Sunday, June 12, 2011

Zero-deficit Budget is Malawi's Best Medicine

Many people, including economists, have cast doubts over the viability of the Zero-deficit Budget, as propagated by President Bingu wa Mutharika.
Zachimalawi has one simple thing to say: Mutharika, as an economist of sorts, knows better.
After all, Malawians elected him overwhelmingly in May 2009. This means that the people knew that Mutharika will have to consult before making some changes- especially Constitutional changes which the Malawi Constitution clearly stipulates that (they) cannot be changed without a referendum.
Voters also realised that there would be times Mutharika will have to use his best judgement to make decisions that work for Malawi.
One such decision is the one on Zero-deficit Budget.
The only unfortunate thing is that this path has been taken to cover Mutharika's own tattered clothes on good governance and respect for human rights.
It can be said, without fear of contradiction, that the Zero-deficit Budget has developed out of shame- Mutharika's shame that he erred in chasing former British High Commissioner to Malawi, Fedgus Cochrane-Dyet.
That is the short in the Zero-deficit remedy.
It is the son of Mutharika's gaffe in booting Cochrane-Dyet.
It is not clear whether Mutharika's wife, Callista, was disappointed with Mutharika's decision to chase the estranged British envoy. It is not knon whether Mutharika consulted his wife, even in the wake of a joke making the rounds that, to avoid future problems, Malawians should never vote for a President who marries while in power.
They say, after former President Bakili Muluzi formally married Shanil while in power, it did not end well for him: he became big-headed and wanted nothing less than the Constitutional two-five year terms maximum tenancy at Sanjika.
Same with Mutharika: he married while in power and lost the prudence that characterised his first term of office from 2004 to 2009. He has become so big-headed he is chasing Malawi's best friends.
So big-headed and egoistic he calls some Europeans "stupid", and some tobacco farmers "stupid".
He calls Civil Society leaders "unemployable", journalists liers out to connive with development partners and frustrate his development agenda.
He calls tobacco-company executives 'colonialists' in this post-colonial, democratic era, and buys jets worth billions when his people think of bicycles as the best means of transport.
But it remains unclear, even in the face of all these, whether his wife will forgive him for these or not.
Fact is, these sad events have happened courtesy of Mutharika. These things have happened in our leaders' brief spells of craze, but the consequencies will be borne by Malawians.
One such consequence, as alluded to earlier, is this Zero-deficit Budget.
Let us embrace it, and judge Mutharika by the depth its (Zero-deficit Budget) claws will create in our pockets.
We never know, the pockets may be filled, perhaps. Malawi should try this medicine, a remedy borne out of poor diplomatic policies.

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