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.