By Deus Chikalaza

The idea that you are who you surround yourself with is not just a simple hackneyed old cliché. As simple as the old adage might  suggest, those of the same feathers will flock together no matter what.  In other words if you show me your company, I will quickly know something about you.

As trite as this may sound it is a theme of fact that dates back to centuries way gone. In fact it was Confucius who once said: “If you are the smartest person in the room, then you are in the wrong room.”

Every company or a team that one chooses to surround himself or herself with produces an impact of some sort which is either or bad.

And this is usually indicative of how successful one is likely to become.
The continuation of success for any nation will always depend on how the innovative thinkers of that particular nation are harnessed, put together and carefully used.

Now if we are to be honest with ourselves and each other, we will agree that the biggest challenge and barrier for our president is his own choice of those to surround him, his cabinet and those whom he put in place to manage the presidency and cabinet.

Obviously when leaders are found lacking in that aspect like this , the likely outcome will always be a state of affairs that is confused or full of difficulties.

Any subsequent leadership that only works on intuition denying true counsel, real formulated thoughts and new ideas can not succeed.
We must remember that leadership is not all about inspiring action in others. It is more about introducing new ideas,  breaking and intercepting a culture that is not working and replacing it with a possible course for action.

Good leaders are those who chooses not to lead from the back. They don’t over delegate, they are willing to get their hands dirty.

And that’s the area that our leaders seem to be struggling with in Malawi. Instead of focusing on assembling quality teams that are fully conversant and cognizant of the systems and patterns of our government, they quickly settle for average or less sophisticated minds.

In many cases our leaders avoid to be challenged. They use a borrowed form of organized religion as a  tactic which is used as an illusion to hypnotize followers and create a cult like impression where a leader can not be questioned or challenged.

Quite frankly, this is how we have ended up with so much deficiencies, indecisiveness and a mindset that is way stickup, continuously refusing to adopt to new ideas.

As you know they say,  “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result is pure madness.”
Our obsession with recycled players and ideas will eventually cost us heavily.

Our dear President just  like his predecessors before, is falling into a similar trap of allowing failed ideas to dictate his actions.

For example when the late Bingu left UDF to form DPP, it was to fix what had been normalized by his predecessor.

There was lack of seriousness  by the Muluzi led government especially with the way the public sector was being managed.

A culture of handouts and the economics of subsidies introduced by Muluzi  had further destroyed an already weakened economy that was running on less or no government regulations plus a very ill advised privatization and liberalized and open markets policy.

This was a departure from the small government, big idea sound economic blueprint that Kamuzu had put in place before he was voted out in 1994.

And this was the genesis of our woes and it can never be justified. UDF pursued a path of economic liberalization in such a careless way.

Their argument that they were simply trying to increase and promote a competitive business environment falls flat on many fronts.

As it later on turned to be, that privatization  of government institutions and assets created an incentive for corruption.
And this laid a terrible foundation and precedent for all governments that followed.

Every time a new government gets into power, they immediately treat our sole government treasures and national assets as spoils of war to be shared by those who are  inside the inner circle of the president.

They treat our national assets and government companies as profits or prizes collected as the result of winning the struggle against the other  outgoing regime.

When DPP came into power, there was so much hope that the late Ngwazi Bingu Muntharika was going to tightened fiscal responsibility with fresh ideas.

After all he was a man who dreamed in color. He came and articulated a big Vision which to the most part was realized in his first term as president.

However against all the inroads and big wins he had made during his first term,  and against all the popular support he enjoyed, he was quickly captured by the trappings of power.

The huge monopoly he had  created with such an acquisition of political dominance gave him and DPP a false sense of being “bigger than life.”

Instead of creating an economy with greater participation by all, DPP promoted and succeeded in setting up an organized oligarchy, a consolidation of a sophisticated network of nepotism that infiltrated every sector.

The DPP machinery was not called a system for nothing. It was fully capable of consolidating  a full fledged Tribal nationalism on almost every level of  government.

Up to now  the DPP machine is still intact and working. They still have their fingerprints in so many government institutions.

Fast forward to 2019/2020, Malawians were demanding change in our governance systems, and they wanted to move away from corruption towards a functional democratic government.

Because of this, many political parties constellated together to form a unified brigade with an agenda  of building a unique and very effective government of National Unity.

Hence the Tonse  alliance was born to reflect the aspirations of the country to get our politicians and civil servants to begin working for us.

However as soon as they were voted in, promises became lies and they walked away from every word they had given Malawians.

The erratic pattern of nepotism with favors to only a particular few and specific interest groups at the expense of others still continues today and it’s being manifested in a more uncontrollable way.

