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Unbundling Unima, envy

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Mdzukulu, Sophocles in Antigone says: “All men may err; but he that keepeth not his folly, but repenteth, doeth well; but stubbornness cometh to great trouble.”

Mdzukulu, now you know what Malawians have become.

I mean critics of the country’s leadership have now become fools for merely faulting the country’s leadership for lack of serious, ethical, incorruptible, sacrificial and visionary leadership which can inform and drive the nation forward to a preferred future.

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In fact, Malawians are being called foolish for merely stating that the county’s leadership’s scornful indifference to the suffering of Malawians and the myriad of problems buffeting the country is gnawing at the heart and fabric of the nation and is likely to leave lasting emotional and physical scars that will prove difficult to treat and heal.

Anyway, that is what Malawians have become, mdzukulu, under the ‘wise’ leadership of President Peter Mutharika and his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

But all what people are saying is that, today under DPP leadership, majority given high and strategic positions in key ministries, departments and agencies like ministries of Finance, Justice, Anti-Corruption Bureau and Judiciary, inter alia, are but either politically connected or tribesmen.

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The reward and punishment systems in the civil service have broken down. Meritocracy has ceased to be the guide in the recruitment and promotion of public servants.

In short, mdzukulu, people are recruited either because they come from the same district as the political leaders or are related to the politicians or are assumed to be belonging to the same party as the ruling elite.

How Malawians perceive elective office and public service has everything to do with our sorry state of affairs.

We are fast – and irreversibly – becoming a society believing anything is acceptable as long as there is no explicit law against it or we are not caught in the act of commission.

That is the fountain of myriad problems the country is experiencing.

That is why I laugh, mdzukulu, when I hear that Mutharika has approved the unbundling of the University of Malawi (Unima).

The development means that constituent colleges of Unima, The Polytechnic, Chancellor College, College of Medicine and Kamuzu College of Nursing, will be autonomous universities.

Those supporting unbundling of Unima argue that it would strengthen decentralisation and improve administration, accountability and transparency of the colleges, hence creating room for expansion and conducive environment for teaching and learning, outreach, research and consultancy the colleges-cum-universities would undertake.

Decentralisation per se in Malawi is neither new nor bad. But precedents in the country have shown that not a single one has worked to the advantage of the country.

Unbundling fanatics need to recollect that by 2002, government had sold 42 of its companies through the false former president Bakili Muluzi and Matthews Chikaonda-orchestrated privatisation model in their bid to reform and transform the country’s economy.

Government, under such a pseudo transformative tool, realised a meagre K1.67 billion, which ended up being used for the running of the Privatisation Commission itself.

As a result, the false privatisation model turned Malawi into a predominantly consumer economy as government lost its capacity to generate income for its day-to-day activities.

This is just one example where devolution of power has failed the country. And, mdzukulu, I am yet to learn about one model of decentralisation in Malawi which has yielded results.

Yes, the hallmark of devolution is that it explicitly recognises the territorial sharing of authority.

The erosion of the values of professional integrity and the spirit of hard work that is widespread in Malawi will not take the ‘newly developed’ universities anywhere else as vouched by some quarters including some activists who are too active to make sense of themselves.

Mdzukulu, the country – from across all political regions and ethnic divisions – is infested with businesspeople, civil servants, technocrats, religious leaders, traditional leaders, civil society, academics, media practitioners, scientists, politicians and other species without character.

And we have just unbundled that. Perhaps, envy!

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