Your (everybody’s) personal input is highly appreciated, everyone is welcome to contribute.

I propose the following demands:

1. Education: the draconian fee hikes in higher education need to be reversed, for the national good the government needs to adequately fund universities so they are not being forced to hike their fees like this. The executive lowered the allocation to education with 40% this budget year, and that is the cause of the fee hikes. This must be reversed.
2. Drugs shortages: all government hospitals are suffering drugs shortages at the moment. This is caused by systemic theft of drugs at many levels. ACB needs to investigate Central Medical Stores, and the whole chain of supply. In the mean time an internationally supervised system of procurement and distribution needs to be put in place, like the donors did in the past.
3. The declaration of assets by President and all government officials needs to be implemented strictly. This means that any official missing the deadline must be barred from entering a place of work or acting in any official capacity, and not receive any remuneration.
4. The ATI bill needs to be implemented immediately. It has been signed into law, but it is not being implemented because the Ministry is dragging its feet. This is unconstitutional and unacceptable.
5. Frequent power outages: the inefficiency, corruption and or incompetence at Escom have stopped the funding for the MDC programme, so we will not see any improvement in the short or even medium term. The contracts for Private Powers Suppliers have been awarded in an unprocedural way. This must be investigated by ACB and culprits must be prosecuted. We do not want pollution from outdated coal fired power, we want clean energy from solar, wind and hydro.
6. The civil service reforms programme has been transferred from the Vice President to the OPC. This lowers profile and engenders political and civil service interference in the programme. The VP must be reinstated, and he must get full mandate to push through the programme so the civil service will serve the public, and corruption must be dealt with.
7. Use of MBC: MBC must be made a real public broadcaster instead of a propaganda station funded by the tax payer (= the whole population). Immediately MBC must stop its biased reporting, and give equal space to other views than only DPP. The presidential powers must be curbed according to the DPP manifesto that we voted Mutharika in on: he must recede the power to appoint the boss of MBC. Instead this must be done by Parliament on nominations from a commission of senior media practitioners and academics.
8. Inadequate human resources and back payment for medical staff: all back payments for medical staff must be done immediately, and available human resource like doctors, medical officers and nurses must be hired to fight shortages in government hospitals. From now on payment to capital hill staff in the Ministry of Health must only be effected AFTER all staff in hospitals, who do the actual work, has been paid in full.
9. Descent jobs and living wage. It is common knowledge that most Malawians do not have descent jobs. Neither is the pay they get indexed to living cost. This is largely due to general lack of descent jobs themselves; laxities or slippages in implementation and enforcement of existing policies and laws and gaps in the existing policy frameworks. Civil Society in this regard demands that:
a. Adopt and implement fully the Decent work country programme and National Employment and Labour Policy Review and Implement an increased Living wage at the level of the “basic needs basket” (from CFSC)
b. Adopt the living wage policy
c. Enact and implement the tenacy and labour bill
10. Social protection
Malawians are susceptible to various shocks from the international trade regime;changes in prices of fuel at world markets; adverse weather as agriculture is rainfed; unpredictable foreign aid as conditionalities are always there among many fronts. This makes living standards highly conditional and unpredictable. To safeguard the majority Malawians from slipping into poverty traps a Social Support Policy was drafted awaiting Cabinet approval for more than two years now. In this regard Civil Society demand that:
a. Adopt and domesticate all Social Protection conventions i.e. 102 of the ILO
b. Introduce and implement a Comprehensive Social Protection system to cover old age benefits, retirement, health benefits etc.

Chaponda does it again!!

The rich man overprices the food for the masses. Does anybody here have an idea why he fisp-malawidoes that?

Chaponda himself: He said the ministry of Finance would invite the wrath of the International Monetary Fund should the government bring down the prices of maize.

