Apparently, the DPP government has forgotten what running a county is all about and instead it is obsessed with buying a jet for President Peter Mutharika.
You can easily tell that there is a ridiculous campaign aimed at convincing us that this country needs a jet more than anything else. Last week, there was this funny picture of president Mutharika and his retinue queuing at the airport. Those who were circulating the picture clearly thought Malawians are daft and would easily begin to suggest that it is improper to let our head of state queue at airports when he can be flying in a decent private jet. But Malawians are smarter these days and you can’t twist them with a silly spin.
Peter Mutharika leads a country that is staggering under the weight on incessant poverty yet he and his cabal believe they need to live luxurious lives like heads of state of rich countries. There is nothing wrong or new to see a head of state travelling by modes t means. David Cameron of UK sometimes travels in a tube and he has never complained about it. But Cameron comes from a country that is a million years richer than us and can afford any means of travelling. Even when travelling locally, our presidents insist on having a long motorcade of 20-plus fuel guzzlers yet our economy is a laughing stock of this world.
The unfortunate thing about us is that we are still under the curse of having for president people who are only fixed at living lavish lives at the expense of us all. And what is shocking is that these leaders and those around them do not have an iota of shame and they go on and start talking and campaigning for lofty ideas like buying jets and other luxuries.
This year, three million Malawians stand to face starvation and we do not have maize in our Admarc depots. Our electricity supply corporation is useless and all it knows is giving us blackouts. Our water boards are worthless entities that cannot supply water. Our hospitals are waiting bays for death because there are no drugs there. If you ask why we are such a sorry state, you will be told that government does not have money for its operations. Ironically, the same government that is said to be perennially broke and cannot feed its people, attend to its sick citizens or provide electricity and water is pushing to spend the little it has on presidential luxuries.
Elsewhere, buying a jet for the head of state would not have been an issue. But we are talking of Malawi, a country that has become a headliner of poverty stories in the world. Mozambique is doing better than us and can buy a jet for its president, Kenya has a relatively sound economy, Botswana has what it takes to have its own jet, Namibia is way ahead of us and South Africa is rich enough to buy as many jets as it can fancy.
There is a shallow argument that letting the head of state travel commercial is being disrespectful to him as well as an insult to our sovereignty. I think otherwise. If we begin to think that our dignity as a nation is preserved by having our president fly around in jets when people are dying of hunger and simple diseases then we have a serious problem. What we can only achieve here is creating a true illusion of a false reality. We must be realistic that we are a poor nation and we need economic prudence coupled with honesty if we are to change our status. After that then we can start dreaming of obeying our obsession with jets.
By the way, a picture of Mutharika and his entourage queuing at an airport should not give us a headache. After all it is not like Peter was travelling on some sort of Bajaj or some rickety bus. Personally, queues that move me are those of people fighting to buy rationed maize at Admarc depots, queues of people at hospitals that have no drugs, queues of women waiting to draw water from dysfunctional boreholes in the piercing cold of dawn and queues of university students jostling for one tattered book in their library.
This jet nonsense must stop because, as a nation, we have serious problems that need urgent attention. Peter and his minions must first find means to resuscitate the economy which has been in comatose for so long. Besides, Peter needs to earn the luxuries he is so much fixed at. As it stands now, the two years he has been in office haven’t been impressive. If Peter was an employee of a private institution, his employers would have been shocked to hear that he is complaining and needs better means of travel despite a miserable performance on the job. All I am saying is that we need to get this country up and running before we start thinking of our ridiculous obsession.
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