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Three Major Crises In Malawi Which Chakwera Needs To Declare National Emergencies

 

BY DANWOOD M CHIRWA

There are three major crises in Malawi about which the newly established government needs to declare national emergencies.

In no particular order of priority the three crises are:

1. the Covid crisis and its related dysfunctional public health and health care system;

2. the governance crisis; and

3. the corruption and state looting crisis.These crises interrelate and affect each other. They have existed side by side for such a long time that many people think that it is normal to have politicians — literate and illiterate, young and old — who are corrupt; that the hospitals and clinics should have no medicines; that chaos and lawlessness is acceptable. It’s all they’ve seen in their lives.

No. Things are very abnormal in the warm heart of Africa. These crises can be arrested immediately: make no mistake. There is enough literature that shows why African elites want to keep their countries impoverished. No amount of superstition, faith, hope can resolve any of the three — only concerted and carefully considered human action, guided by science and whatever humans have contributed to the current stock of knowledge.

If I were President here is what I would do to resolve, once and for all, these crises seen as national emergencies:

1. the Covid crisis and its related dysfunctional public health and health care system

I would recognize that during the campaign the choice was about what crisis to prioritize, between the governance crisis and the Covid crisis. Understandably, the people of Malawi chose to resolve the issue of governance first before the life and death issue of Covid. They were right.

The former was more pressing at the time. But much more remains of that crisis.Now is time of drastic action on the health crisis. I would have already as a matter of urgency appointed a Covid committee consisting largely of medical and public health professionals to advise me on a daily basis on the progress of infections and illnesses, the preparedness of the health system for the treatment of infected persons, and daily efforts to contain the disease and treat people.

The political task force cannot come up with solutions that are needed at this crucial time.I would have by now visited all central hospitals and some district hospitals and other facilities that have been specially created for Covid so that I inspect them personally and I meet and speak with the medical professionals who are dealing with the crisis on a daily basis.I would have ordered the urgent upgrade of the medical facilities in all central hospitals including the construction of Covid specific temporary structures to ensure that the system is prepared for the peak and copes with current demands.

I would have ordered the urgent formulation of a bill to regularize the use of regulations to deal with all issues arising from the emergency that Covid presents.I would have ordered the urgent formulation of economic stimulation packages including safety nets for vulnerable groups.I would follow all the measures recommended by the WHO and other scientists and refrain from leading any Malawian into doing something that might increase their vulnerability to infection or illness.In general I would consider the Covid pandemic as an opportunity to significantly improve the health care and public health system which everybody agrees is practically in shards.

2. The governance crisis

I would recognize that the government crisis was not resolved by the disgraceful departure of DPP and cadets, but that harder work lay ahead to ensure that government systems and process are reset and reconfigured in order to bring order and integrity to governance.Key to this is ensuring that I and my cabinet act in accordance with the law and refrain from the kind of disregard for the law so common during the reign of DPP and cadets.

Knowing that the AG is the advisor to the whole government I would have appointed a personal legal adviser with whom I would be every moment except when I’m in the bathroom or when I’m sleeping so that I do not fall foul of the law. That person would be in touch with the AG everyday.

Muluzi had to employ a personal English teacher, for example, and within months the man moved from saying ‘ejukweshion’ to ‘oh yes’!I would have recognized that institutions of the state and society have been mercilessly destroyed in the last 20 years to the point that they can’t be recognized now. I would have put together a team to give priority to consulting with all major government and statutory agencies and departments, professional organizations, civil society and business organizations to address governance problems that have afflicted the country for so long.

There’s no need for expensive Mangochi meetings for this.There are also ready solutions to these institutional failures that are recorded in the many reports that have been produced over the years. Somebody just needs to open the cabinets in which these reports are locked away and get them implemented forthwith.Appointing the most qualified individuals to public offices would be non-negotiable, and so would be the review of all appointments made in the last 6 years that did not follow the law.

I would, within a month, remove all gost workers and ensure that new ones are not recruited.I would put together an accountability system that would eliminate, following due process, all those that fail to meet their duties as employees of government.

3. The corruption and looting crisis

About this I have already made some detailed comments and so I will not recycle. Just to say that the failure of governance goes hand in hand with corruption and looting, which in turn impacts on the provision of social services resulting in poor education, poor health care, poor roads, long queues at every government department, and no economic growth, which in turn in lead to more corruption and bad governance.

Resolving these crises requires undivided commitment and hard work, not serving as president during the day and moonlighting in the evening or over the weekend. It’s a 24/7 job.

Above all, the job requires one to recognise the dignity of every Malawian and to appreciate the unique privilege of serving them in that distinguished capacity. I would therefore do no act that would indicate that I am duplicitous. I would promote transparency, end nepotism, tribalism and favoritisms of any kind, and, importantly, break myself from any form of capture.

I would, in short, be a free leader of a free people who respects every Malawian as a person with rights and dignity.These, ladies and gentlemen, are the articles of leadership that could lift Malawi from her self imposed immaturity and lawlessness.

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4 COMMENTS

  1. Professor you are spending more time online writing these pieces instead of marking your Masters and Phd students’ thesis/dissertations…what happened to working from home?

  2. I’m one of frustrated citizens of this Nation , by seeing those people who embezzled public funds chanting freely like they are blood free over the issues ….May you please hang them with rule of law and audit all their assets and collect everything including their underwears and sell them on auction so that cash should be deposited to account 0ne (Gvt acc)….And then concentrate on building new Malawi …

    Please spare no one with blood hands

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