Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The truth about Unima fee hike: Economically insensitive, politically suicidal

TRUE, higher education has become, and will most surely continue to be, increasingly expensive to offer in this 21st century era. This is largely because offering of higher education is silently battling for competitiveness and relevance in this era. The need to balance low funding levels from government and the political calls to open up ‘access’ on one hand and the agitation for quality education coupled with rising costs of materials, and unsteady economies on the other has meant that administrators in higher education have got to seriously start thinking about lasting ways of mobilizing resources.

Chanco Students: No to Unima fee hike
To this end, administrators in higher education have resorted to fees hiking as a measureof mobilizing resources. Such measures, as South Africa’s ‘FeesMustFall’ movement readily provides example, have met with angry anti-fees-hike calls owing to the fact that the economy in many of the world’s countries are less favorable as to welcome such measures with a smile. 

Malawi is no exception to this. The recent unpopular fee hike by University of Malawi (Unima) Council pretty much seems to be justified on the grounds above, though, sadly, the anti-fee-hike here will not be as fervent as that of our South African neighbors owing to unpalatable levels of individualism on part of students and pathetic dormancy on part of both guardians and education interest groups. Again, the lack of litigation culture and the rising levels of ‘new wisdom’—the bandwagon thinking that it’s about time Malawians stopped being used to freebies—will also add its fair share of the lack of fervency in the anti-fee-hike campaign.

For some enlightened social commentators, the Unima fee hike from K55,000 to K400,00(727%) and from K275,000 to K400,00 (154%) for the normal entry students and from K275,000 to K900,000 (327%) for the mature entry students is both economically insensitive and politically suicidal unless either there happens to be guarantees of loans for every student or the hike gets implemented incrementally.

Looking at the Unima fee hike from the lens of competitiveness and relevance, one can conclude that there is no doubt that the hike is every inch justifiable. In fact, the hike is long overdue if worries about lack of relevance as echoed by business gurus in the private business enterprises and the nation’s cries over Unima being on the lowest rung of the Africa University Ranking ladder are anything to go by. Indeed, as if echoing the language of competitiveness and relevance, in just less than a month ago the World Bank Report on the state of higher education in Malawi bemoaned Unima’s lack of relevance and competitiveness.

However, in as much as the fee hike is justifiable on the whole, it is nonetheless regrettable to raise the fees at such a time when the economy is in bad state. It would make sense if such a hike were a target to be achieved in, say, 4 years. In such kind of an arrangement, the fees would be hiked, for arguments’ purposes, from K55,000 and K275,000 to K300,000 starting next year and the remaining targeted K100,000 can be spread across three years to reach the targeted amount in the case of the normal entry students. In case of mature entry students, the fee hike would start, say at K500,000 and the remaining K400,000 be spread across three years to meet the targeted sum of K900,000. No doubt, such a fee hike as hypothesized here would most certainly be, at the risk of courting criticism, in accord with economic reality of Malawi as things are now.

It should be remembered that this incremental hike route is the same one Unima council adopted on the lecturers’ salary hike.  The story is like this: Unima Council and other interested parties commissioned an inquiry into the salaries of lecturers across the Southern African region. What emerged from this inquiry was that lecturers in Unima were the lowest paid and it was thus recommended that they get a 200% salary increment. The council was dodgy of this recommendation and the lecturers became pushy. What followed was a series of industrial strikes and threats of industrial strikes. The most notable industrial strike being in 2008 where the first years at Chancellor College at the time stayed for more than three months as orientation period because lecturers refused to allow continuing students to report on campus arguing that they would not teach. Sanity came back when Unima Council agreed with the lecturers to be raising their salaries incrementally until the targeted amount was reached. If Unima council, as some contemptuouslysay, “did it” then, they can also “did it”now.

Now given the raw truth that Unima has hiked the fees to the targeted K900,000 without regard to the current sickly state of our economy, one is only left with one and only one conclusion—that Unima wants university education to be for the rich only. With such fees as high as K900, 000 one can bet that no poor Malawian can realize his dream of stepping into the corridors of Unima colleges, never! Honestly speaking, as things are in our economy, the contestably best decision will be not to hike the fees at all.

