Malawi: commodification of state resources is not a way out

It seems like in Malawi we have found a solution to government’s perennial failures in running public services: privatise everything. Selling ‘failing’ public entities is now an easier substitute for our government’s lack of efficiency in running and managing state assets. Malawi Savings Bank (MSB) is sold. Indebank is sold. Now we are mulling over privatising mortuaries. Those who advocated for the sale of MSB argued that governments should have no business running banks. MSB was a poster-child of this argument. There were all sorts of figures presented alongside the argument to show how MSB had ‘failed’, as if banks Continue reading

Why won’t the Malawian media report on crazy mobile phone rates?

BBC recently reported that the average Malawian spends more than MK5400 (US$12) a month. That’s more than half the average monthly income in Malawi. Proportionate to earnings, Malawi has the most expensive mobile phone rates in the world. There is no shortage of complaints within Malawi about expensive phone tariffs but this report (based on findings by the International Telecommunications Union) shows the extent of the problem. For a week, following the report, I monitored local newspapers reports and the mobile phone rates received no coverage at all. Not even by the growing number of columnists and opinion writers. Why Continue reading

Presidential powers, Public Service Reforms, a problem Malawians must confront

The recent announcement that President Peter Mutharika is to relinquish some of the presidential powers is a welcome development, and well overdue, given that he is Malawi’s fourth democratic president. Even though the reduction of presidential powers was one of the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) election promises, we all know that electoral promises are not always met. Successive Afrobarometer studies have established that when it comes to national issues majority of Malawians are more worried about food security, stabilisation of economy and national security, among the top issues. Presidential powers are nowhere on the list. This makes the announcement more Continue reading