It goes without saying that countries develop due to both local and foreign genuine investments. It is a fact that productive investments are the back-bone of development of every country.
This is why when people are campaigning for leadership positions, they promise to bring lots of investments in their respective countries. Most of the times African countries are busy scouting for investors, this is why summits such as China–Africa, Africa–India and the recently held Africa–Russia are received with warm hands by African Heads of States. These meetings are a gate-way to investors.
Apart from the above meetings, Malawi has been holding a number of foreign investors’ fora. At the end of such meetings, Malawi has always reported that the meetings have been successful with a number of investors promising to come and invest in the country. Sadly, no one would show up, but only to hear that they are investing in neighbouring countries.
Reasons for this state of affairs are many. Apart from unreliable electricity and water supply, corruption and stealing of resources is the order of the day. Currently, the main problem is also political instability. President Peter Mutharika also alluded to this on his return from the Africa–Russia meeting where he seems to have come back empty-handed.
This was obvious because most people even openly were wondering why the President was going to the Russia meeting while leaving behind a country in total chaos. This was why colleagues laughed at him as he was quoted as saying on his return.
It is an obvious fact that the Malawi leadership and government must be prepared before the investors come in. The country should have tangible laws to guide investors. Meanwhile, the country has seen an influx of Chinese petty traders selling second hand clothes and vegetables. What laws of engagement does the government use on such people? If one may ask, are these the investors that Malawi want?
Meanwhile, Malawian vendors have been complaining about the Chinese petty traders who are just giving unfair competition to locals. Surprisingly, the leadership and government have not been listening and the situation continues.
Honestly speaking, there is something very wrong with the leadership when it comes to identifying meaningful investment. For some years, the country has engaged investors to do mining, but there is nothing to show for this. There was uranium mining in Karonga for some 10 years or so with no benefit to the country. Surprisingly, the government thought this was a good deal. In short, Kayelekera was a very unproductive investment arrangement.
Of late, there has been a prolification of Chinese miners whose mining rights seem to be dubious. To prove that they are dubious, there are a number of stories of the minerals mined impounded by police before they are sent out of the country. For example, recently, police in Chitipa impounded a lorry load of gemstones mined by a Chinese firm at Mbilima Village in Chief Mwaulambya’s area. Some more would-be Chinsese miners were chased away by police and Mzimba North MP parliamentarian Yeremiah China from the Mtwalo area. In short, these miners have no papers about mining rights and might have bribed their way through knowing how corrupt officers are.
It is time President Mutharika and his government got serious about productive investment. They should know that investors will not just show up. They need conducive environment. If all else fails, engaging bogus investors is not the solution because the people of Malawi will not benefit.