Written by Patseni Mauka
One of the lines that speakers at UTM rallies use to drum up support for their leader Dr Saulos Chilima is that ‘he was born in Malawi, did his education in Malawi, and has been working in Malawi. On the surface, this line might sound discriminatory but it has a lot of substance if you think about it soberly.
If you have been in Malawi for the majority of your life, chances are that you know Malawi’s problems by heart. You know them not by hearing from someone but from experiencing them. Unlike someone who has been outside Malawi for over 40 years, you know what issues matter to the common man on the street. Chilima beats Mutharika on the knowledge about what Malawians really needs hands down.
Chilima knows the importance of three meals a day. Chilima knows that hunger is one of the most difficult things to deal with. That is why he is promising three meals a day as a basic need that has to be achieved in Malawi.
Having been educated in Malawi, Chilima knows that without government support most Malawians can’t afford to complete their education. He is promising that no student will fail to complete education because of lack of school fees.
Having lived in the poorest neighborhoods in Malawi, Chilima knows you can’t ask a poor household to pay for water and electricity connection fees because they simply can’t afford. Asking poor households to pay for such fees automatically excludes them from the basic needs that can take them out of poverty.
Having been a Chief Executive of one of the biggest companies in Malawi, Chilima knows that Malawians are desperate for jobs. That is why UTM is promising one million jobs within the first year of it’s reign. All promises including affordable health care, good governance and a civil service that serves Malawians efficiently are the things that Chilima knows are necessary to improve people’s livelihoods.
There is one more area Chilima is beating Mutharika; Chilima is driving around the country to every remote corner of Malawi where Mutharika has never been to and will never step a foot in his entire life because he likes the comfort of state house.
Social media is awash with photos and videos of Chilima self driving in mud, bad roads, wildness and more. This makes him more knowledgeable about the problems facing Malawians in terms of public infrastructure, housing and business. In one of the trips he discovered that the Livingstonia Njakwa road which has tarmac according to Mutharika and DPP, is still an earth road with just some construction vehicles roaming around. Mutharika has never been to this remote corner of Malawi and has no idea that his ministers are lying to him.
Chilima has seen dilapidated public infrastructure with his own eyes. In Machinga, he lamented about a dilapidated police station and a school which one would mistake for war ruins. Everywhere he goes he finds terrible state of essential infrastructure.
Mutharika on the other hand, is conducting rallies in trading centers and has never been to Malawi’s remote areas. His world revolves around Kamuzu Palace, his expensive tax funded luxury cars and a motor home that he uses every where he goes.
In his 2019 New Year’s Day message, Mutharika told Malawians that we can develop this country if we continue on the ‘path we have taken’. He claims that this country has taken the right direction to development. This is pure fiction because it’s only Mutharika and his party who see the ‘right direction’ that the country has taken . Most Malawians see things differently.
In a survey by Afrobarometer (2017), 88% of the respondent’s said they think the country is headed towards the wrong direction. This means Mutharika’s claims are worlds apart from the feelings of the majority of Malawians. He is out of touch with reality in his own country and can’t see the wrong direction the country is heading.
Malawians can count on energetic, determined, experienced and visionary Chilima with his UTM team to solve Malawi’s problems. He is in touch with reality on the ground.