Jean-Philippeâ€™s sudden departure has left me vulnerable to all sorts of attacks and deprived me of the financial comfort that I have enjoyed since last April, when Malawi lost its first sitting president.
Since then my search for quick fix solutions to my subsistence economy has hit a hard wall.Â I nearly collapsed when I heard the president admitting that Malawi had no money and that strikes would not help. In the absence of Jean-Philippe, I asked myself where the money had gone because the previous government told the country that our economy was growing very fast; slower only than Qataâ€™s in the whole world. I asked myself how a country could be insolvent in a space of five months.Â If Jean-Philippe were around he would have argued that if Cabinet ministers and university of Malawi administrators got between 80 and 100 percent increments in allowances, why should civil servants believe the country has no money?
As the Nsenga say, poor people think faster than the rich. So, I remembered that I had saved some money in Standard-One Bank.Â At the time of opening the account the bank manager had cajoled me into opening a savings account.
â€œWith this account you will be earning at least 12 percent interest annually.â€
â€œWhich means I can come at the end of every year to collect interest while my money is here intact?â€
â€œActually, come every six months and you will find your interest added to your account!â€
â€œThat sounds great!â€
After the reminiscence, I checked in my pockets and realised I still had some three aloe vera as the K1000 notes are fondly called muliyenda. So I drove to Namiwawa to buy fuel.
â€œWa K1000,â€Â I told the fuel attendant as soon I opened the tank.
Â â€œThatâ€™s just two litres, sir. Where is your friend, Jean-Philippe? You used to fill the tank.â€
I did not answer him because there was no question to answer. I drove on to the bank. Inside the bank I went to the withdrawals counter and filled in the withdrawal slip. The teller, a young man in his twenties, fiddled with his computer and whispered to me that my account had insufficient funds.
â€œIt is a Savings Account!â€
â€œYes. I know. But you only have the book balance.â€
â€œLook here, young man. I have a family to feed and friends to entertain. Stop playing stupid games. I need money because I know my account has been here for five years.â€
â€œPlease take that seat. I will call my supervisor.â€
I told him I was not going anywhere until I got my interest. The young manâ€™s supervisor came in no time and asked me how he could help me.
â€œMoney. I need my interest on my savings account. Your bank has just announced that its profits jumped by 192 percent year. I need my 192 percent profit on my account!â€
â€œSir, you know we deduct service charge every month your account is here.â€
â€œFine. You never told me that when opening the account. I just need my interest, hic et nunc.â€
â€œAlso, there are endogenous and exogenous externalities that impinge on the calculation of interest. That is why some accounts get nil interest.â€