Hands needed on the wheel

First, it was the ceiling of hope that collapsed. What can one expect, except total collapse, when all the promises— not all the promises; at least three-quarters of them— are broken and citizens are left to hold on to the tattered cloth of despair? I mean, the story of Malawi after June 23 2020 started to read very well— everything made good by the feel-good mood that…

First, it was the ceiling of hope that collapsed. Literally.

What can one expect, except total collapse, when all the promises— not all the promises; at least three-quarters of them— are broken and citizens are left to hold on to the tattered cloth of despair? Nothing good, really.

I mean, the story of Malawi after June 23 2020 started to read very well— everything made good by the feel-good mood that captivated the nation after some gaffes by those that had been trusted to run affairs of the State.

People were hoping that, having spent time on the queue, they would get justice from those they had just put in power.

Justice, in this case, meant universal subsidy. It meant jobs, at least a million within some timeframe, falling from the sky. It meant citizens getting a copy of a passport at a reduced fee.

It meant university students from resource-constrained families getting a helping hand from a caring government so that, come rain or sunshine, they could not drop out of university which, by the way, happens to be the exclusive of the haves in this society.

Justice, which some wise philosopher describes as what two people agree, meant helping people eat three times a day, probably after getting enough produce produced through mega farms.

Justice meant many things, as espoused in the manifesto of those that went on the campaign trail to sell their policies to people.

However, much of the promises are yet to materialise.

And, before those in authority seem to have a clue about what to do next, we are witnessing queues on our roads, something attributed to shortage of diesel.

This is coming on top of the problem of forex shortage, which has meant some industry players cannot import the things they need at the time they need them.

But, maybe, the issue of forex does not, directly, touch at the heart of the ordinary man and woman in this country. Just this week, one of the industry players in the country, Raiply Malawi, indicated that it is operating below 50 percent of the company’s capacity due to problems of power outages and fuel scarcity in the country.

The firm said the challenges have also affected product distribution as it is releasing two trucks of products, down from five, per week.

Raiply Malawi spokesperson Dalitso Chimwala said the challenges have left the company in a dilemma, to the extent that it has been contemplating laying off workers, some of whom are being paid without working.

Chimwala also said the company is struggling to collect raw materials from foreign ports.

As a result, the firm’s Limbe factory, which relies on wood harvested in the Northern Region, is not getting its supply. Lilongwe and Blantyre clients are said to be negatively affected as only one or two trucks are making it there from an average of five per day.

In addition, the company, which uses not less than 20,000 litres of fuel per week, is being supplied with less than 5,000 litres of fuel, thereby compromising operations of machinery, plants and vehicles.

Add the issue of blackouts to that and the situation gets worse.

However, I do not want us to be fault-finding because, I have come to understand, blame games will not bring forex, fuel and power back to normal levels.

It is the action of us, individual citizens, working hand-in-hand with those we have entrusted to run affairs of this state that will bring a positive result.

Otherwise, we will continue to be endeared to pain, singing the Dear Pain song again and again.

The good thing is that, last week, President Lazarus Chakwera admitted that there is an acute shortage of foreign exchange in the country, something that is negatively affecting fuel suppliers.

He said his administration is putting in place necessary measures to ensure that fuel is available in the country.

These are the words we need to hear from our leaders. It shows that they know about issues that are negatively affecting Malawians and are doing something about it.

It is time we, citizens, put our hands to the wheel, too, so that Malawi can be a good place for all.

What with news that Malawi has already secured $28 million from local banks for this purpose, and is said to be in pursuit of another $50 million facility for the same, on top of instructions the Reserve Bank of Malawi has received to prioritise fuel procurement in the allocation of any forex the country secures.

This, Dear Pain, means your time could be about to be over.

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