If there is any library stocking the 2014 manifesto of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), please put the manifesto in the section of fiction. You can’t believe it when you take time to read it: it’s lie after lie after lie. It’s like you’re reading Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, only written in a less skilled manner. My God, is this how politicians will be lying to the entire nation just to get power? Is power all there is? No conscience? No shame? Just lies, then seize power, and that’s all that matters to them?
Let’s put it under a microscope, juxtaposing it with reality.
Manifesto says: The DPP government will ensure efficient and effective health system in Malawi. Among them, we will introduce Health Insurance for all public servants; will end critical shortage of staff, medicine and drugs; repair and maintain medical equipment . . . . All districts in Malawi will have adequate medical facilities including “primary health care” within a reasonable distance from their homes; Medical services in Malawi will be overhauled to the remotest areas of our country.
The reality today: Let’s just take one hospital, Mzimba, and use it to demonstrate how pathetic the situation is. A maternity ward with 36 beds sleeps 140 pregnant women. When a woman was in labour recently, the bed came apart. The theatre staff had to use reflexes of a goalkeeper to quickly hold the bed with hands and knees, otherwise the woman was going to die. The district hospital has seven ambulances servicing 31 health centres, some far flung that to get there, you have to go through Mzuzu and Nkhata Bay; but these seven ambulances are mostly grounded due to lack of fuel.
Meanwhile, the President talks about building a stadium and a hotel in Blantyre, a stadium and a shopping mall in Zomba, and plans to spend almost K1 billion on new cars for his motorcade. He also plans to build, at the Kamuzu Palace, a new banquette hall for another billion kwacha, so that there can be more space for feasting. He charters a jet for millions of kwacha to fly to Ethiopia to accept an honorary degree he does not need, granted to him for achievements that are false. Ethiopians say he has diversified the economy, has made us move from aid to trade, and has turned around the situation of water and electricity. My God.
Manifesto says: The DPP government will pursue zero tolerance on corruption, bribery, fraud and theft of government resources. There shall not be Cashgate Scandal under the DPP. The Director of the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) will be appointed on merit, through a special public appointments committee (meaning the president would give up his powers to make the ACB more independent).
The reality today: Corruption is thriving as it has always done. Cashgate is very much there; it never ended. The K577 billion scam audit report says: “Of even more concern is that we have gathered evidence which suggests that manipulated procurements have taken place as late as December 2015 and are therefore likely to be continuing.” And when a bill was tabled in March this year to grant the ACB independence, DPP and its allies defeated it handily, and President Peter Mutharika was gleeful about that Pyrrhic victory.
Other interesting promises the manifesto makes:
- Cabinet: Cabinet members will be appointed on merit, following an interview and vetting by a Public Appointments Committee (has anybody seen these interviews?).
- Security: The DPP government will provide “Total Security” to both persons and businesses in Malawi (what about Malawians with albinism who are being killed or harmed every day?).
But, seriously, folks, whether it’s the Malawi Congress Party or the People’s Party or DPP, it’s criminal to tell people lies just to get elected. Don’t play with the destiny of this country.
- This column, But Seriously Folks, first appeared in Weekend Nation. Feedback, if any, can be sent email@example.com.