There is no denying that the Unima Council fee hike does reflect what Unima wants for its constituent colleges. More importantly, the fee hike decision also reflects the education policies of the government of the day—Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), so to say. For quite some time now and over the campaign period DPP has been promising to develop and implement pro-poor policies. Indeed, the DPP has gone the whole hog championing its budget as being pro-poor. Besides, the DPP-led government has defended the infamous quota system policy on the basis of giving the poor access to higher education. The real test of the pro-poorness of its budget and policies, in as much as this is not the only test, is the way its policies affect the poor especially in the education sector which is largely believed to be a surefire way of evening out inequalities.

That university education irons out inequalities in the different spheres of life is well-settled. The inequalities in agriculture, health and all those other areas of life are best and easily equalized through university education. This is the reason why the world over people are relentlessly pushing for widening of access to university education. The booming online university education, the scholarships, and the education trusts are some of the progressive moves in this respect. 

On the other hand, governments are also widening access through deliberate policies. For example, as elsewhere observed, the unpopular equitable access to higher education otherwise known as quota system is premised on the same principle of widening access. It is here that the Unima fee hike defeats the whole purpose of equitable access to higher education. If, as it is always said, the quota system of admission seeks to give the poor chances to access higher education then it necessarily follows that any unreasonable hiking of fees limits that access. Surely, it is of no meaning to be admitted and yet have no fees. That, truthfully speaking, is more or less giving with one hand and snatching it with the other.

The giving-snatching analogy will be the clear soon because the immediate fee hike from K55,000 to K275,000 has already seen a substantial number of needy students drop out of college. It was, for those that were still around attending classes despite the non-payment of fees, the directive of the president that gave a sigh of relief to most needy students.

In a nutshell, this Unima fee hike simply confirms the growing talk in town that DPP’s pro-poor policies are nothing but a lip-service. The opposition may be silent for now, but one can say for a fact that the opposition is keenly watching the events on the fee hike and seriously planning its 2019 elections campaign propaganda. And this fee hike will most obviously be a campaign issue in 2019 and some party will be made or broken on the basis of this issue. 

The point being driven home here is this: the Unima fee hike is good news overall, however, it is as economically insensitive as it is politically suicidal. As the Malawi economy currently is, the less controversial way to go on this will be to hike the fees incrementally, though, and this is the good part of it, the economic realities on the ground favor that there should be zero increment till the economy stabilizes, and,given the state of our affairs,no one knows, when.

Friday, June 17, 2016

An eye for an eye: a case for death penalty for albino-killers

GRANTED, the 21st century world is essentially an era of the triumph of human rights. Ostensibly dancing to the tune of this era, there have been calls for the abolishment of death penalty. Proponents of death penalty have always argued that killing a human being as punishment is primitive, barbaric, and costly.
Without doubt, the calls for the abolishment of death penalty are and continue to be persuasive. And, true to that, a good number of people have been persuaded to this fold. However, the recent spate of albino-butchering has changed the penal terrain and has weakened the anti-death penalty calls. It is for this reason that calls for the death penalty on albino-killers are justifiable. And here is why.

Killing albino-killers clears society of albino-killers
Elsewhere people have justified death penalty on the basis of deterrence. However, research has shown that death penalty does not sufficiently deter people from committing the offence. Whether death penalty sufficiently deters offenders or not is a problem for another day, the simple truth remains that when you kill the killers the society becomes clear of killers. 

It is an elementary fact of the social contract that people come together and form a society to run away from the brutal, cruel, and barbaric natural state of life. Society loses its meaning if people can experience the same brutality, cruelty, and barbarism life as happened in the state of nature. What will remain of a society if, after sacrificing some of their individual rights in exchange for security, all the people get is insecurity?

Again, it is a measure of a civilized nation that its citizens are accorded the fullest security. A nation is backward if its citizens live in perpetual insecurity. And the best guarantee of security is the meting out of punishment in full force to offenders. And this means, in case of the killing of albinos, giving death penalty.

