Wrestling with citizens’ will
From afar, policymakers look almost celebratory, as if they are satisfied that initiatives they have been implementing for the betterment of Malawians are bearing fruit.
In truth, they play us, ordinary citizens.
They want to appear caring in public places when, in fact, they are getting rich at our expense in their private places.
Yes, that is what they do. When in public, they pretend to have the scars of the iconoclasm of patriotism when, in fact, they are scarred because they wrestle with the will of the people when they are alone.
If anything, they only get haunted by high levels of poverty in the country when election day approaches.
If policymakers and politicians were serious in this country, development projects would not have the appearance of randomness, as happens when people wake up in the morning without knowing what they will do, only to go to sleep with a haphazardly hatched idea of what the people want.
Maybe we, ordinary citizens, are to blame for the status quo.
It is ordinary people that vote, after all.
I feel like, if this were an ideal world, people would have strung some of the misguided officials from trees way back. Of course, it would not have been a good idea because, in a democracy, reason rules.
And that is why I am saying let reason rule, even as 10,000 metric tonnes of maize have been discoloured, such that they are not fit for human consumption.
Yesterday, I went to buy my favourite 10 kilogramme bag of maize flour and was shocked to learn that, after I bought maize flour of that quantity at K8,500 a month ago, the price has rocketed. Yesterday morning, I bought the same quantity at K11,500.
Things are really getting out of hand.
I am, therefore, riled to learn that 10,000 metric tonnes of maize that Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) is keeping has been declared not viable for human consumption.
This is part of 100,000 metric tonnes that Admarc used as collateral in obtaining loans from commercial banks as well as Export Development Fund.
Minister of Agriculture Sam Kawale told Parliament that, with support from development partners, the Government of Malawi, bought the maize off and moved it from Strategic Grain Reserves (SGRs), where Admarc and the Department of Disaster Management Affairs (Dodma) can access it for other purposes.
Kawale said within the 100,000 metric tonnes, one bank had 60,000 metric tonnes, out of which, after an independent quality assessment was done, 10,000 metric tonnes were found to be discolored.
Now the government has the task of deciding what to do with the maize, albeit assuring people that it is not for human consumption.
Government’s maize selling price is tagged at K300 per kilogramme, which means, if the maize had been put on the market, Admarc would have raked in K3 billion from the sale of the 10,000 metric tonnes.
Well, I am not surprised that Chairperson for the Agriculture Committee of Parliament Sameer Suleman has said he suspects foul play.
What else would he say, anyway?
For me, though, it is not about what who and who says; it is about what Malawians say on the issue.
Some of the people that are speaking loudest on the issue may be advancing their personal goals; not necessarily those of Malawians. They want to score political mileage when Malawians like me are complaining about rising prices of commodities such as maize.
Any increase in commodity prices has a negative impact on people who depend on farming to generate income. Where will they get extra money to make up for rising prices?
As such, the fact that we are letting maize rot means we have something written in our minds. Did I say ‘our’? Sorry, I meant politicians’ minds.