Let us accept it; Malawi has a kink of being scammed. I say this with no malicious intent but the realization that we get aroused by scammers. Something within us as a people gets alive when we see potential scammers, and then we lie in bed with them hoping they won’t prey on us, to realize that we are not special. Sounds like someone’s relationship huh?
It’s tough to digest, but the sooner we accept this as who we are, the better.
It stems from the citizens and our government. Let me share the couple of times we have encountered scammers and fallen for their bait.
our lovely politicians
If you asked me, I’d say the biggest scammers we have ever had to deal with in Malawi are our politicians. Since the beginning of democracy, we have been constantly lied to (or scammed) in the name of political gimmicks. Just to jolt your memory, let me share the few embarrassing things we believed in manifestos that ended up being lies.
1. Muluzi and his shoes
Remember when the country actually believed that Bakili Muluzi would gift everybody shoes? If you do not know the background of the story, it is believed that Muluzi during his 1994 campaign trail made a vow at one village that he would give them shoes if elected to the presidency.
When he submerged the winner of the election and calls for him to deliver his promise began, he swiftly told them that he did not know their shoe sizes and thus, could not buy them shoes.
2. Chilima and his many gimmicks
My favorite campaign season is the 2020 presidential one, it blessed us with one of the best gimmicks ever. A lot of us sheepishly believed things that we should have questioned. However, the one man who carried the whole show and should have won an award for his performance is definitely Saulos Chilima.
He singlehandedly brought a few tricks that were unseen at the time. The man literally carried a 50kg bag of fertilizer on the podium; one to demonstrate his strength, and two, to share that a bag of fertilizer would sell at K4,495 ($5). Currently, the price range of the said bag ranges from K65,000 to K90,000 ($55 – $79) in their administration.
He went on to do push-ups, kneel with the flag, and oh, who can ever forget the rap song that his wife did for him?
of bridgin foundation
Last year, Malawi and its citizens were blown away to hear that our president was signing a deal worth a whopping $6.8 billion to fund many projects. We watched on our TVs as the president and his aides were beaming while Sosten Gwengwe (the then Minister of Finance) sat on the chair and inked his signature. It was a monumental moment, one that had never happened before.
They were so sure Bridgin Foundation was the rescue we needed as a country. Until it was not.
Immediately when the deal was announced, many citizens on social media called out the vagueness of the foundation. It did not have a convincing online presence, and there were no track records of their past work. Everyone was convinced the government did not do its due diligence and was being scammed.
Months later, the deal was canceled. It is sad that our Kenyan brothers were also tricked by this foundation afterward, I guess we both must have the kink.
our brothers in prison
Recently, my family in the village were victims of these men. The guys who call hoping you are vulnerable enough will entice their victims to make mobile money transactions without it registering that they are being robbed. They call claiming to work for the telecommunication companies, and some have mastered the professional voice tone so you believe them.
The funny thing is when you call them out on their rubbish, some with rain curses at you while some will jokingly ask that you share them money. One of them is called Jons, or like I call him “Man Jijo”. He called me some months ago hoping to score, but I was quick to call him out. Before the call disconnected, he shared with me that he was locked up at Zomba Prison for 7 years because of theft. He said he does the scams in order to make money to support his wife so that she does not leave him.
He said, that sometimes they meet the most elderly who will easily punch in K50,000 and when that happens, he and his partners celebrate a profit.
of Malawi’s love for get-rich-quick schemes
Now let me delve into the topic that inspired this post, how as Malawians, we love a get-rich-quick scheme. Just a few days ago, I learned with shock that so many people had lost their money to what is called Cryptocurrency Data Cloud (CDC), a crypto company that was promising people double or triple returns on their investments. Who were they to let go of such a great ROI.
The website for the company has gone missing on the World Wide Web, and people’s money seems to have disappeared with it. There are so many people on Facebook; students from universities who were hoping to make double their fees have no fees to pay, business people who invested in it, and others who invested their savings.
You would think this was the first scheme to have run in the country with how many flocked to it. There have been many of the same, and millions of money have been lost. And yet we are open to losing more.
This speaks more of the ignorance we have as people in this country, not wanting to learn from past experiences. Always willing to latch on to the new scheme on the market. I understand the poverty levels are at a high, the economy is hard, and every way there is of making money legitimately just seems to not work. But these schemes are not it.
Now, there is another company called Crown. I am not saying they are scammers, but I would urge anyone wanting to use their platform to do their homework before investing their money.
Do you think we have a kink for scammers like I do? Share your comments below.