Bushiri could be smarter
There are two subjects that are discouraged for discussion among international communities and members of disciplined forces and these are religion and politics. This is rightly so because these topics are very divisive and can prove suicidal to institutions where discipline is the oxygen of their operations.
Borrowing from this principle, I have, for the past five years, abstained from sharing my thoughts on the conduct of Shepherd Bushiri. This self-styled prophet has courted enough trouble to fill a book of records but as a writer, I thought of not dignifying his antics. But the mind cannot abstain; the mind wants to express itself for national development.
Let me from the onset doff Bushiri. The young man is shrewd and knows which waves to ride on in order for him to be washed ashore. He has turned himself into a brand name and has marketed it quite well among Malawians and even across the borders. In 2015, a taxi driver told me in Pretoria how influential Bushiri was and that he used to chauffer him in the early days of his ministry. The driver confessed that he could no longer get close to the evangelist as he now rubbed shoulders with people in power.
But Bushiri’s antics caught my attention last weekend when he flew reporters and other guests from Malawi to his base in Pretoria to celebrate what he termed the Malawi Day. At the celebrations, Bushiri told the gathering that he had formed a movement to transform Malawi and that he has technical and financial capacity to end power shortage problems in the country within few days.
You see, like most celebrities, Bushiri deliberately courts trouble to attract attention to himself. And he strikes at the time when Malawians are desperate. People remember how he moved in to distribute free maize when food shortage bit Malawians hard. He also offered to help when the national football team had no money to fulfill its international obligations. Today, he is offering to rescue Malawians from a national disaster that is a 24-hour black out schedule.
I must confess that Bushiri has every Constitutional right to participate in national discourse and it would be criminal to bar him. The problem, however, is that he wants to use shortcuts in national matters that have clearly stipulated procedures to be followed. For instance, Bushiri attempted to distribute maize in the North without consulting government structures. When the government tried to reason with him, he cried foul, seeing demons at work to frustrate his ministry. But one needs to give justice even to the devil if he deserves it. Government has the duty to ensure equity in distribution of relief items and even development. Government must not sit idle as non-state actors concentrate along freeways and at trading centres, leaving out those at the back of the beyond.
He then came in when he allegedly hired almost all commissioned and non-commissioned police officers to decorate his crusade at Mzuzu Stadium. When the government said he could not have all officers to himself, when the rest of the citizens needed protection too, the young man saw the old serpent incarnate in the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration.
Now he has pulled out the stunt on fixing power shortage woes. One wonders why he cannot just apply to be one of the independent power providers (IPPs) that the new Electricity Act accommodates. The thing is, he knows that power generation and distribution is highly regulated as it touches on the lives of people. He reckons that the government will demand a few requirements from him before he rolls out his activities. He does not want to follow the procedures but to wrought miracles where they are not called for.
Another interesting aspect of his latest stunt is the formation of a movement to transform Malawi. It is incredible that he is talking of transforming Malawi when he claims that the DPP has developed the country and that given a chance, he would vote for the party. And why is he allocating K370 million to Malawians in diaspora to join in the movement? Had he been procedural, Bushiri would just have set up a micro-finance institution or a fully-fledged bank to help willing entrepreneurs: the Reserve Bank of Malawi would not stop him as long as he meets all the requirements.
Perhaps to give Bushiri a few suggestions on how he can contribute to transforming the country, he may consider venturing into the manufacturing industry or go for integrated irrigation farming, with value addition for both local and export markets.
One cannot transform a people if the people are not active participants but idle recipients. Everyone has heard Bushiri’s claims that he is rich and that he has solutions to challenges besetting the country. But people do not care how much one knows about them; people want to know how much one cares about them. What he has to do is to join a growing legion of “tycoons”, both locally based or in diaspora in bailing out Malawi. Otherwise, he could be smarter than he claims to be.
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