Killing albino-killers avenges victims’ death
Call it backward or what have you, it does make sense that the gap created by losing a family member in the calculated circumstances characteristic of the albino-killings will, to a certain satisfactory level, be filled by killing the killer. 

The justification here being that the loss of a relative in such barbaric circumstances causes too much grief and resentment and the same can be suppressed if the perpetrator gets the death penalty. It should be emphasized here that punishment loses its touch if the offender of such grievous offences as slicing a fellow human being goes to prison and comes to see the light of day.

Killing albino-killers shrinks peoples’ eagerness for mob justice
Call ourselves lucky to this moment that we have not heard of a mob justice on albino-killers. This is the case perhaps because no one has been caught in the act of killing an albino. Such mob justice will not be surprising given the fact that people are more than willing to kill suspected thieves.

Furthermore, people are not currently taking the law into their hands probably because they are pursuing the let’s-wait-and-see attitude—that is, waiting to see the government’s response. They may decide to act in the way they know best if they will not like the action taken by government. And it can only be speculated here that the people would not administer mob justice if they see government mete out death penalty to albino-killers. 

This therefore means that the passing of death penalty to albino-killers will be in line with the human rights dispensation. This will be the case because, unlike mob justice, the suspected albino-killers will be allowed to exercise their right to legal representation and all the legal safeguards accorded to an accused person.

Killing albino-killers lifts the moral torture of feeding killers
Imagine. That albino family member of yours was killed, say, last month. You have grieved enough and things are seemingly returning to normal. And now you are buying your usuals—sugar, soap, matches, lotion, salt etc.—and tax is deducted. That tax forms the subvention to prisons which is used to buy food for prisoners including that prisoner who murdered your family member. Now imagine the psychological and moral torture you have to endure upon that realization!

Honestly, you do not have to suffer that way and endure all that. That psychological and moral torture gets lifted the moment the death penalty is pronounced. It can thus be seen here that death penalty has the added advantage of lifting the moral burden of feeding killers.

Albino-killers have no rights because they are not human beings
It is common knowledge in the human rights world that human rights are entitlements for human beings only. Accepted, a human being in an imperfect being; he can steal, stab, mob, or even kill. However, in doing all these bad things, a human being is guided by some residual sense of humanness. A human being who maims a fellow human being loses his sense of humanness and automatically seizes to be human. Albino-killers maim albinos and are thus not human beings.
Albinos: hunted for their body parts

Albino-killers chop the bodies of albinos into parts. In all conscience, such people cannot claim to have rights. Defending such people is not only preposterous, it is also outright wicked. 

The foregoing may be outlandish. It may also be unthinkable or backward. That’s your take and this is a free world. But for some of us, the above case is progressive. For many of us are tired with the prevailing mentality on albino killing which, in all fairness, appears to take the side of the offender rather than that of the victim. So, next time you argue that albino-killers have a right to life, think about the victims whose lives they needlessly and mercilessly take away.

Malawi has not abolished the death penalty; it is there in our laws. So do the needful courts, implement it. When you think about exodus 21:24 and look at punishments our good courts mete out to albino-killers you cannot help but ask: “Are our courts really serious?” Judge Madise’s recent life imprisonment judgment starts the journey; let’s hope the entire justice machinery will join. But hey, no offence intended our courts, this is only a case for death penalty for albino-killers!

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Does Malawi have a post turtle for a president? I beg to differ

In this era of freedom, even the seemingly free individual is unfree; the general outlook being that of a liberated man but inside he’s all chained to the infallibility of self: such is a person who thinks the only truth there is out there is what he says it is—and urges that everyone wholly buys it.

We have unfree individuals all around us—the self-styled critic who argues that Malawi has a post turtle for a president is such one; and there’s me who here argues that Malawi does not have a post turtle for a president. I’m no better than this critic for we both are unfree: we both hold that what we say is true and is the only truth there is out there.

Here we go;

First, the critic argues that some people made Peter Mutharika president. It is true and this is no secret that “Peter Mutharika did not get where he is by himself.” We all know that no man can run a one man’s show by himself in politics. You surely need a crony there for an advisor, a friend there for a campaign director, someone here for a political strategist, and someone up there for a propagandist. Such is politics the world over. Or is it the case that Malawi is different? I wonder.

