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Muckracking Extra: Our politics, our cancer

The problem with us is that we have too many ideas we just do not know which ones to prioritise. Look, Kamuzu had this brilliant ‘Youth Week’ idea where every year energetic young people joined their older folks to erect structures on self-help basis.

We still have post offices, teachers’ houses and health centres built during ‘Youth Week’ still standing strong – like that German 9th Century hut – around the country.

But when we adopted multiparty politics in 1994 we dubbed ‘Youth Week’ thangata and demanded payment, in the guise of ‘Food for Work, just to pave village foot-paths on which we ourselves were to ride our push bicycles.

Bakili Muluzi, our first multiparty president, had his own brilliant brain-child, Masaf – the Malawi Social Action Fund.

Masaf had its own flaws but, instead of working on those little problems, his successor, Bingu wa Mutharika, shelved it and embarked on his own pet-project – the Nsanje World Inland Port.

I did laugh at Bingu’s Nsanje metropolis colour dream on these pages. The President took issue with me but the point is, he believed in it. He colourfully launched his port…never mind that he forgot to interest Armando Guebuza of Mozambique to buy into it. 

When he sadly was unexpectedly recalled to his Maker during those ‘three mad days in April’, his predecessor never even talked about the NsanjePort.

Instead, Joyce Banda invented her own Mudzi Transformation Trust and ‘One Cow per Family’ initiative.

Then in comes Peter Mutharika and the Mudzi thing is a goner! Instead, we are now singing the song of subsidising building materials!

Just how do we hope to move on when, after every five or ten years, we have to come up with a new development blue-print? If our leaders took national development as a relay-race where the out-going leader passes on the baton to the in-coming leader, we could have been among the tigers of Asia, trust me.

Imagine, during the 50 years we are commemorating today we have not encountered any serious internal or external conflict. And yet we are still stuck in the hunter-gatherer mode of living! If we do not sort out our politics, 50 years from now we will still be reading the same verse.

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