Man is what he is. It thus follows that, ultimately, man has no one but himself to blame for his condition. The sum of man makes the society. The society, on account of its natural need for order, creates a government—a monster man for the subjugation of the weaker man.
Accordingly, a government is an extension of man; a representation of his fears and wishes. It is perhaps for this reason alone that governments are theoretically structured in such a way that they pursue the dreams of the people. To do that, however, is to be able to create a sound vision resonating with the cumulative vision of those the government serves—the citizenry.
To this end, I intend to propose a manifesto for the post-May 20, 2014 government that looks deep into the fears and wishes of Malawians; and I’ve, in my liberated thinking, called it a Malawianist Manifesto. It is a manifesto that seeks to dig deeper into the brains and the mores of well-meaning Malawians to restructure the perception and vision of fellow citizens to create a meaningfully progressive Malawi.
To achieve a goal presupposes the existence of a set goal. Therefore, Malawi can talk of making progress if and only if it has set goals. Unfortunately, there seems, from the nation’s information repertoire, to be no set goals for Malawi. No wonder then that the nation has no development campus to direct the authorities to genuine destiny, thus effectively leaving the nation to wander around as it has been and is always the case.
For this reason, the first thing to do is to develop a national vision; a vision that clearly defines the stages against actors and timeframe. The vision, or better still, the development agenda, should center on the nation and not the political actors. This is not to dismiss the crucial role of political actors in the whole equation, but to just sound a warning, if you like, that the focus on this vision is not who did what, but how faithfully the actors—political, academic, technocrat etc.—helped in achieving the vision.
Equally importantly, anything that anyone ever does should all be done with spirit that it is for the good of the nation, Malawi. By this I propose a-nthu- as an axle of the vision. As a matter of clarification, every chi-nthu- or zi-nthu- that any Malawi citizen does—in high offices or under the scotching sun, in private or public, in good or bad faith, lettered or unlettered, villagedweller or townmonger—should be for the benefit of mu-nthu- or, patriotically speaking, a-nthu-.
Interestingly, development of a national agenda is only part of the solution. To be precise, there is need to institutionalize the vision. Of course, understandably, people have tried to institute organs—or call them think tanks if you like—solely tasked to run the affairs as to see the vision off the ground, but such organs have largely been a re-invention of the wheel. Such think tanks, in as much as they may have the mandate and the capacity, they are, frankly, a drain in resources as they need infrastructure, finances, time, and other things incidental to their working.
Arguably, the best could be done is to have these people left to their normal duties, and only make them ex-officio members of the organs tasked with the responsibilities of capturing the vision.
Thus, as can be observed from advanced democracies, the meaningful way to achieve the national development agenda is to use the state structures—the creatures of statute as those in the legal fraternity would say—to have such agenda being made part and parcel of their vision and mission. That, in effect, would mean deliberately creating or procedurally incorporating rules and regulations in statutory corporations and state organs that push for the achievement of the national agenda without regard to the political environment of the day.
This in a sense means that there is need to couch the Malawi vision in such a way that every person or entity, governmental or non-governmental, politician or non-politician, foreigner or other, will be legally compelled to live the vision. Consequently, every in-coming government will be bound to take actions that further the achievement of the national vision and Malawians will be spared from the socio-economic and political costs of having every government develop its own national development roadmap hence. In a way, if I can borrow Barack Obama’s words, all what is needed to live the dream of a progressive Malawi is have strong institutions and not strong leaders. Why? It’s hard to find strong leaders but it’s not that hard to create strong institutions.
Again, there is need to improve on monitoring and evaluation. It must be said here, as impossible as it may seem given the history of our political leadership, that government business regarding the implementation of national development agenda has got to follow clear and timed guidelines that spells out how a particular item in the agenda will be achieved and how such achievement will be so measured.
To this end, entities charged with fulfilling the national’s desire for a better Malawi have monitor every action of each individual or department and see to it that the tasks so given to such individual or entity are earnestly and effectively done. Additionally, there will also be need to synchronize the activities of all the implementing entities so that there is oneness of purpose as well as sameness of action.
For sure, Malawi has been run haphazardly. And, regrettably, its policies have largely been developed and imposed by foreign nationals. Unassertive and directionless as it perhaps is, Malawi has failed to resist the temptation to plead its case; and, consequently, it has miserably failed to live its own dream—it has goofed. For this reason, it has reaped what it sow—underdevelopment.
It is thus about time that this nation of ours obeyed the demands of the 21st century world; that every nation should redefine its own vision in its own way. And the way to it, and perhaps the only way, is to develop, institutionalize, monitor and evaluate a national development agenda. Otherwise, Malawi will remain to be a Peter Pan of the development world.