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Eternal beggars

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Puludzu

A ridiculous but honest tag has been pushed around worldwide every moment Malawi hogs the limelight, usually for the wrong reasons: one of the world’s poorest countries.

It is obvious the embarrassing identifier will not leave us alone if our current economic levels and future prospects are anything to go by. We are not moving—not an inch.

We are stuck in wretchedness. We are eternal beggars because we have failed to significantly build our own economy over the years. Now, it is as if the embarrassing label no longer bothers us; like we have accepted it to be part of our national psyche.

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So, everyone we take our begging bowls to has the liberty to toss us around the way they feel because, after all, we will not sulk over the acts. We are beggars and we can hardly choose.

Our benefactors will be in charge of every talk regarding what they can offer us. They will call the shots because it is their resources that we are seeking.

In any case, such experiences were supposed to push us to work harder and grow our economy. We should, for once, imagine the comfort and dignity that would come with being no longer called one of the poorest countries in the world.

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The recent imbroglio regarding our programme with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is quite telling. They brought their terms on the table, justifiably so, because it is their money that we are seeking to access.

IMF has its own benchmarks when it comes to countries accessing the fund’s Extended Credit Facility. You cannot twist their hand, especially when you are a poor beggar that cannot do most of your things without the help of your partners.

It has been all clear that government officials, led by Minister of Finance Sosten Gwengwe, went on their bended knees in their desperate push for the programme, to salvage some boost in the country’s forex reserves.

We need to remind ourselves that we are a sovereign state that should have already had its sovereignty a reality 58 years after independence. We cannot forever rely on others for our survival.

It is preposterous that we are still one of the world’s poorest countries—to the point of competing with territories that were once or are still being ravaged by war—despite that we are endowed with brains and resources that could push us out of the poverty set.

At the heart of our poverty is corruption. We can move into a fairer category economically if we eradicate this cancer.

There has also been so much talk about expanding our export base and improving on manufacturing. But with one of the lowest power production rates in the world, we can as well forget about expanding our state of manufacturing.

Even the mining sector, that has for years on end been touted as something that can lessen our over-reliance on agriculture for economic growth, cannot be optimally explored with the current amount of power that we generate.

These are problems that our leaders know. In fact, they have known them for years but chose to concentrate on something else.

For once, we should be seriously embarrassed to be branded with chastening tags and fight hard to unshackle ourselves from the mortification.

We cannot forever be a country that survives on begging. At least, IMF has told us a subtle lesson about how humiliating it should be to be poor.

On the other hand, the issues the Bretton Woods institution raised on our finance management system are authentic and should have been addressed already if we were that serious about the future of our country.

Local economists have extensively talked about how dangerous our borrowing is getting. They have talked about how corruption is tightening its grip on public resources and development.

Now, the frustrations are all over.

The hope that the Tonse Alliance would do things differently if it got to power has withered away. All what they spoke against has become part of the system and all voices of reason no longer matter.

A chance to show the world that mending Malawi is possible is being tossed around by our leaders whose approach to fighting corruption is too lukewarm.

That is why public resources will continue being plundered and Malawians being short-changed. And the levels of poverty in the country will not get better; we will continue being mocked by whoever gets a chance to talk about us out there.

The truth is that Malawi is still searching for a leader who will be passionate enough about the plight of this country; a leader who will come out guns blazing and clear the mess in the public system.

Malawi is in serious need of redemption. The country needs someone who will mean it when they say they have come to serve and want to move the country out of the disgraceful poverty and the grip of cartels that are reaping where they never sow and ensure we are beggars for life.

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