In some parts of Southern Africa, Malawians are known as the most easily duped and conned by smart nationals of Zambia, Tanzania and South Africa.
Zambian nationals have even coined the derogatory sounding ‘achimwene’ to describe Malawians who tend to be victims of pickpockets in their country.
Few mention that Malawians out there are the most hardworking and loyal too. Apparently such positive traits are likened to timidity.
It seems unfair that Kamlepo Kalua—who likens himself to freedom fighters like Chakufwa Chihana just because he has a wayward tongue—could describe Malawians post July 2011 as timid and passive.
Kamlepo as he is well known is of the view that Malawians only have themselves to blame when the government short changes them or when government agencies entrusted with public services fail to deliver good service.
This year, about 6.7 million people are facing food shortages and the unlucky few who will not receive handouts from the government will fork out a massive 100 percent more than last year to buy maize from a government entity like Admarc.
The people buying the maize at K12 500 are not middle class citizens living in Area 18 or Nyambadwe, but poor Malawians probably living on less than a $1.50 (K1 000) a day.
After buying maize at K12 500 they go to mill it at ungodly hours because Escom did not get the global memo about climate change and El Nino effects 20 years ago.
After milling the expensive maize at 11pm, these are citizens who are coping with 19.9 percent inflation manifested in high prices of basic goods like utaka, sugar and salt.
One would expect the residents of Lilongwe who are going days without water to camp at Lilongwe Water Board and demand action or at least assurance that the water shortages will not be as bad but nada, they just buy more storage containers.
Some parts of the Lilongwe and Blantyre are having more loadshedding than others, those not benefitting know it, but the issue ends at talking in the salons which are running on a generator for nine hours a day.
But when right activist Billy Mayaya and a few of his friends fearing the embarrassment that comes by association meet at Area 18 roundabout to protest the unfairness of all these challenges, poor Malawians who outnumber the middle class cannot afford an inverter and ready milled maize are nowhere to be seen.
The priorities of Malawians are so out of whack that thousands can rally themselves to protest who a person sleeps with in their bedroom and what a woman chooses to do with her body.
Is it any surprising that there is so much arrogance being displayed by the Democratic Progress Party cadets that come 2019 they will be voted back into power? It is this ‘achimwene’ attitude that makes the leader of the DPP deliver a 30-minute address so lacking in content knowing Malawians will lap it up, and life with poor service delivery will go on?
In 2014, some optimists thought voters had become a bit more sophisticated considering that they were about to vote in tripartite elections and there were little or no pockets of nervousness. That close to 40 percent voted for a known a leader whose ministerial CV did not contain a single entry of ability to work well under pressure or track record of resolving problems should have been a clear indication that Malawians really do deserve the leaders they choose.
The timidity and passiveness of the citizens is what breeds dictators. When people do not see the need to express their rights and demand accountability, a dangerous precedence is being set for a democracy as young as ours. n