It has been a fast-paced week filled with mixed fortunes for Malawi, beginning with the good news that the highly-billed Southern African Development Community (Sadc) 41st heads of State and Government Summit officially kicked off on Monday in Lilongwe. Just like most, I anticipate the country to reap lots of benefits from hosting the summit; before we get to those that would stem from President Lazarus Chakwera assuming the role of Sadc Chairperson.
I mean this is the time for our accommodation outlets to make a kill; not just the major ones, somebody will definitely want to experience a typical Malawian life so the B&Bs (Bed and Breakfast) we have in some locations in the capital need to come to the party. I know for a fact that the Vice President Saulos Chilima, who had been busy up and down inspecting outlets and décor ahead of this event, might have skipped these ‘small’ outlets. Oh yes, and in line with the numerous SMSs that have been popping now and again on everybody’s phones that we must be hospitable, I bet some will make it a point to showcase Bwandilo (Area 47) or kuchigwiri (Chigwirizano at Likuni) to some of the delegates who have set foot in the Warm Heart of Africa for the very first time. Come to think of it, I was puzzled with the frequency at which the ‘welcoming’ text messages were flying in on my phone and that of colleagues; let us hope that nobody will tell us at the end of the day that billions of Kwacha have gone into this needless exercise (my personal view) and that taxpayers will have to pick the bill.
Over and above that, we must see to it that industrialisation and the much talked about regional economic integration under Sadc is realised. Now that the chairmanship is coming to us, we must pull all the stops to ensure that Malawi’s small economy gets to flourish and that relations with other countries are a notch higher.
Here is another thing we need to do once the Sadc euphoria is gone; we must ensure that our roads and infrastructured products are top-notch (we should not wait for another summit in order to improve our landscape). I could not help but sympathise with some Lilongwe residents who felt hard done-by with all the overnight rehabilitation that has taken place.
But while all the Sadc excitement is in the air and everyone is feeling bubbly, somebody decided to kill the hype because no sooner had the reminder that we should not badmouth our country during this period been given by two cabinet ministers in Lilongwe than we saw one of their very own getting arrested. I am not going to mention any names but suffice to say that the arrest of the minister and President’s Adviser (now former since they have both been kicked out by President Chakwera) was a real bummer. No I haven’t left out anyone; we just had not gotten to the part where I was to bring in the picture he that leads a certain party urged his followers via facebook to “remain calm and exercise restraint during this eventful moment”.
But perhaps it is good that this happened while the spotlight in Africa is on Malawi because it gives us a chance to demonstrate to all and sundry that we mean business when it comes to fighting corruption. Speaking of which, another country that is taking major steps on the same is South Africa. It was quite surprising and yet re-assuring to see President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday morning being grilled for a second day by the Commission of Enquiry on State Capture in that country. We have all the hope that, if it came down to it, our very own President would do the needful since he has already demonstrated goodwill by frequenting Parliament to answer any questions that legislators might have for him.
Coming back to Sadc, we must all feel proud and bask in the glory that comes with our President assuming the chairmanship of Sadc. Aside the tangible benefits that will accrue, there is also the prestige aspect that comes along with it.
Let us put Malawi on the map!
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).