Chalo’s Sagacity by Chalo Mvula
President Mutharika latest national address appear to have earned him some praise across a section of Malawians. While his critics are yet to respond, but it appears many are satisfied. We can all agree; Corona Virus is threatening us all and the degree at which this pandemic is spreading and killing people is sending shivers to many if not all the people around the world. While Mutharika was announcing the new measures, his government will take to combat the virus, it appears its announcements like reduction of salaries for his cabinet ministers, increase in MEDF loans, reduction of fuel prices and increase of salaries in risk allowance for healthcare workers that have got people excited in these doom times.
Nobody knows whether the fight against corona a short-term thing is, or if the pandemic will carry on for months to come. As a Malawian myself, it is my prayer that the disease does not spread and ravage my country. Truthfully speaking, if what is going on in Italy and USA or UK is to go by Malawi cannot cope with this outbreak. Our strained healthcare system will collapse, and we don’t have enough resources to face this pandemic head on.
In as much as I am one of the people who were impressed with Mutharika speech, I have chosen to have reservations is singing praises about him and his speech. I applaud him for all those measures but to praise him will be going a bit far. I would happily wear the title of a hater, but if experience is to go by, Mutharika will be a victim of his own making. If one can trust Mutharika just at his word, then I am afraid one doesn’t take issues with a critical mind and doesn’t look back at the history of the man behind the word. Mutharika has proved again and again that he is the master of broken promises.
The point I am making here isn’t about ignoring the fact that Mutharika has put measures to help combat the virus or that Covid19 is dangerous for Malawi. What I am arguing here is the fact that Mutharika history of maladministration, lack of leadership and the rampant corruption by him and his cronies will make all these efforts about fight against corona, nothing but a channel for them to profit financially and politically. Mutharika cannot be trusted and it’s an open secret majority of Malawians do not trust his government. The lack of trust itself will be the first setback on his fight against this pandemic.
My reservations kicked in when I realised that lack of transparency regarding the actual statistics of Covid19 cases in Malawi. For days now, nobody knows the truth in whether we indeed have the Covid19 cases in Malawi yet or not. When the president decides to be making the announcements himself without any visible input from health professionals one begins to wonder if the stats are real or just scaremongering.
This is not helped by the fact that the president presented to the country that the decision to reduce Fuel prices was his government making. He failed to acknowledge that the fuel price reduction has been caused by the complete collapse in world oil price due to plunging demand due to the pandemic .The price of crude oil in the world has reduced and this is not Mutharika’s government sole decision.
Here is a president, who deliberately refused to assent the electoral bills to allow the country to go ahead and start preparing for elections just because he wants to delay things as much as possible. Yes, he is the same guy who is refusing to fire Jane Ansah and his team of Commissioners. To him and his government, any opportunity to delay things is a blessing to them.
Amid the pandemic, rumours are rife that the first lady Gertrude Mutharika organisation BEAM is one of the first beneficiaries of the financial aid aimed to fight the Covid19 virus. We all know how; this organisation has turned into a channel of syphoning money out of the government into certain people close to the president’s pockets.
Nobody wants to politicise the Covid19 pandemic, however, when the nation is dealing with an untrustworthy president, then we must take whatever he says with caution. Malawi would rather follow measures and advise from World Health Organisation than to massaged coronavirus rhetoric from a government that is keen to use the pandemic for its political advantages.