Am yet to be convinced if getting somewhere by the help of others makes anyone deserve to be called a post turtle for anything, say, a post turtle for a CEO. Hahaha that sounds wonderful! You can try it in the offices. Isn’t it said that we climb on the shoulders of others to make meaningful achievements in life. Ahaaa! I also remember, it is said that no man is an island. All this, the way I see it (but I may be wrong), means that man does not progress all by himself, that he needs the help of others to reach somewhere.

Allan Ntata: Peter Mutharika is a post turtle for a president
Second, the critic asserts that Peter Mutharika is “absolutely” clueless as to governance. Accepted, it is true that Peter Mutharika, once in a while, shows tendencies that one tends to wonder if the president has a clue as to governance. That be true as it may, it smacks of ill-intentions to argue that “Mutharika has absolutely no clue as to what to do while perking there….”  Like really? Peter Mutharika has “absolutely” no clue? Oohh well, you readers are a better judge here. But, speaking for myself, absolutely is too strong a word.

Maybe, and this is just maybe, Peter Mutharika’s replacement of Ben with “farty” Goe as assistant, his positioning of “…his fellow geriatric, Dr. George Chaponda” for president, and the sidelining of vice president Dr. Saulos Chilima as potential successor are enough reasons to warrant arguing that Mutharika has “absolutely” no clue as to leadership. For the record, it is untrue that Peter Mutharika has never ever gotten one thing right ever since he ascended to the Malawi presidency. I have in mind the lean 20-person cabinet as one example where Peter Mutharika got it right.

Third, my good critic says, so I read, that we, the people, are “wondering” as to “what got into the heads”, ooohh no, “tummies” of the “Malawi Electoral Commission to put him there in the first place.” I suspect that the learned critic is putting things in the peoples’ mouth. He could be right that us, the people, are wondering about the way Peter Mutharika came to end up at Sanjika Palace given the do-or-die elections debacle.

However, I need a little convincing that the people think that it is the Malawi Electoral Commission which put Peter Mutharika “there”. Really? I take it that it is elementary knowledge (of course am speaking this from the little knowledge I have about elections) that we, the people, are the ones who put who we think is good on the government driving seat. Frankly speaking, I do not and will never understand that it is Malawi Electoral Commission which made Mutharika president.

Should he have blamed our courts? Maybe. All I know is that it is the courts which held that the Malawi Electoral Commission cannot extend the 8-day requirement for announcing election results. But can the courts be a proper entity of this blame? I don’t think so. The courts were simply doing their job in so holding.

Fourth, the colorful critic observes that Peter Mutharika has made a grave mistake in replacing Ben with Geo. I know very little about Ben to make a safe judgment that the under-the-radar man can be equated to a frying pan. Related to this, I don’t think the information I have about Dr. George Chaponda or his initiation of the anti-farting law makes him that bad as to be equated to “fire”. For these reasons, I modestly hesitate to respond to the assertion that Peter Mutharika has, in allegedly replacing Ben with “farty” Geo as his assistant, somersaulted “from the frying pan into the fire.”

Having read the critic’s criticism with an open mind, I have come to the conclusion that the good critic is wrong—the logic is wobbly, the instances hazy, and the flow gauche. In fact, he makes assertions and not reasoned arguments to say the least. It is here that I came to differ with this critic and thus argued that Malawi does not have a post turtle for a president.
Henry Chizimba: Peter Mutharika is not a post turtle for a president

The critic believes that the only truth there is out there is that Malawi has a post turtle for a president and he wants us, the people, to buy it. Here he’s free and unfree. And there’s me who believes that the only truth there is out there is that Malawi does not have a post turtle for a president and I want you, the people, to buy it. I’m too here free and unfree. But such is life.

