Honourable Folks, Immediate past president APM once said that running a government is serious business and that those who have never run a government before would not appreciate that difficulty.
When APM made the remarks towards the end of his ‘misrule’, he was widely ridiculed as a clueless leader, who in the court of public opinion, had failed miserably to solve critical national problems.
While the then-embattled president was desperately fumbling for answers to contain the fallout from Covid-19 and revitalise a frail economy, his estranged vice-president SKC was using the DPP’s perceived short-comings to garner support for the Tonse Alliance.
SKC, who was also Tonse Alliance running-mate, used every opportunity he got at the podium to issue instructions to the DPP regime and, in the process, present the opposition alliance as a superior alternative to the DPP.
At the time, lockdowns and rises in fuel prices were a sign of poor governance to SKC, and his alliance partner Chakwera.
That APM’s particular sound bite has gone viral in recent week’s and has become cannon fodder for the critics of the Tonse Administration as a scathing indictment from the public that is becoming more disillusioned with the current regime’s handling of the prevailing problems.
After a brief recess, fuel prices are rising again, we are slowly but surely reverting to the perennial blackouts, some of the much-maligned lockdown restrictions are back and the one million jobs pledge is no closer to fruition than it was six months ago.
The donors the leaders of the Tonse Alliance pledged were at the ready to finance their lofty campaign promises are nowhere to be seen, casting doubt on whether Laz and his number two SKC can catch up on the job creation pledge.
Our traditional donors, the World Bank and IMF, have expressed reservations with some of Tonse Alliance’s flagship programmes, including the Affordable Inputs Programme (AIP) and cautioned against the rising wage gap.
Last week, the European Union, refused to commit to direct budget support, citing corruption and a perceived lack of transparency in Malawi’s public finance management framework.
That was just few months into the Tonse Alliance’s leadership, some of its top-brass have been implicated in shady corruption deals. No arrests have been made and government agencies are spewing the usual ‘investigations are underway’.
It does raise suspicions of the new regime’s commitment to reforming the public service rooting out corruption when their resolve conveniently fails when its top brass are the accused.
From a layman’s point of view and presumably the donors too, all the bravado about “clearing the rubble” and reform the system might have just been a cleverly-constructed euphemism for replace the rubble and continue the plunder.
But that is a discussion for another day. The biggest problem for the Tonse Alliance now is that people are not happy with the apparent lack of change. And truth be told, Malawians are entitled to expect 500 000 jobs by now.
Unfortunately for Laz and SKC, their lofty aspirations require funds which they don’t have. The current deficits and lack of fiscal space clearly shows this. To compound matters, the donors are reluctant to lend a helping hand.
If SKC’s earlier remarks that people should wait until the next rainy season before they can have three meals every day are anything to go by, pressure is taking its toll on the Tonse leadership.
It is rather unfortunate that a sitting vice President would say something so reckless and inconsiderate in response to a legitimate claim for accountability. SKC might have walked off satisfied that the people there cheered for him.
Unfortunately for him, the people who wait for him on his stopovers are his supporters. The disillusioned people he has to win over were probably in their homes and wringing their hands with fury when he tried to absolve himself from his own promises.
It would be a very poor tactic to fan people’s rage when all signs point to the fact that things will get worse before they get better, especially with the donors refusing to commit financial aid to the alliance’s politically-motivated initiatives.
A more prudent course of action would be to assure Malawians are plans to ensure that we do not revert to the DPP’s brand of mediocre leadership.
Copying from Muluzi’s playbook by evading serious questions using humour will only enforce the emerging opinion that the “difficult” job of governing Malawi might be beyond the Tonse Alliance’s leadership after all.