BLANTYRE-(MaraviPost)-As the year 2020 began, few would have imagined that Malawians would be asked to queue again at different poling centres to choose the country’s president after doing the same ‘useless’ exercise in 2019. And again, completely no one would have imagined that the world would literally be thrown into the biggest crisis.
But anyway, the whimsical happened: Covid-19 ravaged (and it is still ravaging) the world economy by disrupting global chains of supply and international trade, and we Malawians, had a rare chance to go for fresh presidential election sanctioned by both the lower court and the Supreme Court following a nullification of 2019 election which was thrown into the bin on grounds of widespread of irregularities.
Chakwera’s coming to power was charged with much excitement. Everyone went wild, celebrating as if they had just been called by Jesus Christ, the only Son of Jehovah, to help Him prepare the Promised Land. In every district, even people of Neno (the very neglected district), chanted songs of joy as they could now envisage what Malawi would become with universal subsidy programme; free connection of water and electricity; processing passport at K14 000; Mobility soft loans for Junior Civil servants; Re-introduction of Housing allowances for all sidelined civil servants; creation of 1 million jobs within a year; Creation of corrupt free Government and many other mouthwatering promises well packed in the consolidated manifesto of Tonse Alliance—a combination 9 political parties led by MCP and UTM.
But as we are limping to the last flame of 2020, one would be tempted to ask whether the euphoria, that caught many Malawians off guard after fresh election results were announced, was necessitated by Tonse Alliance victory or the downfall of the former governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and its president Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika (APM). I, for one, go for the latter.
People are not happy. The excitement has dwindled at supersonic speed. So many promises haven’t been fulfilled and there is no any sign that they will do it. The only solace to all Malawians who wanted change is that ‘DPP and APM are out of government’.
Before I go further, let’s appreciate the promises that propelled Chakwera and Chilima to the echelons of power as President and Vice President respectively and they are as follows: Rule of Law; Abolition of nepotism, Malawi is for all Malawians; Universally Subsdised farm inputs eg K4,495 50kg bag of fertilizer; Free water and electricity connections; Re-introduction of Housing allowances for all sidelined civil servants; Initial Minimum wage will be K50,000; Mobility soft loans for Junior Civil servants; Honoralia for non working elderly people; Extensive rural electrification across Malawi; Actual Re-introduction of JCE Exams; Restructuring of academic timetable for primary schools; Creation of 1 million jobs for the youth across Malawi; Vocational skills for the youth; Disbursement of business loans to the youth and the middle aged; Midzi transformation projects; Regular Promotions of all civil servants who have worked for 4 years and above annually.
The other promises well packed in their consolidated manifesto are Actual Abolition of Quota system in all Government ministries, departments and agencies including restrictions on self upgrading; Automatic Promotions for all Upgrading civil servants; Introduction of Risk allowances for all risk prone civil servants; Creation of corrupt free Govt; Abolition of Contributory Pension Scheme for all Civil servants; Inreased Tax Free Threshold to K100,000 for all civil servants; Passport at 14000 and. Importation of all used cars on duty free.
From the list, only four promises (though trivial) have been implemented. They promised reintroduction of JCE examinations and next year pupils will sit for it; Tax Free Threshold to K100,000 for all civil servants has been implemented and the minimum wage is K50 000 though no measures have been put in place to make sure that the private sector is complying with the set minimum wage.
On universal subsidy, the Tonse Alliance administration has not lived up to its promise as what we have witnessed is similar to the former ruling Democratic Progressive Party policy, only that the number of beneficiaries has increased.
“Madam Speaker, according to the census there are 4.2 million farm families. In the 2020/2021 financial year, Government will implement the Affordable Inputs Program where all the 4.2 million farm families will be provided with cheap farm inputs.
“This, Madam Speaker, is not far from being a universal subsidy program assuming an average family size of four people, which gives approximately 16.8 million people that will be covered under this program out of the 17.6 million people in Malawi. In this regard, Madam Speaker, there is no sampling of farm families to benefit from this program as every smallholder farmer is covered,” Finance Minster Mlusu announced, justifying crookedness of Chakwera and Chilima who appears to have been living in Mars when crafting their campaign promises.
As people are waiting to hear on how 1 million jobs will be created, President Chakwera and Chilima are just expressing commitment that the government will ably implement the promise. When you ask them the question “how”? The answer is kwantere kwantere. Running government is a serious business! Atcheya Bakili Muluzi was spot-on.
As for free connection of water and electricity and reduction of passport fees, let’s just pretend that we didn’t hear them mentioning that. Some frustrations can be avoided.
Their parable about the “Rule of Law” and corruption free government is being translated now: Only DPP official is corrupt and must be arrested but Minister Eisenhower Mkaka, who is on record to have been siphoning money from State House through CrossRoads Hotel is left scot free.
Reports indicated that the move which commenced on July 5, 2020 has seen State House paying a whopping US$ 300 an equivalent of MK240, 000 per night when the accepted value is MK75, 000 per night at the Hotel. On this one, the president is quite though there has been a chorus of disapproval from the general public. In Tonse Alliance, I tell you, they have coined another definition of ‘Rule of Law’.
Of course, the fact that all promises cannot be fulfilled within a year must dawn on us all, but utter cluelessness and sluggishness in making decision by the current leadership is what shrinks Malawians’ hope exponentially.
We have tried people with an assortment of degrees, which did not mirror their character, leadership and achievements. Now we have Reverend, a man who has spent so many years on the pulpit. Let’s hope his leadership will not plumb new depths.