But hey! I could be wrong and the critic right. But you readers are a better judge here, and I give you the chance to make the judgment here.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Vladimir Putin’s 70th UNGA Speech: For Malawi, Africa to Learn and the West to Heed

       Rather than bringing about reforms, an aggressive foreign interference has resulted in a brazen destruction of national institutions and the lifestyle itself. Instead of the triumph of democracy and progress, we got violence, poverty and social disaster.—Vladimir Putin

OBSERVABLY fed up with the West’s holier-than-thou attitude, Russian President Vladimir Putin told it as it is in the 70th anniversary of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) that the West’s “aggressive foreign interference” is to blame for the problems experienced in the world particularly in Africa and the Middle East.

Accepted, Vladimir Putin and his Russia have their own fair share of bad things that can, in all honesty, be rightly attributed to them. However, the West is comparatively worse. This is not to say that the West is entirely depraved; no, not at all. The West is, in many important respects, a friend in time of need.

Recent geopolitical events have shade more light on the fact that the West is supportive on one hand and destructive on the other. Vladimir Putin, arguably the West’s arch geopolitical foe, highlighted in his speech at UN General Assembly the three big problems that speak volumes of the destructive nature of the West.
Mugabe addressing the 70th UN General Assembly

Firstly, Putin bemoaned the West’s self-deceit policies and its belief in its exceptionality and impunity. He spoke: “Indeed, policies based on self-deceit and belief in one’s exceptionality and impunity have never been abandoned.” While the element of the West’s policies of self-deceit may be of remote relevance to the problems bedeviling Malawi and Africa, it would be too presumptive to say the same about the West’s belief in itself being exceptional.

True to Putin’s observation, the West is so mad in its belief about its exceptionality. In whatever business the West transacts, one readily feels the air of condescension coming from it; it sees itself as more important, more knowledge, much better predisposed to solving crises than anyone in the world. One wonders if it is the case that God made the West the only intelligent people on the planet. Suffice it to say that the West always wants to be the epicenter of everything. To boot, it is no wonder then that the media in the West is awash with accusations of arrogance on the part of Zuma for keeping talking on the phone when Obama, during lunchhour at the 70th UNGA, walked to him and joked. And, writing about the Zuma-Obama incident, one of the West’s newspaper headline goes blazing: “Who’s more important than Obama to Zuma.”

Secondly, the Russian President regretted the West’s continued acts of undermining other states’ sovereignty. The West constantly presents itself as a beacon of true democracy yet what it does is a direct opposite of what it preaches, what a paradox!. Putin, though sometimes a devil himself, hit the nail: “What is the state sovereignty, after all, that has been mentioned by our colleagues here? It is basically about freedom and the right to choose freely one’s own future for every person, nation and state.”

It is no secret that indeed the West deliberately undermines the sovereignty of other national states to the defiance of clear international laws. Examples are too numerous to mention here only to say that Iraq, Libya, and now Syria quickly come to mind. History has a rich memory of the West’s regrettable foreign interventionist conduct that has only ended up denying the citizens the freedom to choose its destiny and the chance to freely choose a nation and a state of their liking.

Lastly, the KGB-turned-president lamented the West’s imposition of development models on other countries especially those in Africa. On this point, Putin movingly appealed;
         Every term in international law and international affairs should be clear, transparent and have uniformly understood criteria. We are all different, and we should respect that. No one has to conform to a single development model that someone has once and for all recognized as the only right one. We should all remember that our past has taught us.

It is tempting to copy wholesale a tried and tested development model that works wonders, and there may be no harm in doing so, but, and this is a big but, there is always a compelling need to reflect back on our history before we do so. As Putin rightly puts it, we should and must remember the free lessons from our past. Mother Nature has not given unequivocal guarantees that what works in the West will also work in Malawi or Africa. Nonetheless, what works in the West, with proper indigenizing mechanisms, may well work in Malawi or Africa.

The point here is that it is not bad for Malawi and Africa in general to copy the West’s right development model neither is it bad for the West to recommend a right development model for the developing countries. What is bad, and this is what Putin is saying, is the West’s unrelenting push for the developing countries to conform to what it considers a “right” development model. Again, what is bad is the developing countries’ naivety to, for lack of a better word, copy and paste the West’s “right” development model.

