Malawi government is on the back foot


Malawi government is ever on the back foot, always caught off-balance. It is constantly on the defensive. Its leaders always have to explain thereby eroding its own authority.

The farm inputs subsidy issues for example should have been disposed of long time ago but debates rage because government is not listening to new ideas. I find it quite puzzling – this lack of progress-in spite of all reasoning by citizens and donors.

It’s not clear what Cabinet misunderstands about the calls to reform and phase out fisp. It’s a great cause for concern that Cabinet can’t see that food security through massive public investment is a poor unsustainable policy.


Nobody can rationally justify financing consumption instead of increasing production, developing markets or getting into value adding.

Everything has been said:

Fisp entrenches dependence, thwarts creativity, deepens poverty and robs people of the dignity to move on. Fisp simply postpones development of the agriculture sector.


Finance guru Goodall Gondwe is right that fisp cannot develop this country. It is not an economic development model. It is a subsistence model that curtails innovations. Fisp could stabilise inflation and release resources for investment but even then there’s no guarantee.

What is urgent is increased production of diverse crops which takes care of both farmer incomes and food security. Clearly what Malawians seek is to turn agriculture into business which has the potential for increased production, quality and income.

I seem to see government fear that people won’t afford to borrow from commercial banks or from the so-called micro-finance institutions which basically screw people up, farmer or not.

Yes, farmers won’t afford but that is because there is no determination to adopt policies that protect farmers. There is no ‘collateral’ against a borrowing rate that is ridiculously retrogressive; easily the worst in this part of Africa.

Meanwhile you get a shocker from the Minister for Agriculture who finally reveals that government has no resources for irrigation. This is unfortunate, to say the least.

Minister, it is not lack of resources but imprudent allocation of resources. It is a jumbling of priorities and total lack of vision. Who doesn’t know about huge resources committed to unproductive areas? It is moral impropriety.

The billions lost in Fisp allocated to irrigation would give Malawi the food it needs and more in five years. The economy will pick in earnest and incomes at household level will grow. Pure and simple!

Nation Msowoya quite easily admits ‘the government is not yet ready with an investment idea’ for money realised from the sale of the Malawi Savings Bank.

Strange indeed!

In one breath government blames lack of progress in irrigation on resource constraints and exposes huge money to inflation. Most weird that a decision was made to sell MSB without investment options – not even irrigation!

Thanks Henry Kachaje for the suggestion to invest in the green belt initiative that Malawians continue to cry for. Why government is so hung up on Fisp at the expense of the green belt is beyond any rational person. Honestly!

Mini s ters Gondwe and Chiyembekeza, Malawians are ready to suffer pain for a few years as government develops the green belt rather than be cheated by ephemeral political baits like Fisp.

Or do you think Malawi can develop without times of real pain? That would be a miracle. Developing a nation is hard work and great sacrifice for both leaders and citizens.

Now secondary school fees won’t go up, till the economy gets better. Well, call me a pessimist, but opposition please note that nothing will improve any time soon. There is famine right now and drought is looming. Fees won’t increase for three years and education will have gone to the wolves.

I invite all leaders to embrace the reality that Malawians are not known for readiness to pay for services. The culture is government must foot every bill which you leaders are perpetuating.

It’s actually quite frightening!

This is why wards of rich people cheat to access bursaries meant for the poor. Children with family falsify details to access bursaries meant for orphans; households perfectly able to afford commercial fertilizers despatch vendors to purchase Fisp fertilizers.

It must be part of your mission to teach Malawians to work and earn honestly. The easy money culture is killing the nation. Unless government promulgates policies that get people to work and learn to pay for services, Malawi is stuck in poverty.

Meanwhile, government remains helpless against a mafia type civil service. Humongous quantities of drugs vanish from the assumed safety of medical stores and pharmacies into private clinics and pharmacies, the open market and across borders.

Hospital security remains basic when parasites have mutated into sophisticated leeches. If I were Minister for Health, I would have sub-contracted pharmacy services in public hospitals to private sector providers.

At a time that reforms should be rationalising both recruitment and deployment the civil service complement has grown by over 60 per cent. Are these actual people or ghosts? Have we flushed out the spirits yet?

I am not too sure that a properly trained and qualified doctor would bleed a patient in a state of comma, perhaps at gun point. A well trained paramedic would risk dismissal if they bled a profusely bleeding patient who actually needs blood.

Well, against a background of austerity that has brought public service operations to a halt in ministries and departments Malawians will lose K300 million to pay for image building and marketing costs.

It’s really sad that government is on the back foot over the so-called moratorium on the law that criminalises homosexuality. This may be ‘shrewd political manoeuvre’ as Danwood Chirwa says but it remains hugely illegal.

Worse, a uniquely radical but unlawful decision was made to accommodate donor sentiments cheer leading Malawi to derail from its own cultural foundations and adopt practices that are still contentious even in the ‘sexually developed’ North.

My last word: Cabinet must watch. You’re on the back foot, always

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