Chaponda said the prices in Admarc depots were determined by the buying costs.

imfLook at it:
Chaponda hands over our democratic sovereignty to the IMF. We are not voting for the IMF, the policy of the IMF is determined by the rich countries, who subsidise it, to force their policies on poor countries like Malawi. Chaponda is dancing to the tune of the IMF, against our own population. And on top of that: he says prices are determined by buying costs, which are inflated because of some really weird deal that Admarc and Ministry of Agriculture (= Chaponda’s responsibility) made with Zambia. There can only be one good reason to make that deal, and we all know what it is. But somehow the evidence got burned…Once, twice, three times a BAD score for

Chaponda, Mutharika and the People of Malawi

We are facing a situation in Malawi: minister Chaponda of agriculture is in a beleaguered state, and refusing to move on, while that would clearly be in the national interest.

Chaponda is citing selective justice, but the wrong way round: he says if he is removed from office for crimes that others got away with, it would be selective justice. But it is not the removal from office that is selective, it is the others getting away with crime, that is the problem. But let us accommodate him: he clearly has information that other duty bearers have committed crimes. Let him come forward, and let us bring all of the suspects to justice.

At the same time, Chaponda staying on is clearly unpatriotic: he is so tarnished by all the accusations that he lost all credibility and there is no way he can function to the advantage of the country. That means he is not suitable for a public position where he is getting paid from our tax money to serve the country. Only for that reason he needs to move on, totally apart from the question if he is guilty or not guilty.

But this is only one incident in a system were justice is applied selectively. A rich person who is suspected of murder against whom there is strong evidence can get out on bail and never hear from the case again. Bu the same token a poor person who cannot afford the money to get out on bail, when suspected of murder can be held on remand for years (illegally) and never hear from the case again, and be in jail indefinitely and illegally. Even when we know there is a strong case against certain influential people (like the Chasowa report revealed) some people are not prosecuted.

In many cases, very many cases, too many cases, positions of power are abused on many levels in our society. A police officer may stop someone at a roadblock and demand a bribe, a government minister may demand a 10% bribe for a project to be approved, someone in the supply chain for drugs may steal, a teacher may abuse a learner or a lecturer a student for good grades, a supply manager may expect a bribe in exchange for an assignment. We all know many examples. And all of this is holding back our development. Minister Kumpalume explained this when the cost for the state-of-the-art cancer treatment centre in Malawi had risen by 400% (!) and counting (!): “When government gets involved, costs multiply.” That is because of corruption, inefficiency, allowance hunting and other types of abuse of a position of power.

In this case we see how a powerful DPP-operative/MP/government-minister gets away with abuse, not because he is cleared, but because he is in a position of power.

Now political commentator Chunga is cited in the Nation as wondering if demonstrations will bear fruit, saying he is yet to appreciate a demonstration that has turned around things. Well, if we had not demonstrated in 1993-94 we would not have any democracy now! This man has a very short memory! He may want to watch the video that I link to on the bottom of this post to see a world-changing demonstration.

Instead his solution is for “agencies to clearly investigate the matter and see that justice prevails.” This would be a good solution, but we all know that it has not worked in Malawi because these agencies take orders from the same people who are abusing the system. What we need is a way to deal with the abuse of power over the whole breadth of society. And that is where People’s Power comes in. If we do not check the abuse of power, we will always remain in our undeveloped situation, and we will always be abused by those in power. We need to confront them, and show our counter-power. All developed countries have gone through these stages: fights for union rights were met with violence, fights for civil rights were met with violence, fights for all our rights are opposed by an advantaged class of people. All that is development towards a developed democratic country. Democracy is not an ideal situation, democracy is a process, and a continuous struggle. Even in developed countries with much stronger protection for the citizen, fights are needed. See how in the USA demonstrations are needed to counter the totalitarian tendencies of Trump. And they book successes: the travel ban has been halted, corrupt people kept out of positions of power or removed even within one month. We should learn from this that democracy is never offered on a silver platter, it is a continuous struggle to gain our civil rights and protect our civil rights from the abusive ruling class. Watch this video called: this is what democracy looks like. (Free to download!)

