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Cheers to our shame

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The opposition must be kicking all over the place with news that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has declared Malawi’s Extended Credit Facility programme back on track. What the opposition is surely not happy about is that in the next few months, the wobbling kwacha will manage to take a few steady steps and with that, the opposition has been deprived of a chance to make noise.

You should have seen the diabolic grins and fiendish chants from the opposition had the IMF brought bad tidings. What our opposition celebrates and always looks forward to is government failure. They do not like to see government making progress at all.

But then, you get surprised why those who are not in government are always making claims that they have the welfare of you and me at the core of their agenda, yet they prefer a failing government.

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When the kwacha falls, hospitals run out of drugs and when maize is nowhere to be seen, that is the only time you are reminded that we have opposition parties in this country. If you were to ask me to share a piece of my thought, I will, without mincing words, tell you that we have a useless opposition that is more concerned with when it will have a chance to get into government other than solving issues that concern us all.

Of course, on the other hand, the government should not start blowing trumpet about itself or start living in an illusory world of success. The nod by the IMF might be good news yes but to those who think like me, it is a constant reminder of what a miserable nation we are.

It beats me that at 52 years, we are still a nation that celebrates being allowed to borrow. Our national survival is still in the hands on the Bretton Woods institutions and once those decide to look away, all we see is apocalypse. And what I find more depressing is that we all seem not to have ideas on how we are going to free ourselves from the fetters of donor dependency.

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I work in a vibrant newsroom where there are ideas flowing all over. Newsrooms are perhaps the most liberal of work places where you give your opinion and no-one will whip you for that. On Wednesday, a good number of my colleagues talked much about the outcome of the IMF Mission. A good number of them opined that Malawi must accept that as things are now, we cannot survive without donor aid. Much as I believe there is an element of truth in this, I got shocked with how much we have come to accept our pathetic state.

Sadly, we have not had governments that have shown acumen in finding lasting solutions to change Malawi from being a wretched beggar that she is to, at least, a nation that can eat from its own plate. Last time someone attempted change was when we had the eccentric Bingu wa Mutharika. But then, Bingu’s was a knee-jerk reaction that was spurred by anger and panic other than a well detailed plan. The final act was that Malawi became a mess and life was just very unbearable.

Only when we have a sensible government is when we can gradually and systematically wean ourselves from this embarrassing existence of continuous begging and surviving on loans that will eventually choke us and live us in this arrested development.

Governments that have come and gone have only been nothing but bunches of looters that have taken turns in stealing from us. We cannot do anything meaningful with our taxes because they go into the deep pockets of politicians.

We have to borrow money to build pit latrines, drill boreholes, construct street passes, build clinics and even simple school blocks.

We should be asking ourselves where we will be in the next 20 years. But if you look around, there is absolutely no hope because the ruling party is busy working of annihilating the opposition while the opposition is occupied in toppling the government, whichever way it deems easy.

Come 2066—which is half a century from now— newspapers will still be carrying headlines like “Donors Pull Out”, “Malawi Passes IMF Test” “Donor Withdrawal Hits Malawi Hard” and many others that serve nothing but stark confessions that we are a sick nation that cannot just sustain itself.

If at all we have to start making sense, we seriously need to stop being a political dependent nation and adopt some sobriety and a sense of national pride. We are going nowhere if all we know is having presidents that are so obsessed with accumulating wealth for themselves and their cronies and an opposition that is more noise than sense.

But since we have chosen to live this way and proudly carry this shameful tag of a begging nation, I have nothing to say but give my generous cheers to our shame.

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