Written by Mapwiya Muulupale
The trajectory of an average Malawian family’s rise from poverty to affluence used to be predictable.
A family invariably started humbly. Then it tried this and that business before specializing in one. What followed was hard work and gradually, things happened.
First came a bicycle for the ‘daddy’. Then a motorcycle, followed by a fairly used second-hand car and a house, or a house and a car.
These were the key milestones.
- The house and automobile were the capstones that announced that the family had “arrived”.
- There were neither ‘miracle money’ nor ‘overnight millionaires’ in Malawi and elsewhere Blues’ Orators, this is still the norm.
Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg started off from a student residence. Apple’s Steve Jobs and Microsoft’s Bill Gates, likewise, started from humble beginnings.
Sports stars like the Williams sisters, stinking rich boxers like Floyd “Money” Mayweather; all started at the bottom and slowly worked their butts off to the top. As such, their wealth can be explained, cent by cent.
Now check this: in the prosperous economies; you do not see someone joining the civil or public service, then boom, hitting miracle money and overnight becoming a millionaire.
This does not happen; yet compared to us, theirs are prosperous economies. Where are these overnight millionaires coming from? Can they explain their wealth or the taxes they paid in their lucrative line of business?
What is wrong with us?
The old model of explainable progression from poverty to affluence ended when Bakili Muluzi’s reign set us off on the road to economic perdition.
The thing is, that model had never worked for many who surrounded Muluzi. When they were in MCP, party membership cards were their ‘gold mine’.
The more they dipped their fingers into the kitty, the more they had to harass Malawians to compensate for their theft. As a result, no-nonsense Kamuzu “accepted” you-know-who’s resignation.
Back in those days, no one carried food when visiting the village; just groceries like salt, sugar and maybe soap but not maize, rice or relish, no.
We were fed by village relatives.
It was, in fact, an insult to refuse this hospitality. It was during such a visit that my parents were given a rooster I will talk about later.
“Where,” you ask, “is this nostalgia coming from Mapwiya Muulupale?”
This nostalgia is due to the unending revelations of theft, fraud, forgery and corruption that Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)’s Peter Mutharika was blissfully presiding over.
Now back to the cockerel I referred to above, he came highly recommended. The cock was apparently highly fertile, hyperactive, and hence ideal for breeding.
On return to town, we put the rooster in the pen alongside our black austroip (Mikolongwe) chickens. He immediately ‘got busy’.
Never, it seemed, had he seen so many ‘willing’ hens.
Further, the traditional and mandatory courtship chase that heralds mating was needless.
The choice? Assorted. His bonus? At night, the pen was lit up, and he could do what he did best, nonstop. The highly touted cock went about its business.
Was it on the second day?
Or on the third day
I cannot recall.
We found the cock on the floor, immobile.
The poor thing had collapsed due to “fatigue”. He had, as they say, overestimated his prowess and overreached. The only sign of life he exhibited was a twitching leg.
We gave him lots of water, quarantined him, and he recovered.
Upon return to the pen, due to the harrowing and humbling experience, he learnt to ‘pace himself’.
Thinking about this cock, Reyneck Matemba the Anti-Corruption (ACB) Director-General comes to my mind.
With suspects and cases galore, like our local hero amongst Mikolongwe hens, Reyneck is Living’ la Vida Loka.
Thieves. Of all ranks. From all faiths, creeds and colour.
Some from the statehouse, and others from banks, government ministries and institutions; ALL waiting to be arrested, tried, and convicted in an environment where he – Reyneck – is facing zero intimidation and zero political interference.
The icing on the cake? With travel restrictions necessitated by Covid-19, the thieves have nowhere to run!
What more can Reyneck want?
However, due to the ex-village rooster’s escapade, I worry for Reyneck.
When does he intend to hire veterans like Kamudoni Nyasulu, Gustav Kaliwo etc. to help him sort out the lowlifes?
What is he waiting for?
You see, if there is something Reyneck is lacking – rich as he is in criminals – is public patience.
Malawians lost patience with the ACB because it has been decades since it sent a ranking politician or privileged criminal to jail.
At best, trials involving big fish drag on and on. At worst, as happened with maize-gate, the ACB loses.
Hence people asking: now that DPP, UDF’s roommate, is out; why isn’t ACB finishing off the MK1.7 billion thirteen-year-old case?
ACB needs to close that chapter, turn the page and then zero in on the DPP’s definition-defying unprecedented obliteration of our wealth.
The many revelations of grand theft and corruption in high and low places and the snippets of what will constitute evidence should be handled with the urgency they deserve so that all the low lives are jailed, and the keys thrown away.
If Mr Matemba needs reminding, the rot is so dire that corruption fails to sufficiently capture the damage caused by the DPP’s thievery.
Look here, when political leaders steal from their nation’s coffers, it is called kleptocracy. Literally, “kleptocracy” means “rule by thieves”.
Theft, corruption, kleptocracy – call it what you will – would ordinarily be confined to a few top thieves.
However, in our sad case, anyone who subscribed to DPP’s ‘kleptology’ was licensed to steal.
Hence my positing that what Malawians suffered from 2014 to date is beyond corruption. It is far worse than kleptocracy.
Let us call a spade by its name: the DPP`s reign of theft brought Malawi to the brink of civil war as Malawians were willing to fight to reclaim their heritage.
DPP’s was a reign that resulted in the loss of land to corrupt locals and non-Malawians.
It aggravated economic injustice due to punitive “thangata-like” ESCOM tariffs and taxes levied to feed greed, and it has exacerbated Covid-19 impact because no one trusted DPP.
Economic dependency has never been worse, and we have lost economic sovereignty because DPP was borrowing without a care, to whet an insatiable thieving appetite.
You know what else was this bad?
Colonial masters be they the Belgians in Congo, the French in Mali, and many West African countries and the British here in the former Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland; did not give a milligram of fuck for indigenous people.
Their goal was to extract resources to make their home countries prosperous.
They did not care about the colony’s wellbeing.
Ironically, although the DPP thieves are indigenous Malawians, their mindsets were of this Malawi-can-go-bankrupt-we-care-less type.
How they managed to sleep peacefully at night, knowing as they did that their deeds were as evil as economic genocide, it is a mystery.
Now that Malawians have liberated themselves from DPP’s stinking brand of “indigenous colonialism”, the ACB must act resolutely now, now, now!