Government hides the truth

If you go to one demonstration and then go home, that's something, but the people in power can live with that. What they can't live with is sustained pressure that keeps building, organisations that keep doing things, people that keep learning lessons from the last time and doing it better the next time.
Noam Chomsky

Power is a drug on which the politicians are hooked. They buy it from the voters, using the voters' own money.
Peter Newman


The Mhlako Triumvirate

Monday, March 14, 2011


When we puzzle over the strange behavior of our President and his Government it may help us to keep in mind the word ‘PARANOIA’.
Paranoia is an unfounded or exaggerated distrust of others, sometimes reaching delusional proportions. Paranoid individuals constantly suspect the motives of those around them, and believe that certain individuals, or people in general, are "out to get them."
Persons with paranoid personality disorder tend to be self-centered, self-important, defensive, and emotionally distant. Their paranoia manifests itself in constant suspicions rather than full-blown delusions. The disorder often impedes social and personal relationships.
Paranoia is also a possible side effect of drug use and abuse (for example, alcohol)
Symptoms of paranoid personality disorder:
  • suspicious; unfounded suspicions; believes others are plotting against him/her
  • preoccupied with unsupported doubts about friends or associates
  • reluctant to confide in others due to a fear that information may be used against him/her
  • reads negative meanings into innocuous remarks
  • bears grudges
  • perceives attacks on his/her reputation that are not clear to others, and is quick to counterattack
  • maintains unfounded suspicions regarding the fidelity of a spouse or significant other
You may or may not recognize anyone you know but there are worrying signs that our big man has ‘lost it’.
I would hesitate to say that it is a contagious disease but it seems to affect our politicians past and present at all levels in the hierarchy.
For the first five years of Bingu’s presidency our civil society watchdogs went to sleep. These organisations – the NGOs and the faith-based bodies - were indispensible to him in exerting pressure on an opposition controlled Parliament to pass necessary measures such as the annual budget. Now, with a large majority, he has caused ‘his’ Parliament to pass many laws which appear to be contrary to our Constitution designed only to enslave and oppress us. Civil society has now woken up to the dangers of a Bingu out of control.
It is common knowledge that many of our NGOs have been financed for many years fully or in part by our partners with the UK, EU, USA and Norway as the principle donorss. Most of their funding to our ‘watchdogs’ is to help strengthen governance, human rights and the rule of law. And there is a very good reason why they should consider this so important.
We often compare the progress made by other countries which at the time of our liberation 47 years ago were at similar levels of development and wealth (rather, poverty) as ourselves. Yet they have prospered beyond all expectations. Malawi remains very close to the bottom of the heap when measured by the Human Development Index. Click to see the full index here .  Korea was  nowhere, Malaysia was languishing in Equatorial slumber. 
The 2010 position was: 
In the Very High category               position   12 – Korea (UK 26)
In the High category                       position   57 – Malaysia
In the Medium category                  position   98 – Botswana
                                                      position 110 – South Africa
In the Low category                        position 153 – Malawi
                                                      position 155 – Afghanistan
                                                      Bottom  169 -  Zimbabwe            
It may be thought that differences of potential were caused by factors such as ease of access to the sea, possession of adequate natural resources, educational levels, policy choices and geographical features. In a study carried out many years ago by the respected UK Economist magazine it was found that the main common success factor was adherence to the rule of law/good governance. With this knowledge in mind our partners have invested money in us by strengthening this area of our public life. Without a stable base the resources invested by the same partners in other areas – including budget support (a gift of cash) – such as infrastructure, education, health and power will not have been as effective as they could have been.
In Malawi the rule of law is not fully established. Good governance is at a low point. We remain poor. So much for our being a ‘developed’ country worthy of a new flag and a full sun. The sun shines only on the elite.
Our NGOs and other bodies have now begun to speak out, as they should, at the erosion of our rights and liberties. Our paranoid leaders are now convinced that the same funds given to the NGOs, once so helpful to them, are being given for the sole reason of overthrowing the current regime. Yet they are doing what they have been doing all these years – acting as our watchdogs. Government has no evidence of a link with the allocation of funds to our NGOs and a concerted effort to overthrow it. Our President and Government appear to be incapable of analyzing the issues over which these bodies are acting. The paranoids, convinced like religious zealots of the absolute right of their actions and reactions, are no longer amenable to dispassionate analysis or reason.
What has changed? 
Only you, Mr. President. Only you!
You, Mr President, are the cause of your own problems. The economy is going downhill fast. There is confusion in your rudderless Government.There is ever more evidence of public dissatisfaction with your leadership, your style, your actions, your public pronouncements, the actions of your Police Force. The Malawian public is close to saying enough is enough. What remains to be decided is what is to be done about it.
You have made enemies of business, academia, students, NGOs, donor agencies and millions of your people.
If nothing changes, if you cannot realize the error of your ways and change them, Malawi as a nation is doomed. You will have condemned us to many more decades of ‘catch-up’ in a difficult and rapidly changing world that may no longer have the scope to pander to your follies for very much longer.

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