Letter from the capital: Where is the opposition in all this?
There is something fundamentally wrong with our affairs in the Capital. No money for drugs? No money for Kamuzu’s university colleges and Mzuzu University (Mzuni)? No word from central government for public servants who have been trying hard to engage the bosses in dialogue over poor working conditions and remuneration?
Mbwiiye, I need to hear from you, how do you run a Capital and the Republic by not talking to your own people as well as employees?
Then there are consumer groups, led by Moya John Kapito, that are up in arms due to worsening prices of goods and services.
In fact, if you read the independent newspapers, not listen to the public media, you will hear of all sorts of groups wanting either to march on the Capital or meet the CEO, who is never there but always on Christmas elsewhere.
I am saying this because even in our days in government, we responded to practically all issues raised by the most base of plebeians and groups that felt short-changed. That is how the late Moya was so free with his people that when he felt he had no immediate answer, he would challenge some of them to direct street fights, kukangoswanapo basi! At least that was some form of communication.
Now, good Mbwiiye, tell me what running government is all about? Is it not ensuring that things move through the normal channels and offices, not through every ‘walkman’ seeking to express their views directly to the Capital CEO?
For Government 101; that is, if some people went through university corridors, a leader needs to be in control; at least to be aware of potential and existing pressure points in a Republic and work around them, or at least have some options should things get out of hand.
In our case, kumangopempha basi, just asking for alms always? That is not how some of us were raised, both as children in the home or students wherever we went, especially during the Ngwazi original’s time.
You see, a leader must sit in the Capital or palace offices to work; oversee projects and programmes and sign critical memos. A leader must ensure that things move in all ministries; notably, in health, agriculture, finance, education, works and supplies, forestry, tourism and many others that make a government.
You will recall the ‘Old Man’ from Kasungu was, through his network of cohorts, aware of whatever was happening in the Republic and spoke issues each time he came out during his trademark crop inspection tours.
Where he felt there was rot, like the mis-procurement we hear of so much these days, he fired on the spot, locked up for good or fed to crocodiles the perpetrators of such vices to send lessons to all and sundry.
Now, we hear the Capital is so mis-aligned that every aggrieved party believes the only person who can solve problems is the CEO. In government, as taught in those days at Chancellor College, you need a robust public service consisting of well-trained and motivated professionals.
In fact, when the Ngwazi was localising his public service, he ensured that his people were well-trained and experienced before they took over from the wazungus, whom he gradually phased out during and after independence. This is not happening today; where, if you want to be a PS or top government ‘dog’, you just have to talk to the right office or come from a particular district or community, then, voila, you have it!
That, Mbwiiye, was anathema during our days. If one did not perform, one was either fired or transferred to a suitable post in the Ngwazi’s civil service; not what is happening today, where a ‘small boy’ or ‘girl’ who behaves or does something pleasing to the appointing authority find themselves running ministries and/or government departments/projects without due papers and/or experience.
I cry, not for myself, because I am way gone past my useful shelf life; but for my children, grandchildren and citizens who still believe ours is a Great country.
In those days, there were no pronounced opposition political voices, civil society or disruptive faith communities and interest groups to fight the Ngwazi. But at least the ‘Old Man’ worked on core values of serving his people with a level of efficiency and honesty so enviable worldwide that each time we went out of the country, we were all known by his name; because, to some extent, it had a high administrative and leadership quality premium.
Of course, when you stole from his party, government or private businesses, he had a way of ruthlessly dealing with you. Otherwise, the Ngwazi was a builder who left us with more things than what we, as a nation, we have today—from all the post-multiparty governments.
Mbwiiye, we are even burning man-made forests he bequeathed to us in places such as Chikangawa. We are cutting down trees for charcoal as if we were possessed and we have never heard of climate change.
Of course, today, with the opposition in place, we should have made much more progress, because sometimes the Ngwazi had his excesses that needed checking. But what do we see? An opposition that is busy in slumber, a divided faith and civil society—with some eating political scones in broad-daylight.
None of the opposition folks we have is talking issues apart from getting to the Capital Bungalow come 2014; no issues, no interventions when crises hit the Republic such as what the health gap has done. They are either driving their newly-provided four-by-fours or wafting in the false luxury doled by the ruling party.
Now, Mbwiiye, that is a crisis of its own. It means there is no system to take us through the modern world. Some people are even busy experimenting with fiscal tools and measures that even the Capital CEO is not aware of; hence, the other day she had the audacity (or mediocrity?) to admit in broad-daylight that she never imagined what life would be like to embrace ‘Washington Consensus’ prescriptions; how these ‘toy’ policies would impact on the people.
Our man, the Ngwazi, was fully alert. Nothing of that sort could happen to us. I must say here, openly, that the multi-party advocates are lucky that the Ngwazi, a Victorian gentleman in his own right, could have been in contention today. Had it not been for his age, he could have fought the referendum and survived, to ensure that we, his people, have three basic things that count in an African’s life: food, shelter and clothing, apart from sound education and training.
I am raising all this not because I want us to return to the Capital in 2014; no, it is because the Capital Assembly will re-convene once more next week, and I hope some rare sanity may come to the august House and that some of our so-called representatives will discuss matters of substance; matters that address our plight as honest and hard-working citizens.
Mbwiiye, I am also writing you all this for and on behalf of the late Moya original, whose sound economic and strategic leadership as well as vision could have seen this country outgrow the Western handouts that are now crowding our eyes today, making us the world’s laughing stock.
Think about these things as we head for 2014, when we want to get back to power, in the name of:
The late Rt.Hon.K.L.Mphwanye,
OSP, OLM, OCK, OLT
Achiever of MDGs, Professor of Government (China),
Doctor of Laws (Honoris Causa), PhD (Western Pacific), Demolisher of Donors (Lilongwe)