CSOs fault Tonse leaders on ‘sabotage’ remarks
By Deogratias Mmana:
Remarks by Vice President Saulos Chilima that some of the government’s failed plans are due to sabotage have not gone down well with some analysts, who have described the remarks as acceptance that the government has failed to serve the interests of Malawians.
Chilima told Malawians in Nkhata Bay District on Friday, during a memorial service marking Martyrs’ Day, that the country is failing to develop because of sabotage by some public officials and civil servants working in different sectors.
He said some people are supposed to be replaced in their positions because they are failing to serve the interests of the current administration.
“So when the President has made a directive on programmes, we must work. Those who are lazy must be removed to put those who are capable to serve this government. We want progress. If they are failing [at] work, why should we be keeping them?” Chilima queried.
And, when delivering his State of the Nation Address on February 17 2023, Chakwera attributed failure by his administration to deliver some promises on factors such as “political sabotage by political agents camouflaged as public servants”.
Other factors he cited included dysfunctional public procurement processes, an insatiable appetite for cash handouts by government officials and community leaders and rent seeking behaviour by some public officers.
But in separate interviews, analysts have argued that Chakwera and Chilima cannot attribute their failure to deliver to sabotage when the public service is at their disposal.
They also say the current administration has placed officers of its preference in key positions to help them deliver.
Centre for Research and Consultancy Director Milwad Tobias faulted Chilima for his Nkhata Bay comment, saying the statement leaves Malawians hopeless.
“A statement to the effect that the government is failing to deliver due to sabotage is a statement of defeat, hopelessness. A leader cannot tell people that his poor performance is the work of his rivals and expect people to still believe in his capability,” Tobias said.
He said the Tonse Alliance administration has no one, and nothing, to blame except itself.
“There has never been a time when the current administration found it hard to pass bills in Parliament. As such, they cannot claim that there is sabotage,” Tobias said.
He argued that from 2004 to 2009, the late president Bingu wa Mutharika faced stiff opposition because he had no members of Parliament and could be believed had he claimed that some people were sabotaging government projects.
Executive Director for Church and Society of the Blantyre Church of Central Africa Presbyterian Synod, Reverend Master Jumbe, said Chakwera and Chilima have simply been running away from the truth.
“What has been said is pure scapegoating and failure to accept failure,” Jumbe said.
Jumbe challenged the leadership of the country to find solutions to the challenges facing the people because that is one of their core functions.
“The Vice President and his boss should admit that they have failed Malawians and should not blame anyone for their failures. As leaders, one of their core mandates is to find solutions for all challenges that stand in the way of socio-economic development of the nation.
“Let them accept that they promised Malawians what they cannot deliver. They should equally admit that plans and development projects under the Tonse Alliance administration have failed because of rampant corruption, which has reached worrying levels during their reign.
“Every Malawian knows, for example, that AIP [Affordable Inputs Programme] implementation has failed this year because of corruption. How can that be blamed on sabotage?” he added.
Many projects under the watch of the current administration are taking time to be completed. Some of them have missed timelines. These include the 6-lane Kenyatta Road in Lilongwe, which is at 25 percent when it was supposed to be completed by February 2023.
The Lirangwe- Chingale-Machinga Road has been the subject of activism for almost 20 years during which time it has appeared in almost all budget statements but is yet to be completed.
Other road projects that keep appearing in budget statements include the Nsanama-Nayuchi Road said to be at 80 percent completion rate; Ntcheu-Tsangano-Neno- Mwanza Road; Njakwa- Livingstonia Loop Road; Thyolo-Makwasa- Muona-Bangula Road; Rumphi-Nyika-Chitipa Road at 22 percent and Malomo-Mpalo-Ntchisi- Dzaleka Road and the construction of an aquatic complex at Kamuzu Institute of Sports in Lilongwe, among others.