A fresh start for a troubled nation

By Joseph Kayira

The year 2021 will go down in the annals of history as difficult one for Malawi. In that year, Malawians had to come face to face with economic problems, political and religious intolerance and a marked decline in rights. Simply put, the cost of living was too high for an average Malawian. Apparently, the number of those in the bracket of the impoverished, increased.

Despite promises from those in power that Malawians would start living decent and dignified lives, the situation on the ground remains dire. Poverty is still an issue that government needs to deal with immediately. But why is it that Malawians are still living in poverty? Why is it so difficult to implement policies that can reduce or try to end poverty in Malawi?

Politicians take poverty as a campaign tool to woo voters to vote for them. And once they are voted into power, poverty becomes a forgotten issue. The Tonse Alliance partners promised Malawians to deal with poverty and make sure that Malawians started living dignified lives.

Two years down the line of the Tonse government, most Malawians are still mired in biting poverty. It is unimaginable that a considerable number households in Malawi cannot afford three meals a day.

The question is, why do most politicians take Malawians for granted. People are voted into power on trust. That trust has been betrayed. Leaders must remember that they signed a social contract to work for Malawians; that they would do what they promised.

The year 2021 was made worse because leaders think that Malawians can do nothing; they think that calls from civil society and the opposition for leaders to resign or start delivering on their campaign promises will yield nothing. Last year we saw one Bon Kalindo, former UTM Party director of youth leading protests in the country’s major cities asking those in power to bail Malawians out of crisis.

Kalindo said Malawians can no longer sit back and watch those in power doing the opposite of what they promised to deliver. He thinks time is now to take leaders to task. Those in power abhor these protests but poor Malawians think the country needs honest leaders; they have rallied behind Kalindo.

Start delivering on campaign promises
Those asking the Tonse Alliance government to start delivering on its campaign promises are not enemies of the state. Neither should they be regarded as confusionists. They are only exercising their constitutional right to demand answers from those that govern them on why they are failing to deliver. Tonse partners promised one million jobs to Malawians. Those jobs have not been created. They promised free electricity and water connection. That has not happened. The ambition by leaders to change things in the agriculture sector has suffered a serious knock.

We recall how the leaders talked about introducing a universal fertilizer subsidy. It was never to be as a selected households have access to the newly introduced Affordable Input Programme (AIP). As we speak, farmers are struggling to buy cheap fertilizers. The whole programme is archaic. It needs a complete overhaul.

The Tonse Alliance government should reflect on its campaign promises and its performance. The truth is that the year 2021 was not so great for many Malawians. And the tendency by those in power to engage in a blame-game has not helped matters. It is this kind of politics that is delaying development and progress.

The Tonse leadership must do the right thing in 2022 – it must go back to the drawing board, look at its manifestoes and get down to serious business of delivering. So far, the performance of the Tonse Alliance government has been lukewarm. It has not been inspiring to say the least. The protests by Kalindo and others, are an indication of how disappointed Malawi are.

We expect the Tonse Alliance leaders to heal the nation. They must not work in isolation. They should engage the opposition, civil society and the church to find solutions to Malawi’s economic and governance problems. It is possible to make Malawi great again; also, it is possible to deal with poverty decisively.

This nation needs a fresh start. That fresh start calls for dedicated leaders; leaders who have the welfare of the people at heart. Mere political rhetoric has the potential to destroy economic gains. The year 2022 gives the leadership yet another opportunity to serve and save the people they promised to bail out of poverty.

Leaders are challenged to build the economy, create jobs, boost the agriculture sector and start adding value to export crops. It is the only way to stop exporting jobs. We must become a predominantly producing and exporting country. Our current state of being a predominantly importing country is costing us a lot. It is the reason we are struggling to build schools, hospitals and better roads as forex is hard to come by.

The future of a better Malawi lies in the hands of responsible leaders. We call upon our leaders to be more patriotic. They must remember that from the day they were voted into power, they signed a contract to serve Malawians; and to be servants of the people. We hope that 2022 will be a better year for Malawians; with Tonse leaders doing what they promised during campaign time.