Talk about the youth ignoring the youth. Fine and well, but not in a democracy. The development came at a time, months before, Youth and Sports Minister Richard Chimwendo Banda had indicated that the government would launch the initiative in June 2022. There is no big difference between June when it was supposed to be launched, and July, when it was launched [on July 19, to be precise] anyway.
The minister’s comments did not come as a surprise; after all, President Lazarus Chakwera— whose party is in an alliance with Joyce Banda’s People’s Party, which launched the initiative in the first place— had made it clear that the initiative is a key promise from his Malawi Congress Party (MCP) election campaign manifesto.
Chakwera, it must be remembered, approved K3.5 billion for the initiative, with the funds meant to be disbursed across all the 193 constituencies of the country. The idea is that, initially, K3.5 billion will be used for training youths in entrepreneurship and that, after successfully undergoing training, the youth will be presented with start-up capital.
But, then, considering that the initiative was already launched, and in the same Neno District, during the Joyce Banda administration, this is a typical case of moving in circles
It does not matter that Chakwera said, when he launched the initiative in Neno, that youths are critical players in the economic development of the country. Yes, it matters less that he said that the youth are in majority in the land of the lake we call Malawi.
It did not matter that he said “This is why I am excited that, two years after becoming president, I have come to launch the National Youth Service I promised months before I was elected president. We have allocated, in the 2022- 23 financial year, over K3 billion and a majority of this money will help 20,000 youths to get relevant skills to be self-reliant”.
Yes, it does not matter that the Citizen Number One said the National Youth Service is a game-changer, even after inspecting new structures and observing skills training in real-time at Neno Integrated Youth Development Centre under the Jobs for Youth Programme.
Yes, it does not matter; what matters is that the programme has been launched twice and, in both cases, taxpayers’ funds went down the drain. I am talking about all the security arrangements, all the fuel that goes into those fuel-guzzling cars, all the allowances, and the road clearing works that become part of the President’s visits as his handlers try to hoodwink him into believing that tattered roads have always been tarred, even when the opposite is true.
I am of the view that whenever the President is visiting a place he has never been to, or a place he last visited sometime back, public officials should not bother smothering the road or doing some artificial things that give the President a wrong picture of things.
I am super the President, who is a servant leader, would like to feel the pain we, ordinary citizens, feel; and rejoice in things that make us happy.
I do not think we do justice to the President when he is made to hear things he has to hear and made to see things he wants to see. When public officials do that, they mislead the Citizen Number One, which is not a good thing.
Not that the Citizen Number One does not know the truth; he knows— just that he pretends that he does not know. Pretence is a sickness in this country, one whose demons we have to exorcise.
Anyway, our leaders are also to blame for this state of affairs, a state I fault on intoxication with power. When the people we elect to lead us and reside in State residences are on the campaign trail, they are good, affable fellas, approachable and down-to-the-ground, too. Elect them and come to know about their true colours!
After testing power, they discard the voice of reason and demand, from those that surround them, things they [leaders] are familiar with. They do not want anyone to whisper some bit of truth into their ears; they will frown at those trying to paint the right picture of the President.
Far from the individual who was eager to listen to all and sundry on the campaign trail, they become untouchables once in power, such that, instead of tolerating dissent and listening to all that offer counsel, they elect a handful of advisers whose duty it is to feed lies to the President.
Just in the nick of time, the President’s perception of things suffers a battering, and their worldview gets limited to the horizon in their eye range. They become strangers who know nothing about the real Malawi.
It is these ‘strangers’ who celebrate when being driven through a newly paved road that is, in its natural form, a tattered curtain strewn with potholes that spoil ordinary people’s cars.
That, Dear Pain, is the pain of being an honourable citizen because all the problems are ours while our leaders live in different worlds.
Surely, we, Malawians, have a long way to go to get things right, a realisation that makes the pain even more unbearable.
Whatever the case, leave us alone, Dear Pain; at least for now.