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Mindset Change: Business unusual

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The public sector is no exception. If we are to analyze all the budget statements passed in the national assembly since the dawn of independence, we will realise the many a projects we provided funding for but are yet to see the light of the day, we will be ashamed that we should not have been paving the roads we are struggling to pave today as we had probably over 20 years ago provided funding to pave them.

We will even shed tears of sorrow that many initiatives to enhance agriculture that were funded in many national budgets died in infancy.

Look at the themes of the budget statements, all cosmetic and mere dreams. If we were to live by the budget statement themes Malawi could have been many years ahead in terms of development.

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We have the appetite to sacrifice merit on the altar of mediocrity. We have the appetite not to appreciate what we planned and monitor the implementation with possible control measures and redress. We are just five years from 2020 and what has happened to the much publicized and hyped Vision 2020.

Upon being launched it was stated that Malawi as a God-fearing nation will be secure, democratically mature, self-reliant with equal opportunities for and active participation by all, having social services, vibrant cultural and religious values and being a technologically driven-middle class economy.

15 years down the implementation line of the Vision 2020 drive, we are yet to be democratically mature, our politicians are ever focusing on the next election rather than coming together to develop Malawi. There is always a cat and mouse relationship between the government and the opposition. They are sworn enemies such that they forget the interest of the common man and dwell on trivia in the national assembly which has nothing to offer the common man.

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15 years down the line we are far away from being self-reliant, ever sending our begging bowls to the east and the west. 15 years down the line access to social services is a more of a priviledge than a right. And on technology we rank low on knowledge and innovation.

While Rwanda implements a child a computer policy in primary schools, not even our universities can afford that. While Israel uses drip irrigation, we still wait for rain. While the Barefoot College in India collects all rain water falling from the roof tops into a reservoir that can sustain the college for four years in case of no rain at all, we let water run freely causing massive floods.

We cannot forgive ourselves from our inability to turn words into action. What happened to Raising Malawi Charity? Madonna only came to Malawi to turn the soil o lay the foundation for the $3.8 million project in 2009 and that is where the project ended. With all the hype and international media frenzy all we have reaped is nothing.

Where are we even now on the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy, a blue print that was meant to move us from poverty into prosperity. The overall objective of the MDGS was to reduce poverty through sustained social economic growth and infrastructure development.

If anything Malawi was meant to be transformed from a predominantly importing and consuming economy to a predominantly manufacturing and exporting economy. We did manage to start working on infrastructure development but have we done more that what we had planned for? In the very end are we not working on more blue prints on paper that will just end with the launch.

In the MDGS we had plans to improve access to clean water within 500 meters distance for all people. To date our sisters and mothers in rural areas walk many kilometers to fetch water much of which is not even suitable for consumption.

And even the NGOs that are in the water sector waste time over and over again and again in hotels discussing water provision to the people, with a great percentage of the funding ending on hotel bills, fuels, allowances and flight costs to the donour countries where they present reports of meetings than actual provision of water.

When we live in a kind of impoverishment that our people find themselves engulfed in in Malawi, the kind of hunger pelting the stomachs of our people whose children are prone to malnutrition, we cannot afford the patience of waiting, the patience of listening to cosmeticised speeches that are mere rhetoric and meant only for media headlines.

What we need to do now as a country is to vigilantly follow up on any initiatives being started, follow up on any resources allocated to projects, follow up on any promises made by anybody in the light of national development.

We do not need the luxury of reinventing the wheel every time we think of more developments. We have planned enough in Malawi over the past years. What have crippled us are the chains of inability to move beyond the launch of products, services and initiatives.

We can only be optimistic that the hype and pomp that characterized the Public Sector Reforms document launch will keep on and key issues being followed until they are thoroughly implemented within the expected timeline. Otherwise, as with many programs in Malawi, the launch may end up being the beginning and end of everything.

It is now time we change. We cannot keep on doing doings with the very same thinking that was there during the time the problems started. We need a new type of thinking. This is the dawn of business unusual.

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