Black outs, load shedding, no power.

 

The Millenium Challenge Corporation is a US NGO. It has funded Escom with U$ 350,700,000. This started 4 years ago. That is plenty of time to build Solar or wind power. But what has Escom done, predictably? They have given us more Blackouts than ever before.

I have written about this problem before and recently we found that the ACB was stopped from investigating Escom, and Matola says he knows about the corruption but he is not man enough to name man and horse.

What is interesting in this case is the position of MCC, the Americans. If they were interested in supplying Malawians with electricity, they would have chosen another 1x-1approach: they would have financed a project with micro grids for one village or even everybody his own little solar panel on his roof. But that is not what they want. These are Americans, and they want capitalism.

They are not interested in supplying the population with the electricity that will improve our quality of life. Instead they are interested in a commodity that can be bought and sold, so that a capitalist company can make a profit of our need for electricity. So they insist that Escom be split up, and that the new power will be supplied by Independent Power Producers, a fancy lingo for capitalist companies.

But they have not reckoned well: Malawi is so corrupt (and any Malawian could have told web_photo_photocomp1_14092015them) that these big projects are used for self enrichment, not for the overall objective. So now the money disappeared, and there is no sufficient administration to find out what happened to it. And the ACB is banned from investigating Escom. We get black-outs, and the MCC does not get capitalist profits. The corrupt win, the honest loose.

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Out of poverty

 

The government of Malawi is making life worse and worse for us. Of course they are trying to blame others. The blame game is a sign of weakness: they cannot deny that we are having a hard time so they heap the blame on donors or opposition or CSOs or what have you. But we know better.

Take the important issue of education: education is the way out of poverty. So poor children need to have education, otherwise they and in time their own children cannot transcend the situation of poverty. Education needs to be open to all with the talent to pass the exams. Should be clear cut. That is the way to help the population and it is the way to get an educated next generation that can develop the country. This should be simple to understand.

Not for our government: they keep on taking money away from education. So now the quality of public schools has gone down and down. And public secondary schools are below any standard. Which means that the large majority of the students in public schools cannot perform up to the standard of higher education. Not for a lack of talent but because they had the bad luck that their parents are poor and that the Mutharika government does not care about their education. Remember that Mutharika appointed himself to “champion of higher education”?

So now almost exclusively, university students come from private secondary schools, which means they have the good luck to have parents who can afford private schools. Those with bad luck will remain poor.

This makes poverty inheritable: children of poor parents will be poor, because they get bad education. Children of rich parents will be rich, because they get good education. We call this stratification: the society consists of layers, and those from one layer will (almost) never graduate to the next layer. All because of the deplorable policies of the Mutharika government.

Of course it does not hurt the ministers themselves: they have lots of money, so their children go to private schools. So their family stays rich. It is only the poor and powerless that suffer.

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It was not like this under President Doctor Ngwazi Hastings Kamuzu Banda. Then public education was good quality and those children with the talent could get good education, regardless of their parents income. It is not like that anymore. It is very unfair!

POWER STRUGGLE IN POLITICS

There is a power struggle in politics in Malawi. We all know about the struggle in DPP and the one in MCP.

WE all know that Arthur Peter Mutharika is a lame duck President. Almost from the start, when he was framed by his own staff in NAC/Bribe-the-Journalists Gate, he has had very little influence over policy. And now his health is not what it was, his power has diminished even further.

In DPP it is the old guard under rulership of George Chaponda trying to get rid of the newcomer VP Saulos Chilima. Clearly, they fear that if Arthur Peter Mutharika’s health deteriorates further, at some point Chilima could take over. And that is something they don’t want: they want to keep it in the family of old-timers.

In MCP a related type of power struggle is going on: the old guard is unhappy with the rulership of Lazarus Chakwera, also a newcomer to Malawi politics.

However, I feel this is to be seen in broader context: it is not only the generations, it is also the content of the politics. Chilima and Chakwera come from the private sector: Chilima from Airtel telephone company, one of the most innovative companies in Malawi. Chakwera comes from the Assemblies of God, one of those evangelical organizations that are run, inspired by their American examples, as commercial enterprises. Both have a much more free market, capitalist, liberal, maybe even neo-liberal view of the Nation. For them, coming from the capitalist (or managerial) class, a modern liberal or neo-liberal economy is the way to go.

The old guard, some of whom, like lead player Chaponda, were born under colonialism (!) and had their formative experiences under the dictatorship of Banda, with a guided economy, are not amused. A neo-liberal policy will be good for the economy of the big companies, foreign investors, rich capitalists and such. But it will outmaneuver most of the old style politicians, who do not possess the capitalist skills needed to stay rich in this new type economy.

