During his recent visit to Karonga, President Peter Mutharika held a rally at Baka where he pronounced that the Karonga–Chitipa Road is to be called Bingu Highway. At the same meeting he promised to develop Malawi provided he is given more time. He further gave an example of Rwanda where he said it took Paul Kagame 15 years to make the country what it is now—one of the most developed countries in Africa. Fair enough. However, it can be said that development is not just a matter of time but how productively the time is used. Kagame might have planned to show the world that he is capable of leading his people to rise up from the ashes of the 1994 genocide and move forward. Furthermore, he might not be using the genocide as a scapegoat.
Meanwhile, development can be likened to a Chinese saying, which says ‘a journey of 1 000 miles starts with the first step’. Malawi, especially during the multiparty period has not even taken the first step and this is why in terms of economic development it is below what it was some three decades ago.
All this is because leaders just talk about their intentions and very little action. How do they expect to achieve their goals in this state of affairs, unlike Kagame, who talks and physically leads his countrymen to work hard? The first impression when one arrives in Rwanda is the cleanliness of the streets. No trash lies around unattended. In Malawi, leaders seem to think that the country will be clean by a few sweeping demonstrations here and there without providing bins and vehicles for trash collection.
Giving more time to Mutharika is not the solution for Malawi to see development. The two years he has been in power were enough to show positive signs of progress. The problem with his government is that it dwells so much on the so-called previous government mistakes and does very little about the way forward. For example, the Cashgate during Joyce Banda’s regime is used as the main reason for lack of development. The leadership dwells so much on this instead of finding ways and means of closing the loopholes for further Cashgate. As a result, under Mutharika’s watchful eye more than K200 million has gone missing at the Malawi Embassy in Ethiopia. Cashgate continues unabated?
Just imagine, if the civil service is the engine for development in the country then how does the government expect 100 percent performance from civil servants who are always paid late and have to literally plead for a salary increase?
It is common knowledge that the country has food shortage because of drought and floods. What is not appreciated is that government uses this as a perennial excuse for lack of development, instead of using the calamities as stepping stones to sustainable corrective measures. Furthermore, this idea of launching a foundation stone here and there is not development as such. It just raises great expectations for nothing because some of the foundation stones are there for ages before the projects are implemented. This practice is just to hoodwick people in thinking that development is on the way.
If President Mutharika wants Malawians to give him more time to bring development, he must also start by showing positive signs and not just celebrating government reforms, most of which are yet to be tried and tested. He must also ensure that all Malawians are given equal opportunities and recognitions so that people should not be wasting time fighting for equality instead of contributing to development. Failing which, his call for more time will continue to fall on deaf ears as highlighting his failures goes on. n