Saturday, 13 August 2011
IMPACT OF TRAVEL BAN: SILENT DEMONSTRATIONS
MALAWI is slowly but surely isolating itself from the World Community. Following the Budget Statement read by Hon. Ken Kandodo (MP) and most likely major contents provided by HE President Wa Muthalika, Malawi has been missing out in most international meetings. Not only are most of the meetings critical to Malawi’s development agenda, travel, to these regional and international meetings is an incentive for civil-servants for their continued professional duties in Government.
It is common knowledge that the take-home pay by most civil servants is obscene and these hard-working (including lazy) civil servants survive and acquire assets through allowances that they receive when they travel on duty.
More often than note, those in leadership positions are easily fooled by shallow-minded rent-seeking advisers. This is typical of what we are seeing in our country today. The Mzati Nkolokosa article is one case in point, where he argues that the agitation for demonstrations has nothing to do with the economic challenges the country is facing, but rather the anger by Northerners because of the policy on quota. Because of short-term benefits they enjoy, the advisers fail to see the bigger picture.
Whilst Civil Society, opposition parties and Churches are advocating for street demonstrations, civil servants denied of their privilege of trips abroad, are actively demonstrating silently as the country grounds to a halt and isolates itself from the world family. Malawi’s voice is simply silent and physical bodies absent in most international fora including in countries where we have diplomatic offices.
Invitations to various meetings/conferences are issued to Ministries and in turn Ministers and Principal Secretaries ask the Big Kahuna as to whether they should attend. More often than not, the answer is a big No. Civil Servants end up filing away the invitations. "Why bother to send the invitation to Malawi Embassy or High Commission in that country to represent the country"? Obviously the hosting country will call the Malawi Embassy or High Commission as to whether Malawi will attend. The Ambassador or High Commissioner having no clue about the meeting, let alone whether the “M” Politburo has agreed to Malawi’s participation, simply says, I will get back to you. The meeting takes place, no apologies from Malawi and no one attends and no one bothers to find out what decisions have been taken. That is now the order of the day. It is probably embarrassing for most Malawi’s civil servants and diplomats to sit behind the new flag which represents the new working order where only one man knows it all.
Of course our beloved President once experimented with the travel ban in COMESA when he was Secretary General. The result of the experiment is why today we have the Professor as our President. Silent demonstrations!
Yes we may smoke out street demonstrators but can we smoke out silent demonstrators? After August 17, perhaps Silent Demonstrations adopted by civil servants will serve us right.