By Watipaso Mkandawire
The economic and social situation in Malawi is not in intensive care and governance is not at its worst situation. No one can run away from Malawi claiming asylum elsewhere due to political reasons or draconian laws. There are countries surrounding Malawi that are in worse situations economically, politically, and socially and yet there is no such agitation and frustration. Are Malawians simply impatient?
The answer is yes. And for good reasons. Malawians have been on the receiving end for a long time with every past leader and government categorizing the people as docile and easily lied to and bought with little brown envelopes and some petty positions. And they got away with it.
Many Malawians before social media emerged, could not express themselves and be heard and there were few people that were informed or understood some of the shenanigans by the politicians. What we are now experiencing, including the questioning of each and every decision of the executive, is partly a response to four key things or perception:
Firstly, high expectations of the electorate because of the comparatively “good quality” of current leadership;
Secondly, the growing impunity and condescending tendencies of those that are the President’s lieutenants.
Thirdly, the weak and inept leadership of the public service in general and civil service in particular and lastly, the inability of the government to clear the rubble as promised and signals that the rubble has absorbed the new administration sharing the spoils.
There is still hope for Tonse if in the next couple of weeks they can open the eyes, heart and ears. There are a number of policy directions and actions, for instance, push for railways development, de-politisation of state institutions, and others that are good for the future of this country if sustained. But good things are always forgotten when fundamental trust is lost and impunity starts emerging.
They should learn from People’s Party (PP) short stay in power. There are similarities emerging.
What they should realise is that if elections were held today, at this rate, they would lose the election. They however, have time to stop and listen or/and ask for help from capable Malawians right there in Malawi.
Some of the easy wins to regain the confidence of well-meaning Malawians include the following:
1. Do not renew the contract of the SPC. He certainly qualifies as a major liability at the moment based on the performance of civil service so far and the many blunders from OPC in the past year
2. Civil service needs a major overhaul and quickly. It needs a decisive, experienced, and professional leadership that understands the role of politics and appreciates the importance of public service (This is from P1/S1 to P4/S4).
3. The State House needs to bring in a mature press team that is less condescending and are “servant leaders”. The current team may not be able to change.
4. The presidency should appoint a capable and professional Chief Strategist who has domestic, regional, and international (Global) experience and connections and understands Malawi development needs—not “petty party cadre needs”.
5. The government should stop making promises to please the masses especially when these are based on begging from well-wishers. The campaign is gone. Just deliver what you can.
6. The country should hear more from delivery ministries on the work on the ground than being given a Presidential diary. State House briefing should be about announcing key Presidential decisions or responding to questions regarding President’s decisions and not presidential meetings and itineraries.
6. The government should have a functional Cabinet by filling in the vacant position of Ministers and strengthen key service delivery ministries.
7. The government should accelerate the decentralisation programme and this means Local Government, being a critical Ministry needing strengthening.
8. Tonse Administration should not abuse the current goodwill out there. They should Nurture it and grow the trust of those that believe in them by being honest and walking the talk. Learn from PP.
Source: The Nation