Saturday, 24 October 2009
I arrived in anticipation, a cold Carlsberg green, after years of drinking lousy English beers. I thought it was a joke, but I noticed the shabby looking guy was damn serious. “Your ID sir” he said whilst chewing and blowing the gum. The only ID I had on me was my driver’s licence. “Ahhhh, Mkandawire”! He said. “I am sorry but your quota is filled up. Try the next pub. Most of you do not go there”, he mused. “What do you mean quota is filled up?” I queried. He took his register and starting going through the list. Munthali, Nyirenda, 4 Mwaungulus, 2 Kasambalas, 2 Matiyas 3Singanos, Nundwes, 6 Bandas but 4 from the kukaya. You know Manchester United is playing today and your friends rushed to ensure they fill up the quota. “But Matiya and Singano...... Before I finished, the bouncer said, “I know, but we know that they never paid lobola, so they are both Mkamwinis in Mbalachanda! I was lost!
I left still confused and headed for “Peoples” and buy my Green and with fewer “breath gadgets” during the day, drunk my cold beer whilst driving. I decided to visit my friend and was sure that I would be able to watch the match with him. As I arrived, the watchman opened the gate for me. My friend greeted me warmly and ushered me into his home and his children were watching cartoon network. “Welcome back home”, he said. I know you are a Liverpool fan, but unfortunately, you cannot watch the match today because I exhausted my TV quota for this week. He said a colleague would keep him updated on scores. When I asked him why we cannot go and watch the match at the hotel, he told me that he had exhausted his “out of home” quota and he was stuck till the following week. “What is this quota business?” I asked and told him how I was kept out at the club.
He told me that Government was implementing a Quota policy and it had to be strictly observed. He indicated that the new ID card has made it possible to implement the quota. For example a quota will now be implemented in tobacco and cotton growing, foreign exchange allocation, international football matches, booking hotel rooms, passports, drivers licence, owning retail shops, buying of vehicles, international travel etc. If the trend does not change, quota will be extended to “red light streets” as it seems it is dominated by people from one area and this is not equitable distribution of income. “What about market vendors?” Well, he said. That has already been implemented, including fish mongers, tailors, sumagulalas etc. “What is sumagulalas? I asked. Ohh that. These are people that carry things on their heads across borders. You mean Smugglers? I mused?
He told me that quota was good for the country and homes. It brought stability and unity. Imagine a situation with no diversification in red light streets! It would be boring, no? He told me that I had to understand principles of economics. When there is scarcity, resources have to be shared. I asked him whether we had run out of ideas on how to increase the resources. He told me that was not the point. Don’t you understand that when supply increases, prices go down? You have to keep demand always high and supply low. That is the only way you can yield power and control the market. I asked him whether that was not legitimising sharing of poverty and whether it was fair to deny those life fish mongers and tobacco farmers to pursue their dream by curtailing their numbers, when all they knew is that trade? He said, the idea was that fish mongers would also now try to grow tobacco and tailors should attempt to become teachers and those book- worms should dirty their hands by catching fish or growing tobacco. It is called Diversification and Equity. I got more confused!
When I asked for another green, he told me that unfortunately, I had exceeded my quota for the day. I left for my humble home and wondered whether my wife would not impose a quota restriction when I arrived home!