Hon Folks, Inflation in March was down to 15.8 percent. Same month last year it was in excess of 22 percent!
This news must be of great propaganda value to MBC TV which scouts for government cheer-leader rants with the precision of a heat-seeking guided missile.
Not that there is any problem attributing such gains—which are a result of a good maize harvest—to our leader, APM.
It only becomes a problem if the leadership is only associated with and hailed for our collective success which, in the case of APM, is sparsely distributed over the first half of his five-year term. The President ought to take responsibility for our failure as a nation as well.
Which is why, I’ve been waiting with bated breath for the day the 2016 Human Development for Malawi would make headline news on MBC, a state-run broadcaster funded by the tax-payer.
The UNDP report, which looks at human development using a weighted index measure of life expectancy, education and income, examines HDI trends from 1990 to 2015 only to establish that we have just improved slightly in 25 years from 0.325 in 1990 to 0.476 in 2015.
UNDP says the HDI of 0.476 is below the 0.497 average for countries in the low human development group where we belong.
When compared with other countries in the sub-Saharan Africa where significant strides have been made to grow the economy and enhance democratic governance, we are even further below the average of 0.523.
We definitely look like a nation in tents pitched on arid land in a country where we have no claim to sovereignty.
Unfortunately, our leaders—including APM, the venerated Professor of Constitutional Law—simply look the other way when reality looks them in the eye. They’d pay any amount for the services of a court-crier to compose and recite epics that describe hell as paradise, sorrow as joy, failure as success and illusion as reality.
Malawi is among the 193 UN member states that endorsed the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in 2015. Either government already has prioritised, or is in the process of prioritising on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) the world has committed to achieve.
Business as usual approach is what yielded the “slight improvement” in human development in 2015 despite that, at the dawn of the century, we embarked together with other developing countries in Africa on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) meant to reduce world poverty by half by 2015.
The fact that our HDI for 2015 is far below the average for sub-Saharan Africa serves to show that while majority of the countries on the continent covered a long distance going north towards achieving improved living standards, mediocre leadership of our multiparty era steered our ship in cycles and ended up very near where we had started.
It would be a mistake of the worst kind to think that the same business-as-usual approach will yield different, let alone better, results if applied in the pursuit of the 2030 agenda.
A closer look at the HDI indicators shows that while there were notable gains on life expectancy and education, we performed dismally on income, as measured in gross national income (GNI) per capita.
Simply put, in areas of development where leadership and resources of NGOs and donors play a major supplementary role to political leadership, there have been some tangible results.
But in the area of wealth generation and distribution where government enjoys unhindered sovereign authority to hire and fire, define policy and programmes and, more importantly, raise public revenue and spend it, we have grossly failed.
The cheer-leader clergy can say what they want against the damning PAC report but the fact is that we are no better off today under APM than we were under JB or Bingu or Bakili Muluzi.
Unfortunately, we will have to pursue the 2030 agenda without much donor support and that makes the sail even more turbulent than the MDGs.
If APM does not change his leadership style, he may win in 2019 but by the time he steps aside, the Titanic will be our grave on the ocean floor. n