It is an undeniable fact that Malawi is going through economic challenges and that the government has the major responsibility of turning things around.
But all of us as Malawians also have a role to play in making sure that things get back on track.
One thing I can commend Malawians for is the aggressive manner in which we are holding the government accountable on matters of governance, including economic management.
It is worth noting that Malawians of 2015 are not the same as Malawians of 2004 or years before who were too docile and passive to the extent where the government could get away with crimes and even won elections despite decimal performance in managing the affairs of the country.
This was the time the government only feared donors while ignoring popular views.
The situation is different now. Since July 20, 2011, Malawians have demonstrated that they no longer take things lying down when it comes to bad governance of the country. Malawians now know how to stand up when things are going in the wrong direction.
The elections of May 2014 just buttressed the argument I have advanced since 2012 that the present day Malawian is different from that of between 1994 and 2004.
The long held belief that a ruling party does not lose elections no longer holds. Today, the influence of donors is slowly diminishing following the complete withdraw of budgetary support as well as general reduction in international aid to the country.
At the same time, however, the power of the people has increased and the government is now more afraid of the voter than was the case 10 years ago.
The pressure government faced when it was revealed that President Peter Mutharika had travelled with over 100 people to the United Nations general assembly in New York would prove my point. So strong was the criticism that the president had to withdraw from a planned trip to India.
That is why I’m commending Malawians for our increased strength and zeal in holding the government accountable and demanding good service delivery and responsible governance from the government.
What is lacking among Malawians, however, is optimism about the future of the country. We seem to have lost hope and have as a result become too negative about our country. Pessimism is bad and dangerous for the country.
I therefore agree with what President Peter Mutharika said at the Economics Association of Malawi (Ecama) conference last Thursday that a people who feel hopeless cannot move forward to drive an economy and that self-doubt is always a reverse gear of progress.
The president was right that Malawians need to be hopeful and believe in themselves that they can do it and that if they don’t, nobody will.
As we press on the government to deliver and govern the country well, let us also play our part by being optimistic and working hard in our respective jobs to help in the development of the country.
As we demand reform from the government, we should also be ready to change and embrace a new way of doing things. We have to accept that the Malawi of depending on donors is gone and that the Malawi of today and of the future will have to fend for itself 100 percent.
We also have to accept that such change comes with pain and requires a lot of sacrifice on our part as citizens. Things may have to get worse before they get better again. This is a reality we have to accept.
Of course the government needs to inspire the people and make them look at the future with positivity. A clear plan for economic recovery as well as responsible behaviour by those in power is key to this.
Living lavishly on tax payers’ money while the people are going hungry and suffering without medicine in hospitals won’t inspire hope among the people.
The government therefore needs to put in place a road-map for getting the economy going again and bring back the International Monetary Fund (IMF) supported programme which is important in international financial dealings for the country. Investors and international financiers would have problems trusting the country with their money without an IMF programme.
The government, therefore, needs to review the national budget to make it responsive to emerging challenges and stimulate economic growth and development. The government should also come up with clear measures for reducing expenditure while ensuring that essential social services such as health and education are not affected.
As the president said in Mangochi, we have no choice but to keep pushing forward peddles of the economy. Indeed, it is time to make the people trust their government.
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