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Nothing but the truth

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Truth can, of course, be misleading.

Imagine, for instance, the spectacle once upon a time— the point in time when the earth was believed not to be oval-like but, at first, flat and, then, rectangular in shape.

That was the truth of the time. Those that diverted from that truth to take other routes were brutally murdered, sometimes mercilessly whipped.

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It was as if words that were regarded as truth were cast in stone.

And, yet, the truth is that the truth is relative. What we may consider as facts today may just be something borne out of the figment of some over-thinking individual’s imagination.

After all, is it not in the early to late 1990s, and even up to years between 2,000 and 2010, that we believed that there were three groups of food. That was the truth, nothing but the truth.

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In this part of Africa, nobody argued with them— I am not ‘othering’ here. It is ‘them’ [nutritionists trading under the oversized banner of science] that imposed the ‘three groups of food’ idea on us, non-nutritionists.

That was the truth, as it was then.

Now we have six groups of food.

In other words, it is acceptable that the truth, like coronavirus, can mutate— sometimes so fast that people may hardly keep in touch with the so-called truth, which scientists regard as facts.

However, there is a problem when the truth is shifting posts in one’s lifetime. How many lifetimes—let us say generations— did it take for the truth that the earth was flat, or somewhat rectangular, to change to the ‘truth’ that the earth is oval-like? A generation or two or three.

The truth ‘tastes’ sweet when it changes tinge in another generation, and not the general when it was forced on suspecting people’s throats hook, line and sinker.

However, someone, somewhere, seems not to appreciate this. Someone at the Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) does not seem to realise that the ‘truth’ should not change very fast.

Last week, RBM Governor Wilson Banda told all and sundry that the 25 percent devaluation of the local unit, the Kwacha, was not influenced by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) but done in reaction to market trends.

Not just that; he added that the persona Kwacha has been given a deliberate slap, making its lose 25 kilogrammes of holy flesh, in a bid to give its soul true value.

In so saying, he was running counter to public opinion. Did I say public opinion? No. Expert opinion.

Economists had suggested that the central bank had taken the move as part of a desperate attempt by the government to have a new IMF Extended Credit Facility (ECF) programme in place to help cushion Malawi from prevailing economic woes.

After all when the Kwacha was being devalued last week Thursday, a decision that became effective mid-night, members of an IMF mission team were meeting government officials for a possible fresh ECF.

To have the programme in place, which could enable Malawi to rebuild a Balance of Payment position, it is common knowledge that the government has to, among other things, adjust its economic policies, which include monetary policies such as the exchange rate.

But addressing journalists in Blantyre, Banda maintained that the central bank did not act under any duress but the decision to devalue the Kwacha was in correlation with economic trends.

Instead of saying the truth, that devaluation came about due to IMF pressure, the RBM chief decided to attribute the decision to economics.

But, then, these are days when the truth can change in the same generation.

That is why Finance Minister Sosten Gwengwe must be lauded for telling Malawians the truth; there was no way we could be fiddling with the Kwacha while the IMF team is here.

Even President Lazarus Chakwera hinted at that during the Tuesday evening press conference, when he said he ordered the authorities to devalue the Kwacha because the benefits will, in the long-term, be far-reaching and beneficial to Malawi.

Nothing but the truth, which RBM somehow wanted to circumvent.

Talking about nothing but the truth, the former governing Democratic Progressive Party gave the country a bluff meal when it claimed that Chakwera was gulping $10,000 per hour – in plane hiring costs— during his recent trip abroad.

As it were, the government cleared the mist, indicating that the total amount spent on the President’s trip was in the range of K300 million.

Surely, like those in the government, those in the opposition must relish nothing but the truth.

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