There is an adage which says ‘if all else fails, lower your standards’. In other words, it can be said that people do not achieve much, because there standards are too high and need to be checked downwards to record success.
When Malawi got its independence in 1964 people had great expectations for a better life under the leadership of a fellow Malawian Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda who was supposed to be aware of their needs.
As it were, Kamuzu had a systematic plan to raise people’s standard of life. He started with improving the road network, including village access roads. Then he made farm inputs for smallholder farmers affordable. Selling farm produce was not a problem because Admarc markets were available even in the remotest places. As a result, people had money to send their children to school as well as build better houses and in the process they were living a better life.
In addition to what is stated above, education standards were high due to the hard working spirit that Kamuzu instilled in Malawians, including teachers who were always paid on time. Kamuzu’s high standards are still evidently clear from the buildings that were built during his era.
Due to mismanagement by other governments, of public resources, especially taxpayers’ money, the standard of life of Malawians has spiraled down uncontrollably. If people see that they cannot make ends meet, they automatically lower their standards by denying themselves some of the necessities. But for how long can people do this?
It is sad that since the attainment of multiparty democracy in 1994, standard of life has been going down for ordinary Malawians. People have literally been struggling for everything. Under the current government things are worse. Some people even sarcastically say that only corrupt people, thieves and power abusers have a good life.
One does not even know where to start the crying from. Hospitals have no medicines. As if this is not bad enough, patients in hospitals sleep on the floor and lucky ones sleep on beds without mattresses. Some primary and secondary schools look like pig pens. Such facilities are not conducive to any form of learning. Food shortages are the order of the day even after the government has promised to have surplus maize. If Admarc has some cheap maize to sell, it is mostly too rotten for consumption. Politicians and government keep on promising clean water and good houses. These are mere political rhetoric as in reality people continue to get water from unprotected sources.
When President Peter Mutharika came into power, he promised to build houses for the local poor. Up to now this remains a pipe-dream to most deserving Malawians. Availability of jobs was another promise. Jobs are nowhere to be seen, instead, even university graduates are roaming the streets, jobless. The President emphasises on self-employment and this is why he introduced community colleges. Self-employment without available start-up capital is meaningless. Therefore, providing jobs and self-employment is another empty promise.
Meanwhile, no matter how many times the President narrates his achievements, as long as they have no significant impact on the living standards of Malawians, they can be taken as meaningless. This is why Malawi is permanently one of the poorest in the world. In fact, it is naïve trying to convince Malawians that they have a better life than before. Malawians have continuously been reducing their living standards to a bare minimum and cannot go below this. Imagine those people who were doing well five years ago have now joined the group of the poor. Malawians should wake up and say no to leadership which forces them to live a poor life.