To this end, the West’s aid conditionalities are as much to blame in this respect as Africa is in its alacrity to accepting the same. The West must take heed of this advice that their aid is only as good when the targeted countries are given the leeway, as guided by their respective historical backgrounds, to channel the aid to areas where its effect will be better and lasting. Africa and Malawi in particular should stop the copy-and-paste tendency when it comes to development models.

For, surely, as long as the West’s past retains no resemblance whatsoever to Malawi’s and Africa’s, there can be no meaningful move towards progress. So, let’s get the aid where possible but let’s use it in priority areas that our past has directed us to. As we bash Vladimir for being a devil himself, let’s not forget to pat him on the back for being an angel, at least for once here.

Friday, August 7, 2015

APM-Ntata Empty ‘Talk’: Helpful or Harmful?

The office of the president may not have a job description. True. That be true as it may, it is certainly every citizen’s expectation that whosoever is president will act in a manner reasonably expected of a president; and, sad to add that picking fights is sure not one such expectation.

The above may somewhat be too much of an expectation given the fact that the president is human too—he has feelings capable of being hurt. That is the reason why, at the risk of courting criticism, the president’s move in suing one Allan Ntata may not be entirely unpresidential.
Mutharika is said to be picking fights with Ntata

That being said, however, it is now almost obvious that the president has had his feelings hurt so much so that he has left government business to fate. This becomes clear when, only a few days after the Ntata-Nyasatimes legal suit, government released a press statement to the effect that Allan Ntata is one tried and tested fellow. It is at this point that we now ask, “Is this APM-Ntata empty talk helpful or harmful?”.

The quick answer will be it is. Yes, this empty talk is both helpful and harmful. However, caution has to be sounded here that the empty talk is more harmful than it is helpful.

The APM-Ntata talk is helpful in that now every avid follower of current affairs knows how much hurt certain ‘talks’ can cause to people a million times powerful than ourselves. Or, for lack of a better expression, the hurt Ntata has caused president Arthur Peter Mutharika through his ‘empty’ writings is one best captured by the old adage “a pen is mightier than a sword.”
Ntata is believed to be dragging president into a fight.

Also, the APM-Ntata empty talks may be a helpful as it wards off other would-be Ntatas. To this end, the ‘talks’ are a veritable warning the Ntatas in the writing business to watch their writings for fear of stepping on the president’s sensitivities. Wacky as this reason sounds, it still remains a reason, so ‘newsmongers watchout!’

The above being said, of special concern is the harm the APM-Ntata empty talk brings. Firstly, it is harmful for the simple reason that it has proved capable of derailing the president’s attention from the more serious issues—Kwacha depreciation, drug shortage, dwindling education standards, salary delays and all that. President Mutharika seems to see it all normal to pick a fight with Ntata dedicating his time to outclassing a guy that looks after himself and perhaps a couple other relatives forgetting that he, being the president of this poor nation, has the hopes of the fourteen million souls heaped upon him. Alas!

Additionally, his picking fights with Ntata is to Ntata’s advantage as it is Ntata who gets the limelight—he is seen as a biggie who speaks and the president responds. Mind you, APM is the president. And so a public figure. The thing is: a public figure is a public picture; whoever sees it comments about it. Public as he is, one is free to graffiti him the way they would have loved him rule the nation just as people graffiti a picture to make it look the way they would have loved it look. The point being driven home here is that the president is essentially a public poster of a nation. This implies that as long as the Peter Mutharika remains president, the Ntatas and the nonentities like this author will always take pride in dragging the president into a fight once in a while.
Furthermore, the APM-Ntata fights have the dangerous potential of gagging the media. This is bad for a nascent democracy like Malawi. We are, as a nation, too young to tolerate such a fight. The media will effectively be unnecessarily forced to censor what they publish especially if the stories likely touch on the president’s sensitivities.

Here it is, this piece this serves as a plea to the president to focus on the big picture which is proving relevant leadership that responds positively to the fears and aspirations of the nation. The plea here is that the president should modestly contain his anger, honorably deflate the insults, and confidently deal with critics. Otherwise getting involved in every empty talk makes the president lose sight of the big picture, and that is not healthy for our nation.

