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The Thumb: We need more change than just Goodall’s exit

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Worsening Geconomic conditions in the country have led to some people baying for Minister of Finance Goodall Gondwe’s blood, attributing the problems to his failure to cope with modern challenges of the job.

The critics are asking Goodall to step down on grounds that he is old and a spent force and cannot provide any new solutions to economic problems facing Malawi today.

Goodall is an old man indeed but are we sure he is to blame for the problems prevailing in the country?

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He wasn’t a young man just a few years ago when we all credited him for helping Malawi attain record economic growth and debt relief that freed a lot of resources for the development of the country. Has he suddenly just lost all that acumen?

Goodall came back to Malawi after retirement from the International Monetary Fund and his advanced age should therefore not be an issue today.

Yes he doesn’t have to be a Minister of Finance for good but his removal should not be based on age or imagined incompetence. We need as a nation to reflect on what has really gone wrong in the country and find ways of correcting the situation instead of heaping blame on one person who, I must

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say, has served his country with total commitment and dedication for many years.

Being Minister of Finance is more than just having high academic papers. It is actually more about experience, track record and level of confidence one commands in business and international circles. And there is no doubt that Goodall has all that.

In any case, the job of correcting the economic wrongs happening in the country is not just for one person. It is a collective responsibility that rests with all of us, within and outside the government.

Even if we were to bring a 40-something year old Havard business school technocrat to become Finance Minister, there is nothing he or she can do to change the state of the economy if the main structures of the economy remain as they are right now.

We have to accept that our reliability on donor aid and rain-fed agriculture have left us exposed to international and weather shocks and that the crisis facing Malawi today is a result of 51 years of our mediocrity as a nation.

Malawi is a country that has sat on its laurels for 51 years, depending on God’s and donors’ mercy for its survival.

Unless we find sustainable means of supporting our economy, we should expect to continue experiencing shocks whenever rains decide to play tricks.

We need to invest heavily in irrigation, mining, tourism, energy, manufacturing and others if the country is to achieve a strong economic base that can withstand disturbances.

We need to expand the export base significantly and start earning all the forex we need as a country on our own instead of always waiting for donors to provide our needs.

Making Malawi attractive to both local and private investment should be our focus going forward and we need to accept as soon as possible that donor aid is not something we can continue to bank on as a country.

We need to significantly reduce corruption and fraud, cut wastage and improve efficiency in the government to ensure optimum use of public resources for effective delivery of basic social services to the people.

Public financial management systems must be over-hauled to ensure timely, professional and trusted accountability of public resources so that whoever has defrauded the government must be detected and brought to book without delay.

We need to invest heavily in the education and training of our people to ensure competence in all spheres of our economy and create a large pool of skilled labour that can support old and new investments in the economy.

Above all, Malawians have to learn and embrace patriotism, self-dependence, integrity, honesty and hard work as values of national and personal progress. We should all learn to take responsibility for the development or lack of it of our country and stop pointing fingers on others when things go long.

If we all started working harder and take control of the destiny of our country, Malawi will transform and become a country we shall all be proud of. Finance ministers or indeed all public officials shall be assessed based on their competence and not merely on perception due to our refusal to take collective responsibility for failures in our systems.

Goodall can go but let him retire a happy man who deserves all the credit for a job well done instead of blaming him for our shared mistakes of 51 years. #ThumbsDown to those calling for Goodall’s resignation.

 

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