Apart from a 20 member cabinet which APM claims will save the country some 20 billion kwacha in five years, the DPP has so far shown no radical shift to the way we thought they would run government.
Their campaign magic policy was “business unusual.” I had thought I would see a radical shift, but it looks to me the DPP –back to power after a two-year hiatus-are simply riding on the back of the late Bingu wa Mutharika bold decisions he made during his eight-year run that ended with his sudden death in 2012.
For starters, Bingu had fought with donors to introduce subsidised farm inputs such as fertiliser for the poor, spending billions of kwacha to do so in order to end perpetual hunger. He also fought with the IMF, refusing to devalue the kwacha.
Donors get a cue from the IMF if they have to give us aid.
The magic for subsidised inputs worked. Malawi became a self-sustaining food country. At one time, the country exported maize, the staple food.
Bingu was praised in dance and song by Malawians and the international community.
The donors agreed that the farm input programme was the way to go, but one day the country had to find a way out. Then Amayi came in to finish the two years of Bingu. The programme continued—and JB even initiated a new programme for farmers and clubs to be loaned the inputs and pay back after harvest.
I don’t know whether those billions are being paid back—or it was a bonus for those poor villagers.
Then the DPP said it would continue with the programme, because without it would be political suicide. After all, the DPP won because voters believed the party would bring back food sufficiency. After all, four cobs are their popular political signature.
So what else is the DPP likely to achieve before 2019?
Cleaning up the sins of Cashgate? The APM admin has promised to get to the root of the problem. That might not be a small task because corruption is entrenched in the government system and rooting it out might prove a nightmare.
The donors are watching. They have kept their monies until the mess of Cashgate is cleaned up. Until the government payment system called IFMIS –the source of Cashgate–is proved corrupt and fraud free. Until scores of civil servants, politicians and business personalities involved in this historic fraud answer for their sins.
Donors aren’t joking. How far can the APM admin deal with Cashgate? If they could do it, they will score political marks and winning in 2019 might not be a difficult undertaking. That’s my opinion. Any government that sorts out Cashgate will get my vote.
And then there is the question of launching Mombera University in Mzimba, a Bingu idea. So, it looks the job for APM was already cut out by his sibling. The idea was for Malawi to have five universities spread throughout the country. But why start with Mombera?
This has to do with politics because Mzimba voted in favour of Amayi. So, the DPP are trying to please Mzimba, or say the North, with this public university. It is as if this university will be purely for the people of Mzimba or the North.
But that’s what politics is all about. You try to please some people who did not vote for you. The question is: Do we need a new university when we are failing to develop or improve with quality education and facilities the existing and crumbling institutions?
The new Malawi University of Science and Technology –MUST- at Bingu’s Ndata Farm in TO, needs a lot of cash and facilities. Shall we manage resources between MUST and Mombera?
What about the Greenbelt initiative? It was the Bingu dream to irrigate large tracts of Malawi using the waters from Lake Malawi and other rivers. The idea did not take off, but will APM make it a reality before 2019?
And then there are many, many areas—education, health, agriculture– needing the cash for Malawians to see the difference between APM’s DPP and Amayi’s PP.
The job for APM was already cut out by his brother. All he needs to finish the race. But Malawians need to see a lot of “business unusual” programmes or policies. What has APM really changed?
We still have the long presidential convoy, we still have political rallies guised as development rallies, we still have all the state residences and palaces eating a lot of taxpayer’s money when millions of children learn under trees and we still have ministers who seem not to know what to do with their ministries. We have many things to sort out.
The year 2019 is not far and you know what Malawians are capable of doing—booting out a government that does not deliver.