What the vice president said last week is the functional equivalent of dating a gold-digger: they pretends to like you when down on their luck but as soon as they get a government job, they dumps you, take your money, refuse to pay back a dime and insult you in the process!
Granted, things are hard all round but there is no need to add further insult to people's mis¬ery, Mr. Vice President. Maybe things are harder for the vice president and what he said was his way of letting out his frustrations—signs of a man cracking under the enormous pressure of the job at hand and a nation's ex¬pectation.
That great psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud said something about letting off steam under the pressure of hard times. The theory is that releasing your frustrations is far healthier than keeping emotions all bottled up. So when things are not working your way, you are en¬couraged to scream, cry, vent, punch a pillow...But Freud didn't say you could insult the tax¬payers who are your paymasters.
I'm told of an old man who would sit in front of his TV every night, loudly abusing the newsreader with comments such as: "Oh, give us a break, you scumbag! You call this news? The president has flown off to Austra¬lia and its lead story? Good heavens, it would be good news if the president had flown off to the moon. This is not news, give us something real..."
His son had said it was good for the father to let off steam in this manner, without which the stress would have continued to build up and the old man would have exploded one day, one way or the other.
John Kapito is doing just fine blowing off some steam from his system, sensationally calling for the government to step down. He knows it will not happen but it is good for him to release his frustrations in this way. I know of a lot of other people in this country who need to let off steam in these days of unimaginable stress.
In the United Kingdom, they have a great way of letting citizens vent their frustrations away. The Speaker's Corner in London's Hyde Park is an intriguing place. On a visit there the other year, I listened to a man who was out¬raged by the high price of gas, the plummet¬ing British economy, and the country being at war in Iraq and Afghanistan. "I'm mad as hell", he shouted, "and I'm not going to take it anymore. I'm going to kill that bastard, Tony Blair." I was flabbergasted.
It would be an enormous help to have Speaker's Corners in Blantyre, Lilongwe, Zomba and Mzuzu so that all those who can't cope with the matters of political gov¬ernance, the rising prices of virtually every¬thing, the shortage of food and drugs and the soaring cost of living can go there to release their frustrations by opening up their raw anger and hollering their depths of despair. Anger, popular psychology teaches us, is a monster we must tame but letting it out, in some controlled way.
Today, you would expect the people whose sensibilities are being daily abused by the rot at Escom, for example, to march to Escom House and dump something on the doorstep of the CEO's office.
As part of letting off steam at the incom¬petence of this corporation, I know what I would dump on the CEO's doorstep, but its identity cannot be revealed in this column, which, I suspect, is read by God-fearing people, or people to whom four-letter words might be offensive.
But nothing of a march on Escom has ever happened. I have always wondered if this passive attitude among most of us to such disgusting fare as we get from this corpora¬tion suggests a pathological fear of confront¬ing the people with power, even though the powerful people have precious little respect for us. I must hasten to add, though, that this is not peculiar to Malawi.
Unable to cope with having to consis¬tently switch meal and bed times because of persistent power cuts, a friend of mine—educated at great government expense at the Polytechnic of the University of Malawi—says if there is no improvement by Decem¬ber he is going to leave the country.
His projection is that the cost of liv¬ing will become unbearable and that roads, schools, hospitals and all of service delivery will collapse so he can't see a future for him¬self and his family here anymore. And he is not the only one thinking of leaving on ac¬count of the stress of staying. But then with every such departure, these people are tak¬ing Malawi one step closer to collapse. Each Malawian who is frustrated to the point of giving up on their country takes with them a skill that is desperately needed, a service that many depend on for survival, a talent that will not easily be replaced.
With every Malawian that leaves, they take with them another little piece of hope, another voice that should be heard, another vote that could be used to change the direc¬tion of this country. Leaving is giving in to despair and it is to think that the problems that have become our daily lives are going to last for the longest time. But these problems will not last a lifetime and when it is over, each and every Malawian should be able to say they played a part in ending the problems of their generation. They say when the going gets tough, the tough should keep going.
Someone said the other day that statisti¬cally, the economy is better now and things are looking up for most Malawians. The guy who said this is one not to be trusted. He is obese from feasting on too much oily food so he probably has a disconnect with reality. I won't tell you what I said to him. Again, that was part of letting off my steam.
There is hardly any profit to be gained from lying to each other. This is a country whose economy is in crisis. There is pre¬cious little budgetary support we are receiv¬ing, forex reserves are nearly-depilated and obtaining money to pay salaries for civil ser¬vants, buy drugs for hospitals and run vital services is becoming a huge headache for treasury. This is enough to make a vice presi¬dent's head want to explode with steam.
The Malawian psyche is not what it was in April 2012, just five months ago. Then, the euphoria of hope was mirrored in the exu¬berance of every face you came across—in Ndirande, in Matawale, in Kawale, in Mtch-engautuwa and in Zolozolo.
Today, it is the horror of an economy go¬ing belly-up that you see etched on people's faces: pain, anger, hunger, discontent and, mostly, the fear of an uncertain future.
I don't know if screaming and cursing and punching the pillow will help you relieve some of the stress, but psychologists claim it does. Try it; it might work, even if you are the vice president.