From Poverty To Prosperity: A Malawis’ Perspective

By Justin M. Salijeni

As a graduate, I get pissed sometimes. It is very sad to see Malawi government saying is planning to import maize for food because the country has been hit by hunger. It’s still pathetic that the Malawi government is adamant in implementing and still sticking to farm inputs subsidy program. It is more than sad to be sleeping in the dark; and or still using a candle or paraffin lamp (koloboyi) for lighting our homes. It is worrisome to have electricity that is unreliable, which frequently switches on- because there is no power most of the time (black out in other words). Hey! All these tragedies happening in country Malawi labelled with 50 years of independence.
It is due to lack of timing, passion and outdated management skills for the Malawi government to be importing maize for food to its citizens. Due to outdated skills, and also hidden agendas the Malawi government top officials keep on implementing these dubious decisions/policies. Malawi as a country has all it takes to produce food and more than required to use for export as well. Due to hidden agendas and outdated personas that hold vital decision making position in the government, we still rely on rain fed agriculture; but why?

Why fertilizer subsidy? At one point in time during the 2015/2016 budgetary consultation meeting at Mzuzu university by the incumbent minister of finance, Goodall Gondwe said, “whether you like it or not, farm inputs subsidy program will not seize." He claimed that because the people cannot manage to buy fertiliser and the like, so the government must take the initiative to buy fertiliser and other farm inputs for them. Well, thus according to him; however, plainly speaking, this is one of the poor management skills, lack of timing, hidden agendas and outdated knowledge that Malawi needs to get-lid, i.e. boot out people sticking to this kind of claim. Hold your patience, I will tell you why.

Paraffin operated lamp and or a candle up to now? Hahaha! Who is to blame? On the sad note, why having ministry of energy and mining? Why having department of energy and renewable energy at Mzuzu university and or why having the Malawi polytechnic? Are you picking out anything from what I am saying here? Maybe you are not, but thus not an excuse; I will tell you the reason (s) later.

Malawi has universities which are misused by those in authority. Each and every year, students do graduate from many of the Malawis’ universities and colleges. For a student to graduate, he/ she is involved in a research project. The outcome of the various researches do have an outstanding impact onto our countrys’ development. Most of the means to use the recommendations/ technological breakthroughs is simply to use our locally available resources to uplift the lives of the people of the country. But look, those research projects do just stay in university shelves doing nothing tangible. If the government machinery has people who have passion for their country, it is high time they use the universities as a think tank and a solution to the countrys’ problems through research. Proper measures should be taken to fund student’s research projects in order to produce comprehensive and reliable results.

If you can talk of Luanar and Mzuzu University, there are agriculture and forestry departments. These two have for the past decades and up to now producing research findings that are vital to improve the agricultural sector to the maximum. Even without the use of chemical fertilisers, a local farmer (whom some have labelled him/ her very poor) will be able to produce enough food for home consumption and or sale. All these technologies readily available just waiting for an initiator.

Malawi is blessed with abundant running fresh water. Irrigation farming is the answer rather than waiting for rains to come. There is no need to have a certain period of the year labelled as agricultural/ planting season. This is foolishness! Sorry to use that word but I have no choice, it pains me much. The department of energy and mining; water and irrigation, uhuu! I do not know what they are doing really. The sun is a 100% reliable source of energy (solar power); wind power on the other side. Solar and or wind power can both be used to pump water either from a dam, or underground. We can use to irrigate various crops throughout the year without any problem. On the sad note, we hear from the department of meteological department telling us that this year the rains will not fall very well, so expect hunger in the country. The department of energy and mining; water and irrigation, agriculture they just sit and watch. This implies that most departments/ ministries work independently from each other; they do not employ interdisciplinality.
Oh! I figured out something!

Experience or knowledge and skills that can help? You choose but I will tell you the best according to the issue at hand.  I am a fresh graduate from Mzuzu University (2015 for that matter) with Bachelors degree, forestry. The moment a company wants to recruit new staff, check and prove me wrong if you can! For most (99%) of job adverts, they ask for experience for the post in question. If Malawi is to develop, this should be abolished with immediate effect. Mmmmmm, yes! I am serious about this. You may think this is a childish idea, but, because you do not know and you do not think properly; thus the outdated knowledge and skills I am talking about. Things are changing each and every single minute; the knowledge and skills fresh graduate posses is totally different from the one who graduated some two to three years ago (ceteris paribus). Look, I came across a certain job advert requesting for one with a Bachelors degree but ten years working experience, kkkkkk funny huh? It is not funny but apathetic scenario. How come one come out of college/ university with a first degree and works for more than ten years without upgrading to a second degree (masters degree)? As an analyst, most companies are losing out by ignoring fresh graduates on the basis and outdated idea that they lack experience. Ok fine, thus according to them, because a lot of the companies are filled with people with outdated personnel with outdated knowledge and skills. No wonder poor productivity. I have a brother- a breadwinner in our family. To me he is my model, he has most of the things I for one wish to have in the near future. One day, I was surprised to learn him telling me where my secondary school books were? I said they are intact somewhere. He gave me transport money to go and get them. Oh! I kept wondering, what’s up bro with the books? He said I want to sit for Malawi school certificate of education again so that I go to university and do another degree.  Uhuh! Waste of resources, isn’t it? To you it is like that, but to him and me, that’s an excellent idea! You know what?; he has cars, house, good job and a wonderful family. Shaaa! But look, he wants to go to school again. The sole reason he gave was, “I might have gone to school and acquired all I have now, but things are changing daily, so I need to upgrade and be in line with the current world!” If the country had more of these people in our societies, Malawi would not have been the same anymore. So, my question is, this gentleman after the university, for companies that will be hiring him, will they be doing that because he has updated knowledge or because he once worked and has experience?

In my opinion, managers/ companies are losing out due to sticking to their so called experience, believe you me.
Making a family decision will have an impact on your family- whether good or bad decision and or policy. Making a decision or policy for a country will have an impact on the whole country- whether good or bad decision. For any single decision to be made, one has to think properly. Have you ever wondered that Members of Parliament’s (MP) decision are in most cases affected and are limited by their level of education? If a company needs a person with sound education, what about an MP who makes decisions for the whole country? For Malawi to develop, MPs should be holders of a minimum of a Bachelors degree; not an MSCE as is the state of affairs. The knowledge and skills I posses have an immediate impact for my country and my constituency if I was an MP.
If I was an MP, I would have not let my people use paraffin lamp. Why not electricity? Solar power can be used to generate electricity. My people would have been drinking piped water from a tap, not an open well. Solar and wind power would have been used to pump water for home use and irrigation. There are technologies we can use to produce bumper harvests without the use of chemical fertiliser.  All this because I have acquired skills and knowledge through my years of study. If development is coming from the grassroots, a constituency for that matter- in a short span of time the whole country will develop.
No wonder educated people keep on saying Malawi is not poor but the people are the ones who are poor! I hope now you have come to that realisation.  If not, mmmmm you are far from the reality, you are just being adamant to accept the reality. Because of your laziness, you just want to be implementing unsound policies which are full of hidden agendas. God is watching you!!!!!! I rest my case.....

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