No liberalised market in Malawi

In an article in the Weekend Nation today the author, Dyson Mthawanji, shows a remarkable lack of insight in the subject matter of his story. Mr Mthawanji is Communications Officer for CisaNet. One would expect a person in this position to have a better grasp of the matter he writes about.

http://mwnation.com/vendors-capitalise-liberalised-market/

The author does not realize that the low prices for maize in Malawi are caused by a combination of free market on the one hand (the private vendors) and a restriction of the free market on the other hand: the government ban on maize exports. This ban, combined with a good harvest, leads to a surplus on the Malawian market, which translates into depressed prices. A free market does not usually benefit smallholder farmer, in this case the government measure makes things worse for the smallholder. Lifting the ban too late for the small holder farmer, who has been forced to sell at low prices, has transferred value from the smallholder farmer, who does the actual work of producing the product, to the vendor, who owns the product at the time the prices rises as a consequence of the Government lifting the export ban.

Also there is a problem of lack of transparency in Government policy: the status of the government “set” prices is unclear. Are these guide lines? Are these legal minimum prices? What are the laws on which this policy is based? What are the consequences for the vendor who does not pay the government ”set” price? If Government decides to set a minimum price, it will have to capitalize Admarc to buy at this price. This is not being done, due to Government prioritizing other areas to spend its money (including maize gate, tractor gate, cash gate, allowance gate, half-the-village-to-UNGA-per-private-jet gate, etc) If Admarc were capitalized to do this, it may cause big trouble with international organizations like IMF, which impose neo-liberal policies on its borrowers (including Malawi).

The Structural Adjustment Programmes were not, as Mthawanji writes, embarked on by Malawi in the 1980s. They were imposed by the IMF because its big donors like the USA insisted on them. These policies benefit the core countries of Europe and North America including the USA, and harm periphery countries like Malawi.

Surprising is that Mthawanji as a CisaNet official seems to suggest that AHCX would be the solution to the issue. This is nowhere in the article supported with any argument or fact. AHCX is another quasi-capitalist undertaking of Auction Holdings Limited, which is a thoroughly corrupted government organization. In the past, smallholder farmers have been harmed by the Auction Holdings corruption, and t here is no reason to assume that this will not be the case at AHCX. Even if it is not corrupted, the capitalist assumptions on which it is built benefit the rich, both locally and worldwide, and put the poor at a disadvantage.

The local poor are caught between a rock and a hard place: the local ruling class is profiting, the international capitalist is profiting, and the small holder farmer is staying poor despite his sweat.

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Our society, our lives!

Of course it is important to highlight all cases of corruption, inefficiency, bad work and slide_7such. However I feel it would be a good idea to go one further, and make an analysis why these cases are happening. The way I see it there is a systematic issue at play. All Presidents in Malawi have gone wrong in similar ways. That means that a certain type of people floats to the top, or that people in the government system are pushed in a certain direction, and probably both.

The way I see it, we are dealing with a neo patrimonial system, that is poisoning the quality of our governance.

Patrimonial in that it is comparable to the pre colonial African system, where every person had a personal relationship with the village head person. Tribute was paid, and the head person was at the disposal of the population to deliver the needed services, like mediation in disputes. If the head person was not performing, he/she had no violent power to fall back on. If the villagers simply refused to recognize the authority, the authority was finished. This provided an important check, and balanced power in traditional African societies.

This patrimonial attitude still exists among some African societies including Malawi. The formal rules are not enforced, and for access to resources, a personal relationship with the powerful is more important than the law. Those who suck up to the ruler float to the top, those who insist on the rules never rise in the hierarchy. Performance in the formal job description is not as important as performance in tributes to the ruler, both symbolic and material (financial). So people are rewarded with promotions and opportunities for self enrichment, not for good performance according to the formal requirements, but according to the tributes they deliver to the rulers.

In exchange the person who pays tribute is supported by the powerful. Again the rule of law is ignored, and overruled by the rulers. Part of the bribes float up the system, and the powerful shield the corrupt from the law.

The “neo” of neo-patrimonialism means that there is a formal structure, complete with constitution, laws, forms and such. However this is more form than content, and it is upheld with lots of protocol, but the formal rules are not enforced.

