When you come to think of it, nothing that the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is doing should take anyone by surprise.
At least not in Malawi.
Because, when one recalls that era of “bad” laws, of fuel and forex shortages, of media unfriendly laws, of opposition and civil society bashing, of hoodwinking Malawians on a wide range of issues by pretending ‘to listen’ after gluing gum in executive ears, of suspicious stewardship over public assets, of unnecessary stand-offs that went on for months without a solution, one has to accept that we have been down this road before.
We have been to hell and back with DPP, therefore nothing happening today is new. And with ourselves probably to blame, we should only expect a downhill ride and the worst.
Nepotism does not even begin to come into this discussion because tribal favouritism is more or less DPP’s ‘legal tender’.
Yes, nepotism, blatant bias along tribal lines; although often refuted at the highest echelon of DPP, is what the Kwacha is to Malawi, the Pound Sterling is to the United Kingdom, and the Rand to the Republic of South Africa.
It is, to put it in perfect perspective, the glue that holds the DPP together.
Take away nepotism, and take away the few opportunists and hangers-on walking about chewing monster yellow-buns and you have no DPP.
You want to tell DPP to stop practicing nepotism? You might as well tell a leopard to change its spots.
Now, just when one begins to think that having hit the bottom we cannot sink any lower; is when the DPP pulls a blockbuster.
I am not referring to the ‘give-away’ of the Malawi Savings Bank (MSB) because, on this one, all of us are equally to blame, individually and collectively.
We ought to have seen that one coming.
With due respect to the coup d’état of the MSB, the formula is fool-proof.
It was crafted by a “political engineer”, perfected by an “economic engineer” and today, all that a “constitutional engineer” had to do was to sell Malawians a dummy, pick the loot and the rest is the story of finders keepers losers weepers. Game over.
The formula is crude but effective. Just as it worked between 1994 and 2004; and it functioned between 2004 and 2012; today, it is just as potent.
You want to learn the a-b-c of looting public assets? Check this:
- Condemn a state-owned entity to bankruptcy by appointing a dubious CEO. Examples are ADMARC, Stagecoach, National Bus Lines, and today MSB.
- Ransack the company by either stripping it of its assets, or by creating a huge debt that leaves it bleeding. When possible, do both simultaneously, as surety.
- Start shedding crocodile tears, wailing to all and sundry that the company is not performing etc. and all that jazz. Pause and wait.
The IMF does the rest.
The omniscient IMF technocrats always come in, swallow the bait, and pronounce the magic word: “SELL!”
And lo: you have a licence to loot from none other than the IMF!
Finally, armed with the IMF licence to loot, you connive with a local businessman, especially these greedy types that care very little about their reputation and image, engineer the privatisation commission to him, bribe a few journos to write stories of doom, get a barefoot lawyer or two to “opine” and boom!
A national asset is gone with none the wiser!
Since they say practice makes perfect, the formula has been perfected over the years.
But nevertheless, we should have seen it coming. Hence my saying: we are all guilty as charged.
The MSB scam, however, is not what I want to discuss.
Ladies and gentlemen, I have learnt with dismay from one of our gallant dailies, that it has pleased the DPP to take those of us that frequent the Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (QECH) back to the days of the Han Dynasty of China between 202 BC and 220 AD.
Rather than enjoy water from taps – in keeping with modern amenities – when we fall sick or when we have to serve as guardians; we will be reminiscing the days of the Han Dynasty of China in as far as water is concerned.
Boreholes, folks, will be part and parcel of the landscape at this historic referral hospital.
You and I will be drinking from boreholes in the 21st century, in the very heart of Malawi’s commercial city of Blantyre, thanks to the coloured dreams of the DPP leadership.
Surely, Dr. David Livingstone must be turning in his grave!
In case you are not familiar with a borehole (having grown up in cities), I will freely prepare you for this spectacle.
A borehole is an ancient technique that dates back over three thousand years.
It originated in China, where bits of bamboo, attached to a heavy weight, were used to drill water wells.
Since then, the technology has somewhat evolved, but the concept and contraption are the same.
These contraptions are what our colour-dreaming pharaohs have decided should service us at QECH, as they invest our hard-earned taxes in a new Banqueting Hall at the State Residence, so that they can party in more trendy surroundings.
Now, please permit me to digress a bit.
Not too long ago, a veteran and esteemed scribe called this very same DPP a ‘watered-down version of Boko Haram’.
I did not agree with this assessment because the middle “P” in DPP supposedly represents “progressive”.
And the Boko Haram is anything but progressive!
Today, I am having second thoughts.
In this day and age, which “progressive” government provides its metropolitan patients with boreholes in a country’s commercial capital?
Who does that?
Not that money is in short supply, no. As we all know – there is enough in the 2015/16 Budget to build banquet halls at the State House.
We have enough to multiply the already bloated and often unaudited State Residence Budget.
Lack of money therefore is not an excuse.
Shortage of money is not why we are going backwards.
We will be drinking from boreholes because DPP has an overwhelming urge to see us drink from boreholes because the DPP, like its Naija brother, loathes progress, as we know it.
Just like Boko Haram detests Western Education, these characters believe we are not fit to drink tap water. They know best what is good for us.
DPP, a watered-down version of Boko Haram? What further evidence do we need? This, by the way, is no laughing matter. This is a grave issue.
Firstly, I doubt if the DPP banqueting halls will be fitted with the boreholes they want us to drink from, when we are sick.
Secondly, and more seriously, with this love of ancient ‘technologies’ for “others”; and state-of-the-art banqueting halls for “them”; the DPP taxes on sms texting and internet now begin to make sense.
Personally, I have braced myself for a presidential decree that will condemn the use of smartphones and androids and compel us to revert to the predecessor of the telephone, i.e. two tins connected by string – in lieu of a telephone.
After all the foundation has already been laid via punitively prohibitive taxes on a service that the majority of us, the 15 million of us, barely afford.
First, for you my dear fellow countrymen and women condemned to boreholes: start collecting tins and strings, their prices will sky-rochet when a law is passed making them the ‘official means of communication’ in keeping with this borehole-at-queens-in-21st Century regressive thinking.
Secondly, and seriously, President Peter Mutharika should know that when push comes to shove, Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital and Kamuzu Central Hospital are where we are rushed to during emergencies.
In his shoes, I would ensure that, in the least, these hospitals have running water, which is vital for surgical operations and safe motherhood.
While the State House Banquet-hall is a luxury which we cannot – given the prevailing economic hardship – afford; running water, in any hospital is literally a matter of life or death.
And President Mutharika should know this better than many of us.