Welcome to the year 2022 and, as we always do, we promise to give you more exciting and mind-bogging entries this year. Suffice to say that 2021 was the most trying year for some of us and we could not wait to see the back of it. The sorrow caused by the Covid-19 pandemic eclipsed whatever achievement we had to show but we continue to keep our faith in the man up above, for scriptures say his ways are not our ways.
With the emergence of the Omicron variant of Covid-19, the numbers are once again on an upward trajectory so we must make sure that we are adhering to all the prescribed preventive measures that include regular hand-washing and sanitisation as well as social distancing. If you have not had your Covid-19 vaccination yet, I would urge you to do now and, of course, I am mindful of the fact that this remains a voluntary choice. The recent proclamations by government officials regarding plans to make Covid-19 vaccination mandatory have certainly divided opinion and I would not want to get trapped in the debate that has ensued on the matter as both rights activists and government have made compelling arguments to back their position. But at the end of the day, we all have one life to live and it is up to each one of us to safeguard that life, which is a precious gift from up above. We need to be alive if we are to see the year 2022 all the way through. Together, we can tame the fourth wave of Covid-19, which has made life uncomfortable for everyone.
Another feature that made life hard for many, especially towards the end of 2021, was the sharp rise in prices of goods and services, especially those considered basic necessities such as house rentals and food. As we speak, prices of commodities are still going up and there is no end in sight yet. Even after some people trooped onto the streets to protest the same, it has not had that much effect. Surely, you do not expect the authorities to just wave a magical wand and have the prices of commodities tumbling down; it is a game of numbers and the pressure is on Capital Hill to help bring relief not just to the consumer but also those doing business.
Talking about food, it seems the disorganisation of Affordable Inputs Programme (AIP) this season and the delayed rains have given us a poor start and unless we receive rainfall at the soonest, we might not see a bumper harvest as was the case last season. The weatherman seems to be jumpy when it comes to determining the exact dates when the country will get abundant rain but we are hopeful of good tidings ahead and, coupled with prayers, all shall be well.
Corruption also had its fair share in the year just concluded and the easy pick and perhaps the most highlighted matter is that which involved business magnate Thomson Mpinganjira. But then, that case was just a drop in the ocean and Malawians expect to see more action from the Anti-Corruption Bureau Financial Intelligence Authority, Director of Public Prosecutions, Malawi Police Service, Office of the Ombudsman and all those concerned. We saw flashes of hope as we finalised 2021 when Malawian of Asian origin Karim Batatawala and some former Immigration top officials were netted in relation to corruption allegations. We can only hope that the truth will come out and that Malawians will not end up paying huge sums of money in compensation to such people, as has been the trend over the years.
As has been said by others, the rot is not limited to the past as there are currently some mortals within the corridors of power who are allegedly waist-deep involved in corruption. The Chakwera-led administration needs to see to it that such bad apples are removed from the pile; otherwise, they might just render his ‘clearing the rubble’ campaign worthless. Come to think of it, why is it taking this long to clear that rubble? We must clean the house now if Malawians are to enjoy a smooth ride over the next three years before we go to the pools in 2025.
Unemployment is a song that gets played over and over again and, hopefully this year, something meaningful will be done to ensure that the youth and those within the productive age bracket are earning a meaningful income to sustain themselves and their dependents.
Otherwise, happy new year!
Stephen Dakalira is a seasoned Journalist who works as Times Group’s Online and Digital Executive Editor. He is also the Assistant Editor of The Sunday Times Newspaper, and author of Full Circle column which appears in Malawi News; all of these under the Times Group stable.
He has previously worked in key positions for some of Malawi’s key media institutions such as Malawi News Agency, Capital FM Radio and Star Radio (Now Timveni Radio).