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Road to damnation

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Fertiliser

For those who have been in doubt about Malawi’s sojourn to perdition in the past two years, there now should be enough evidence that we are damned like hell.

The pain is deep because the new nation that we were promised ahead of the hyped June 23, 2020 court sanctioned presidential election is nowhere near what is happening now.

The current scenario— and what has been the case over the past two years— is a perfect antithesis of anything fair about governance.

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In most of Malawi’s most crucial moments, President Lazarus Chakwera has been conspicuously absent, only later coming up with some impressionistic and academic public addresses which have eventually turned out to be just like that.

Picture this: a tropical storm ravages a hydroelectric power plant and takes some 130 megawatts off the grid but the matter is not treated as a crisis.

For months, the President fails to show strategic leadership on this twist of fate and continues with his usual goings-on as if all is well in the country.

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Serious talks about rehabilitating the structures only begin gaining momentum months later.

No ultimatums or clear directions are issued; so the energy generation company itself is taking that conformist half-hearted approach and keeps making false promises about when the plant will be up and running.

From the presidency, in a clear show of failure, there is nothing solemn being said or done.

That is why today, we are being told that earlier declarations that some megawatts from the damaged power plant would be back in the national grid before this year expires were just hot-air talk spewed with ridiculous confidence to a latent citizenry that seldom takes its leaders to task.

Elsewhere, having at least 30 percent of electricity taken off the national grid is treated as a crisis that requires drastic action immediately.

In fact, even five percent could not be trifled with.

Leadership at the highest level quickly comes in to provide support and the necessary directions so that the dark days do not last long. Not in Malawi!

We have a President who seems to find so much satisfaction in churning out highly overstated speeches which do not match with what later happens on the ground.

At least by now, Malawians seem to have realised that Chakwera is all about talking and not doing.

That is why he has, on a couple of occasions, reneged on his own promises such as reshuffling his Cabinet and overhauling the public service.

So, so it appears, everyone with an ill mind is able to mess things up in their ministry, department or agency knowing that they are safe in the President’s sad dispassion.

Otherwise, how does one explain the mess characterising this year’s Affordable Inputs Programme (AIP) where at least K750 million reportedly ended up in a bank account of some nondescript food shop with no history of supplying fertiliser anywhere in the world? All this mess points to leadership failure at the highest level.

In fact, there is no assurance that the mess in AIP is exclusive to the initiative.

Perhaps, that is why comprehensive audits need to be conducted in all parastatals because there have been clear signs of theft of disastrous proportions in many of these institutions.

The evidence coming out of the public inquiries a joint parliamentary committee is conducting into operations of establishments such as the National Food Reserve Agency, Admarc, the Ministry of Agriculture and the Smallholder Farmers Fertiliser Revolving Fund of Malawi is very telling.

Malawi is on its way to perdition; that is if we are not already there.

Those entrusted with the challenge of taking this country in the right direction have defaulted on that sacred obligation, perhaps because they realised it is their happiness that matters most.

Does anyone see Chakwera frantically working to solve any of the problems the country is facing? There is no fuel. Long queues at pumps stations have become normalised as people spend hours in search of the strategic commodity.

On the fuel crisis, the leadership is conspicuous by its absence.

There is a forex squeeze that is forcing companies to scale down their operations, thereby pumping less tax into government coffers.

Many problems Malawians are sailing through were supposed to have interventions that bear the President’s face. But he is visibly absent. It is a sad state of affairs!

The argument that the problems are global does not hold water because in other countries, we see leaders being the face of the solutions and not sitting unflappably in some reserved corner expecting answers to fall from the sky.

What we are seeing here are pointless press conferences that have become a norm in a troubled country whose leader goes absent when his people need his intervention most.

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