Mr Speaker Sir, without wasting the precious time of this August House, I will go right away to the issues my employers have tasked me to address based on both:
• the State of the Nation Address and
• the Opposition’s well-articulated responses thereto.
During my consultations with the great people of Dedza East and with the many patriotic Malawians I Interact with, one theme kept recurring.
And this theme is that we will never get onto any path to recovery and sustainable socio-economic development if we are not bold enough to tackle the sad realities of our country, Malawi and change from within, beginning from the top going down.
In this regard, my mandate today is to serve as this House’s conscience by highlighting:
• at least 3 obstacles the road towards recovery of any sort, and
• the underlying pervasive glue binding these together as roadblocks to a better and prosperous Malawi.
The 3 obstacles are:
1. Wanton borrowing which is saddling us and future generations with debt through loans that are rarely used for their intended purposes;
2. Failure to deliver what we commit to deliver via our manifestos, these fantasy-land shallow SONAs, and National Budgets; and
3. Neglect of Human Capital Development by failing to invest in Youth
While the glue that reinforces these and other ills in our country is:
• the unacceptably high level of Executive tolerance to Corruption and Greed.
Mr Speaker Sir,
I will now unpack these three issues,and explain how each and every single one of them is abetted or caused by corruption; and explain why even this SONA under debate, will remain a dream while our people sink deeper in poverty.
As I do this, I will pose questions and propose radical paradigm shift for the good of the ordinary Malawians.
OBSTACLE No. 1: Wanton borrowing, which is saddling us and future generations with debt through loans that are rarely used for their intended purposes;
Mr Speaker Sir,
In the SONA, the President said and I quote
“Government will ensure that foreign loans are obtained primarily to finance development projects that are thoroughly appraised and are strategic importance to the country”.
End of Quote
If recent experience is anything to go by, this is the height of Executive wishful thinking.
Fortunately, the people of Dedza East, the Youths in Malawi and I have woken up from our slumber. Beginning now, we will be calling the shots on borrowing.
Our starting point is demanding a thorough review of the utilization of loans acquired in the past, and going forward, we want mechanism to be instituted building on lessons learnt from past profligacy.
To set the context, I will cite the loans we obtained from India.
Mr Speaker sir;
We have been getting loans from India starting in 2008, 2010, to2013. All of them were revolving around Irrigation and one village one product (OVOP).
To be specific:The Indian Government approved a credit line of $76,500,000 to Malawi Government for the following three Projects:
• Construction of Sugar Processing Plant in Salima District
• Construction of three Fuel Storage facilities in Bantyre, Lilongwe and Mzuzu
• Installation of Irrigation Network in Mangochi, Salima and Karonga
I will focus on the Sugar Processing Plant which I find amusing. A total of US$33,640,000 was allocated to the Sugar Processing Plant.
My first questions are:
• What was the point of borrowing for a Sugar Plant when we have Illovo which is able to produce and supply sugar to Malawi and beyond? What was the rationale? To kill Illovo? Why?
Secondly: Having done this absurdity,
• how could anyone in their right senses, commission construction of a plant with no single sugar cane in sight? Does this not mean that the Plant will lie idle after completion; waiting for the Sugar Canes to be cultivated and all, and hence costing the taxpayers more money in repairing and maintaining the idle Plant?
• Did we really need this loan and has it, or will it benefit the Malawians who have to repay this loan?
Still on borrowing in the name of the agricultural sector, I am yet to get a satisfactory explanation on the tractors that were procured in the name of small holder farmers and ended up in the hands of the rich.
I recently got into a conversation with one Minister and a Director and their explanation was:
“Well these small holder farmers can’t maintain these tractors.”
So does this mean the Executive was cheating from the word go when it tabled the bill to borrow and buy tractors for smallholders farmers when in fact, some fat cats had been lined up to swallow the tractors?
I have another example: one PS/Director in the Ministry said and I quote:
“You know we get little money as civil servants hence government had to allow us to be engaged in farming”
My question remains: why was it necessary for the Executive to hoodwink the public that the tractors were for smallholders if they were intended for the elite?
The DPP Government should have been brave enough to tell the nation that its intention is to further widen the gap between the rich and the poor. Full stop. This is not only corruption, but first degree cowardice.
Mr Speaker Sir, it is sad that the Executive is keen to continue taking Malawians for a ride.
And I am so concerned especially for the people of Mangochi, who saw an irrigation project starting only to be abandoned. And yet they lined up again, to cast votes hoping for a better Malawi and an economic recovery.
The people of Mangochi wake up each and every day, looking atwater; yet they go hungry, waiting for rains to produce something. And yet, behind their backs, we have borrowed and squandered the funds.
So, before the Head of State comes here to inform the House of new plans to borrow our way to deeper poverty, FIRST, we should review what happened to previous loans. This is the message the people of Dedza East and on Social Media wanted me to deliver.
To summarise on this bottleneck, we should not come here, get allowances funded by tax payers, approve loans meant for the public, only to make a U-TURN and sell the very same items to ourselves.
