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ColumnsHitting The Nail

Hitting the nail: Can we get a life on donors?

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I am sure by now diplomats that we keep on asking about resumption of direct aid to government must be bored to the core of their bone marrow as they keep on giving the same answer all the time.

For starters, the answer which gets repeated all the time like a scratched record is that no cent of their taxpayers’ money will ever be channeled to our Treasury in form of budgetary support.

It is true that former president the late Bingu wa Mutharika upset the donors big time with his loudmouth and cowboy attitude towards them. This unwarranted belligerent stand was to reach its climax when he declared British High Commissioner Fergus Cochrane Dyet persona non grata after the diplomat described him as ever autocratic and more intolerant to criticism in a leaked cable to London.

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This was even made worse by the fact that the late Bingu had just used the British direct support aid of 20 million pounds to buy himself a jet so that he could travel the world in opulence while Malawians are dying of hunger and lack of drugs in hospitals.

But it is also equally true that the public in these donor countries do not appreciate why their governments should be channeling billions of their tax to poor African countries when their own social service delivery is not up to scratch and this has largely driven the aid agenda leading to a paradigm shift and so called global policy to do away with direct budgetary support.

For us as Malawians, we must acknowledge both sides of the issue whose net result is that aid has stopped. It is as simple that.

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Aid will not come back and as Malawians, we should get a life about it and move on.

The first to move on, in my view, should be President Peter Mutharika. After that he should then provide leadership on how the country would move forward without aid.

But it seems to me this is not the case as the story he tells is the same whenever somebody whose name is near to being called donor visits the State House. He is always appealing for budgetary support.

But this time President Mutharika should get it from me, aid is gone. As a citizen I expect him to tell the nation what creative plan he is pursuing in view of this reality and how he is pursuing it, what are the targets and when should Malawians, as his employers, expect to see tangible results.

This is what robust leadership is all about but sadly I do not see it this way in this President. There is just too much inertia for my liking.

Many Malawians have argued that for the sake of our national pride, we do not need donors who most of the time patronise us as if we are their children because of the money that they give us.

These Malawians also tell me that our national budget can actually balance if our leaders and civil servants stopped stealing some of the money that we pay to the national kitty as tax.

This is largely true especially when one hears the astronomical figures that some evil minded people are stealing from government on daily basis. The Cashgate scandal summarises it all.

But if our leaders only woke up from the deep slumber, led by the President, and then get a grip on our affairs, have a plan, rally everybody around it, I can tell you this patronising business of aid would be a thing of the past.

All we need is the effort to put our money where our mouth is.

But I know this is just a dream of mine. This is not what the President and his Cabinet are even dreaming about.

It is business as usual and that is why they are still talking about aid when it is long gone, gone forever.

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