard the business as usual approach and do an honest soul-searching.
This excerpt from How To Die Without Regrets by Albert Ellis should inspire us all to let the past be history and focus on building a solid foundation for the future today: â€œThe best years of your life are the ones in which you decide [that] your problems are your own. You do not blame them on your mother [or father], the ecology or the president et al. You realise that you control your own destiny.â€
It pains me to see that as a nation, we seem to have more energy to engage in the blame game while doing very little. Between July and now, there have been a series of â€œconsultativeâ€ workshops to find ways of resuscitating the ailing economy. However, the outcomes of such workshops have been far from impressive. What else can one say when the workshops are more of talking shops that issue communiquÃ©s filled with waffle about same old issues!
It has also been observed that the talking shops (oops, workshops) get worse when the President is in attendance as many contributors tend to take the floor to impress the high office rather than offering practical solutions.
Beautiful and eye-catching themes have characterised the â€œconsultativeâ€ workshops on the economy so far. But, when all is said and done, one still sees no direction. Where are we going from the workshops? Where do we want Malawi to be in the next six months? One year? Two years? Five years? Ten years? And 20 years? Where are other policy documents on the economic direction developed years back such as Vision 2020?
To get the right answers, we need to change the way we do things. We need to identify a team comprising patriotic and visionary Malawians from across the professions to develop strategies based on a central theme overarching our destiny as a country.
The way forward should be based on this central theme that this team of technocratsâ€”preferably its appointment to be protected and confirmed by a committee of Parliament to avoid political manipulationâ€”shall set targets for the action plan. There should be clearly spelt out short-term needs and sector-specific action plans that are practical.
Why is Malawi still struggling economically? It is said that good economics makes good politics. However, in Malawi the problem I see is that we have been doing the same things over and over again, yet hoping to get a different result. This is simply impossible! It borders on insanity!
We have given politicians the leeway to heavily politicise the economy. This is evidenced by the fact that every leader wants to dismantle what the predecessor initiated. The much-talked about export-led growth is feasible, but not in the short-term. If it were that easy, we could have been somewhere today in that aspect.
It is time we all played a part to change the destiny of our country to attain economic independence. We should be the change agents
Finally, I wish members of the Economics Association of Malawi (Ecama) fruitful deliberations during the Annual Economic Conference in Mangochi where critical current economic issues affecting Malawi under the appetising theme of â€˜Discovering Pillars of Sustainable Economic Growth for Malawiâ€™.