The Nation of September 14 published Madalitso Stella Duwa’s article, titled It’s Positive Discrimination.
The article attempts to justify ethnic marginalisation on the pretext of levelling the playing field between the haves and the have-nots, but it glosses over some pertinent factors:
South Africa’s Black Economic Empowerment law attempts to rectify economic injustices created under the apartheid system perpetrated by a racist regime. More importantly, it includes Asians and Chinese as people of colour.
The main parallel between us and them is the case where all Asians were evicted from the rural areas in 1978 solely on the basis of race. However, this ‘purge’ by the one-party regime failed to produce the desired results and subsequently led to the decline of the rural economy.
It would be interesting to learn which dataset the Minister of Trade & Industry used to figure out that over 90% of government tenders were awarded to foreigners.
This figure appears highly questionable.
The real causes of the yawning chasm between the haves and the have-nots in Malawi are being hidden behind an ethnocentric smokescreen and I will attempt to expose some of those root causes.
Malawi is among the world’s poorest countries, ranking 173rd out of 182 countries on the Human Development Index.
Some 80 percent of the population lives in rural areas where the pressure on the land has increased exponentially due to population growth.
In 2016, almost 12 million people out of a 15.9 million population were living below the international poverty line $1.25 per day.
Only 65.8 percent of Malawi’s population can read and write by the age of 15, according to the CIA.
There is only one doctor for every 50 000 individuals, according to the World Health Organisation.
About 30 percent of Malawian children do not start primary school. Secondary and higher education is mostly attended by those from households above the poverty line and very few of them get tertiary education predominantly due to the high enrollment fees.
Less than 15 percent of the population has access to electricity.
With all the foreign aid and national efforts to develop since 1965 to date, why are we still languishing in this rut?
The major challenges are rapid population growth, widespread corruption, bad governance, financial mismanagement, non-adherence to the rule of law and myopic mind set.
It is a fact that 30 percent of our annual national budget is lost to corruption which has permeated into virtually every aspect of our political, economic and social life.
Our eyes and ears are assailed every day by reports of billions stolen from the public purse by culprits of every colour united by one common denominator—greed!
Thus, whilst the racist fervour is being whipped up against Amwenye, Makaladi and the Chinese on the one hand, the plunder of resources is quietly continuing unabated in the background by fledgling oligarchs on the other side.
The massive haemorrhage of public resources directly undermines essential services such as education and health that would otherwise have facilitated economic empowerment of the populace.
This explains why we fail to move forward despite all our efforts to do so.
Chiswe (the termites) are eating away while we slumber on, blissfully unaware of the rot that will one day cause the roof to fall on our sleeping heads – a vicious cycle indeed!
Therefore, I assert that using terminology such as “indigenous black” or “positive discrimination” is merely a scapegoating smokescreen.
Poverty will not change unless all Malawians become vigilant, ruthlessly stamp out corruption and hold “duty-bearers” accountable.
Unless we fundamentally transform our collective mindset, we will continue to wallow in this dismal rut for generations to come.
Viva one Malawi. Viva Democracy!