It is a fact that the attack by the Covid-19 pandemic has reached unprecedented levels and, for certain, government has been grappling with how best it can fend off the ceaseless onslaught by the pandemic that has claimed precious lives of numerous sons and daughters of the soil. We cannot downplay the impact Covid-19 has had on the lives of Malawians, including the President and member of his Cabinet.
Granted that a huge chunk of available resources might have been committed towards the Covid-19 fight but, for crying out loud, can the Tonse-led administration please really get on the grind and start churning out results for some of the changes it promised Malawians that would take them to prosperity Caanan’ as aptly put during the campaign period).
Believe you me, people are not oblivious to the fact that, while we have a monster of a problem in Covid-19, those that were hired to serve their interests in government institutions and departments are still carting home fat pay cheques, allowances and other benefits (coronavirus or no coronavirus). This then renders credence to calls from the likes of Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) for the Tonse Alliance to quicken the pace in as far as meeting the aspirations of the people is concerned.
It does not have to be a magnanimous kind of action; even something like creating 100,000 of the promised 1 million jobs would be a great start, cleansing the civil service of all deadwood and political stooges that have nothing to offer but are simply bent at frustrating government’s development efforts. As a matter of fact, where are we with the Public Reforms agenda? There were chief executive officers, district commissioners and other officials that had crafted action plans for their organisations’ turnaround but, to this day, we have not seen any hints of change. The President Lazarus Chakwera-led administration has to capitalise on the goodwill it is enjoying from Malawians by throwing in some good deeds to quench the thirst of the population for positive developments; at least up until such a time when they will be able to notice changes like new infrastructure such as hospitals and roads in the long term.
So far, it has been a fair ride as we have seen many people receiving subsidized farm inputs and it is no surprise that the maize crop is tantalisingly green in most fields. But there simply has to be more than that to show when the government clocks 365 days in office.
Those that are pushing the current administration to stop ‘dozing’ and get results are not doing so out of malicious intentions but purely for the general good. We need to have public institutions that are ticking and not taking the taxpayer for granted. Take, for example, the situation in some of our towns and cities; even after the President and his Cabinet have been all over town, showing the lead in clearing filth and rallying Malawians to do the same, it has been business as usual for most city and district councils who have and continue to neglect mounds of garbage within their jurisdictions.
Imagine we can still have, in this day, public officials who are so adamant and full of themselves such that we can afford to have a whole government ministry sideline civil society organisations (CSOs) when submitting Malawi’s 4th Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (Eiti) report. And now Capital Hill might end up with an egg all over its face as the CSOs want the main organisation in Oslo, Norway, not to endorse the country’s report. We will not delve into details but this was just to show you how backward and conniving some people can be in government and, if those at the helm do not wake up, such action might rock the boat.
We should not simply be having our leaders waffle out aspirations without matched action on the ground. As they say, a journey of a thousand miles starts with a step. I am quite certain that Malawians have patience in abundance but when it comes to issues of national interest, time is of essence.
I guess we do not have much of a choice but to wait and see if there will be noticeable change in the short term. As government spokesperson Gospel Kazako has said, the administration is operating in line with the dictates of the law. However, while the administration might be obsessed with the law, somebody somewhere in the system could be manipulating or breaking the very laws without notice and embezzling public funds or committing corrupt acts.
The message is quite simple and clear to the government; the honeymoon is over, now is the time to put in some serious work and deliver the results which you promised Malawians.
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).