Everything being normal, the Presidentâ€™s trip to the UN and USA would not be much news. In fact, it would help build Malawiâ€™s visibility as it takes her rightful seat in the global community.
But everyone knows things are not normal in Malawi at the moment. In brief, the economy is boilingâ€”besieged by the aftermath of the currency devaluation, industrial disturbances, shortage of forex and fuel as well as gaps in management and accountability issues that stem from the late Bingu wa Mutharikaâ€™s administration.
It is, therefore, arguably not an opportune time for the President and her entourage to blow K308 million, which is in forex, on a trip that could be serviced by a leaner, but still representative team.
For example, the countryâ€™s founding president, Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda, selectively went to the UN and in his last days, he virtually delegated that function to the countryâ€™s permanent representative to the world body and ambassador to Washington. Of course, Dr. Banda had his diplomatic idiosyncrasies; but to a large extent, he contributed to savings at the Treasury.
Of course, that is history. But in the contemporary world, Malawi would not be the odd one out if it cited its national economic crisis as a reason for its absence at the UN, at least at presidential level. A lot of troubled countries, for example, the Middle East, Europe, Latin America or even Africa do not send presidents to the UN. Envoys attend to that function.
Malawi, faced with a myriad of challenges that everyone knows, can surely do itself a favour by reconsidering some of these trips, even if they are oneâ€™s dream sorties or an opportunity to be accorded awards, as is the case of the President, who has reportedly left earlier for the same.
How will citizens believe that government is implementing an austerity budget and that soon it will launch a meaningful Economic Recovery Plan?
Capital Hill and the ruling Peopleâ€™s Party need to walk their talk, and walk with the taxpayer.