Time and time again the media is informing us about violations of rules, non-performance in the official roles. This is important, it keeps us alerted to the issues that we have as a nation. But it is not enough: we need change, and we need fundamental change. Only calling for the law in individual cases is not enough, we need to tackle the underlying neo patrimonial system, where too much power is vested in one person, the President. Because of this power the President can be blackmailed to do certain things. If his/her power would be more limited, the President could not be pushed into such a bad position. By the same token: the quality of many of the politicians in the area of governance as well as the area of their authority (content of ministry/parliamentary committee etc) is often very limited. This means that often the top civil servants can outmaneuver their bosses. In the patrimonial tradition, the bosses are bought with personal favours/enrichment, and the civil servants can run the country from behind the curtain. And they have built up lifestyles that are not sustainable on their official salaries (with children in foreign universities, living in mansions, driving luxury vehicles etc).

We can get angry over the misbehavior of politicians, and their seeming incompetence. But they do have a certain competence, and that is why they are the ones floating to the top. They are busy, not with the formal content of their job, but with the sustenance of their patrimonial network. This goes step by step, all the way down to the villager, who has an uncle in the city who can pay school fees for a child. This uncle could not do that from a meager salary, so the money comes from some other source. This way everyone in the country is made complicit in the corruption. And is given a stake in keeping the corruption going.

For you and me, urban middle class, it is self evident that the system is not performing, and that rule of law, free market capitalism, democracy, independent judiciary, functional parliament, bureaucratic decisions would improve the economy and our position with it. But for the average Malawian, who does not have a smart phone to read this English story, the situation may be very different. They are the majority of the electorate that keep the current flock of politicians in power. And they have not that much to expect from a capitalist democracy. The proletarians in capitalism are not well off. The poor have adjusted to their current situation, with some kind of protector somewhere in the system. On the other hand an independent judiciary, who are all middle and upper class, who rule according to the laws may not be very advantageous for the poor. Especially because the laws are being made by a legislative who are all middle and upper class, and who apply middle and upper class values. Which may not be advantageous for the poor, and maybe even worse than the situation is now. So they have a point in sticking with the current flock of rulers.

In Europe there was a slow transition from the feudal society, in many ways comparable to the current Malawian situation to a capitalist society. This started somewhere in the 16th century, but really took off in the late 18th, early 19th century.

In France Louis XIV had improved efficiency of the government system, by passing local rulers, who can be compared to our chiefs, and streamlining the administration, while the Malawian administration is still very chaotic (the chaos is caused by certain people, and used by the corrupt. The causers and the corrupt could very well be the same people). About 200 years down the line the economy in France had improved so much because of this efficient bureaucracy, that the bourgeoisie became powerful, and they started the French revolution, overturning the power of the King and the ruling class.

Our ruling class are not making the same mistake, they are keeping the government system very inefficient, so no development will take place, and no powerful bourgeoisie (middle class) can develop.

Our political analysts are not analyzing the system, they are only concerned with the bickering within the ruling class, where different factions are fighting over the spoils of the National wealth. But to improve the situation we need to work on the system, getting rid of the neo patrimonial logic. The first step to improve is to analyse the system (not the bickering within it, but the system itself) so we know what we are up against. Then we need to find an alternative that is beneficial to the average Malawian.

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The meaning of the by elections = lito

The defeat of DPP in recent by elections shows that the population is dissatisfied with the current government. However the victory MCP does not help the Nation.

The DPP, according to its own neo-patrimonial logic, should be able to buy the support from the lowest income tier in society with personal favours (rather than policies that benefit the whole population). DPP clearly has not been able to do so, it is a non-performing government by any measure.

Regrettably, the alternative, the MCP, is not much better. For now MCP leader Chakwera may be able to project an image of an alternative, and maybe he will be able to buy support more effectively than the lame-duck president Mutharika. But the MCP operates by the same neo-patrimonial logic as DPP, so it cannot generate any development: this would defeat its way of gaining power, the personal favour to political supporters. If the population had the opportunity to build up a life without personal favours, the power of the current ruling class would be undermined, and that they will never allow.

This means for meaningful development to occur, we need to uproot the whole neo-patrimonial class, and not replace one neo-patrimonial ruler with another. The way to do so is to show wide ranging solidarity through the population, like we did on 20 July 2011. The murderous answer of the ruling class (20 unarmed demonstrators murdered by government gunmen) shows that the ruling class is very well aware of its precarious position, and that it will resort to everything and anything to keep its privileged position. A real liberation movement cannot afford to be scared off by 20 murders. It should feel strengthened that it is on the right path, even to the opinion of the neo-patrimonial oppressors: they admit that they need desperate measures as soon as we show solidarity. But the then leadership of the people chickened out, they called off the planned follow up demonstrations because of threats of even stronger murderous violence by the police, as well as bribes from the DPP government.

