Last Friday, The Daily Times had a sad screaming headline on its main story, “UK rebuffs APM on aid”.
This is the sad reality we are going to live with probably until Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe leaves office or President Peter Mutharika (AMP) himself leaves office and a new transformative administration takes over at the ballot box or Jesus comes.
I am not surprised that the UK, our former colonial masters, have sworn not to resume the budgetary support.
There are many things that the government has not done well and continues not to do well as measures to protect both Malawian taxpayers’ money and donor taxpayers’ money.
As the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said a few weeks ago, the government continues to overspend; it is spending willy-nilly against the advice of the IMF. How the government is using the money no one knows because public health services continue to collapse miserably as if Parliament never approved any budget.
The Health Committee of Parliament members have since sent an SOS for public hospitals having toured some of them in the past weeks. The situation is desperate, the situation is very bad and the situation has never been like this before.
Just go to primary schools and see the conditions in which our children are learning, very desperate and very bad situation.
Therefore, when Goodall concedes to the IMF of overspending, we wonder where the government overspent the money, which activities? This is where Parliament must take its rightful role for checks and balances of public money.
Then the IMF said the government is bloated, there are many people in government more than needed.
But the Civil Servants Trade Union officials came out, explaining there are more public servants in government than civil servants, meaning there are more politically appointed people in government who are draining the meagre resources the government has.
Just with the two points I have explained, the UK cannot be willing to come and help with the budgetary support unless the government shows it is willing to take advice and cut on unnecessary expenditures.
This is why I have this radical view that the President needs to fire Goodall and reshuffle the whole cabinet.
He needs to hire a cabinet, still lean as it is, which must be mandated to resuscitate this collapsing economy.
We need a cabinet with a number of energetic, intelligent economists who should give sound economic advice to the President; otherwise, with this life as usual manner, Mutharika will remain probably the worst President to have ruled Malawi.
Then the President should also reshuffle his more than life team of advisers and bring in a lean but intelligent and knowledgeable advisers needed to be close to the head of state in this time of crisis.
It is possible to turn around the economy within a year if there is real zeal, real commitment by our leaders and if they put Malawi first before party politics that do not put food on people’s tables.
President Mutharika and his team might be doing great things, terrific things behind the scenes in a bid to improve the economic and socio conditions of the country but if things on the ground show to the contrary, we will point fingers at the leadership.
This is why when the UK said no to APM’s request for budgetary support, it did not come as a great surprise at all.
There are many things that this government must do to convince donors come back on budgetary support apart from the bank reconciliation issues or other technical matters.
Newspapers continue to publish corruption stories, the graft busting body, the Anti- Corruption Bureau (ACB) seems to be dead and buried and those in authority seems to be very happy with the state of the affairs at the ACB.
No wonder, some politicians alleged the ACB is now getting directives from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party.
As I am writing this column, five public universities remain closed for various reasons, most of them due to money issues.
This is abnormal, very abnormal and it is very doubtful that Malawi will have a very good future if its youths, the future leadership, is just staying at home because the state is failing to resolve their problems.
Half way through its administration, the APM administration has completely failed.
However, all is not lost. UK has denied us budgetary support once again yes, ACB is on sleeping pills yes, most public universities remain closed yes, the public health system is collapsing yes, the economy is near collapsing yes, the public education system is near collapsing yes, etc, but APM can save the situation.
As I have said earlier, he should appoint a team that should be able to recover the economy; this current crop of his advisers and cabinet ministers have failed him and Malawians too.
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