There was a lot of euphoria in Africa in the 1960s as one country after another got its independence from colonial rulers. Africans had great expectations as the reins of power were handed over to fellow indigenous Africans who were expected to know better about people’s hopes and dreams. Fortunately, the first crop of African leaders came to power with a lot of enthusiasm, to prove to the colonial masters that they could lead their countries even better.
As it was, Malawi had Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda as its first leader. He had well stipulated national development plans. This resulted in improved infrastructure. Among other things, Kamuzu built Kamuzu International Airport (KIA) and set up the University of Malawi Unima). Above all, agriculture was well established under the well organised Agriculture Development Divisions (ADDs). There was an excellent agriculture extension service. Even neighbouring Tanzania and Zambia could admire Malawi’s agriculture extension programmes. The economy under Kamuzu’s rule systematically grew. In fact, this is a direct opposite of the economy today.
At the moment, the Kwacha buying power is shrinking every day. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has added fuel to fire by not releasing a loan to Malawi. They claim to be still monitoring the situation. To this effect, an economist from the University of Malawi recently warned Malawians to brace up for worst days when even a packet of sugar will be out of reach.
This is true when one looks at how fast poverty is destroying the nation. Surprisingly, the Minister of Finance and Economic Development Goodall Gondwe recently said that come next year, Malawians will clap hands to government for turning around the economy. It does not need a genius to know that this is a mere wishful thought. How can the government possibly turn around the economy when it lavishly spends taxpayers money to appease ruling DDP supporters?
The government’s bloated delegation to the recent UN General Assembly (UNGA) always comes to mind as an example of extravagant spending. The government does all this while knowing pretty well that Malawians are dying due to lack of medicines in government hospitals. Even ambulance services are not available for emergency cases because of lack of fuel.
Meanwhile, whether one likes it or not, the trip to UNGA has left an indelible mark on Mutharika’s government.
Some government officials are indeed getting fed up with negative comments about the poor economic performance of the DPP-led government. Such officials usually defend government by saying Malawi is a sovereign State and that the government owes nobody an explanation on its performance. Fair enough, but it goes without saying that Malawi has been and still relies on donor aid. These are the people who are interested to monitor how government runs the country. This is important for them to decide on whether they should release their aid.
In fact, it can be said that those in government should know better that sovereignty without economic muscle means nothing. This is the reason government needs to strive to turn-around the economy so that country can genuinely be a sovereignty State.
Government should be aware that if it continues with deliberate squandering of resources, it is slowly, but surely diluting Malawi’s sovereignty. In the end, Malawi will just be sovereign because of having its own flag and a National Anthem, nothing else. n