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Politics of hunger

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Malawi is sailing through troubled waters and there seems to be no end in sight to the storms that are rocking this boat. In another life, this was the right time for citizens of this country to reflect on our condition and make some difficult choices that would lead us out of this mess.

The solution to our problems is neatly captured in a phrase that has become a catchword for politicians who want to cheat us into believing that they have solutions – “mindset change”. We seriously need to reconsider how we do things in this country.

This mindset change must begin at the very top where important decisions are made. It is absurd to hear the President and his vice talk about mindset change when they have not changed how they do things themselves.

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Since the inception of multiparty democracy, politics in this country has become a playfield for the hungry and the crooked who take advantage of the poor and the ignorant. The ill-motives in our politics are so gross that the average Malawian knows politics as a game of savages. But things ought not to be that way. We have lost too much due to our misconception of how politics should be.

Because we have misunderstood this very important cornerstone of development, politicians have been draining resources which would have seen this country prosper.

They campaign not to change the lives of people and to safeguard future generations but, rather, to win power and enrich themselves. This is why we don’t have politicians with visions and long-term policies.

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They will build a road that will not last three years because you have to vote for them again so that they can repair that road. It is sad to see that even the biggest man in our politics does not see beyond the five years of his bliss. He wants another term so that he continues to enjoy the comfort, forgetting the millions who are suffering.

Such kind of thinking explains why the Affordable Inputs Programme (AIP) continues to be a problem today. It is reported that, in the last decade, this programme has drained more than K900 billion, but people still suffer from hunger year in and out.

The government continues to give people fertiliser, seed and other freebies which they are never required to account for. The government will never follow up on whether those who received the inputs have benefitted from them because the programme is not meant to benefit these people in the first place. AIP benefits the politicians who capitalise on people’s hunger to win votes in the next election. Politicians want you hungry so that you vote for them to loot.

As we speak now, this country is reeling from shortages of forex, an energy crisis and looming hunger. To make matters worse, those who lend us money have expressed reluctance to continue doing so because we have accumulated too many debts.

But with all these problems, this issue of fertiliser may be the biggest headache the Tonse Alliance administration is suffering from. They will try as much as possible to borrow more money so that they distribute free farm inputs which will never be put to good use. They will try to ensure that the hungry vote for them in 2025. That is just how insane our politics is.

What we need in this country are leaders who are able to think beyond their own welfare. We understand that, naturally, humans are selfish creatures, but the best among us ought to move beyond such bad emotions to the realm of reason where logical decisions must be made.

A leader must think beyond their stomach. Leaders must be intelligent to take their people out of destitution by any means necessary. But it seems like it will take a long time for us to find that calibre of leaders.

This country is in serious need of soul-searching if we are to ever get out of this mess. “Mindset change” should stop being a catchword if we are to see any real change.

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