Each day passes and the republic is moving towards its centenary. A whopping 48 years to go. Those that will have the opportunity to grace that day will also take stock. Things will have changed for the better or for worse. You cannot tell, but sometimes you can smell the feeling.
Imagine how many people will be living in this country? A population explosion is in the making? What about farmland and the mighty fertiliser subsidy? I am sure one prophet will come along soon and share a vision or a portrait of the nation 48 years from now.
What kind of land fights will there be? I could as well be a local chief and on government payroll or my descendants. How clean will be waters of Lake Malawi be after drilling for oil? Will there be any fish? Will mosquitoes and flies be the only wildlife? How will service delivery be like for the usual culprits? Will service providers cope? Will planning be mature to cover episodes beyond electable terms? Maybe we will have nuclear energy. Are we thinking it out this way? These are just many questions that I have and possibly you too. Honestly, I tend to think about what kind of services we shall be importing or we need to be importing in anticipation of July 6, some 40 years from now.
Every time as Independence Day approaches, I reflect on many things. It is the duty of every citizen. One of it being freedom and the responsibility that comes with being a citizen of the republic. I also, like many others, try to figure out the meaning of independence. Precisely, I pay some attention to responsibilities of citizens in their daily lives. This includes pride in their jobs and delivering the highest level of service for whatever they are employed to do. Doing more than what is expected. One question remains. What have each one of us done and must do to make this country great? Or what should each one of us do to stop complaining about poor service delivery whether in public or private sectors to effectively shed off the poorest tag?
Colonisers created many institutions such as commercial banks, an airline, electricity plants, telephone lines and others. Some exist while others are wrecks or dead. The list is endless and the adjectives to describe their road to the gutter are hypertensive.
Today, the ease of doing business index remains unfavorable. It has increasingly become so difficult to attract foreign investors. The cost of borrowing is high. Everyone is complaining about how inefficient the banks are and it is difficult to tell which bank offers the best service. Dead automated teller machines (ATMs) are a norm. It is normal to spend four hours in a bank to do a single transaction. When it comes to telecommunications, the story is not different as the jury is still deliberating on the quality of services. Calls are dropped easily and clients have to pay for dropped calls. Meanwhile, the Internet service providers are at it too. We, citizens, run all these institutions, but somehow have a laissez-faire attitude to change but marvel in complaining about them.
If you thought this was the end, please try to call Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) fault line. You are lucky if you can get a response at a first dial. Facilities such as hotels remain some of the world’s most expensive relative to what they offer. That is, value for money. Yet, we believe we are entitled to have visitors no matter what is offered.
These are some of the examples of the many services one can think of. All of them have one thing in common. Customer care is mediocre with inbuilt malignant bossy attitudes. Ironically, most of these facilities are owned or run by our own citizens. So, it appears we create all these things and complain about them. Maybe this is what it means to be free, and if in a position of freedom, derive satisfaction in inefficient service delivery.
It could be that bank chief executive officers (CEOs) measure their performance by the number of hours people spend in their banking halls. The more hours spent in the bank the more productive is the CEO. I could be wrong, but I can imagine CEOs social talk going like my banking halls are more congested or full unlike yours. Similarly, Internet service providers possibly measure their performance by the sheer volume of data bundles sold as opposed to whether somebody was able to open some Internet page. I cannot tell, but if you think of how we have allowed ourselves to lower standards in everything we do and a questionable work ethic, it explains most things.
Counting down to 100 years of independence, there are certain services or goods that we must seriously start buying in huge volumes. These include commonsense goods and other products that make us aware that each one of us takes pride in what we do and offer the best to our clients. The people generating electricity are Malawians. The people running the financial system are Malawians. And then we have long fingers that go into public coffers.
We make our laws and enforce them. It is all us that complain about why such a service is not available or intermittent. We can disapprove the notion that a sub-culture of poverty exists otherwise the rendition lets theorists marvel in their propositions.
I believe the president is right when he says we need to show some patriotism in how we serve our country. It does not include stealing taxpayer’s money. Otherwise, I will be tempted to recall Goodall Gondwe’s assessment of our work ethic and attitude that many found bitter due to its truth. n