One among many chronic problems Malawi has been grappling with for years is the elite mentality by the educated folks that they are always right. The country is endowed with brilliant minds sadly a majority of these scholars are good at diagnosing problems, only few are problem solvers.
These educated elite are good at criticizing government but they are reluctant to become part of the solutions to the ills they point out. At worst these folks trek to foreign land where they contribute to the development of those countries while their motherland is thirsting for their innovative ideas.
It came as no surprise therefore, that a group of Malawian distinguished scholars in diaspora released a statement expressing their misgivings on what they described the ‘’growing leadership crises and the “worsening socioeconomic conditions” in the country.
In part the statement signed by 30 prominent scholars reads: “For the ordinary person, there is no hope. Malawi faces an existential crisis as a country, a crisis which is man-made and is, therefore humanly resolvable”.
If I may be indulged to speculate I would say that no one saw this coming but the undertone of this write up is very familiar. Our wise men and women in diaspora sound more like some emissaries sent to amplify the anti-government voices.
To begin with, there is no denying that our country is riddled with some social-economic upheavals but it is totally unfair to suggest that there is leadership crisis in the country.
President Chakwera has never shied away from the fact that the country is experiencing some challenges. And as one way of ensuring that those problems are effectively dealt with, President Chakwera has been inviting suggestions on how the country can navigate its mirade of challenges knowing that we are stronger together than we are individually.
Addressing a development rally in Mchinji district earlier this year, the Malawi head of state was on record urging Malawians to join hands in the fight against prevailing problems in the country.
He said: “The country is facing some challenges but there is no problem we cannot solve if we come together. There is no fear we cannot conquer if we are united. There is no worry we cannot confront if we are united. Let us stand together and fight these problems”.
These remarks can only be spoken by a leader who is in control of the affairs of the state.
Against this background one finds it difficult to understand where this idea of Malawi having leadership crisis is coming from. If they are talking about people in this country grappling numerous economic problems, I expected our enlightened brothers and sisters in diaspora to understand the devastating impact of Covid-19 and the Ukraine war on the world economies.
I hope I am not stating the obvious for saying there is no country that has been spared in this global economic melt-down.
In case they have remote experience of what has been happening in the country; let me remind them that Chakwera inherited a broken system, a system which will take time to be repaired. Even amidst those aforementioned two problems that have wreaked the global economies, President Chakwera has managed to hold the economy from further slump.
The statement also alludes to the fact that the problems the country is experiencing are man-made. What they are insinuating is that the problems are squarely President Chakwera’s fault. The truth is that President Chakwera is a victim of circumstances.
Imagine what progress we could have made had the DPP government not doctor figures to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Perhaps for once we must agree with late President Bingu Wa Mutharika’s words that Malawi is not a poor country it is the people’s minds that are poor. But this impoverishment of the mindset is not only limited to people who have not been to the hallow walls of the universities. If anything, some of the problems we are facing in the country have been worsened by failure by educated elites in finding solutions
The importance of education is to transform the society and any country looks up to its educated people to be change agents. Of what use is education if it cannot transform one’s society?
While we may not fault their choice of going outside this country in search of greener pastures, we cannot help it to worry of the brain drain being experiencing by most institutions in the public sectors.
For years, our public universities have been suffering from shortage of qualified lecturers yet we have distinguished scholars offering their services in the foreign land. Our hospitals are suffering from acute shortages of personnel due to an influx of well qualified medical doctors to the outside world in search of job opportunities.
Without pitting one group of compatriots against the other, but the statement by our educated brothers and sisters in diaspora is compelling enough to acknowledge some equally educated selfless sons and daughters of the soil who without a doubt may have been tempted to trek to other countries but they decided to remain in the country and serve their motherland.
I am reminded of people like Professors Edge and Ngeyi Kanyongolo, Alfred Mtenje, Kalenga Saka, Jack Wirima, Kanyama Phiri Doctors Thomas Munthali, Charles Dzamalala, Charles Mwansambo, Janet Banda, Hawa Ndilowe. These are not only upstanding citizens but scholars of great repute whose contributions to the development of this country are so innumerable.
In case people have not noticed, in our country a majority of people who have directly impacted people’s lives are those without sound academic credentials.
Napoleon Dzombe is one good example of such people. If Malawi is to develop she needs practical men and women like Dzombe and the Kanyongolos who talks less and do more. If this country is to develop it requires more men and women with practical solutions.