THE JOURNEY AND THE NEW FLAG
You climb into the minibus. It looks OK from the outside. Even the seats are in reasonable shape. But once on the road it becomes obvious that something is wrong. The driver reassures you.
“It’s just come out of the garage. Everything has been sorted out.”
But still, you are a little uneasy. You decide to see how things go. And then you hit the rumble strips at Linthipe Bridge. The driver loses control. The brakes fail. Several die. Others are injured. The driver blames Satanism.
What really happened? What went wrong?
- The driver was lying. The minibus had not been fixed.
- The passengers should have told the driver to stop so that they could get off.
- Satan was nowhere to be seen but someone had to be blamed
CHANGED BEYOND RECOGNITION
Malawi, so we have been told by the driver (himself a former minibus operator), has changed beyond recognition since he took over the wheel. It changed so much for the better in a few short years, changed beyond recognition, that it deserved a new flag showing that the rising sun had reached its zenith, shining benignly over the country.
Was the driver lying? Well, yes! Or he had been misinformed. Much of the apparent rapid growth was based on reports of higher crop yields, especially of maize and cassava. Open market crop prices during many of these apparently bumper years indicated that maize, our national staple, was not abundantly available. The government attempted to suppress the report that would give a lie to the official figures. However, it is now available here.
If basic food production was overstated so too are figures for GDP and growth. And the ‘economic’ miracle, like most miracles, is seen to have been a mirage.
In spite of an excellent crop in the 2009/10 growing season, the daily life of the average Malawian seems not to be improving. Industries are suffering, fuel and forex shortages are affecting all businesses. Businesses are laying off staff. Many companies are finding it difficult to pay their creditors. More and more are selling off non-producing assets such as vehicles and properties to provide operating capital.
And the ‘passengers’ are getting restless. The NGO’s, the churches and business associations are grumbling..These are the Linthipe rumble strips. And already, before the crash, our driver has identified the Devils – the donor partners
STOP THE BUS, MR. PRESIDENT, YOU ARE LOSING CONTROL. WE WANT TO GET OFF!
When sun has risen and has reached its zenith, there’s only one way for it to go – down into the fading sunset.
I’ve designed the new flag to reflect that situation.
FACTS & FIGURES – HOW DO WE MEASURE UP?
Gross National Income US$ per capita: 166th out of 170 nations
Human Development Index 153rd out of 169 nations
Population below poverty line 55% 18th out of 141 nations
Aid as a percentage of GDP 26.2% 6th out of 120 nations
Purchasing power parity 143rd out of 229 nations
Purchasing power parity per capita 163rd out of 163 nations
Gross National Income per capita $134.28 166th out of 170 nations
Household Final Consumption $131.467 132nd out of 136 nations
Clearly we still have a long way to go.
NOTE: Some of the above figures may not be up to date. Any recent improvements will have been slight. They are, though, good indicators of the size of the task that faces our leaders.