We cannot rely on these types of popular leaders, they are not the type we need to effect meaningful change. We need men and women of steel, with strong nerves and a strong sense of purpose before we can defeat the oppressors. Replacing one oppressor with another is no use, we need to thoroughly change the fabric of society.

Dysfunctional

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The newspaper today:

  1. Embassy funds stolen
  2. 1.5 bn drugs stolen
  3. Admarc owes Zambia 1.2bn
  4. PIL angers MPs
  5. President at Ngoni party
  6. Kanyika mine in court
  7. Mob kills freed convict

This is just one random day. It is clear that Malawi is dysfunctional. This is not a few of the wrong people in the wrong place, it is a systemic issue, that cannot be rooted out with incidental solutions. We need a systemic solution, which means we need to get to the root cause of the issue.

This country is organized around the collection of allowances, kick-backs, bribes and lucrative contracts. This at the expense of getting the job done. It goes for the government sector as well as the NGO and private sector. It is all over. Until we clear this issue, the country will never develop (if we even knew how to define development!).

What is going on in Malawi is a system of neo patrimonialism. Where in the old days of the village community a patrimonial system of personalized government may have worked, the combination of patrimonialism with a modern state in a mass society creates a toxic mix, which poisons society. Officials of any kind (government, NGO or private sector) are not placed according to merit, but according to loyalty to the person placed above them. In return they command loyalty from above, often in the form of impunity when committing corruption, theft or other criminal behavior. The result is that the country is not organized on getting the job done (in any field) but on collecting allowances, bribes, lucrative contracts, or simply stealing resources.

dysfunctional-design-pretoria-wordpress-website-business_cards-south-africa-301

In the older days we were kept afloat by donors in form of budget support. This did not develop the country (if we even knew how to define development!) but it kept us from total collapse. Now the donors are fed up with seeing their money stolen by the elite of functionaries, and they stopped budget support. The country is dysfunctional to the level that we are moving closer and closer to the abyss, with no savior in sight.

This cannot be stopped by simply placing another person on the Presidential Throne. We all know that the MCP functioned according to this logic for 30 years. The system is very resilient against reform: the people on the top are benefiting. The people on the bottom (the small holder farmer) have adapted, and learned how to play the system to a small degree. They cannot afford to gamble with any change, because any change may mean starvation. They need to keep supporting the patron who supports them (a little) as clients.

The (small) middle class is being sacrificed: they see how a more functional capitalist system would give then many more opportunities for growth, and for development (if we only knew how to define development!). But their numbers are too small to make the difference at the ballot box.

Chilima tried to change things a little bit with the Public Sector Reform Program. He was sidelined (as vice presidents tend to be) and the conservative factions that benefit from the system managed to stop any improvement in functionality. (Clearly Seodi White is not on the side of far reaching reforms.)

Here we see how a very capable man (Chilima) is sidelined by the perpetrators of the dysfunctional system. It shows how reforms of any reach are going to be difficult because many powerful people in the dysfunctional system are ganging up against any improvement, which may impede on their power and wealth. Remember that many top civil servants have built up a life and habit of spending on corruption, kick-backs, bribes and lucrative government contracts. The same goes for a lot of middle cadre in the private sector and NGO sector.

Reform will require very deep cuts and big changes in organization, staffing, and control systems. These are going to be blocked by the powers that be.

Unfortunately I do not have a solution for overcoming these hurdles. Anybody out there have any ideas?

 

SLOGAN

Long, long ago, before democracy triumphed, someone came up with a slogan, that merits critical investigation:
UNITY, LOYALTY, OBEDIENCE, DISCIPLINE.
Let’s take a look at each of these four mottos.

