Today, May 20th marks exactly two years from the date Malawians went to the polls that gave the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) the mandate to govern in this 2014 – 2019 administrative term. For a moment, ignore the drama that preceded the midnight declaration by the Justice Maxon Mbendera.
In keeping with tradition, what I should have been writing here are hearty congratulatory remarks.
But, the reality has forced me to borrow a leaf from Shakespeare, therefore, I will not jump with ‘common’ spirits and rank myself with the barbarous handclapping-for-nothing horde.
You know what?
In well governed countries, landmarks like this are used for introspection. Caring leaders use these to take stock and evaluate how well or how badly the common man is better off or worse off as a result of their policies.
More so because, all things being equal, if the architects of the ruling DPP manifesto had been half-honest with DPP’s capabilities, or lack thereof, a substantial number of voters would have voted otherwise.
Two years on, no-one needs a microscope to see evidence that the party abandoned the bulk of its campaign promises soon after assuming office.
To its credit, the twenty member cabinet has lasted, but that is just about it.
Of course the Cabinet of twenty has persevered because in lieu of the Cabinet ministers, are a multitude of advisors, the quality of whose “advice” is why we are where we are today.
When one reads the DPP Manifesto, absurdly titled: ‘Towards a people-centred government’, the DPP is doing a very good job of exceeding expectations of those that were doubting its capabilities.
Take the empty promise to reduce excessive power in the Executive on hiring and firing heads of accountability institutions, for instance.
Contrary to this promise, on Thursday, March 17 2016 DPP parliamentarians rejected a Private Member’s Bill intended to do just that with respect to the Anti- Corruption Bureau (ACB) Director and Deputy.
Liberating the ACB from the bondage of the President would have been a huge leap forward in securing the ACB’s independence, without which any commitment to fighting corruption is mere beer hall talk.
Typical of a people hooked on promising bridges even where rivers do not exist, DPP also promised that merit would be key in hiring and firing of CEOs and board members of parastatals and even in university selection.
Look at these facts: neither protocol nor due process were adhered to in the redeployments of heads for Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA), Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra), Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (Mera) and Malawi Posts Corporation (MPC).
If there was any basis at all, in the case of the MRA, it was an “Intelligence Brew”, a cooked up fabrication meant and intended to assassinate the character of the target, carried by an unwitting on-liner, much the same way Ken Lipenga was “associated” with yours faithfully.
With respect to the University Quota system, let us not go there because under this administration it was, it is and it will remain a non-starter that only crops up during elections, to be forgotten soon after taking oath of office.
As if all the above (and more) promises were not enough, the DPP pledged that once elected, it would abolish the coupon system and make subsidised fertiliser available for every maize subsistence farmer that needs it.
Two years down the line, six million coupons were printed for 1.5 million beneficiaries and, redesigning Farm Input Subsidy Programme (FISP) is proving to be a non-starter.
Even men of collar found it necessary, via their Lenten Epistle, to rebuke the DPP and demand an exit strategy to FISP.
With respect to white collar crime, President Peter Mutharika speaking at the launch of the mistitled manifesto in 2014 decreed:
“There shall not be Cash gate scandal under the DPP”.
On the contrary, Cash gate has now, like a virus, mutated and is as vicious as ever.
Under Mutharika’s very nose, at least sixty three health workers in the Ministry of Health were involved in all manner of thievery.
This pilfering was so bad that the Americans threatened to suspend funding to the HIV/ and Aids and malaria programmes unless the suspects are prosecuted.
And what’s more, at the Malawi Embassy in Addis Ababa, we are yet to be told – assuming we will be told the whole truth at all – the final amount pilfered by public thieves masquerading as diplomats.
Typically, all we have seen and heard this far is a lot of puffing. But no-one is under the cooler.
The minister under whose watch the mess unfolded is now going about town, ironically touting himself as a “bull dozer”.
A bull dozer? Mmmh, comment reserved.
With respect to investing in education so that Malawi can reap sweet fruits in years to come, DPP promised to repair and upgrade old schools and build new ones so that no child should be walking more than five kilometres to attend school.
Come the 2015/16 financial year, the government maimed the Education Budget with a K500 million cut.
The beneficiaries of the cut? Elite, cash-gateable and secretive ministries like the foreign affairs and defence and security.
Come to think of it, the diplomatic cash gate at the Embassy in Ethiopia should really take no-one by surprise.
Eureka! It all fits. The hefty reallocations to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs were not just a coincidence, someone had done one plus one and arrived at two.
That the K500 million was meant to go towards teaching and learning materials for secondary schools and upgrading community day secondary schools, for the DPP, mattered less.
On health, the DPP’s spectacular vision is now a mirage. The moon promised in the form of modernised and better equipped hospitals and health centres is now threatening our very lives.
That modernised and better equipped hospitals are impossible with the indescribable efficiencies in the procurement system is something the DPP government is yet to fathom.
The Cancer Centre, for which parliament duly approved a loan, is yet to take off.
As a result, we are still spending billions sending the political elites suffering from cancer to India, while those of us without addresses or names are left to fend for ourselves.
Heartless is not even the right word.
While it is true that DPP has a five-year mandate in which to implement its manifesto, and while no-one disputes that DPP has only been in power for two years; all level-headed Malawians will agree that, in a similar span of time, between 2004 to 2006, late Bingu wa Mutharika (chitsulo cha njanje) – with the same DPP – had achieved a lot.
Came former President Joyce Banda (chiwongolero), her first six months were a time when most Malawians were walking tall, happy that sanity had returned.
The same cannot be said of this administration.
Of course, for Madam Joyce Banda, things changed when success went to her head; a situation made possible by adamantly and ill-advisedly sticking to the same old, tried-and failed Cabinet – including the then Minister of Finance – appointed by her predecessor.
The Bishop of Karonga, Rt Rev Dr Martin Mtumbuka, took to social media the other day, epitomising the rampant suffering faced by ordinary Malawians in the villages.
What is abundantly clear to the Clergy and citizens feeling the brunt of second-rate leadership is that DPP and Mutharika himself will not deliver on what they promised be it in the short, medium or long term.
And I dare prophesy, DPP will not deliver on their slogan Prosperity, Justice and Security for all.
What the DPP is sure to deliver is yet another set of few overnight millionaires, as millions of Malawians sink to new depths, below the poverty line.
The good thing, in fact the only positive out of all this mess is what our elders foretold: when you tell a lie, dawn comes fast.
And as we speak, May 2019 is now only thirty six months away. Mark ye my words: when that May 2019 comes, it will be as clear as a bell that indeed, the axe forgets, but the tree never ever forgets!
Congratulations to the DPP for the mess we are all in! Let’s hope in the remaining 36 months you will dust off and re-read your manifesto, and start working.
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