You see, unlike the DPP, we now are stuck with an unorganized system of corruption which is based on personal greed, conceit, ego and disfunction.

Instead of fixing what they had promised to do, they have instead created a system that thrives and gets incentivized  by bribery, embezzlement, abuse of authority and money laundering.
We still have  notarized real crime bosses still controlling the Executive and judiciary.


The cartels are still untouchable
Can you imagine how shocking it is to have the president’s cabinet members smeared up so badly in corruption, and yet we are still questioning why our dear leader see no reason to reconstitute? What happened to the promises of clearing the rubble? What happened to the promise of reviewing the cabinet halfway down the year to assess the performance and the delivery of services by his ministers.

What happened to Servant Leadership, a promise to rearrange the Presidency and the Civil Service both practically and constitutionally so that they could be defined by quality service and results, not power and privilege?
Ending Corruption was a major campaign promise by Tonse Alliance. But up to now we are yet to see those  special finance crimes courts.

I am not sure if the plan to establish an anti-corruption office in each government department was carried through.
However what we are constantly seeing are signs of a cabinet  full of individuals with questionable characters making questionable decisions on many occasions.

For example in the middle of the pandemic, our cabinet approved a budget that had nothing allocated for anything to do with COVID-19.

No effort was made to make a procurement for Covid vaccines. No wonder we had the President’s own party just few weeks ago organizing a mass rally amidst the fears of the Omnicron Covid variant.

This only shows that our government is not data driven and lacks that needed foresight that comes in with good counsel.

In just a very short span of time that Tonse has been in power , Malawians have been clearly surfing and riding waves of all sorts of contagious disease outbreaks like scabies and leprosy.

This shows how much our Public Health care delivery system has been broken. Malawians are subjected to high cost of living with all basic needs prices rising uncontrollably. And yet the only solution that this government could find was to increase taxes and fees on poor Malawians. That on its own is a very big sign of a government that lacks ideas. Any progressive government does not use over taxation as a solution to its economic problems.

It’s only through sound economic activity for the most vulnerable and poor that economic recovery can be realized.
The overly exorbitant high tariffs for all utilities including water and electricity have been imposed on the poor, will only further burden and suffocate most Malawians without any interventions from a government.

All the ninety-nine problems that we have are emitting from our resistance to change  and lack of ideas. What our President and his Vice President should know is that good leaders find strength in others. This cannot be made possible just by mere inklings and simple hunches.

To change the course of something one needs something beyond intuitive capabilities. There has to be intentionality and political will. But just as I once wrote, our politicians seem to be cut from the same cloth.

It took months for our dear leader to come out and announce an economic recovery plan although many signs were pointing at an economy that was and is still plunging into chaos.

It appears that the only thing that comes out of every election is the change of faces but we fail as a nation to find innovative thinkers with genuine new ideas to inspire the nation for greater heights.

After every election the cycle will continue to repeat itself , quickly inviting Malawians into an obscene sense of a dejavu.

Sad as it may sound, the illusion of things that we all have been trying to get quickly fades, as our politicians and leaders keeps drawing us back into remembering and comparing our past scenes,  events and  experiences instead of charging us to move forward.

Even as I write now, there is a type of anxiousness divulging the  people’s lack of trust for the Tonse  Alliance.
Apart from being tired of the failed promises by the establishment, Malawians are frustrated by the continued preposterous and ludicrous behavior by those on the driving seat.

Within a short time, we have seen Malawians taking it to the streets in numbers demonstrating. This is something we never anticipated to see this early.

One really wonders what actually possesses our leaders whenever they get into that leadership space. This movie has been seen before and we are afraid that it will  not end here.

Office of the the auditor general and public accounts committee should nat fail to account and give us a full report on how COVID-19 resources were plundered.

Up to now we still see government Procurement without competitive bidding as dictated by law. It seems unfair that the law only gets to function stiffer on indigenous Malawians and gets to be selective when it comes to rich Asian Malawians.

Let me end by reminding our President that Malawi has a great pool of many talents and gifts that have shown to have the potential to be of high value and great significance if we were to capture and nature them well.

The only thing that has stopped Malawi has been our own resistance and unwillingness to recognize some of the best that can come out of us.

Our diaspora community has produced some of the greatest minds and talents abroad that have been and are still working in various sectors both informally and formally. 

I urge the President to begin engaging the new players especially those from the diaspora. 
Let’s try something new!
Adios!!

The Maravi Post has over one billion views since its inception in December of 2009. Viewed in over 100 countries Follow US: Twitter @maravipost Facebook Page : maravipost Instagram: maravipost