There are some things in Malawi that are quite difficult to understand. Apparently, we are getting too angry for nothing!
Take, for instance, the issue of the tollgate at Chiingeni. It has been an issue on the social media. What has pricked the hornet’s nest is the final outlook of the structure.
Some have observed that the structure is not up to standard while others feel that it may be much better than others in the region, and even in Europe.
Questions one can raise are: How much was invested on the structure? Does that live up to the cost?
From the arguments, it is clear that some of us are worried with the structure’s substandard because it puts into bad light our pride as a nation. But for me, the real issue should have been the toll fee that it will be attracting. For some time, it has been argued that the fee is on the higher side for the road user. That is the issue we should have been fighting since the government has put its foot down that Malawians will be milked further with the fees.
Malawians are already heavily taxed. Our data rates are among the highest. Even the new Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority new director general Daud Suleiman has promised that one of his key priority areas is to ensure that data must fall. How he will do that remains to be seen since the line minister Gospel Kazako told the rest of us when he was getting the position that data will obviously fall as we are living in an e-everything world. To date, that promise remains unfulfilled, a year and more later.
Malawians are getting angry by the day because what was promised by the Tonse Alliance during the campaign period is not what they are getting. Promises and lies can get you to the edge.
The rising cost of living is way far from where the land of milk and honey was promised to us. We talk of Malawians being some of the most heavily taxed people.
Look at the value added tax on ‘non-banking services’! It is apparent neither the revenue collector, Malawi Revenue Authority nor the banks really know who these deductions must be made from. They are giving conflicting messages where one says the charges are on the banks’ head, while the banks say it is the customers who will bear the brunt.
Even the Minister of Finance Felix Mlusu is caught in the imbroglio of confusion. He has told us banks that have deducted the VAT from customers must repay.
All this confusion comes from the mere fact that our members of Parliament tend to be busy to pass laws even themselves can’t understand. If not, they let in laws that serve the interests of their political masters. How else did we come to the fact that people who go on sit ins, strikes and demonstrations for longer than three days will have their pay deducted?
No matter what, it is clear that any law that is in conflict with the Constitution will remain inferior. The amended Labour Act, certainly defeats the spirit of the unalienable right to freedom of expression Malawians must enjoy. This is the very right that the Tonse Alliance sailed on when Malawians ganged up against the 2019 election results, calling for the head of the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chair, Jane Ansah.
While we are at it, MEC announced the idea to increase the number of constituencies. In anger, one would say: What offal is this now? Already the number of MPs is too bloated because at the end of the day they exist to pursue their personal goals. They say the people of my constituency are saying this or that. Yet, very few hit the ground to consult constituents. In the past, we saw parliamentarians who could stand by the will of the people and listen to their voice, which is the voice of God. Today, they mostly think about the one who fattens their accounts the most.
Which is why you see Malawians taking to the streets again. Well, the demonstrations held during the week were questionable, but the message goes across that as usual we all have opinions and ideas. Muzzling such expression is tantamount to the defeat of the oil of democracy: Freedom.