UNITY:
In a modern country, there are many different groups and individuals. And each is worth the same as a unique human being. We are Chewa, Tumbuka, Lhomwe or Tonga. Or maybe Indian Malawian, or Caucasian Malawian. We are male or female, straight or gay. Young, old, educated or less educated. We are in our mother village, or at the other end of the country. We have a lot of diversity in the country. We do not need to push everyone in the same mould. Diversity enriches us all. The illiterate can learn from the PhD holder, and the PhD holder can learn from the illiterate. The Chewa from the Tumbuka and the Indian Malawian from the Tonga. Not unity but DIVERSITY is what enriches the country.
LOYALTY:
Loyalty can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on the circumstances. But we should not let loyalty go over justice. After the 20 July protests, Vuwa Kaunda sided with Bingu, saying: He brought me from nothing to where I am, I owe him loyalty.
This is putting loyalty over justice, when twenty people had been killed. No-one is above the law, and no-one should place loyalty above justice.
OBEDIENCE:
Obedience inherently means that someone is higher in a chain of command and needs to be obeyed. But we were all created equal, we are all (supposed to be) equal before the law, and before our maker. We should be so equal that no-one owes obedience to someone personally. We all should be in line with justice and law, but not be commanding someone to be obedient.
DISIPLINE:
Discipline can be a good thing, if we have self discipline. But we should not be disciplining someone else. Again, we are equal before the law and before our maker, and no human can decide better than our Maker in which position we should be. Which means that the only one we can discipline is ourselves, the rest is beyond our authority.
This leads to the list:
DIVERSITY
JUSTICE
EQUALITY
SELF DISCIPLINE
That is the slogan we should follow, not the top-down ideas that we overruled in democratic elections in 1993.

The difference between classic liberalism and neo-liberalism

A contribution by Charlie Companyero

One of the big differences between classic liberalism and neo-liberalism lies in the investment risk:

In business there are two roles: one is the supplier of the means of production, the owner of the business. The other is the supplier of the labour, the worker. The worker works and gets a salary (hopefully). But the owner of the business pays less than the value of the labour, and the business owner gets money for that without working. (for running the business, which is work, the manager gets paid and if it is also the owner this is not against the work ethic). This is called profit, and it is justified by classic liberalism:

The investor takes a risk. If the business fails the investor loses her investment. This should be compensated for. This risk is the best guarantee that investments are done in an efficient way, so that the economy flourishes, and with it the population.

This may hold some truth. But in neo-liberalism this is reversed: the investor does not run a risk, the common man runs the risk. Look at it: when in the US the banks and car industry failed in 2008, the neo-liberal President Obama saved them with huge amounts of tax money. He hired Wall Street bankers to set the policies which consequently were in the interests of the banks and car industry. It is not like after giving a lot of money the tax payer owned the banks and car industries. No, the tax payer got nothing but the old situation back.

The same holds for the neo-liberal policies of the IMF. If a borrower cannot repay, then the bank should wrote off the loan and take the loss. But it does not work that way in our neo-liberal age. The IMF interferes when a country cannot repay its loans. Then it forces a Structural Adjustment Plan on the country. This passes on the investment risk to the population. Often a corrupt ruler took out a loan, and through corruption enriched himself. Then the IMF imposed a SAP, which means that the public services like health care and education are being underfunded, and the value is transferred to the foreign capitalists (the banks). This happened first in Mexico, and later in many African countries, as well as Latin American countries, and currently the neo-liberal Bundes Kanzler Angela Merkel is imposing this on the Greek population, to give the money to German Banks that were over eager to lend to the Greek ruling class. Again the population is made to pay for the frivolities of the rich.

Clearly, this undermines the ethic of the liberal investment theory, and it makes big investors reckless: the risk is passed on to the common man, while the profits go to the ruling elite. This is neo-liberalism, that is imposed upon us from the ruling class of rich countries (who own stocks in the big companies!)

Look beyond our own borders

When analyzing our situation, and looking at policy perspectives, we should not limit ourselves to just Malawi. In the 21st century, globalization is a fact. In fact it has been going on for a long time, for Malawi at least since the beginning of the slave trade here. We should look at the international situation to understand where we stand and what measures will be effective to reach our goals as a people and as world citizens. I propose that we want to graduate from being a periphery country (like many other African countries as well as countries in Latin America and Asia) to the equal of others. Development does not go according to one route: the route that currently developed nations took is not open to us. We must look at new perspectives, and new opportunities, as well as at ways to shift the global balance of power away from the big corporations from the core countries, which are exploiting our poverty, to more equal terms where all world citizens can enjoy a decent quality of living. These ideals are not found in the business sector or in governments from core countries. They are found mostly in the Global Justice Movement. There is where we have a lot ot find to achieve a decent life for all of us.

Currently, in the World-System, there is a division of labour, with strong hierarchy. The core countries (mostly in Europe and North America) have the capital intensive, highly paid work. The periphery countries (most African countries) are supplying labour intensive lowly paid work, and supplying core countries with raw materials. In the case of Malawi mostly tobacco. The consequence of this division of labour is perennial poverty in periphery nations like Malawi.

