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The fact that Malawians like and love talking more than doing the actual work is evidenced through the countless seminars, workshops , sympos ia and conferences being held in hotels through the length and breadth of this country. What exactly is it that is being discussed in hotels over and over, again and again? Is it just something academic?

To the surprise of all, the themes of these discussions mainly centre at improving businesses, revitalising the health sector, among many others. To the exact opposite of the discussions Malawi slips deep into the abyss of becoming the poorest country on earth. Year in year out we are doing badly on the Doing Business Index. Our health system also keeps on plunging down.

We have to wean ourselves and our minds from this appetite for discussions after discussions without finding a real way forward. If all the discussions at all the hotels in the country were to be strategised and implemented Malawi could possibly become one of the highly developed countries.

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Even when floods hit the country hard, people spent weeks and weeks in hotels discussing means of containing the aftermath of the floods. While victims of floods live without food and water, people with solutions to help the destitute drink bottled water and enjoy three course meals in hotels. We do not have to wonder that it takes too long for this country to offer assistance w h e n a n emergency has occurred. Those that have to help victims have to meet in hotels first regardless of the plight of victims of circumstances.

The way we do business has to change. Technocrats discussing hunger possibly in Nsanje should hold a meeting in Nsanje. And let them discuss all day long without lunch then certainly a solution will be realised within minutes. With hunger pelting their stomachs they will have had a feel of what it means to live on hunger and how pathetic it is that other people discuss for long in hotels on hunger as they have never slept on an empty stomach.

Is it not a betrayal of the vulnerable people that concerned groups discussing challenges that women face as a result of deforestation and dwindling water sources do so in the comfort of hotels? While women walk long distances fetching water and firewood, our distinguished solution providers discuss in hotels. They do not feel the pain. They can discuss over and over, again and again. Let them walk to the affected communities, carry pails of water on their heads assisting the women they target to improve their lives, only then can they have the real drive to convince the government and other stakeholders to provide more water sources and provide alternative sources of energy that could be affordable to the common man.

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And what is it that is so special with lake hotels? Does it mean that meetings held at lake hotels produce more results than meetings held elsewhere in the country? It would appear that for any discussion people would rush to host them at lake hotels. One cannot be wrong to say that to a certain extent such meetings are more of paid up holidays with the meeting element being nothing but lame excuse. Unless we see tangible results emanating from such meetings it is a waste of money. There are even times we can note that much money is wasted through fuels to the lake, hotel accommodation, meals and allowances yet nothing trickles down to the intended beneficiaries of the meeting. We consider ourselves first and decide to feed the rest with crumbs.

I can bet, if we decide to hold discussions through tele or video conferences, the meetings would not take long. As long as people attending the discussions are not at hotels and there are no issues of lunch or dinner or fuel, the discussions would be quick as the discussants would be interested to switch to other duties. Certainly, the cost of tele or video conferencing would certainly cut the expenses by more than 50 percent.

It is time we moved from rhetoric to actual work. We are masters at fault finding, analysing what others are doing, poking holes into all initiatives other people are putting in place, yet we ourselves do nothing. If we notice that something is wrong let us join the people doing the work and help them put things in order. We are ready to host discussions of insecurity in hotels yet we live with criminals in our locations, the very criminals we know and do not apprehend. We believe that a meeting at a hotel on insecurity will solve matters while we are sweeping behind the carpet the very criminals terorrising our people and our country, thus further damaging investment prospects of our country.

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