First of all, receive hearty felicitations over your recent triumph in the fresh presidential election that was held on June 23, 2020. Believe me, it is no mean achievement attaining 58.57% of votes cast in a highly contested race such as the one we just had. Yes, you can afford to walk with a spring in your step, knowing fully well that yours is a government that has been fully embraced and enjoys the backing of the majority.
Now that you have started acclimatising in your new environment, it is pertinent that you hit the ground with speed to ensure that those promises which you made during the campaign period, and reverberated all across the country, do come true.
Multitudes of the country’s youth, who have religiously followed you in your political careers; even throughout the court battle right to the very day of your swearing-in ceremony, are now beaming with hope that those one million jobs promised will come to fruition and that some of them will dance their way into an interview room, where those with the right papers and answers, would land those lucrative jobs.
It is a pity that your predecessors thought very little of young people; evidenced by the ‘one-size-fits-all’ botched recruitment exercise for Health Surveillance Assistants that only served to create pandemonium and tragedy within the society. It is my prayer that you will go about doing things in the right way by drawing workable plans and devising youth projects that would not only transform their tender lives but also inject life in the local economy.
Many did ululate wildly and clapped their hands when one of you, Sirs, repeatedly mentioned that you would see to it that people should be enjoying three meals a day, and that this should be an ordinary thing and not a luxury. Well, I know for certain others have literally followed the advice right before your ascension but just so to ensure that they do not run out of food supplies such as maize and rice, it is my conviction that you would quickly bolster the agricultural sector. The idea of a universal subsidy for farm inputs such as fertiliser will definitely help restore our country’s lost reputation as Africa’s food basket and like Malawi’s founding president, Ngwazi Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda used to say; ‘chuma chili mnthaka’ (Agriculture is the gateway to prosperity).
So far so good; I have noticed that already, in the provisional budget delivered by the country’s new Finance Minister Felix Mlusu, 3.5 million smallholder farmers have been accorded a chance to purchase not less than two 50 Kilogramme bags of fertilizer each at a ‘ridiculous’ price of K4,495 per bag.
This was a good take off point for you both, and indeed for Mlusu, a tried and tested business magnate thrown deep into the political arena, just as was the case with you, Mr Vice President, back in 2014 when you were fished from the corporate world to help garner votes for the now opposition Democratic Progressive Party.
Mr. President, thank you for living up to your word that you would raise the minimum wage and similarly, adjust upwards the tax free bracket. Nowadays, even a child can tell that the cost of living is high and therefore by raising the tax free bracket all the way up to K100,000 a lot of Malawians (particularly low income earners) can now heave a sigh of relief since under the previous arrangement where only K45,000 was not subjected to tax, they were left with little all nothing in their pockets after paying house rentals and food supplies. One even wonders how some of them were managing to pay school fees for their wards and assist other dependents.
Hang on a minute! I deviated to the budget…the purpose of this letter, Sirs, is simply to congratulate you and wish you the best of success as you fulfill your servant leadership to the people.
Do not think for a minute that, now that the previous regime is out of the picture, then we, the fourth estate, will treat you with kid gloves. We will not tire to point out when things are seemingly going haywire, and it is my hope that public service delivery will now be flawless. Just the other day, news was all over town that boards for a remarkable number of parastatals had been dissolved. I can only hope that this was the start of the ‘clean-up’ exercise within the system where some people felt entitled by virtue of being a homeboy to the president or for knowing those that were deemed ‘mighty’ and closer to the powers-that-be and truly, they received undue gratification.
We await the day when we will see our grannies and aunties in the rural areas no longer grumbling due to mediocre medical care in public hospitals; a day they will be overcome with joy for being connected to the electricity grid or indeed getting piped water right within their compounds.
Otherwise; welcome to the palace!
Stephen Dakalira is a seasoned Journalist who works as Times Group’s Online and Digital Executive Editor. He is also the Assistant Editor of The Sunday Times Newspaper, and author of Full Circle column which appears in Malawi News; all of these under the Times Group stable.
He has previously worked in key positions for some of Malawi’s key media institutions such as Malawi News Agency, Capital FM Radio and Star Radio (Now Timveni Radio).