Thursday, February 28, 2013

MPs’ MK10milion Demands: Street Democracy at its best!

Never has President Joyce Banda been pushed in a corner of governance uncertainty than she has been with the recent ‘Kids Revolution’. It is interesting to note that every Janet and Jack, every Haroon and Halima is busy flexing muscles with the intention of making president Banda’s days darker and ever more darker ever since the Kids Revolution. 

Given that, it is little wonder that the honorable Members of Parliament are the latest Jacks and Haroons busy stretching their muscles demanding a whopping MK10million each. 

As a matter of clarification, democracy is not necessarily about speaking out but knowing what to speak out. By extension, it is about speaking out about national issues with objectivity and not personal tissues. That is democracy as conceptualized by the old intelligent folks.

But when one peddles an issue solely guided by prejudice, contempt, and sheer desire to deliberately make an environment unfriendly for the other, that’s street democracy. Sadly, street democracy seems to be the whole, and arguably the only business in parliament this session.

 It be made clear from the onset that the author is no fan of president Banda, but is here compelled to state the fact as it is; which is that MPs have it planned to make Malawi ungovernable to president Banda.

While it is tenable that the MPs’ demands might be justifiable somehow, it is wholly unthinkable, honestly speaking, that the MPs’ demands can be met at this time that Malawi is at the pinnacle of economic and political turmoil.

You may argue to the contrary, but, truth be told here, even the best of economists and technocrats of Adam Smith caliber, or locally, of the Matthews Chikaonda type, will surely fail to glide out of the economic mess with a MK10million payout (or handout?) to the 193 MPS. 

It does not require an Economics genius to see that the payout defies economic sense. Almost everyone—from intelligentsias and ignoramuses, from kids to adults, from anarchists to patriots—thinks, and of course rightly so, that such a payout is a needless drain on the government pulse.

And here now you happen to get to sobering surprises; what is it then that is making the MPs insist on this pay out? Is the MK10milion demand all there is in the current sitting? Are there no alternative ways of sorting the MK10 million pay out?

It is at this point the critical mind begins to see the MPs hidden agenda. Interestingly, here one rushes into opining that the MPs in the current sitting are up to no good; that they are hell bent towards frustrating government business. The current session might be the grand opportunity for the MPs to come back at president Banda, but, coincidentally or other, it is no doubt a sad repayment to the voters. 

It is perhaps at this point that the wiser readership would agree with the author that, if indeed opposition parties are governments-in-waiting, the current economic crisis characterizing the Joyce Banda administration would have been a perfect opportunity for them to manifest their leadership prowess. 

Otherwise, judging by what is happening in parliament, one is tempted to conclude, with no regret whatsoever, that the larger part of the opposition benches is occupied by people who think very little, if any at all, about offering solutions to government and being welfaristic to the people who voted them into power—the local masses.

You would be on the right side of the argument if you stated that the MPs are playing hide-and-seek with government as they knowingly or unknowingly playing seesaw with the precious lives of the 14-plus million citizens. Such games are typical of street democracy where nothing matters to the powers that be (MPs in this case) other than getting what one wants, get this right, what the MPs want, and always at the expense of the needs of the voters.

If the honorable MPs are serious about serving the people in their constituencies, then let them let the government go this time. Let them give the Banda administration some breathing space hoping that they can pull some economic miracles and be able to pay the recently raised salaries, and more importantly, recover the economy.

At this juncture, the article rests its case but is quick to point out that the honorable MPs’ MK10million demands is both ludicrous and selfish, and at worst, unMalawian. Most sadly, the demand smacks of street democracy at its best.

Bemoaning Pres. JB’s Response to CSTU’s Eco-pocalyptic Stay-away

Whosoever said that escapism is a fail-safe principle in the running of government might have made the perfect sense to President Joyce Banda.  It is little wonder then that statements from government or its agents on the Civil Servants Trade Union’s (CSTU) stay-away are all characterized by streaks of not-that- way-not-today principles typical of escapist philosophy.

Joyce Banda might have started as some vicar of an angel president; but surely, the January 17th mass demonstrations must have tipped her of  her leadership’s  increasing ‘angellessness’. More importantly, the on-going CSTU stay-away is one latest example of the irrelevance of the ideologies guiding her leadership.

Perhaps most importantly is the fact that president Banda’s response to the CSTU stay-away has been, and, regrettably is, uninspiring, clueless, and every inch unpresidential.

Firstly, the Joyce Banda government is, in all fairness, uninspiring in that the government seems to have left the stay-away to fate by projecting an its-not-a-big-deal mentality.

You may agree with the author that the CSTU stay-away is an historic eco-pocalyse as billions and billions of money is lost in its wake. In a nutshell, the stay-away has caused, and if not immediately solved, will continue to cause untold economic crisis at the time Malawi economy needs proactive leadership to recover it.

It is here that one would rightly make sense in arguing that the stay-away is needlessly milking the dying economy thus spelling trouble for an already troubled economy. It is therefore at this point that one would expect an actively listening and proactively responsive government to show concern mirroring the weightiness and uncertainty of the situation on the ground.

Unfortunately, the Joyce Banda government is stuck in the gone days of one party state where threats and issuance of directives was the order of the day. The JB government is consciously forgetting, for reasons the wiser leadership can guess, that Malawi now finds itself in the democratic multiparty dispensation where issues of rights and activism are enshrined in the very same constitution every government is sworn-in to protect and defend.

Secondly, the JB administration seems to have no laid-out strategy for dealing with CSTU stay-away hence clueless in that respect.

It is to this thinking that one expects the JB government to trash triviality in its approach to the CSTU stay-away. The government and its wayward Government Negotiating Team (GNT) have got to inspire confidence and trust in the way they reach out to the CSTU leadership otherwise Malawi will be heading for an economic and political turmoil.

It is therefore discouraging to note that the press statement from GNT to the CSTU is one that truly mocks the intelligence of its authors. Reading it, one would come across the innumerable half-baked truths and hidden clauses masquerading as genuine offers. And, one tends to wonder it at all the GNT and its mother—the JB government—are any serious about resolving the CSTU concerns.

The sad side of the matter is that the JB government and the GNT have all had their stances on the stay-away been informed by self-importance and superiority complex making it almost impossible for a negotiated settlement as government and GNT comes with a position prior to negotiations. 

Finally, President Joyce Banda’s covert and overt statements on the stay-away are, in all imaginable standards, unpresidential. Here is a president, who upon, receiving the CSTU concerns, chose to ignore the concerns only to come to them later when the president sensed that CSTU was not paying games. But that was too late. 

As is true of negotiations, the first meeting yielded no fruits, and days were fast approaching the scheduled day of stay-away. If president JB was indeed president to the true sense of the word ‘president’ she would know that CSTU was not kidding; and she would have given the concerns the timely attention they deserved thus averting the unnecessary socio-economic and political apocalypse.

As the article sums up the issues, it is only hoped that Joyce Banda and her administration will relook at the CSTU stay-away with the importance and urgency it deserves and that a resolution is reached fast enough to avoid any more loss economically, socially, and politically.

As the nation expects such a selfless and positive response from government, it is compelling that one bemoans the uninspiring, clueless, and unpresidential response of the Joyce Banda government to the CSTU stay-away.