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Of Chakwera’s Dead Directives, Empty Promises

By Ralph Sambaligwa Mvona

Over the past 26 months of his leadership, the man called Lazarus Chakwera has imposed a range of directives to be followed by various government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).

In that period, the man who came to the presidency with so much promise has earned himself more praise as an eloquent speechmaker than he is showing the capability of a highflier. He seems devoid of the mettle to prove his critics wrong. Our president is wanting of the spirit to leave himself a legacy when his time to take a bow comes.

For anything he could come close to, people are beginning to think the wisdom of John Magufuli was way out of this world. Speak not of the Paul Kagames of today and how they make things happen. Wait a minute, what of Haikande Hichilema and how he is already soaring high up there?

Now, of the most popular directives announced over the past two years, President Chakwera directed that MDAs should seek approval before buying new vehicles and that no cars should be driven around after 6pm unless there is prior permission from his office.

Just to hark back to the details further, he also ordered that boards should sit only four times per year saying any extra meetings should seek permission from his office.

Furthermore with the austerities, Chakwera directed that fuel allocated to the ministers be reduced by 20 percent and that international trips by public officials be done only three times annually, adding that all senior government officials must fly economy class.

But that will not be all; in June this year, the president also announced he had withheld the delegated functions of his vice, Saulos Chilima, pending investigations, in the aftermath of an Anti-Corruption Bureau report on businessperson, Zuneth Sattar.

He also directed the Secretary to the President and Cabinet, Colleen Zamba to impose similar measures on all officials implicated in the report.

As part of what is largely described as political will, the presidency has made such orders with the aim of influencing meaningful progress in the implementation of the government’s agenda, and by other means also wanting to show that he is cutting out the infamous cancer that is corruption.

Much of that resolve, according to Chakwera is intended at empowering his governance devices to function fully and independently; what he has for a long time called “making the government systems work”. It does sounds like a contradiction though, when directives are issued to institutions that are also pushing to become as independent as possible.

However, what has sparked this discussion is the lack of effect that the so called directives have had thus far towards achieving tangible development. There clearly has not been enough pressure in the chains of command in order to register significant change, so to speak.

What is clear as at now is that political will is more of vague phrase enjoyed by the opposition, but hated by the same politicians when they have to answer to the citizenry upon assuming power.

It would be a tired discussion now to start cursing President Chakwera for filling the political space with mere rhetoric. Either what he orders to happen is neglected and downplayed by those expected to implement or there simply is a void of the will to follow up on the directives.

What members of the public understand out there is that anything of an order that is issued by the president is meant be taken seriously. These directives are expected to influence national development and change. And that is what people hoped for. Each of the directives was made to spark progress, restore order and keep processes within the legal means.

And if you try to ask around from our investigative journalists, there has not been any significant progress on the Sattar probe that we could proudly point out to a case in court. It raises questions if at all the president’s orders from the ACB report – which he also rebuked – were made earnestly or merely for the reason of wanting to be seen to be acting on matters.

Even with the austerities, there perhaps was a feeling that the little being saved from the prudence, would trickle down to ease the prevailing economic hardship.

Surprisingly, that is not the case. With all the sternness from within the government, comes a justified form of extravagance, maybe at the United Nations General Assembly or elsewhere. And with every economic recovery strategy such as devaluation of the Malawi kwacha, come more excruciating food inflation.

But as time passes, it begins to dawn on the nation, that with every order given by this president, the country only responds by moving two steps behind. The country is out of political will.

There is no one on the ground to turn word into action, to translate directive into development. With this kind of leadership, with President Chakwera, we have dwelt on dead directives.

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1 COMMENT

  1. Sambalikagwa Mvona.
    Munthu ameneyu alipo?
    I am inquiring whether it’s true that this old days ‘ prolific writer is still alive and kicking like this.
    My observation is that most such MALAWIANS are simply nothing but empty tins that simply hang on the sides – waiting people like Peter Mtalika to come all the way from unspecified work places so far away in the Diaspora, or give up the robes in the religious circles and come into our poor Nation’ s High Office to try and rescue the Economy WHILE IDLERS LIKE THIS AUTHOR CONTINUE TO WASTE OUT UNTIL DEATH.
    Otherwise, where was this man when all this ” carnage” was happening to our Dear Malawi for the past 27 years?
    Such people are a thorn in my side, really.

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