There is a saying which says that, if all else fails, lower your standards. These are wise words indeed. It is obvious that the harsh economic situation in Malawi is forcing people to lower their living standards. However, there is a limit how far one can go. Infact, the majority of Malawians are already living on a bare minimum.
Imagine, those who cannot afford the rationed maize at Admarc sleep on an empty stomach or stand the humiliation of eating cooked green mangoes as newspapers have been reporting. One wonders what is going on in the minds of such people when they listen to President Peter Mutharika assuring Malawians that his government will not let anyone die of hunger. Obviously,they might not be taking the President’s assurance seriously and probably thinking that it is just good for political rhetoric.
Meanwhile, it can be said that the causes of the challenges that Malawians are facing are many. However, what has aggravated the challenges is the government’s style of planning without plan B or an alternative. Without doubt, as Malawians face long periods of electricity blackout of up to 12 hours or more, people ponder why the government cannot think of an alternative source of electricity. This problem has been around for a very long time and the solution is not for the President and his government to ask people to be patient. Honestly speaking, Malawians have been patient enough. But the question is for how long does the Mutharika’s government want people to remain on the patient mode as they continue to suffer? Why can’t the government use generators to supply some of the electricity as used be the case during Dr Banda’s era? If the government is failing to provide electricity to 8 percent of the population which is connected, then how will be the situation when many more people get connected?
It is really anybody’s guess how the DPP led government expects to register some economic growth in the absence of continuous power supply. What is more annoying is the government’s habit of always painting a picture that things will be better any moment only to get worse. Just imagine recently Blantyre Water Board was showcasing some new machines and telling people their water shortages was to be a thing of the past. Sadly, people still have dry taps which even last four to five days! It is said time and again that water is life. So where is the plan B for the failing pumps at Walkers Ferry?
Imagine once again, at this day and age, our international airports have no tubes or lifts. It is really humiliating to see some sick and disabled passengers being carried into and out of the aircrafts on people’s backs. If after 51 years of independence, this has not crossed the government’s mind, then for how long should people be patient and continue living dangerously?
The problem with government is that even when a plan is obviously not working, they still stick to it, especially if it is for political power support. For example, one doesn’t need to be a genius to know that the fertiliser/seed subsidy has had no meaningful impact. The amount is too little for one to grow enough food for the whole year. If the idea was/is to uplift the lives of the poorest Malawians it has totally failed. If it were genuine, the people targeted would have by now weaned themselves and stood on their own. It is advisable that the government should try to revert to overall reduction of farm input costs and refrain from piecemeal subsidies. If this is unacceptable then hunger will remain a permanent challenge in this country.
Lastly, when the DPP-led government makes its plans for the nation, it must make sure that there is always a plan B, failing which the country will not progress as is the case now. n