I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread. – Psalm 37:25
The border posts of any country showcase the soul of any country; they are the gateway to the people inhabiting the border being crossed. Malawi’s border posts, whether travelers are coming by air through Chileka or Kamuzu International airports, or by land at Mwanza, Mchinji, Mulanje, Nsanje, or Karonga, the state of the border unfolds the ugly level of the squalidity our once beautiful country has dived into. Ironically millions of Kwachas are collected, through customs and duty, levied by the Malawi Revenue Authority.
According to economic laws, the more an entity collects from its members, the better and more auspicious will the entity become, exuding an air affluence. Conversely, if an entity lives by its boot strings, can’t make ends meet, and its members skimp in paying their membership dues are usually the ones whose economic standing in society is on the bottom rung of things, its chairperson probably gets to meetings using public transport.
Several years ago, upon assuming the high office of the presidency, citizen number one commanded his chief taxman they go on a collection drive and wiped out the border posts of their day’s collection. The two netted over Mkw90,000.00.
Today’s border posts net far more than this; however, the squalid outlook of the border stations belies the fact that their parent company is the MRA. At Kamuzu International Airport and Chileka, the restrooms have doors that do not close, no loo paper, sometimes no running water, or broken mirrors.
A sign posts at the Mwanza border post tells the whole picture of the state of the border posts, the beacon that shines its light into the character of our nation. the post is an advert informing users of the border of a private toilet, its cost per single-use. The post ends with calling on all to keep Malawi clean. Nearby the sign is a makeshift structure of wooden planks that could possibly someone’s space to sell his or her commodities. It is deserted and could be an indication that the marketer has gone out-sourcing replenishments for his makeshift market.
At these border facilities, the main order of business is collecting duty, a command post owned solely by the Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA). When regarding this fact from a distance, the MRA is collecting millions of Kwacha from importers of goods into Malawi. But the MRA has not seen to cater for the people it is collecting money from; these have to rely on vendors who provide a fee for a single restroom usage privilege.
Don’t even think diarrhea.
Malawi needs to seriously re-visit the tax system and its input into development. Malawi had 31 years of national development and progress; this has been followed by the successive government after another telling the nation that once elected to office, it will be better than the predecessor, it will deliver. How is it, taxes collected at border posts have not spelled improved conditions and outlook at these posts?
All the country’s borders generate millions in revenue. Other than that MKw90m scoop by a new president, other tale-tells that the MRA is minting gold through the border posts is through its immense mansion-like offices along the road to Sanjika; the state-of-the-art executive cars, driven by the top-notch of the top-notches.
Minister of finance, his partner in the ministry of economic development planning, and the MRA must lock horns on ways to uplift the face of these posts. They must start with building restrooms for use by duty-paying clients; these must be operated by outsources such services from the local people.
It is a mockery that while government and parastatal officers prance about in cars that continue breathing half hour after they’ve been turned it off, have the audacity to collect revenue from areas that rely on the locals to fend for themselves.
The MRA must remember that while others are laughing, many are crying. Stop the squalidness! It’s plow-back time!