Of course the big foreign companies like the tobacco buyers and telephone cartels, are looking to a neo-liberal policy: they want rule of law, free enterprise, deregulation, free movement of capital into and out of the country, freely convertible currency, competition on the market and such. This will enable them to make money off the population in their way, which is different from the old guard way of corruption, nepotism, tender-preneurship and such.

The catch is: the population is being used for profit in both ways. Do we envision a third way, that serves the whole population and not just one ruling class or another?

Chilembwe speaks again

Chilembwe says: I got a comment that my writings tend to be too long for comfortable reading so I broke up the ideas in smaller, bite-size pieces that can easily be read. Here is one:

In a mature democracy, all groups in society are represented in Government. Broadly speaking the laborers and small holder farmers and such are represented in the socialists or social democrats, in the UK the Labour Party. Then the business world is represented by the liberals, in the UK the Liberal Party. And the old rich and vested interest money are represented by the conservatives, in the UK the Tories. In Malawi we do not have such a mature democracy, we have only one class represented in government: the government class. They are the old money, the rich. There are no representatives of the biggest group of Malawians in government: the small holder farmers are not represented and consequently their interests are not kept up, and that is why small holder farmers remain poor. Liberation Movement represents everyone who wants to join: we have no rulers in the party, we have no discipline committee, we have no rules against “parallel structures” because we do not need these rules: we have no structures of power in the Movement. Everyone represents him or herself, and everyone is equal. We do not vote by majority but by consensus. If we do not agree we follow the traditional African way of discussion. We discuss until we all agree. This may take time, but the top-down government style also takes time. If you think it is faster than our way, I recommend you apply for a passport and you will understand how slow the top-down rulership style is.

Chuka?!

 

Last week, Reserve Bank of Malawi Governor Chuka took an interesting position: he blamed the “politicians” for the economic problems that are dogging Malawi. Now the bank is under control of elected politicians who are supposed to represent the people of Malawi, charles_chukuand who are supposed to control the technocrats. So theoretically there should not be a problem. Of course the problem is that the politicians are not serious about representing us, they are representing their own short term interests, rather than the interests of the population. Chuka seemed to suggest that it would be better if politicians had no control over the bank, but that it should be run by technocrats. An employee criticizing his superiors this way is an interesting breach of the chain of command, that may get him in trouble. Or is it that he already has another career on the line? We will find out.rbm-b55b-ad1

But there is a bigger issue with his position: he asserts that running the Reserve Bank is a technical, non-political issue. And that is definitely not true. He even praises his colleagues for having “the same education as the IMF economists”. This goes very far: remember that it was the Bretton Woods (= Worsap-620x310ld Bank and IMF) economists that shoved African countries the hated Structural Adjustment Programs down the throat, to the detriment of our quality of life. These organizations are highly politically charged. They are financed mostly by the USA and represent the interests of the USA. Which is neo-liberal capitalism. That is good for the rich (the rich in USA and the rich in Africa) and bad for the poor (the poor in USA and the poor in Africa.) They push us to privatize public utilities like electricity and water. They push us to lower state expenditures. Of course there is (accord85656_1236838436ing to minister Goodall Gondwe of finance) 30% wasteful spending, which can and should be cut. But that is not the way Structural Adjustment works out: it always turns into cutting service delivery, often of health services and education. Which are two sectors that are terribly underfunded already. So if we let technocrats with the same education as IMF economists run the government finances, we are going to end up even worse up the creek in areas of public service. Bad idea!

Interview with Chilembwe of the Liberation Movement

 

https://web.facebook.com/groups/1185499634862731/#

Who is Chilembwe?

Chilembwe is named after the liberation fighter John Chilembwe, the true national hero. The person of Chilembwe is not important; it can be anyone speaking for the Liberation Movement. Chilembwe explains what Liberation Movement stands for, next time you speak to Chilembwe the person may be different, but the message will be the same.

Chilembwe speaks for the Liberation Movement. What is the idea behind Liberation Movement?

Liberation Movement is a movement. We have been colonized in the past, by the British and before that by Arab slave traders. In the beginning man was free. We were hunter-gatherers, living in paradise. There were prey to be hunted and berries to be picked, enough for all. But when iron smelting came, with agriculture this changed. Some people took the surplus of agriculture and demanded that others obeyed them. This way inequality was introduced into our society. These rulers were religious as well as secular. And this unnatural state is still here: we have rulers in our society who steal the fruits of our labor, through their laws as well as through illegal means, mostly corruption. Now the population toils and the ruling class parasites on our labor.

After the British we got political independence, but we were colonized by our indigenous ruling class. The result is the same: we work and they profit. This ruling class of today consists of three groups:

  1. The politicians, who are the most visible, but they are passing.
  2. We have a business class closely allied with the politicians who profit through tender-preneurship, a short word for corrupt tendering, giving our money away to the corrupt business elite.
  3. There are the top civil servants, who in fact rule the country: the politicians are only a passing incident, every 5 years they are replaced, and when the cabinet is reshuffled even faster. And politicians often lack expertise. The top civil servants have many years of experience and a lot of expertise in stealing the money of the Malawian people.

