By Frank Kamanga
Listening to the Vice President Saulos Chilima’s thorough recounting of the plethora of issues and travails that Malawi is facing.
One would find it hard to believe that Chilima through United Transformation Movement (UTM) has actually a private-sector background and sufficient on-the-job experience to realize that the private sector has a vital role to play in solving some of Malawi’s more froward problems.
His ‘economic recovery plan’ aimed at ‘balancing the economic variables’ to ‘resuscitate the Malawi economy from its deathbed’ through his ‘12 Point Plan’, blatantly revealed his apparent lack of enthusiasm for and confidence in the private sector, which was very perplexing (to say the least) for the average Malawian who believed that Chilima’s appeal was rooted in his private sector accomplishments.
It would appear, nonetheless, that Chilima’s understanding of how the Malawian economy functions, how economic growth can be achieved and how to use it in order to create private-sector jobs is questionable or -at best- very rudimentary. Or is Chilima merely another run-of-the- mill politician, who says what people long to hear, ultimately speaking the so-called ‘language of the people’?
If Chilima is being honest regarding his ‘dealing firmly with pandemic corruption’ stance, by adopting a ‘zero tolerance to corruption’ policy, does it not appear odd that old corruption czars flock comfortably to UTM on a daily basis? One would even surmise that Chilima is too comfortable in the ‘swamp’ to try to ‘drain’ it.
As the saying goes, you are as good as the followership you attract; thus, do not expect Chilima to eliminate corruption or do anything serious about it anytime soon. He knows that he cannot achieve that without cannibalizing himself, his UTM leadership or his financiers.
If Chilima was serious about ‘taking the bull by the horn’ with respect to corruption, he would not fail to mention that there would be dividends from his painstaking yet laudable effort and that he would be well placed to know how to use those dividends more productively and -more importantly- how to incorporate those dividends into the economy (by lowering some taxes -for instance- or encouraging companies to employ, plough back, etc.). Unless, of course, he does not mean a word of what he says on the podium, which is most probably the case.
Ironically, Chilima, the self-touted champion of financial accountability appears more than reluctant to disclose the sources of his political funding. He insists that certain donors may not be willing to have their names publicised for fear of reprisals from the government…does he not know that this standpoint buttresses a time-honoured culture of secrecy which offers a fertile seedbed for political and economic misconduct?
If he genuinely wishes to be viewed as a transparent and credible leader, he must disclose the sources of his funding as well as his personal asset base; how can someone preach transparency without being transparent themselves?
What is even more farcical is the fact that Chilima refuses to resign from a government that he deems corrupt, ingenuine, retrogressive and nepotistic. He is part of the very system he so ferociously criticizes. Additionally, he is only throwing vague accusations, without actually pointing fingers to those he considers corrupt and without taking any practical action whatsoever.
Furthermore, he has created a party of opposition, whilst he is still the VP of the country! Nevertheless, he refuses to resign, which makes him both the VP of the government and the (conceptual) “leader” of the opposition.
This is unacceptable in itself, both as a political stance and as a cognitive continuum. He is either incapable of making any decision whatsoever or he is too attached to the lifestyle and perceptual gravity that come with the VP position. In either case, an individual that tends to switch allegiances according to his occasional needs/aspirations, would never make a great leader.
Regardless of whether Chilima and his UTM acolytes like it or not, the average citizen has every right to know all about the socioeconomic blueprint that they are planning on using in order to pull the country out of this vicious cycle of seemingly endless economic and social malaise. The fact that Chilima is reluctant to share any details regarding his socioeconomic template for fear that other aspirants may ‘steal’ the concept is clearly verging on the ridiculous.
Chilima has proven time and again that he is inadequately prepared and conceptually unready. For instance, regarding the ambitious ‘one million jobs’ prong, he failed to mention where will these jobs be created? In the public sector or the private sector? If it is the public sector, will this not increase the burden on the national budget? If it is the private sector, which industries and sectors will be favorized?
Generally, the private sector’s response to a policy change cannot be fully registered within a year, thus achieving this ambitious goal within a year is not only a tall order but an unrealistic pledge. Not to mention his ‘bullet train’… Is he aware of the amount of money that this would require? Let alone the electricity…Pragmatism is evidently not a word in Chilima’s vocabulary.
Chilima is the prototype of a micromanager who struggles to see the forest that the tree is in, but vehemently obsesses over the tree. Well, just like Chilima himself says: ‘Do not fear political leaders. Do not leak their boots. They must not be worshiped. They are not God’.
No doubt about that. This is also valid for the ones who relentlessly try to prove that their untested, unproven and unseasoned statecraft ship can change a country overnight.
The views expressed in this article are not necessarily the views of the Publisher or the Editor of the Maravi Post