We are one joke of a system
During my most recent travels, the presence of an otherwise powerful figure in the economy section of an airline left me puzzled as well as disgusted. I was puzzled because here was a strong representation of a powerful nation, which happens to accord us aid from time to time, humbling herself to mingle with the ordinary masses away from the few that were in the business class. She did not mind and hers was business as usual. Disgusted at the realisation that the very people from the nation her government funds or helps cannot live the kind of life she exhibited. Some of its people were slouched in the business class section, just a foot away. We love flamboyance even when we are not funding the luxury. That was my take-home message.
Would it hurt our government officials, Cabinet ministers and the many chief executives and people in high positions to exercise a little prudence where necessary and do with some simplicity? Would it change one’s status if we all minimised on the expenditure bill and live normally? I know it didn’t change this woman whom I decided to call noble. Whether it was by choice or an imposition of policy, I applaud her and the policy if it exists. For a country such as ours, we cannot afford the life of unprecedented luxury if we are to move from developing to developed. We may want to borrow a leaf from this developed nation where this woman comes from and take stock of where we are failing.
I learnt my lesson from her and I believe everyone should. We can strike to make difference by being different. Exercise of authority cannot come be compromised with humility or mingling with the ordinary. In this instance, what would be the rationale of bloated travel expenditures by a government relying largely on external aid when some of its benefactors are exercising prudence? Can that not be likened to spitting in their faces?
If all it takes is a change in policy, well, then, why not? If a whole ambassador of a donor country will travel economy class, then, why not a Cabinet minister, principal secretary and any other government agent or subsidiary? How long shall we continue living beyond our means all in the name of benefiting from the accolades and titles handed down to us while continuously punishing the tax payer? Would we blame the donor fatigue, really with such trends?
I wonder why an official can be accorded more than one official vehicle in a poor country such as this one. Malawi, again, is one of the few financially struggling countries with large vehicles by heads of various companies and government in the name of elevating statuses. Perhaps those rich companies are not that way by mistake. They must know how to save. We, on the other hand love a hand to mouth existence. If we can only emulate this good example, we may be a different economic story. Otherwise, we are one joke of a country. n