Individual nations may try to move within this World-System, but upward mobility is constrained by unfavourable trade relations with core countries, and an unfavourable balance of power. We simply cannot insist on good prices for our exports. Malawi has little opportunity for upward movement, both because of internal constraints (corruption and the consequent inefficiency), and external constraints: the core nations are stopping Malawi from moving upwards so we will keep on supplying cheap raw materials like tobacco and uranium.

 

Political, military and economic actions within states and between states are essential to the powers of the ruling classes in those states. The ruling classes in core states appropriate surplus value from periphery states. These funds are used to maintain political economic and military power nationally, regionally and world-wide. Core ruling classes maintain connections with periphery ruling classes like ours, to stay in power, and keep accumulating more surplus value from us. Our ruling class fares well by this system, and has no reason to sever ties with core ruling classes. However there is continuous bickering between core ruling classes and periphery ruling classes over the division of the spoils. The Malawian ruling class is strongly dependent on approval from abroad. Bingu misbehaved and got himself into big trouble. This big trouble he passed on to the population in the form of shortages of forex, drugs, fuel and even sugar.

 

Both states and corporations are strong centres of power in the modern World-System. Core corporations, in Malawi mostly tobacco corporations, but also suppliers like Monsanto, are the biggest economic players, but they rely on national governments to guarantee their property rights and markets assets. Also they use state governments to strengthen their rights as corporations to act like virtual persons, and for interests like strong copyright protection on their products. The existence of many states stabilises the system to the advantage of capitalist corporations: it allows them to move their activities and assets around, thus limiting the powers of nation states to regulate and tax them. Increasingly corporations have power over states: in the US all political candidates are dependent on corporate donations for their campaign funding. Now even the US President is a unapologetic capitalist.

 

DEMOCRACY vs. CLIENTELISM

 

DEMOCRACY

CLIENTELISM

Policy decisions made in the open after clear public debate, open for review Policy decisions made in secret, no public involvement
Institutional authority with official roles Personal authority, vested in individuals
Rule of law, free and fair elections, majority rule Personal enrichment and personal aggrandizement
Shared power, accountable office holders Monopolized power, unaccountable office holders
Transparent relationship between leaders and followers, predictable Opaque relationship between leaders and followers, unpredictable
Procedures and decision making standards are transparent and explicit. Procedures and decision making standards are opaque, and unclear to the population
Power derived from providing collective benefits, earning support from large groups Power derived from personal favors, securing loyalty
Strong procedures for leaders’ replacement Unclear procedures for leaders’ replacement
Deep civil society with horizontal links Fragmented civil society with vertical links
Appointments are transparent, and made on merit Appointments are made for patronage reasons
Decisions guided by public interest Decisions guided by personal interest or supporters’ interest
Political parties revolve around ideology and program Political parties revolve around persons

 

THE NATION STATE ?!?

 

The nation state is a 19th century European invention, which may have had some kind of 220px-pan_africanism_mural_in_tanzaniaapplication there at that time. But even in Europe it has been a bumpy ride. Northern Ireland, Basque Country, Yugoslavia. Many European countries are not Nation States: in Belgium half the population is French and half is Dutch. Switzerland is a kilt of languages and concomitant ethnicities (French, German, Italian). The Soviet Union was a Moloch of ethnicities, and even now Russia hosts many languages, cultures and ethnic groups. Two World Wars and many small wars have been the effect. And that is in the homeland of the “Nation State”.

africa-400x448African states have nothing like a nation identity: their borders were drawn up in Berlin in 1883 by Europeans according to the logic of European powers, without a single African present, or without any consideration of Africanity. If the Nation State is a risky undertaking in Europe, its homeland, in Africa it is a non-starter. We have no Nation States. For practical matters we have borders, and we will have to live with them for the foreseeable future. But we should not make too much of them. Patriotism, nationalism, all that is empty phrases in the African context. We should unite more and divide less.

Economically we have been disadvantaged by European colonialism, neo-colonialism and capitalism. Because of our history as well as our non-capitalist background, capitalism does not serve us well. But the capitalists keep coming. They are looking for our raw materials. The Europeans first, later (after the Second World War) joined by the Americans and to a lesser degree the Soviets. Most recently joined by the Chinese, who recently turned capitalist. All these capitalists have their agendas, and they are pursuing them with vigor unmatched by the African victims of the new scramble for Africa: us.

