It is a well known fact that Malawi is a poor country and it is further disheartening to know that it is the poorest in the world. No normal person can be proud of this record. Therefore it is naive for anyone to think that talking so much about the poverty status of Malawi is tantamount to glorifying the situation. The emphasis on poverty is necessary as a constant reminder to government that it has a big challenge to take Malawi out of the poverty bracket.
Since the advent of multiparty democracy in 1994, there has been no shortage of advice to government on how best to run the country. The Peter Mutharika government, too, has an abundance of advice to choose from. Unfortunately, those in government seem not willing. Instead, they keep on reminding people that they are following the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) manifesto. What they forget is that a manifesto is just a proposal on paper which can be different from reality on the ground. For example, the farm input subsidy is a DPP manifesto idea. Despite its attractiveness on paper, implementation has been a total disaster. Most people have not benefited from the programme. However, the government still wants the programme to stay put.
Meanwhile, Malawians have used various avenues to present their dissatisfaction to government about the way the country is run. There has been countless petitions, demonstrations, debates, pastoral letters from the clergy and Public Affairs Committee involvement, etc. These have yielded nothing. There are all indications that government looks at all this as business as usual and a waste of time. Government finds it unnecessary to have courtesy and respond to people who question their performance. Despite the muted response, Malawians have continued to petition and demonstrate to show that they mean business. This is what has created a vicious cycle. There is an urgent need to break the cycle.
First and foremost, voices from Malawians must be heard by government without any intimidation. For example, if people want to demonstrate about maize shortage in Admarc markets, they must do so regardless of some impromptu arrangement by government to deliver some maize at isolated markets in town centres.
It is important that Malawians should not allow government to sugar-coat their suffering, it is strange and premature for some people to congratulate government for the recent African Development Bank (AfDB) and IMF nods. Such people even forget that the high level of corruption in the country can make any aid not to benefit many. This country still has a record of K577 billion plus K92 billion alleged to have gone into private pockets.
Due to the imperviousness of government to people’s voices, what Malawi needs now are action forums. These forums will follow up on government response. In a democracy, it goes without saying that government is for the people and; therefore, have the right to correct it. If the DPP-led government decides to ignore people, then they must take action and use plan B to engage it. Imagine, among other things, education has gone to the dogs and if the youths themselves will not take up action, then sooner than later, Malawi will be full of uneducated people.
Malawians have spoken and cried enough about hardships, it is time they take up serious action for their voices to be heard and be counted. No government should feel it is above the people who put it in power.n