Malawians must be proud that they live in an independent state, a sovereign state in which they can decide their destiny. There can be no befitting destiny for any nation, however, than the abolition of the vicious cycle of massive impoverishment of its citizens. For what is liberty, argues Dan Alighieri, but the unhampered translation of the will into act?
51 years after independence, our nation is still struggling to fish majority of its citizens from the gallows of poverty. We managed to attain political independence but now we have to grapple with the second wave of independence: independence from poverty, independence from western perceptions that African states cannot be in the lime light for good causes, independence from rampant corruption, and independence from lack of basic essential public services in our rural areas.
While we, Africans, in general and Malawians in particular have in one way or another failed to successful implement poverty alleviation strategies for the betterment of the livelihood of our people, it cannot be denied as well that our big brothers- the Bretton Woods institutions and powerful western states – share the blame. The imposition of projects on small countries like Malawi, so too the attachment of conditions to aid and grants have failed our nation during the 51 years of our independence. The Structural Adjustment Programmes that were framed in Washington, London and other first class cities did little to address the poverty of Africans in general and Malawians in particular. The need for a second independence is certainly too high: the independence that will enable us to decide strategies that can uplift our people from the meshes of poverty, the independence that will necessitate us to receive grants or aid without conditionality.
To realize our destiny, our second independence, we do not need to wage a war against anybody; we just have to demand that we be allowed to use our minds and brains in deciding our developmental choices. We cannot transform from poverty to glory if the minds and brains that decide our developmental policies are in Osloor Washington or London.
There is strong evidence that nations that have used their brains and minds in deciding their way forward have significantly achieved their developmental objectives. The Asian Tigers are a good example of a success story of development without international interventions. Bobby Godsell clarifies that a growing number of newly industrializing countries, mostly in Asia, achieved rapid economic development without either socialistic central planning or programmes of economic restructuring imposed by the International Monitory Fund (IMF).
It is not development aid, expert outside advice, and concessionary trading agreements that can lead Malawi into its second independence. These have been practised in Malawi for the past decades since we attained independence from our colonial masters. Development is a do-it-yourself activity.
Now is the time that we change our trading perspectives. We stand a better chance to live the second independence if we can go ahead to rise above our primary and grave problem of excessive dependence on exporting of primary products – for which there is little domestic demand – while at the same time being highly dependent on imports of basic manufacturers.
The quest to achieve a second independence goes ahead as entailing a change in political mindset, thus bringing in a political philosophy with a heart for national development than power struggle. We have to ensure that we attain and preserve a political culture that will prioritize the needs of the people than the selfish interests of a few politicians that end up putting spanners in the wheels of national development while exacerbating self-aggrandizement.
Can a parliament that sinks low into a house of exchanging sarcasm become a torch guiding the nation to its most desired and craved for second independence? The answer is a Big NO. The national assembly is slowly and slowly losing its dignity as the assembly of the people and is eventually becoming the assembly of the personal needs of legislators who consider it the boxing arena for consolidating power than empowering the common man to attain a second independence.
Malawi, as a nation, and indeed in the interest of spearheading its second independence dream should never allow to be dumped in the quagmire of what could be termed as the politics of personal will. In the words of Anthony Maduagwu, such is a distinctive type of political system in which the rivalries and struggles of powerful and willful men, rather than impersonal institutions, ideologies, public policies, or class interests are fundamental in shaping political life.
We are an independent state yes, but with rising levels of corruption which is a great impediment to national development. Our dream for a second independence has to weave its way through uprooting the very roots of corruption so that services reach our people equitably.
Our quest for a second independence goes as far as inculcating in ourselves a sense of pride in our being Malawians. This entails that our people are acquainted with the national development strategies, that the common man is well acquainted with means of developing our country and takes pride in contributing towards such noble causes. This entails knowing what is good for our country and effectively defending what we consider to be in the best interest of our nation. As long as our people perceive development as the duty of the government alone, we can never attain our second independence. If our people do not understand that the social services the government provides them belongs to them, they can never guard them jealously but only abuse them.
We need to have a positive mindset for our country. Every time we come to notice our poverty, we should never disillusion but look at it as a challenge to ourselves to ensure that we forge ahead to abolish poverty to attain a second independence. We should have collective efforts in ensuring that in Malawi we reach a point where life will be a pleasure for all. Where each person can have a more dignified and comfortable life. The second independence should be our dream.