And Judah spoke unto him, saying, the man did solemnly protest unto us, saying, Ye shall not see my face, except your brother be with you. Genesis 43:3
In the wake of great looming famine in Israel, scripture tells how Israel sent his sons to Egypt to buy grains. They encounter an unlikely food management master (unbeknown to the brothers that it is their brother whom they sold as a slave). While joseph knew his brothers, they did not and twice he fools them into thinking they’d stolen from him. The story ends well and Israelites move to Egypt.
Fast forward several centuries and into Malawi, a looming famine is in our midst. As has been the norm, humanitarian and relief organizations along with government have provided at the community level relief maize and other food commodities to be distributed to poor and vulnerable people free of charge. The recipients, mostly women and girls, should not have to pay for the maize or food items.
It is alarming that while on the one hand, numerous elected officials are amassing obscene wealth on the backs of most Malawians that are living on less than one dollar a day, that there are even some morally bankrupt officials – chiefs, relief agency officials – are demanding demeaning and atrocious sex for food with the women and girls beneficiaries.
First, the food items have already been paid for; secondly, it is illegal for the said chiefs and relief officials to request sex as payment for resources that they did not pay with their own funds.
The scenery where vulnerable and defenseless women and girls as young as 13 years are forced to succumb to have sex with officials to get maize that is their benefit given to them by government and relief organizations. These corrupt officials must be stopped and brought to justice they deserve.
As a measure of disaster preparedness, Malawi has the third large inland lake with capacity for establishing irrigation that would yield three harvests per year. This would erase famine and hunger in Malawi. One of the companies that has such resources is the Illovo Sugar company which enjoys Malawi’s global sugar quota benefits. It would be a small gesture for the company to grow maize on the land it furloughs. It would be a great way to say “thank you” to Malawi.
In the wake of the ten billion Kwacha fraud, government re-structured the ADMARC Executive Board University Council. In both organizations, the new members are all male; not a single woman. While government has been commended for appointing our no-nonsense retired Chief Justice Anastasia Msosa, the all-male reconstruct of these organizations shows a government that is allergic to women, does not believe women at the negotiation table bring any value in the discussion.
Both organizations have challenges that inherently impact women’s lives. The disgusting saga of sex for food, the corrupt chiefs are having sex with women and girls, not men or boys. When a family does not have food, it is the woman and sometimes accompanied by the girl children that go out in search of food. The search for solution to the famine should involve women.
At the University Council, the challenges facing this tertiary institution, involve Malawi’s youth – children of men and women. Again, as with the famine and hunger situation, the issues that have led to numerous closures require woman who are natural disciplinarians.
Should government be serious that it wants to surmount the mountains of issues at the University, women need to be part of that solution. Appointing women on the University Council is a highly advisable.
The country must overhaul the way it has conducted business. This includes the elected and other high ranking officials to go on a diet and resist amassing wealth in its open and unrelenting manner. Elected officials must resist enriching themselves when the rest of the country wallows in abject poverty. These are the same people that stand in line for hours to cast their vote during elections. The irony: voters are now made to stand in line for hours for relief bags of maize for which some unscrupulous men are asking the women to have sex with them.
The picture must change. Long live genuine democracy.