These three groups are colonizing us today, and conniving with international capitalists and imperial politics from abroad, to take as much of our possessions from us as they can.

What is the organization of Liberation Movement?

Liberation Movement is not an organization as such. Liberation Movement is an idea that every well meaning person in the world can join and apply. We are bottom-up, non-elitist, a basic democracy of Soviets. You want to join Liberation Movement? Then you are Liberation Movement! We are as free as the wind. Like Mao Ze-Dong said: we live in the population as fish in the sea. If you want to join Liberation Movement and liberate yourself economically, then set up your own Soviet. There are no rules to follow, no fees to pay, no membership cards to buy, or hand-outs to collect. Set up your own Soviet in your own village or township. Organize yourself, and move against injustice, in favor of freedom from oppression and colonization, internal or external. Liberate yourself and your people from the ruling class and their corruption.

You mention a Soviet. What is a Soviet?

A soviet we learned from the Russians, that’s why we use a Russian word. It is a committee of all who want to join, that rules the local situation. It rules the village, it rules the township, it rules the company. It is self determination and it is our answer to colonization, exploitation and injustice from the ruling class, national ruling class, or international ruling class.

A Soviet gets together and talks. It consists of everybody who is of good will. The literate read for the illiterate, we watch films like Sarafina. Films about liberation. We read books like Fanon, Che Guevara, Marx & Engels, Mandela, Nyerere, Nkrumah, Nasser, you name it. Anything that can liberate us. And we discuss how to apply it to the local situation. The PhD holders learn from the illiterate and the illiterate learn from the PhD holders. We fight false consciousness as well as colonization by foreigners and by the local ruling class.

How does Liberation Movement think to improve the situation in practice, not only in the Soviet?

We study activism. Bottom-up activism. This means we do not need an office which can be firebombed, as happened when Bingu was President. We do not need grants from foreigners, which have strings attached. For this read: Confessions of an Economic Hit man. This book clearly shows how our ruling class connives with the international capitalists to colonize our economy.

Our actions look spontaneous but they are highly studied and organized. We prepare and we strike. The wave of strikes in the country now is no accident. And it will continue and be followed up with more forms of activism, if the ruling class do not change their ways quickly. I do not expect them to give up their privileged position soon, so we are prepared to keep fighting for our rights. Listen to Bob Marley: Get up, stand up! Stand up for your right! Get up, stand up! Don’t give up the fight!

All these ideas have been practiced around the world with more or less success. Look at Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. They fought in the early 1960s. Now there is a black president in the US. But the poor are worse off than ever. So they have one victory after 50 years, and the main objective still has to be won. You see how things move in different directions at the same time.

We have started the struggle here, and it is going to be a long hot struggle. A privileged class does not give up its privileges voluntarily. They will keep taking our share of the national wealth if we don’t confront them. But we will. We are determined that justice shall prevail.

Is activism the only goal of Liberation Movement?

By no means! We have to show the real face of oppression, and of indigenous colonization. But we also have to offer an alternative. We are preparing for a political party, to participate in elections in 2019. But this will be a very new concept to Malawi. By that time we will have a strong brand recognition, and a strong brand image. The population knows what we stand for and many will have joined.

Our party is bottom-up, with true internal democracy. We will have candidates, because it is prescribed by the foreign –western- style of democracy. But they will be elected and we will have a recall provision. Other Malawian parties are not mass movements, they are simply the personal property of one rich person and some henchmen and women, who invest money and then demand a return on their investment through corruption. They treat governance as a form of capitalism, instead of a way to serve the people! But we are different. We have a mass movement, and we have genuine elections, and we represent the people, the masses, the electorate. We are the people, the masses, the electorate.

Look at the current political class: they are old while the population is young. They are rich while the population is poor. They are corrupt while the population is honest. They are overwhelmingly male while the majority of the population is female. This political class does not represent the population; they represent only themselves, the ruling class. That is not democracy, that is colonization by the rich! We have no appointments in a polit-bureau by some old rich corrupt party owner. We have mass democracy, direct democracy; the people themselves are the leader. We do not represent the population, we are the population, and the population is us. We do not buy votes with hand-outs. Look at the EFF in South Africa. They do not give out t-shirts. They do the opposite: they sell t-shirts. The population is willing to contribute because they feel represented, and they support the EFF by buying t-shirts and berets and what have you. We do not need a corrupt old man to finance the party because we do not need money to buy votes. We have a program of Liberation Movement to offer, and offer an alternative to poverty and colonization.

We start with activism, and as soon as political parties are being registered for 2019 we will be there and we will offer real improvement of the populations situation.

Where can we find your manifesto?

