After 50 years of independence Malawians still depend on ox-carts for transport and our people celebrate the push-bicycle as the most cherished means of transport.
After 50 years, we still depend on aid to meet our development needs; we cannot afford to educate or feed our people.
The production of peasants eking out a living on the land so bare, on bare foot, with hoes, sunbaked backs, with malnourished babies tied to their backs or placed under a shade, has been the main achievement of the plunders, nay the blackmailers, who have ruled us.
Malawi cannot provide medication to its people as hospitals are only in name. Public schools are without motivated or well-trained teachers, without resources and learning materials and without proper system that inculcates civic entrepreneurship values in the mindset of learners.
Denied and starved of human happiness, affluence and prosperity, Malawians have looked to the ballot to punish those that champion their suffering. This is why party candidates have fallen en masse. A whopping 52 out of 193 seats in Parliament are occupied by independents. Of course, typical of the deceitful politician, most of them are joining some parties claiming they have been advised by their constituents.
Malawians know exactly who is responsible for the suffering. It’s the politician, who is wholly to blame for the 50 years of mess. Politicians’ selfishness and self-serving egos are a testimony to their wanton destruction of the journey to the Promised Land.
The ever-shrinking human desires have been influenced by vices like cashgate, MHC housing scam, the Field York scandal, the jet gate and numerous corruption scandals. While all politicians promise taking Malawi to prosperity, none has delivered. They take Malawi as a private estate for enriching their families and cronies.
As such, one wonders where we got things wrong as a nation. It has always been a case of a cursed nation that does not know what it wants and what is good for her people. Politicians always seem to place our priorities upside down.
They are the actors who have ruined and destroyed the innocent aspirations, hopes and ambitions of Malawians. They are the biggest culprits, traitors that have smoked out all our hopes for a better country because of selfishness which has always led to corruption, cronyism, embezzlement and personal aggrandisement.
Since independence in 1964, politicians have been the main culprits in as far as attaining national development goals is concerned.
As Francis Fukuyama argues that all countries undergoing economic modernisation must increasingly unify nationally on the basis of a centralised state, urbanise, replace traditional forms of social organisation like tribe, sect and family with economically rational ones based on function and efficiency, we seem to be acting retrogressively. All the regimes so far have used chiefs for their own selfish gains.
Now and again we have seen chiefs being used, abused and refused by all the regimes. The MCP established traditional courts where chiefs were manipulated and used to preside over cases of perceived opponents of the Banda regime. Despite having no legal understanding of cases, chiefs could pass verdicts so alarming at the behest of Dr Banda and the MCP. Gwanda Chakuamba and Muwalo Nqumayo are testimonies to this end.
Come Bakili Muluzi and the United Democratic Front (UDF), again chiefs were used to champion the third/open terms agenda. Huge resources were used to sponsor these chiefs.
When Bingu wa Mutharika came in, chiefs were in the forefront promoting the Peter Mutharika brand, a sibling to Bingu.
Around 2011/12, chiefs were used to propel the anti-devaluation rhetoric. This political razzmatazz saw chiefs being paraded and cartooned on MBC TV defending a thesis they never understood. What insolence to the custodians of our culture!
Instead of building the nation, our politicians are busy re-constructing their unpolished and barren philosophies based on tribes and clans, and languages and regions. Instead on deconstructing tribalism, they are busy cultivating cultural groups like Ndamo sya Yawo, Mulhakho wa Alhomwe, et cetera, all but for vain parochial political interests and naked expediency.
While cultural groups may be good for some cultural reasons, our politicians have exploited them in order to articulate informal organisational functions that hinge on monopolising access to state resources via lucrative public positions and rewarding of contracts. These tribal groupings have at times attained hegemonic status usually at the behest of the incumbent but to the detriment and catastrophe of the nation at large.
We need leaders who can rise above petty tribal and regional trappings and see things through the lens of national focus.
With the dawn of democracy, it has been the wish of every Malawian to enjoy the spoils of development. But this has proved elusive as experience would demonstrate. First came the UDF and Muluzi. Muluzi cultivated and introduced a culture of handouts. He made Malawians believe that things would come the easy way.
He has been the biggest pretender to governing Malawi only second to Joyce Banda. Muluzi’s misguided policies had seen hunger rake havoc, domestic debt ballooning, and inflation rates rising to unmanageable levels. In Muluzi, almost everybody saw a man who could never develop Malawi due to lack of a coherent policy direction. All that we had were podium directives and spontaneous decisions that had no bureaucratic rationality. By the time Muluzi left office, Malawi was worse off than it had been at the dawn of democracy.
Cometh the hour, cometh Bingu. After all his attempts to have a perpetuated stay at Sanjika came to nothing, Muluzi gave us Bingu wa Mutharika, a hitherto presidential pretender who had miserably contested the 1999 polls. Dismissed as a Muluzi stooge, Bingu turned out in his early years as a savior for Malawi. We achieved debt cancellation. Our food security programme was the epitome of admiration in Africa. Our dignity as a nation was restored. Donor confidence had grown to unprecedented levels. Infrastructural development was visible to virtually everybody.
But power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Malawi’s democratic credentials were heavily compromised after Bingu was given a second term of office. Malawi slid back towards authoritarianism as the Bill of Rights was suspended.
As fate would have it, Joyce Banda, hitherto the estranged vice president, came to power after the death of Bingu. For the two years she ruled Malawi, her legacy is one of massive corruption and stealing of public money. The entire fabric of the public service collapsed under her watch due to lack of funding. The public was given a raw deal and were to vent their anger somehow on her and her People’s Party (PP). Despite the availability of fuel and forex, which became scarce during her predecessor’s reign, all did not seem rosy as she failed to tame the skyrocketing prices for goods and services due to the devaluation of the kwacha.
When one looks back, we discover that politicians have always given Malawians a raw deal. Taxpayers’ money has always been used for self-enrichment instead of spurring national development. Malawi’s 50 years of independence have brought much misery, starvation and poverty except for the politicians and their cronies to a greater extent. It has been 50 years of blackmail, betrayal and systematic structural injustice. Our independence has meant nothing to the majority of Malawians.