Reaching this far, it is hoped that the point is made; the point being that the president should see the big picture and leave us—the people that make a name by ‘naming’ those with names—to our writing and talking business. So don’t give us the platform Mr President, keep your eyes, your attention, and your focus on the bigger picture.

In the long run, it is hoped that the foregoing has made it clear that, whatever the intents of the people involved, the APM-Ntata empty talk is more harmful than is helpful.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Stop Talking and Just Do: That’s the Best Way, Sir!

Peter Mutharika: What is the best way?
The past week has not been a silly season politics-wise; the usually silent Malawi President, Peter Mutharika, aimed some punches at people criticizing his government. Seemingly unsure of where he gets it wrong, the president asked these critics to tell him the “best way”.

The president, in his characteristic I-know-much-what-can-you-tell-me tone, asked his critics to tell him what exactly is wrong with community colleges, malata and cement programme, industrialization, implementation of public sector reforms and all that jazz.

But what exactly is the “best way”? Is there any ‘best way’ anywhere? It appears not. However, certain ways are arguably more or most reasonable. And it is the reasonableness of the ways that make them best; not something inherent in the ways.

Similarly, in areas of policy implementation as is true in politics generally, the reasonable way which is the best way is a predisposition to do—action, in simple terms. That’s it, action is the best way.

Quite frankly, that the president is visionary on community colleges is well-settled; that his malata and cement programme deserves a pat on his back is widely-acknowledged; that his industrialization initiative is a big plus on his government is without question; and that his drive for public sector reforms is commendable goes without saying. The above, still, as brilliant as they are, matter less to any well-meaning citizen. The heart of it all is that what matters here is not the policies themselves but the action—or implementation if you like—which should, as far closely as possible, follow the road cleared by these grand policies.

Reaching here, the president can perhaps take an honest stock of himself and his government entourage and see whether or not his policies are implemented in the same grand way they were fashioned before asking for answers from his critics about where he goes wrong.

It is hoped that this stock-taking can help him re-gain his touch with the populace. See, how often have cronyism, favoritism, corruption, and inaction been blamed by these critics to be the regrettable dents on these good policies? Many times. What has the president done? Very little. What has changed? Least.

If he could please do justice to the Malawi nation; next time this or that critic says something is wrong with policy A or implementation of policy B: he should listen attentively, gather the courage to accept the free advice, and then take action. It surely helps very little, if at all it does, to blabber squeaks of underappreciation in the name of taking critics to task. The only, yes only, way to take these critics to task is to walk the policy talk and not to wander away from it and still expect smiles from Malawians. 

The agitation for approval, now taking a peal on him, will yield nothing without something; action first and approval will naturally follow. The point being driven home here is that there is every need to stop talking and take action. “Why?”, you may ask. Because the talking was already done, the policy document is the talk—the talking is the policy. So the president can’t keep talking. Now it’s time for action. It’s time for implementation. Or better still, it is time for the policy walk.

Take America for example. America is not great because it is a land of lofty dreamers but because it is a land where dream-implementers live. For the record, Malawi is happy to have a lofty dreamer president. It is noteworthy that Malawi will be happiest to see its president implement the lofty dreams.

For Malawi, the dream is the establishment of community colleges that offer relevant programmes; yes, the dream is malata and cement programme that benefits all Malawians without regard to their political affiliations; the dream is civil servants getting salaries good enough to afford a standard life; the dream is creation of industries that create jobs for all and not for family and friends. And that is the kind of walk Malawi wants the grand policy talk to take. When all that meat is absent from the policies as it is the case now, the policy becomes a skeleton to be used as a ghost for corruption and political appeasement.

Sir, as a matter of being straight here, the thing is, at last, to walk the talk. Not to crawl the talk. Neither is it to talk the talk or talk talk the talk. The point is: walk the policy talk Sir. It is only when you walk (and not to wander away from) the policy talk that the criticisms will die a natural death. Because, as earlier elsewhere pointed out, that’s the best way, Sir.