If I am to be quite honest, I’ve always thought of the Kamuzu Banda regime as something overrated.
You surely cannot blame me; whenever an old timer starts reminiscing about the efficiency and effectiveness of the bureaucratic systems of that era, I on the other hand start imagining the efficacy and proficiency of the then Malawi Young Pioneers and Malawi Youth league in terrorizing innocent citizens and feeding opponents of the ‘Ngwazi’ to the insatiable crocodiles of the Shire river.
However, in certain considerations, the old timers have a point.
I am not here talking about such petty issues as how our policemen back in the day used to be way smarter looking or how teachers were more respectable and how chicken used to taste like chicken in those days…no
I am here looking at the top of the food chain, I am here talking about national policies, frameworks and laws.
During the post-independence period, the country subscribed to unique devices in service provision and governance that were distinctly homegrown and locally adapted.
However after democracy was ushered in, Malawi has over the years distinguished herself in adopting ‘innovative’ and ‘cutting edge’ policies all in the name of being in line with the international donor community.
As a result, we have been ratifying international conventions and subjecting ourselves to international commitments ‘left, right and center’
How this has affected practical work on the ground? the situation is chaotic to say the very least.
I am not insinuating in any way that we could have been better off if we had maintained and stagnated the Ngwazi era systems and functionalities, but rather things could have turned out a little better if we had built on these earlier arrangements other than the outright complete system overhauls that have characterized our strive to abide to modern standards.
No, the Kamuzu regime was not perfect, but it is very impractical to erase every one of its systems in turn for other countries’ systems and utilize them the same way without consideration to our own distinct socio-cultural environment.
Unfortunately this is what we seem to be majoring in, and the methods that we are blatantly throwing out are the ones that proved to have been working for a long time…before a couple of expatriates from donor agencies and multilateral organizations came over with their home brewed models and templates for us to assume as pre-conditions of foreign aid.
Indeed ‘mlendo amadzadi ndi kalumo kakuthwa’ and in most certain aspects we are indeed supplied with state-of-the-art solutions and suggestions by our development partners but to completely rule out what has been there in favor of new structures is proving to be a recipe for disaster.
Case in point; we have as a country (in all sectors) ventured into creating ‘Committees and task groups’ to espouse certain roles and responsibilities but this has in most cases proved to be of no positive consequence because of lack of capacity and promotion of self-interests in these so called committees. The statistics are there shouting at us that this is not working, yet we are still out there advocating for more efforts towards the attainment of such impractical goals.
This is why most old people who have the capability to compare and contrast will always prefer ‘the old system’ rather than what is currently being shoved down their throats all in the name of modern development.
Already we are looking back at the poor decisions we have been recently making due to donor pressure and are realizing that we actually had a good thing going all along before we succumbed to the enticement of more ‘funding’.
And what is the country’s young educated demographic doing about all this?
Well, we are busy endeavoring on pioneering schemes to milk undeserved profits from this country for personal benefit with disregard if it is all to the country’s detriment.
Here I was thinking that education should give someone a voice, but here it is shutting people up and diverting their attention to such frivolities as ‘Cashgate’ and ‘maizegate’ which are by products of national systems that are not working.
It’s not like I blame us even…
We have been coerced into operating within the framework of our parents’ generation’s expectations on us….look closely at the things that constitute ‘kuwachosa manyazi makolo’
It seems most of us (young people) were educated to have better jobs than our parents, have much more stable marriages than our parents’ …and the list goes on….but not to make a difference in this country or provide service to our fellow citizens…these were somehow overlooked in our education syllabus.
This is why we shall remain a bitter generation with an insatiable appetite for selfishness and new trends.
Even if some of these new trends are not helping.
Anyway, this is what my friend (let’s just call him ‘Duntu’) and I were pondering over this morning.