In other words, we should stop biting the hands that vote for us and feed us.
It is against this background that I emphatically say that the SONA delivered on Friday May 20th was not only a bed time story, but the very height of Executive wishful thinking.
• How can our economy recover or prosper IF we are bent on restricting wealth to a mere handful?
Mr Speaker Sir,
Does it require ‘rocket science’ to appreciate that the day that we will spread wealth across the board (i.e. to the majority), is the day we will expand the tax base and generate more revenue, which will lead to increased domestic resource mobilisation?
Still on the issue of Borrowing the State President (SONA on PAGE 12) made a vague reference to Chinese involvement on National Ids.
According to information we have been given before, work on IDs is already underway with the support of Development Partners under the coordination of the office of the Vice President.
What exactly, are the Chinese belatedly bringing to the table?
I now move to the second
OBSTACLE: Failure to deliver what we commit to deliver via our manifestos, these fantasy-land shallow SONAs, and National Budgets
Mr Speaker Sir, in this component I will cite examples from our sick health sector.
In 2014, we borrowed for the Construction of the Cancer Centre. Amount was 15million USD.
For some reason, the MoH unilaterally changed plans in favour of what they call a bigger project. Embedded in this bigger project are highly exaggerated amounts on procurement.
As expected, we do not have the resources to feed this greed.As a result, our people, mostly women, continue to die from cancer.
Mr Speaker Sir,
This level of greed and corruption makes me sad. Why do we want to always cash in at the expense of Malawians? Are these tax-funded Ministries there to serve the tax payers or to help some selfish people become “share-holders” of Malawi Limited?
This is the second reason why, during this very sitting Mr speaker I will move a few motions. IF anyone opposes those motions, Malawians will know who the vampires sucking the blood of the sufferers are.
Still talking of unfinished projects, as I am talking now QECH, has a stalled HIV Treatment Centre which was supposed to serve the Southern Region like the Lighthouse is serving the Central Region.
This reminds me of Phalombe District Hospital, also in the Southern Region, which the ruling DPP claims to be its base.
We have been taking loans for this hospital since 2010, when we took 7million USD and 12million USD in 2013.
In whose pocket did there funds go since the hospital is still not complete?
How do we expect the people of Phalombe to be on the road to economic recovery when their health is compromised?
I now move to the third
OBSTACLE: Neglect of Human Capital Development by failing to invest in Youth
Mr Speaker Sir,
I will challenge the House to name one single country that developed without investing in the Youth.
There is none.
I will go on and say that: we the Honourable Members in this House – whether we like it or not, whether we admit it or not – are here because the late Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda had the vision to invest in us.
And having invested in our education, vocational and professional training; jobs were readily available for us to start earning a living, here and /or abroad.
In this regard, Malawi cannot economically recover IF:
• We keep slashing the Education Budget like we did at Mid-Year Review, or
• IF after training Malawians in various professions and trades, we end up leaving the graduates on their own.
I am aware that resources are a challenge, BUT the question is: why don’t we overhaul our curriculum so that the graduates are ready to face the world and the market on their own?
In this era of globalisation, the only countries moving forward are those that are producing entrepreneurs NOT people waiting to be employed by their governments.
Ironically Mr Speaker, in yet another manifestation of Corruption in this regard, we have allowed nepotism to be the matrix by which one gets employed or not.
IF only those connected or related to people in power or living in a constituency of a government MP are eligible for employment, then why do the rest pay taxes? To feed shareholders of Malawi Limited?
This is injustice.
The Anchor: The unacceptably high level of Executive tolerance to Corruption and Greed.
As you can see Mr Speaker Sir, we should not be even talking about Roads to Recovery when we allow corruption to thrive by:
1. Incapacitating the ACB and
2. Hiding information – without which the masses cannot hold us to account.
My saddest day in this House was the day the House refused to free the ACB independent and later to hear His Excellency the State President pride of himself for his stranglehold on the ACB.
In this regard, I sincerely hope that on the ATI Bill, the Executive will do the right thing and table the Bill drafted after wide consultations and not the one butchered by the Cabinet.
Failing to do this, means that the State President’s statement on fighting against corruption is an insult to the intelligence of Malawians, who now know better. And this will prove that the Executive does not care a dime about fighting corruption, because it feeds on it.
As a result, the world at large, and history will judge us a people with an unacceptably high level of tolerance and corruption.
Mr Speaker Sir,Malawi and Malawians deserve better.And in this House, we are all well positioned to make a difference, if we do the right thing. Unfortunately, it seems that some members are adamant to see Malawi going on a downhill in terms of development.
We have a choice: we can change and begin thinking in terms of what is the greater good for our people and stop thinking in terms of what is in it for us.
p>Mr Speaker Sir, We have a choice, and we must change now, or be changed in 36 months to come.
The Maravi Posthas over one billion views since its inception in December of 2009. Viewed in over 100 countriesFollow US:
Facebook Page : maravipost