Before the bloodsuckers’ saga, which is taking people’s lives and creating fear among the people, there was the issue of people, especially women, being attacked and having their breasts and private parts removed. The carnage was most rampant in Chiradzulu.
Then, as this died down, came the merciless killings of albinos. Though spread across most parts of the Southern Region, it was worst in Machinga. Their bones were said to be ‘gold’. About 40 albinos are reported to have been killed. What did government do?
Before long, there was the scare about people with bald heads. Like albinos, those with bald heads also became an endangered species. Did government do anything? In between these, the country has witnessed hunger–caused by drought and floods—which which left 6.7 million people food insecure in the 2015/16 agricultural year. All these calamities were taking place against the backdrop of Cashgates—the wanton looting of government resources at Capital Hill by civil servants and businesspersons—and of course, government’s half hearted effort to root out the problem.
In 2013 when Cashgate was first exposed covering a six-month period—between April to September—there was an effort to clump down on it. Some people have been prosecuted and jailed. But further investigations covering 2009 to 2014 have shown that the 2013 Cashgate was just a tip of the iceberg. A whopping K236 billion was looted between these years if not more. But what has government done to conclude the issue so that culprits can be prosecuted? Selective application of the justice system feeding corruption.
Against this background of looting of government resources, which has turned some people into instant billionaires, there is wanton poverty.
Thanks to good rains last year headline inflation has now dropped to 8.4 percent, according to the National Statistical Office (NSO) the first time in six years. But prices of goods continue to soar. In addition bad weather in the coming year can easily reverse the single digit threshold.
Meanwhile, Malawians are struggling to earn enough money to feed their families. As such earning a living, is vital for survival.
Malawi is also facing one of the most serious unemployment crises and the highest working poverty rate in the world. Thousands of young Malawians who leave college, (including nurses for that matter!) are unemployed or underemployed. There is no hope that things would change for the better anytime soon.
Power outages have become the order of the day stifling industry and raising the cost of production for firms which have turned to diesel to power their production lines. But all these things ruffle no feathers among the ruling elite who seem unperturbed with the status quo. It is business as usual.
In short, poverty is worsening and creating hopelessness among the people. Of late, the media has carried a series of stories about how city councils, water boards and many other struggling parastatal organisations have been forced to make cash donations to the blue party.
It is against this background that on October 17 2017, the country held by-elections in three constituencies and three wards. Everyone in the ruling party who matters except the Vice-President Saulos Klaus Chilima camped in the by-elections areas especially Nsanje Lalanje and Lilongwe City South East constituency where they ostensibly spent billions of kwacha. Where did the money come from where everybody else is struggling to find it?
The result of the by-elections was not unexpected. The Malawi Congress Party (MCP)—viewed as the government-in-waiting—won all the three parliamentary seats and two ward councilors. There is just too much aloofness on the part of government to deal with issues that affect the people and crises. Malawians are watching and they have made a statement. DPP-led government can choose to look away and continue with their business-as-usual style of doing things or change. The ball is in their court. You reap what you sow.