Just as it takes a variety of nutrients, vitamins, proteins and iron to develop a human body, so it takes a variety of sets or incidents to make an economy grow.
Just as it takes a variety of nutrients to weaken a human body and finally kills it, so it takes a variety of errors and omissions to retard the growth of an economy. To these little things, both positive and negative, we must share thoughts.
Peace, law and order are things we take for granted in Malawi. They form the foundation on which industries are built but are now in danger of being disturbed through criminal activities.
In the past, we used to think that violent crimes using guns were peculiar to the elaborate urban centres south of Zambezi. Now such thuggish life is right here as witnessed by the recent murder of a Portuguese national. Such incidents are widely reported abroad. They are liable to be misinterpreted as elements of xenophobia. Foreign investors do not go to countries where they feel they will not be secure and safe.
Crime with violence must be nipped in the bud by both the carrot and the stick. Members of the public and the police service who assist in laying hands on the criminals should be given substantial financial rewards. This might induce members of some gangs to betray their accomplices.
Most members of the criminal gangs are youths, they indulge in these activities because someone has not shown them what they can do on their own for honest livelihoods. Apart from self-employment, activities like the pioneer settlements of the Kamuzu-MCP era should be revisited with new insights.
For an economy to develop there must be an efficient public service. Efficiency means producing goods and services in abundance at minimum costs. Besides efficiency, there must be effectiveness which means doing the right things. The difference between efficiency and effectiveness may be seen where a loan is obtained to build boreholes instead of building irrigations schemes. Boreholes may win a political party vote at the next general election but irrigation schemes will benefit even the next generation due to their long-lasting effects on the economy.
Efficiency in public services will be guaranteed and optimised if appointments are made through open competition. The spoils system which originated in the United States to reward party loyalists has proved a recipe for inefficiency. Those appointed on merit must be guaranteed security of tenure regardless of regime change. Technocrats to remain effectives must keep on investing times and money acquiring new knowledge. They will not be motivated to engage in self-development if at any time due to the whims of politics, their services can be terminated.
Very likely there are compatriots abroad with the kind of expertise the country needs who would agree to come and serve the country. But they will hesitate to do so if the spoils system is pervasive.
The committee system of the legislature works efficiently in America because from time to time independent experts are invited or welcome to appear before the committees. Our parliamentary committees should avail themselves to such experts as we have in the country. It is no insult to say some MPs who are appointed to committees of Parliament have no expertise to provide. They are appointed just to fill quotas allocated to their parties.
We can progress if we practise harambe (pulling together) as they say in Kenya and pulling in the same direction. The last 50 years were made difficult by those who practised kuthana (finishing the other fellow). On jobs, the one who got the promotion was not necessarily the most capable but the one who made himself or herself appear capable. If you are very ill and you are treated by someone with false or inadequate qualification and experience, will you recover soon enough?
Here is the guiding principle. Appoint someone to a position not because he or she can get a salary, but because they can bring about desirable changes. Both at the Cabinet and bureaucratic level, the country needs people with original minds who are ready to make suggestions. These people must be encouraged to speak out. They must not be hammered back like a painful nail in the sole of the shoe.
What does it have to take to develop a country? There must be a cultural revolution before an industrial revolution.