Those who were of age during independence will recall a popular political song that was sung by party zealots titled: ‘Odi tilowemo m’boma’
The Malawi Congress Party (MCP)—the indigenous party aspiring to go into government—was, in this song, laughing at the incumbent white man’s United Federal Party (UFP) for refusing to go out of government as if they were in their home land.
The song gives the picture that during elections, government is like a vacant house whose landlord, the electorate, advertises for a suitable responsible occupant—Malawi is looking for a responsible occupant because of the big task ahead.
But what is government?
The Hand book for Civic Education depicts important aspects: “…it is a system of policy and decision making …institutional structures and rules…for articulating or speaking about, resolving and acting upon issues of public interest.”
Malawians will, on May 20, give power and authority to a party and individuals in the offices of presidency, legislature and councillorship to decide, direct and rule on public policy.
However, in retrospect, the electorate is yet to see government in government in the areas discussed below.
Agriculture and environment
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and People’s Party (PP) governments have made recommendable progress in food security, but little on agriculture above subsistence. Individuals in government have access to markets of various commodities outside Malawi. Opportunities to access these markets have been offered on the basis of party orientation or tribal alignment. The middle men have bought produce from the local farmers at very low prices. Suffice to say, government should make provision that the local farmers themselves access these markets.
Government must protect the interests of the ordinary Malawians against the foreigners who are suppressing them including in the field of agriculture. Kamuzu’s government did it with Asians when they dominated trade in the rural areas. The upcoming Malawian poultry farmer, for example, cannot favourably compete with the Chinese big farms. Government will have to consider the peril and plight of the Malawian upcoming farmers against foreign investors in agriculture and other fields.
Government should also think deeply about preserving the environment; the future of agriculture, tourism, fishing and others, largely depends on it. The government has excellent policy in place; unfortunately, the implementation of policies of this nature cannot be carried out by government governed by any party which is just concerned with popularity.
The Chikangawa wood forest, among others, conspicuously portrays Kamuzu as a visionary president. Had it not been for this forest, we would be importing even timber. Chikangawa supplies wood not only to Malawi, but to other African countries as well.
Kamuzu’s government was in government—seeing the vision and deciding on policy, administering the policy and ruling over it with necessary controls; and that is why our generation is enjoying fruits today.
Unfortunately, the forest is being cut down without control. Consuming fires make rounds every year and yet, trees are not replaced. The forest is loudly crying for government in government
Cites of dirt
Planners in district, town, municipality and city councils are paid tax-payers money to foresee expansion and plan ahead. It is surprising that buildings have been constructed close to the roads and again there is total lack of harmonisation in residential areas. The entire spectre speaks of total lack of vision.
Government should make planners responsible and Water Boards and ESCOM must plan ahead in fast growing areas.
Most markets, bus depots and minibus parking places badly require government’s intervention as well.
Our stinking cities were once counted as clean even by visitors. Today garbage is continually heaping up, becoming hills of nuisance everywhere and drainage systems make cities and towns odorous. However, the levy that City Councils collect is enough to cater for all that it takes to make our cities clean. All we need is a political will from government to the management of councils.
Governments’ perpetual fight with vendors to force them out of the streets has been fruitless because this issue requires serious planning and not just brutal force. If Government would make consultative meetings with vendors and all stakeholders for mutual understanding, we would, then, be moving toward amicable solution to the problem.
Issues of integrity
In almost all service rendering offices and institutions, Malawians are paying for free services.
Examinations leak every year and nobody devices lasting solution. This was unthinkable during Kamuzu’s time. This is why Malawi is crying for government in government.
All presidents in the multiparty dispensation have been associated with corruption in one way or the other. Yet, for the President to effect transaction they involve someone at the bottom. Corruption would be reduced substantially if lived corrupt free life, thereby; sending signals to those around them should not tolerate the malpractice.
Flaws of education
It is trite to mention problems in our education system. But what amuses Malawians is the continuous change of curriculum. Is this not money wasting? It forces us to speculate that changing of books and curriculum is done in order to benefit other people either as writers or suppliers of books.
Education is considered worthy when the products of schools and universities contribute to the development of their country. This is possible if government makes deliberate effort to support innovations and inventions. We hardly see that spirit with our governments.
For example, at this time when prices of inorganic fertilisers are accelerating, a discovery of organic fertiliser by Mr. Kazanga of Ndatani Premier Feeds would have assisted the poor. This fertiliser, which has shown excellent experimental results in the field, did not receive the necessary support when it was sent to Bunda College for analysis.
Government should put aside money to support such innovations.
Police and immigration
News of citizens taking the laws in their hands by punishing suspects is a strong message that something is seriously amiss with the country’s security system. In fact, it is a symbol that local people have lost trust in our security system. This needs to be addressed.
Equally worrying is that in recent years there has been an inflow of illegal immigrants in the country. Some of the immigrants are being aided by local Malawians. The underlying issue is that Malawians have lost the spirit of love and patriotism for their country. This is jeopardising both to our security and our reputation as a nation. Government must stop this.
In conclusion, as the country is only a month away from voting, the expectation is that Malawians will put the right leaders in office so that we have an effective government in government.