The fact that you are reading this article means you have made it into the New Year. Welcome aboard the brand new year ship. I can only hope and pray 2016 will be a better year for everyone and in many ways.
I should admit 2015 had many challenges. As a country we started the year with floods which resulted in the loss of lives (May their souls rest in peace); the floods also wreaked havoc to crops, livestock and rendered many people homeless, destroyed roads, and Escom infrastructure disturbed water supply, to mention but a few of the problems.
From government to household to the individual level, we all were ill-prepared for the unfortunate eventualities.
But government which collects tax from us and companies, for service delivery nationwide, rightly shouldered the biggest blame.
For being caught off-guard by the calamity, government panicked to rescue the homeless as 106 people perished in floods and feed the thousands who lost all they had. All these took a heavy knock on the economy after donors had long deserted the country following the infamous Cashgates which came to light in September 2013.
Talking about Cashgates, the country is still dogged by unfinished business as it steps into 2016. I am talking about the K577 billion (about $884.9million) which an audit by audit and advisory firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) discovered was looted between 2009 and 2014. This means that government has to do more to convince donors to start pouring their dollars into the national budget which they rightly describe as a leaking bucket. I detoured.
From last year’s lessons, government has this year warned about El Nino weather conditions which portend more trouble and call for better planning and preparedness.
Last year, government declared 15 districts, or more than half the country, a disaster area. Needless to say, government and well wishers came to the country’s rescue after disaster had struck.
The assistance prevented further damage and created a semblance of sanity among the affected population. Billions of kwacha were spent to feed and relocate the victims, good money which government would have used for other purposes such as stocking hospitals with drugs.
One of the age-old solutions to the flooding problem is that the population, especially in the Shire Valley, should relocate to upland areas. But it is a shame that as you are reading this article now, thousands of people who were affected by the floods last year have drifted back to the same areas they were evacuated.
What is so sad about this circus is that these people know that year in year out come what may when floods come government will still assist them. The main problem is lack of political will by each successive government to relocate the people once and for all and look away if they drift back should disaster strike.
On the economic front, the kwacha is so battered, a situation that has tremendously reduced people’s buying power. Continued looting of the public purse, under collection due to reduced tax revenue and lack of budgetary support, and the effects of the floods have all conspired to make life so miserable to the people.
All said 2015 was a year that was better forgotten. One can only hope the New Year will be better in many ways. But this calls for all Malawians to unite and work together and play their rightful role in resuscitating the economy. A happy and prosperous New Year to you all! n Feedback: firstname.lastname@example.org