If she were a patient, mother Malawi could be compared to one attended to by the best brains in the medical profession who prescribe the best medicines available.
If she were a student, one would also put Malawi in the shoes of one born with a silver spoon in her mouth with access to the best education available on the globe.
However, it is one thing to have access to the best advisers and strategists available and a different ball game altogether for one to achieve desired results.
The case in point is the performance of Malawi’s economy which continues to bewilder many local and international economic analysts.
Fine, one-size does not always fit-all, but suffice to say that while most of the prescriptions from institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have yielded positive results in countries with similar circumstances, Malawi seems to move in circles like a dog trying to catch its tail.
I may only be four decades or so older in this 51-year-old republic we call home, but, surely, I feel that Malawi will make strides towards economic independence and prosperity the day it will draw a boundary between talk and action as well as drawing a line between politics and running the country as a business.
Fifty-one years after independence, did we really need to wait for World Bank country manager Laura Kullenberg to tell us that Malawi should not be poor despite having many advantages to develop through its land, water and the natural talents and expertise of its people?
In her address to the 2015 Economics Association of Malawi (Ecama) Annual Lakeshore Conference, she said: “With the right macro-economic policies, careful investments in risk and resilience building, with improved incentives for investment and trade and smart public spending, I believe Malawi can join the ranks of countries that have seen substantial reduction of poverty.”
During the opening ceremony of the Ecama gathering, Kullenberg and Ecama patron Thomson Mpinganjira made pertinent suggestions on how Malawi can turn the tide.
For example, Mpinganjira urged an exit strategy to Farm Input Subsidy Programme, saying in its present form the programme is not sustainable. He also mentioned the need for Capital Hill to curb excessive expenditure.
However, I found President Peter Mutharika response not so inspiring: “We need to come together and contribute to the shaping of our country. With value addition to our agricultural produce, we are certain of turning Malawi into a predominantly producing economy.”
Mr President, we have listened and danced to the “value addition” song for too long. Equally, we have “come together” to shape “the future” of our country a million-plus times.
What is needed now is action, action and more action. Doing business unusual as you pledged.
It is not about reinventing the wheel and it is not about kudikira mzungu [waiting for someone from the West or indeed a wise man from the East]. For the record, there are so many brilliant recommendations from “high-level” meetings that continue to gather dust on book shelves at Capital Hill and elsewhere.
Development requires a relay race approach, not marathon style we see in Malawi where every administration wants to start from a scratch, ignoring wholesale what was initiated by its predecessor regime.
Many times it is wise to fix only that which is broken. n