First, it was civil society organisations (CSOs) deserting their watchdog role and being in the tank for President Joyce Banda. Some CSO leaders have accepted administration jobs, including lucrative seats on boards of State-controlled bodies.
Now it is development partners who have taken this partnership business to a whole new level where they sound like love-struck little boys jostling to win the attention of the prettiest girl in class.
The love-fest between donors and the Joyce Banda administration is interestingâ€”almost conspiratorial. Malawians, it would appear, are on their own as donors swoon all over Mrs Banda, looking the other way as she abuses resources, tramps on the rule of law and struggles to govern.
Some donors have even taken the unprecedented step of egging her on, almost turning their embassies into public relations arms of the administration, penning opinion pieces carrying statements that may be perceived as partisan and granting interviews in Bandaâ€™s defence.
Just last Thursday, EUâ€™s Baum justified Bandaâ€™s frequent international travels, saying the trips were important in changing the countryâ€™s image and rescuing it from its economic woes.
This is chaffy reasoning.
If the President always has to be the countryâ€™s public relations and marketing-in-chief, then the Minister of Foreign Affairs must be fired, our ambassadors should be recalled and our trade attachÃ©s sacked alongside the Minister of Trade.
Why do you think US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton has clocked more flying miles than President Barack Obama?
It is because the responsibility of sprucing up Americaâ€™s image abroad is more invested in Foggy Bottom than the White House. The same is the case with British Prime Minister David Cameron and his Foreign Secretary William Hague.
I know there will be a lot of noise justifying the Brussels trip, for example, where the President â€œsecuredâ€ â‚¬98 million (K35 billion) for the Agriculture Sector Wide Approach and Social Transfer Programme.
But I strongly suspect that technocrats under the leadership of the Ministry of Finance, supported by Reserve Bank of Malawi, ministries of Foreign Affairs and Justice, negotiated that package well before the President planned to go to Belgium.
Even signing of that package could have been done in Malawi between Finance Minister Dr Ken Lipenga and EU Head of Delegation Alexander Baum. No big deal at all.
The other day, it was AsbjÃ¸rn Eidhammer, the Norwegian Ambassador and the current co-chair of the Common Approach to Budget Support (Cabs) who launched a breathless defence of the Banda regime in an opinion piece that may have left spokespersons of the Peopleâ€™s Party green with envy.
â€œFor it should be made abundantly clear that the responsibility for the difficulties Malawi is facing today lies with the previous administration that over a lengthy period of time mismanaged the countryâ€™s economy, brought shortages of goods and foreign currency, and whose lack of action threatened to bring economic activity to a standstill. Part of this was the ill-advised so-called zero-deficit budget, which, ironically, increased the budget deficit enormously.
â€œIt has been and remains the bitter task of the new President and her team to take the necessary action to put the country on the road to recovery and to sustainable growth once again. In those efforts, the President has the full support of the development partners. And one would be well advised not to blame the doctor for the disease, even if the treatment is harsh,â€ said Eidhammer in The Nationâ€™s My Turn column published on Wednesday this week. He could as well have carried her handbag.Â
I will wrap up by quoting Abdennur Prado, president of the Junta IslÃ¡mica Catalana and organiser of the bi-annual International Congress of Islamic Feminism.
In the piece I have lifted the following paragraph from, Prado talks more about Middle East, but he sums up the Westâ€™s behaviour in a way that is very relevant to us at the moment. He says: â€œIt is known that the West has financed more than a century of dictatorships in the Middle East and the Arab world, as it is through the autocracies that it [the West] manages to control the wealth of this part of the planet. Although this means the exploitation and poverty of the people who face the dismantling of social policies sponsored by the International Monetary Fund in order to repay foreign debt generated by the millions in Western arms purchases…With regard to the aspirations of civil society, the increasingly widespread poverty, torture and repression, lack of freedoms and rights… no Western ruler cares in the least. And all of them have shown this, continuously with no known exceptions, for over a century.â€
As Malawians suffer and the Banda administration parties across the globe, the question lingers: On whose side are Western diplomatsâ€”is it the small ruling elite promoting Western ideologies or the poor they claim to help but who are bearing the brunt of such failed dogmatic principles?
Because the reality is that Malawians have a different take from donors, which could only mean one thing: The diplomats are out of touch, out of depth and untethered from Malawiansâ€™ problems.