We need to resist these powers that take our resources after buying our rulers. They lay images_keytitleSAPs on us, now renamed “Extended Credit Facility”. They tell us how to run our economies, to privatise left right and centre all the way to public utilities like Escom. We don’t have a say, because we, as African peoples are divided. Divided by borders, in the 19th century drawn up by Europeans. Divided by rulers who defend their personal vested interests, and little kingdoms of patrimonialism, nepotism, Clientelism. Our rulers keep the borders closed, while the Americans united in the 18th century against the British colonialists. While the Europeans spent the second half of the 20th century to unite. While the Chinese have united many ethnicities and cultures for thousands of years. A small country like Malawi cannot defend itself against an onslaught of power from these giants like EU, US, and China. We need to unite with our neighbours, open our borders with them. Harmonise policies. (Bingu picked fights with our neighbours and that has not helped, but he has been dead for years now). Make bilateral and multilateral agreements, in Comesa, in SADC. Our trucks spend days at the border for useless formalities. This is not productive and keeps transports expensive and slow. This drives up prices, and lowers profitability of our businesses, who cannot be competitive this way. It keeps us down.

Huge levies of indirect taxes, import duties, you name it. All that from here  to another African country, and the same on the way back. This means we as Africans all lose out (except maybe the corrupt functionaries at the border!). We need to simplify travel, transport. We need to open up so we can prosper with the huge markets in Zambia, Tanzania, Mozambique and beyond. So we can profit from skills from across the border to make our businesses more competitive. To make our job market more flexible, and to offer our skills to others, and use other people’s skills. To find employment in the huge economies around us. We need to stop thinking in small nation states (invented by Europeans!), and unite with our neighbours to be vibrant and to prosper. And simply cross the lines that Europeans drew on a map in Berlin in 1883.

Are Malawians ready for self organization?

A contribution by C. Companyero

I’ve been asked this question several times when I brought up the subject. I find the answer self evident, and the question self defeating. Let me begin with the second part:

Who would decide if anyone is ready for self organization. The concept defeats the whole point: for self organization we do not need anybody’s permission. Nobody has to think we are ready for it but ourselves. We decide, that is self organization. So it is totally beside the point whether anyone thinks Malawians are ready for self organization. Only we have to think so, and those who don’t think so can stay behind. We can organize, whether given the OK or not.

overcoming20so20blocks20leader

The first point is also interesting, because Malawians have proved beyond reasonable doubt that we are ready for self organization: we have been practicing it since times immemorial. Before the slave traders came we were self organized. When the slave traders came we resisted them, with variable success, through self organization. The whole point of a real indaba is that we get together, all of us, and self organize.

Then the Colonial Masters came and tried to take our self organization away. They pigeon holed us into tribes with their puppet rulers, who were being backed up by Colonial fire power. We retreated into secret cults like the Nyau, were the Colonial Masters could not reach.

When Colonialism lost its profitability (the costs of suppressing the population were plm-bottom-uphigher than the benefits) the Colonial Masters invented the scheme of neo colonialism, where their indirect ruler was a new, in name independent, but in reality very dependent puppet, in our case Dr HK Banda. With his westernized culture (think of his dress and his Victorian English prudishness) he supported the Western Capitalist block in the cold war. He oppressed us more than the Colonial Masters had ever done before. But the reach of his rule was limited, even though it went into our villages more than under the Colonials. Still, his control was not absolute: most of our dealings were left intact. We organized our villages ourselves and the government provided limited services. Education was limited to very small numbers of people, health care was very limited. He did provide services in the area of agriculture through the system of Admarc and extension workers, the way that was common in all African countries of those times.

self-organization1

With the end of the cold war, western need for Third World dictators waned and HK Banda was removed from power. Now came the days of international neo-liberalism. Admarc lost its influence, and extension work waned. Neo-liberalism means that government retreats from most areas of society except for supporting big companies. The population was noticeably less confronted with government, but our self organization skills are still intact. In the village we organize ourselves. The government system of justice is inaccessible for the villager it mostly deals with political disputes and cases concerning Big Men. In the village we organize our own justice system. The other government services, like health care and education are less and less functional as government cuts off funds and the President refuses to take responsibility. The government is so incompetent as to not reach into the village life, the most part of Malawi.

The only time when the villager meets a lot of government is when he/she is selling his/her tobacco. There is money there, so then government comes in big time. Heavy taxes, corrupt officials getting in the way of business, suddenly government is all over. Only to reap the benefits of the villagers sweat, not to organize goodies for us.

This government does not organize the country, the Malawians self organize it.

women-participate-in-a-village-savings-and-loan-meeting-in-namasalima-eahxpj

So are Malawians ready for self organization? Hahaha, we have been doing it all along!