Consumer Association of Malawi (Cama) Executive Director John Kapito is one gifted activist who is never short of words and action. A trained economist himself, he argues matters of the economy and social politics with so much knowledge and passion that he leaves you with no doubt that he was really born to be a fighter for the consumer and the less privileged.
And those who have followed Kapito since the mid-1990's would agree that he has maintained consistency is keeping governments on their toes that one would be wrong to link his criticisms to any hidden political agenda or association. Just like with the Joyce Banda government, he with the same if not more vigour held by the horns both Bakili Muluzi and late Bingu wa Mutharika during their reign.
That is why I do not agree with those who have attributed Kapito's recent outbursts against the government to his personal hatred against the president.
However, while I have admired Kapito for his courage on many things, I do not agree with his present call for protests against the government, more so the reasons behind the proposed protests. For those who may wish to know, I have actually shared this view with Mr Kapito himself personally.
First all, I do not think it is right to go on the street to protest against devaluation or liberalisation of the kwacha, whatever one chooses to call it. I mean the experience of the time our late president vehemently refused to devalue the kwacha made us all to agree that letting the kwacha fall was the necessary evil we needed to correct the imbalances in the economy.
In fact, Joyce Banda accepted to devalue the kwacha after correctly reading the public consensus at the time. Let us not wash our hands and heap all the blame on her just because things seem to be going all wrong. We should all own the reforms and agree on which path to take for economic recovery to become a reality.
And nobody said that once the kwacha was devalued, then all the problems we faced would end. No. In fact, the President Banda and her Minister of Finance Ken Lipenga have said several times that "things would get worse before getting better". I want to believe that the economic hardships we are all going through are all part of the economic recovery process. That being the case, we need to give the government time and support. Protests would just disturb the process and prolong the healing process.
If anything, if Mr Kapito was to organise protests and attract my participation, it should be against President Joyce Banda's daily travelling and the resources she is draining from our coffers to finance the trips. Honestly speaking, JB's trips have become irritating and are an insult to Malawians who are being asked to be patient and sacrifice for the sake of the economic recovery. Yet she and her lieutenants keep drawing daily allowances as they travel around the country attending to trivial matters.
If anybody was going to organise protests against that, I and, I'm sure many others, would be happy to join. It's time JB demonstrated her own austerity and be seen to suffering with ordinary Malawians through a significant cut in her daily trips. They are just too much and are the reason behind the growing public discontent against her government. Thumbs down to both Kapito and the president
The president this week announced a few changes to her cabinet which I would call just a flip-flap rather than a reshuffle. In fact, I would describe the previous cabinet as being better since it had only 32 members compared to the current 36. The present cabinet is more costly on the tax-payer and, once again, is not in line with the spirit of economic recovery which the government is pretending to implement.
I mean what justification would the president give me for increasing the cabinet when common sense calls for a significant reduction as one way of cutting expenditure? And none of the newly drafted members would inspire many to believe that they have brought anything new or strategic to respond to the current needs of the voters.
As it has come out, it is evidently clear that the cabinet flip-flap was just another political move by the president aimed at rewarding some defectors to her party while punishing those seen not to be towing the line very well.
If the president was really still in touch with ordinary people's opinion at the moment, she could have used the cabinet reshuffle to strategically win back some public support which, I must say, is fast eroding away from her because of the amateurish and suicidal blunders she keeps making on a daily basis.
What a lost opportunity! Thumbs down madam