I quite liked the remarks made the other day by President Lazarus Chakwera, who, upon his return from the United Kingdom, took time to remind every citizen that no matter what role or activity one goes to carry out beyond the country’s borders, be it sports or academic pursuits, we all must render our support to that person because whether we like it or not, he or she is an envoy of Malawi and whatever it is that the person is going to do, will be synonymous with the people back here at home.
I have said it numerous times that in this country, we have some mortals who are not patriotic enough and if given a chance, would sell this country at the earliest opportunity for a song. These are the kind that would look for their self-interest first in each and every national deal at the expense of the general good of the population (yes, far from utilitarianism). Instead of helping come up with solutions for the various challenges that affect our people and our country, a majority of us would take pole position in vilifying our own and take pleasure in seeing our fortunes taking a nose dive if we ourselves do not see a direct opportunity.
How that ties with the trip that the President undertook, I will leave it to you to decide. Suffice to say that a lot was said regarding the lean entourage that accompanied Chakwera on the trip as well as the interview with the BBC on Hardtalk. My hunch tells me it was along those lines that the Malawi leader decided to touch on the issue of supporting our ‘envoys’ but like I said, I will leave you to your toys. But the general message, which we are rehashing, is that we need to love our country.
Should we say that some of the changes we have witnessed in recent weeks by the President, whereby he has fired some members of his inner circle, is in the spirit of fortifying that ‘love your country’ narrative? Like Bob Marley sang; only time will tell. No, forget it! I am not going to name any names.
Speaking of loving our country, it was pleasing to learn the other day that finally, Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) has managed to secure billions of Kwacha (I think it was about K62 billion) with which to roll out its maize purchasing exercise. Let us hope they have addressed the problem which was there the first time when they were snubbed by stakeholders such as Parliament. Admarc’s turn-around has been long overdue.
It is a pity that time has already gone by since the harvest period and most likely, a lot of farmers might have sold a bulk of their yield to private traders, who we are told had the luxury of even purchasing the grain at a lowly K70 per Kilogramme against the government set price. That goes against the spirit of loving one’s country; why should you take advantage of your fellow country folk simply because the state grain trader has delayed to enter the market?
I bet even now, some unscrupulous traders who have learnt of the plan by Admarc to buy not more than 40 bags from each farmer, will somehow find a way through which to dupe the system and the only way we can keep such people and companies in check is for Admarc to ensure that their officers are vigilant when on the ground in ascertaining the authenticity of people’s particulars. Sadly, it is sometimes employees of the state grain marketer who connive with private traders and vendors to exploit the set system at the expense of the ordinary farmer.
But not all is lost because, as intimated by many, most farmers still have a lot of maize stocked in their maize barns and whether going by regions or otherwise; Admarc will still find suppliers on the ground. Taking into consideration the fact that most Malawians are now in tune with current affairs, I am certain that they too will not tolerate anyone trying to take advantage of their opportunity to sell at what has now become known as government-set farm-gate prices. Hopefully, the issue of moisture content, which has proved to be a problem lately, will not arise. I gathered from Admarc officials the other day that they will not compromise on this issue; they will only purchase maize that is well dried to the recommended standards.
Once again the message is simple; whatever it is that we do, let us remember that we only have one Malawi and if we choose to be reckless, we will destroy our reputation. But hopefully if we put a foot right, perhaps posterity will judge us kindly.
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).