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Circus of pain

Earlier this week, I met two bubbly young men both clad in the yellow of the UDF. The two easily drew my attention not only because their bright-coloured attire stood out from the characteristic drab and dark attire of office days, but because they looked so vivacious and bouncing with hope.

I gave in to the temptation of asking them whether they are yellow to the bone—as t h e i r gear suggested— or that they are just among many of those who wear UDF’s yellow today, MCP’s green tomorrow, DPP’s blue the other day and PP’s orange whenever it is available.

“UDF is all we have known all our lives.” That was their stark, dense and, apparently, honest answer. They could not buy a word when I opined that the UDF has taken itself on a quicksand of political oblivion by getting into a dalliance with the DPP. They said the UDF, by age and following, is bigger than the DPP and soon the DPP with be swallowed and not the other way round. I almost laughed at this glaring congenital self-delusion. But it dawned on me that the two young men are not alone in the boat; just like them, too many of us have hope in proportions of naivety such that we even become unaware of the bad times we are living in.

Just like the two lads are still thinking their UDF is on the right path when the truth is that the party is being torn to shreds, there are some among us who are ready to call me a damned cynic if I tell them that this country is on an overdrive gear to damnation.

If you had a chance to see the papers this week, you must have grown goose bumps at the frightening number of houses banks have put on sale. One bank put up two centre-spread pages; another filled one page while three banks carried half a page each of houses to be sold obviously due to the owners’ failure to service loans.

Granted there are some damned, careless and bad borrowers out there who can’t simply pay back a simple loan, but what has been appearing in the papers is simply a confirmation of a dangerous economic low this country has hit in recent times.

Banks interest rates are obscenely high even for those with means to run around town, let alone the proletariat whose survival is by sheer divine grace. What is more sagging to hope is the ugly truth that government seems to be on a deliberate drive to make people’s lives unbearable.

Just this week, the government hastened the switch from analogue to digital television broadcasting without thinking about the poor who are in the majority in this country. Bar the entire marketing gimmick we are being fed that we stand to have clearer pictures and better stuff on our tellies, the most hurtful thing about this hasty switch is that most Malawians will be forced to carry a heavy economic cross.

Now, the poor man, who is already burdened by the ever-upward spiralling prices of basic necessities, must all of a sudden part ways with a staggering K15, 000 to buy a set-top box.

Elsewhere, a normal and sane government would have taken into account its citizens’ pathetic financial muscle and embrace the much touted, albeit disdainful migration, slowly other than with the speed this government has taken. But we should know the kind of government we have here at home and how ruthless it is when it comes to fundraising for its projects.

This is not all. Not long ago, the government imposed a stunning K48, 500 as passport application fee which was previously at K15, 100. If your memory serves you right, the very same DPP regime once-upon-a-time needlessly made us change our passports in a bogus security-tightening move when it was clear that it was just another fundraising stunt.

Lately, I am told, there is a new order that one must pay membership fee if they want any service from the Road Traffic and Safety Service Department. Look here, already people are made to pay an arm and a leg for any service from this department and forcing them to pay membership fee is simply ripping them double. But as usual whatever protest there can be this government will definitely not budge and we just have to accept this forceful and heartless fundraising drive.

Sometimes one is left with a depressing belief that whenever the DPP is in power it makes sure that the poor should bear the blunt of the economic downturn while the rich should be happier. Under the blue government we are always assured of a dress rehearsal of life in hell.

As we are talking now, we can as well forget about sending phone text messages because this government has decided to put tax on the service. What is ironic is that while the scum of the earth like you and I will no longer find it easy to communicate, our richer neighbours are punching the air in jubilation after import duty on their top-of-the-range vehicles has been slashed.

And if you are a needy guy hoping to survive the world through university education you must pray harder for mother luck because the government has stopped giving allowances to students in public universities: Another harsh move on the deprived who seriously need government’s help to attain a life-saving tertiary education.

It appears whatever the poor has is been taken away while the rich are going home richer. The government’s tenacity in imploring ways to make life harder for the poor is simply out of this world. Maybe we should live with the sad and painful fact that the next five years under this government will simply be a circus of pain.

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