We do not have a written manifesto yet. It is too early for that, we are in the phase of political activism by an avant-garde in the style of Lenin. We fight false consciousness, and we show the Malawian colonizers, the local ruling class, for what they are. Our manifesto will not be written by some outsider, as is the case with traditional parties of the ruling class. Our manifesto is written by the people of Malawi, for the people of Malawi. Just like the ANC Freedom Charter. It will be truly African, and truly just.

Any last word from you?

The people

United

Will never be defeated.

 

Thank you.

 

RAISE THE MINIMUM WAGE!

basic_needsThe MCTU is right: the minimum wage is scandalously low. AT MK 18000 per month it is not possible to live on it. The basic needs basket of Centre for social concern stands at MK 161996. This is a scandalous discrepancy.

The argument against raising minimum wage, that it will push up prices further increasing inflation is real, but it can easily be offset: lower tax rates. That way the money will end up in the pockets of the lowest paid, where it adds the most to the utilitarian ideal of the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people. This clearly means that government spending needs to be controlled.

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Minister Gondwe of finance has declared that there is about 30% wasteful spending in government. Add to this the widely cited 30% corruption and you get to the number of 60% wrong spending in government.

While it is clear that this cannot be cleaned up over night, a reduction of government spending that offsets the raising of the minimum wage can easily be found.

The money is better in the pocket of the lowest paid than used to import a new convoy of top of the range luxury cars for the President. These imported cars mean that the money is lost to the Malawian economy, while the lowest paid do not afford expensive imported products: they buy local That means the money stays in the Malawian economy, and benefits us all. The same goes for the President taking half the village to the UNGA and paying them over US 400 per day in allowances: this money goes to luxury shopping in New York, and is lost for the Malawian economy.

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We don’t need conferences in luxury resorts, we don’t need the paperwork out of these conferences, since most of it is never implemented. We need money in our pockets, and we need lower taxes. We need government policies that push down inflation, not extra taxes on basic needs like milk and water, that only push up inflation further. Government needs to clean up its own house, rather than burdening the lowest paid with inflating minimum wages and VAT on basic needs.

Voter apathy

 

 

The recent by elections showed a lack of interest from voters in the political process. It is not so much a problem that the voters are not interested, the voter apathy is a clear reflection of the real situation with Malawian politics: there is nothing to chose.

All politicians promise the world to the voter: ATI bill, improvement of the FISP, limiting Presidential powers, better economy. Even the much touted Civil Service Reform Program has deteriorated in a “Collect More Revenue from the Overtaxed Population” Program. This is clearly shown in the proud advertisements that the Government publishes.

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All politicians habitually break their promises. All politicians collect Cashgate. All politicians represent no one but their own political class. All politicians promote conservative policies: keep things (read corruption) the same and give the population strong top down leadership. You can chose from several politicians, but only one policy. Voters are right: there is nothing to chose, so they don’t vote.

There is supposed to be opposition in a democratic political system, but our opposition offers only more of the same as the current ruling party. So there is no meaningful opposition, only a choice who steals our tax money and messes up the economy. Not a choice for a different program.

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This means the opposition against corruption, inefficiency, incompetence, obstruction, malawi20protestallowance collection and top-down commend policies needs to come from outside the political system. We need real grass-roots activism. We need civil disobedience (not from MCP ruling class, but from the population).  We need activism, mass demonstrations, occupy Parliament, or State House, or Town Hall. We need to rise up and stop the ruling class from steering the country into the abyss while they enrich themselves at our cost.

CORRUPTION AT THE FISP!

 

The President has declared he does not know what he can do more to stop corruption at the FISP (Farm Input Subsidy Programme). While it is impossible to get totally rid of corruption, it is not very difficult to do more than is being done now. The key is openness, accountability, Access To Information.

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All documents must be public. This can be done very cheaply: put them on the Government Website and on Facebook. All tender documents, tender submissions, procurement committee reports, tenders awarded. Then all Waybills for the goods and services rendered. The inventories of all warehouses. You snap them with a smart phone and share on Facebook. Simple.

Then, when a lorry leaves, again a snap of the waybill on Facebook, and an SMS message to the destination, with the snap of the waybill attached. When the lorry arrives, again, a snap of the waybill, and a snap of the cargo.

All papers done at the Admarc depots: snap them and publish them.

This way the public, as well as the press, will carry out the anti-corruption investigations. Then the political will: fast track all prosecutions in this area. And fire everyone, who has committed a crime, on the spot.

At Admarc depots, install big signs that explain exactly what rights the client has and what duties. What rights the staff has and what duties. A clear complaints procedure must be explained on the sign, with telephone, Whatapp, SMS and FB contacts. Also contacts for the press must be published here, so openness and transparency are promoted. The anti-corruption unit must have great powers to investigate and prosecute, as well as the power to suspend on the spot any staff suspected of corruption.

How difficult is this?