Mutharika must save the higher education. He is champion of higher education.

president-peter-mutharika-speaks-during-the-lilongwe-university-of-agriculture-and-natural-resources-graduation-ceremony-c-stanley-makuti-600x399The Nation carried a strange opinion piece on university education. Basically it says that universities should make more of their own money, because government is cutting their funding. One particularly bizarre example is LUANAR running a filling station and supermarket. These are businesses that are totally unrelated to the university. The private sector runs this type of business, and the university does not necessarily have the expertise to run it profitably like the private sector can. This might as well generate big losses, and at the same time create unfair competition because of government funding that was meant for education, not for business. If we look at the sugar factory in Salima we have a very good example of government showing its ineptness at business. Universities could fall into the same expensive trap.

Internationally, many public universities have been experiencing diminishing government funding because of the international neo-liberal project that has as its purpose to increase income and power disparities. Basically it wants to hand power back to the ruling class and it has been quite successful at this. In Malawi we should debate whether we want this style of society, where the rich get richer and the poor lose out.

Cutting government funding for universities simply means that either the fees are going to go up, or the quality is going to go down. In the US high quality education is prohibitively expensive, and mostly available for children of rich parents. Deserving children of poor parents do not get an opportunity to develop their talent.

We should not look at how university councils can do with less government funding, we should look at what our government can do to adequately fund universities. What is happening is this: there is a clique of corrupt people in government: politicians, top civil servants, closely allied business people. They are emptying the national kitty from our tax money. The donors, who traditionally supplied around 40% of the national budget, got fed up with this and stopped funding the theft bonanza. So now there was less money to steal. Only the ruling class refuses to give up any of its privileges of illegally taking our tax kwachas. So they are pushing the burden of less funds down to the powerless in society. While it was this group of corrupt types that caused donors to stop giving budget support. So now the corrupt ruling class has caused a problem and is making us pay for it.

One way is to slap lots of fees on all kinds of government services like visa (bad for the tourism industry) and motorists, which drives up transport cost, which drives up the cost for anybody wanting to buy a product. This again drives up inflation (currently around 22%!).

We are the electorate, we are the employer of politicians and civil servants, we appoint the politicians and we pay the salaries. So they are accountable to us. We can give them orders on how to run our country, that’s what we hired them for.

My proposal is that they start being serious about fighting corruption (which eats up an estimated 30% of our tax money) and wasteful spending (which eats up another 30% of the money that is yours and mine). This is in line with President Mutharikas motto: patriotism (the universities are for the good of our fatherland), integrity (corruption lacks integrity, fighting it increases integrity) and it will take the Hard Work from the Presidential slogan. The politicians and civil servants are our employees and they must take our orders. With 30+30=60% of our budget saved, we will have no trouble financing universities and other education, and still have enough to supply all our public hospitals with essential drugs. This is the way to go, not burdening universities with the task of running businesses, this will divert attention from the teaching and research and will lower the quality of our universities even further.

Example for Mutharika

Yesterday we saw two important victories for democracy worldwide. We should take note, and emulate those good traits of democracy here in Malawi.

In Romania government had decided to legalise a number of forms of corruption, ostensibly as a measure to ease congestion in prisons. Over the past years more than 1600 government workers and politicians had been convicted of corruption. This both shows the problem is real and that the fight against it is real. Now releasing many of these would not make a real dent in the much larger prison population, but it would promote corruption. The Romanian population decided this was not a good idea, and for five days and nights there were mass demonstrations all over the country. The government remembered how mass demonstrations ousted (and killed) the dictator Ceausescu, and they gave in to the populations demands. Compare this to the latest mass demonstrations in Malawi on 20 July 2011: two days of demonstrations and the government had twenty unarmed demonstrators shot to death by the police. And of course in Malawi none of the demands were granted. We should take example from the Romanians, both the tenacity of the demonstrators and the democratic mind of the government.

The other victory for democracy was in USA, where the unconstitutional presidential order was stopped by the judiciary. Democracy is not possible without rule of law, and a judiciary that protects the weak (in this case refugees and other travelers from the countries singled out in the executive order) from the strong (in this case a super rich president). Again, we need a strong judiciary that upholds the constitutional rights of everyone, without regard for their status in society.

Two cases that give hope in a world in turmoil. Lets follow their examples.