ColumnsHitting The Nail

Is this a dream?


Faced with a growing chorus of alarm against a bloated entourage costing millions upon millions to United Nations, government’s line, as well articulated by Director of Information Bright Molande, is that the taxpayers are not footing the bill for the whole 110- member of the delegation to New York.

Molande’s main thrust of argument in defence of this callous and insensitive act by a government that is clearly out of touch with the plight of the common man is that diplomacy costs money.

But who said it should not. This is irrelevant. Nobody is questioning why President Peter Mutharika is in New York because no average Malawian is daft not to know the importance of the United Nations General Assembly especially in a year when the gathering would be looking at putting in place new development goals after the failure of some of the Millennium Development Goals that world leaders set in 2000.


Rather, what Malawians are alarmed about is this poor country taking to New York, one of the most expensive cities in the world, over 110 people that include chiefs and party zealots at the expense of the national kitty for a jolly plane ride and shopping.

But Molande says the delegation should be analysed with a claim that some of the delegates in New York flying the Malawi flag have been sponsored by the UN itself and other NGOs.

Well, Molande should then do Malawians a favour. After all, he is still director of information the last time I checked.


He should provide that analysis detailing, among other things, who has travelled, sponsors and should provide reasons what they are doing in the streets of Manhattan.

In the absence of this information, dithering and spinning of propaganda will not wash away the fact that it is crass senselessness for a government that has just declared critical food shortage and asking for donor support to be burning taxpayers’ money by organising jamborees for party cadres and other hangers-on in New York.

Never mind that this is also happening at a time that government is broke that it cannot employ doctors, nurses, teachers who have already finished training and all they want is a hospital to start curing Malawians and a school to teach.

I should not even talk about lack of drugs in the hospitals and children of poor people learning under trees. This is a well documented.

Yet to the DPP government, this is not a priority. In its wisdom, the little that the Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) collected under duress from the rest of us all is better spent in the expensive shops of Manhattan or Brooklyn in New York to please party cadres.

But Molande says not all the 110 people that can fill up a Boeing 737 flying the Malawi flag in the US were sponsored by the taxpayer and, I say, provide the information to the public for scrutiny.

This will be called accountability meant to establish the truth. Anything else that may come from government at moment is empty propaganda to suppress the truth about activities of a government that has lopsided priorities and does not seem to care about the plight of its citizens.

But after we debate in pubs, homes and online forums, this is all down to us, Malawians. When government has engaged in clear outright nonsense, as it has happened, what do we do?

We just talk and then it ends there.

Unless we do more and reject the nonsense that governments throw at us and act decisively by rising up to demand change, moaning and poverty will be our way of life forever.

It looks like a surreal dream that a poor country facing hunger and mounting debt can wake up one bright day to blow millions on taking hangers-on to New York.

But it is our reality in Malawi and it is sad.

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