Government should be ashamed of itself
Government officials continue to baffle the nation with their characteristic insensitivity, which, for lack of a better word, exposes their congenital ignorance of the plight of citizens in this country.
The latest government official to baffle us with his dosage of insensitivity is Finance, Economic Planning and Development Minister Goodall Gondwe who, for no better reason than to give teachers a dummy, decided to misinform the nation on an issue as important as education.
At the heart of the debate are primary school teachers who, tired of being lied to on the issue of 2016/17 fiscal year leave grants, went on a national strike on Monday. Predictably, the government, which has been paying lip service to the teachers’ calls for their money, pressed the panic button and decided to cool things off by finding comfort in a lie.
This week, Gondwe told Parliament— of all institutions— that the Treasury, which is under his ministry had deposited the money in the accounts of district councils; meaning that the central government no longer has anything to do with the issue of leave grants and that, if anything, district councils should be to blame for any further delays in disbursing the money.
Who could doubt the minister, considering that he assured Parliament that the issue had been resolved and that the situation was under control? It is our belief that the minister understands that Parliament is a serious institution, as one of the three arms of the government, where representatives of the people of Malawi deliberate on issues of national importance.
But Gondwe decided to disrespect the House by peddling a lie. And, yet, the strike has crippled education in public primary schools across the country. Consequently, innocent children are bearing the brunt of government’s reluctance to do the needful.
When Gondwe peddled the lie that the arrears had been deposited in district council accounts, he surely started a game he expected to win at our expense. But his lies have backfired and it is too late to apologise.
The damage has been done and it will be difficult for Malawians, let alone teachers, to believe this government again. Now, trust is the bedrock of democracy. In fact, our leaders rule on trust.
Therefore, by making a frantic apology in Parliament on Friday, Gondwe has just confirmed our fears that this country is ruled by people who do not have the interest of citizens at heart.
And blaming officials for misleading him does nothing to assuage our fears. In fact, it makes our situation worse, for we are made to believe that this country is led by people who have no idea about what is happening in their own spheres of operation.
Gondwe should have followed up on what was happening on the issue for instead of rushing to Parliament with a bowl of lies.
Teachers, and the people of this country, deserve better than this, Honourable Minister!
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