here are two major kinds of work and workers in Malawi. The first involves applying for an honest job or one way or another employing yourself and working hard to support your family. The second is becoming a member of parliament.
The ultimate career strategy for all should be to gun for the second option - as soon as possible - say in 2014, because that's where the real prestige is.
It is all very well and good to have an honest job, but you are never going to get a position of power, a position where you can cost thousands of poor people their livelihood with a single bonehead decision, unless you become a politician.
The first parliament ever constituted in history, is said to have been way back in the Mezzanine Era. In those days, Man's job was to slay his prey and bring it home for Woman, who had to figure out how to cook it. This came with a small problem.
The problem was, Man was slow and basically naked, whereas the prey had warm fur and could run like an antelope. At last someone said,
"Maybe if we formed a committee, this committee parleyed and did some brainstorming, we could come up with a better way to hunt our prey!"
The parley went extremely well, plus it was much warmer sitting in a circle, so they agreed to meet again the next day, and the next.
But the women pointed out that, prey-wise, the men were not producing anything, and the human race was pretty much starving. The men agreed that was serious and said they would put it right near the top of their "Order Paper" and that as a matter of urgency, the business committee would look into it.
At this point, the women, who were primitive but not stupid, started eating plants, and thus modern agriculture was born. It never would have happened without the men‘s parliament.
Malawi parliamentary sessions however, can better be compared with a funeral, in the sense that you have a gathering of people, pretending to be serious, wearing uncomfortable clothing and at the slightest chance, once they have cashed their allowances (chipepeso), will dash somewhere else.
The major difference is that funerals have a definite purpose - to bury someone. In parliament however nothing is really ever buried. A fight may look dead, but it will always resurface.
For Malawians and their parliament, there is a vivid example. Section 65. It was not buried in 2005-2009; and it has resurfaced. With the same old script, only the actors have traded roles. Other than the role reversal, it is going pretty much the same way. Quite boring.
There are two major kinds of parliamentary meetings which by the way are called sessions. Ordinary and extra-ordinary sessions of parliament.
Most of these sessions that are held for basically the same reason that Christmas is observed - namely, tradition. For example, members of parliament meet towards the end of each financial year to pass the budget.
This budget session operates the way "Show and Tell" does in nursery school, with everyone getting to say something, the difference being that in nursery school, the kids actually have something to say.
When it's your turn, you should say that the budget statement is the most beautiful you ever heard - if you are on the government side. Or say that it is pure garbage - something the cat brought in - if you are opposing. And you have earned your money.
Come question time, if you have been appointed a minister, you will say that your ministry is still looking into the problems that citizens all over Malawi are facing. This may seem pretty dumb, since obviously the previous minister before you said the same thing, and the one before and the one before.
Although nothing has changed on the ground, you should claim that your ministry or government is looking into it, because that's the traditional thing for everyone to say. And while you are at it, heap some praise, deserved or not, on the president.
Our parliament, especially the budget session, would spend a lot less money if after the minister of finance has presented the cooked up budget figures, the Speaker (with his gown and all) stood up and said,
"The Opposition is unhappy with the budget, and the government side is very happy with it: Ladies and Gentleman, is my pleasure to announce that the budget has been passed. See you all next year. Drive safely back home and always use a condom."
The session would be over in forty five minutes, even allowing for jokes. But sadly, that is not the way it is done.
Indeed why should we do things differently and more efficiently?
How else can we keep:
1) the poor, poor?
2) the uneducated, uneducated?
3) Mothers dying giving life?
4) the sick, sicker and dying?
5) criminals killing and thieving freely?
6) our lovely forests and environment, decimated? and most importantly,
7) our AID-dependence increasing?
How else, I ask?
Until the women or a woman once again gathers enough courage to tell the men that prey-wise, parliament is not producing anything, and the poor will be getting poorer even as new praise teams and songs are mushrooming all over Malawi.
---©2012 The Maravi Post. Reproduction authorised, with usual acknowledgment.