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The pain of protracted delays

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Politicians, and their bootlickers, are an interesting lot; they sometimes know the painful truth but, due to political expediency, choose to pepper it over with nice talk.

That is where, despite their nature, which is to be an interesting lot, they portray their lack, of purpose in public.

Purpose is, in an ideal world, supposed to be accompanied by a good cut of the meat of facts.

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Take, for instance, the issue of fuel prices now.

Fuel prices have been rocketing world over, blame it on the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

Down South, as South Africa is known, they started buying 9.5 litres of petrol at the cost we are buying 16 litres of petrol in Malawi with the same amount of Rands some four weeks ago.

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And, to add sugar to the truth that is a world faced with rising fuel costs, the responsible minister there— the equivalent of our own Energy Minister Ibrahim Matola— announced four days ago that fuel prices would be hiked in less than seven days from the day of announcement.

What did South Africans do? Accept the painful truth.

In fact, they are not equating the announcement to adding salt to an injury; far from it.

That is what responsible citizenry is all about. Accept the truth, no matter how bitter, and move on.

P a i n is never meant to be delayed, especially when it will certainly come.

It is what it is.

I do not mean to say Matola, who is relatively new to the ministry despite serving in that capacity during the Joyce Banda regime, should jump the gun. Far from it.

More so because, Dear Pain, we have the Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (Mera) Board, which is tasked with the responsibility of determining fuel prices in relation to some variables, notably global prices of fuel, import costs, middle-men’s share and what have you.

After going weeks without a board, Mera now has a board, which, unfortunately, seems to be taking its time when Lilongwe is literally burning.

I mean, we must have exhausted our share of Fuel Stabilisation Funds and must be running on empty now.

If all neighbouring countries, notably Mozambique and Zambia, have raised fuel prices; then, who are we not to?

In Zambia, fuel [petrol, that is] is at an equivalent of K1,600. In Mozambique, one has to part ways with K1,700 for a litre of petrol. In Malawi, we are still at K1,150 per litre of petrol.

It is as if petrol grows on trees in Malawi, such that what is happening in the world cannot affect us, positively or negatively.

Far from it. As Consumers Association of Malawi Chairperson – the painful truth is that an association does not have an Executive Director; it has a chairperson— John Kapito has been putting it, delaying raising fuel prices is simply an act aimed at delaying the pain.

It is a futile attempt.

When the prices finally rocket, Malawians will feel the pinch more than they would have had fuel prices been raised now.

So, what are you, Dear Mera Board, waiting for? For more pain? Wake up, pain is here. Embrace it.

By the way, after the government removed 16.5 percent Value Added Tax (VAT) on cooking oil, manufacturers are yet to reflect the development in their prices. Instead, they have taken cooking oil away from the shelves.

Why? They want to cheat consumers in the country. They want to maintain the prices that were applicable before the VAT was scraped off using the excuse of escalating prices of petrol, diesel and the like.

As such, as the Mera Board delays making that long-awaited for announcement, manufacturers of edible cooking oil are biting their fingers; their plan to hoodwink Malawians into believing that cooking oil prices cannot change because of rising costs of fuel is hitting a snag.

Literally.

After all, prices of edible cooking oil have been another thorn on our flesh, tearing it to pieces as if consumers became numb to pain long ago.

No more.

The Malawian has embraced a great awakening; just that that awakening pertains to pain.

Call it Malawian pain. A pain that knows no medicine.

That is why we call it Dear Pain.

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