Malawians should not expect many new things during President Peter Mutharika’s second-term as his administration will mostly focus on consolidating the gains from his last five years.
In his one-and-a-half hour State of the Nation Address (Sona) when he opened the 1st Meeting of the 48th Session of Parliament on Friday, Mutharika sounded upbeat about steering the country to prosperity.
Despite being made to wait for almost half an hour and booed at by Malawi Congress Party (MCP) lawmakers, who marched out in protest against his re-election as President, Mutharika articulated his vision for the country.
He painted a rosy picture of the macro-economic indicators, saying the economy will this year grow by five percent.
Mutharika, who titled his address ‘Consolidating Our Gains for Rapid Transformation’ also touted his DPP-led administration for bringing down interest rates and making bank loans affordable for those doing businesses.
According to the President, during the last five years, the DPP administration was able to fix a broken economy and created jobs for Malawians.
While agreeing with Mutharika on the improved macroeconomic environment, Catholic University of Malawi economics lecturer Gilbert Kachamba observed that more needs to be done on job creation.
In a telephone interview on Friday, Kachamba said there is need to have deliberate policies for macroeconomic stability to trickle down to ordinary Malawians.
Said Kachamba: “We cannot count government internship as employment, more people need to be employed in key sectors such as education and health.”
Government adopted the first-ever Graduate Youth Internship Programme and deployed over 4 000 graduate interns to various public institutions for them to gain work experience.
Other positives in the Sona included the three-year $112.3 million worth Extended Credit Facility (ECF) under the Macroeconomic Programme with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which Mutharika said was on course.
He also touted reforms in taxes and other revenue collection measures which pushed domestic revenue collection to surpass budgeted levels during the past five years.
Commenting on the on-going post-election violence perpetrated by opposition parties, Mutharika denounced what he described as “politics of terror, brutalisation and victimisation of the people”.
Emphasising the importance of peace and unity in the country, he made some serious assertions about unnamed political leaders he said were planning to distabilise the country.
Said Mutharika: “I know two political leaders who discussed the possibility of exploding Kamuzu Stadium on the day of my swearing-in ceremony. They must know that I know.
“These two political leaders have tried to recruit mercenary militias from Al-Shabaab and the Congo war zone to come and create anarchy in this country. Is this the leadership we want?”
Mutharika also reiterated his on corruption, theft of drugs and public funds.stand on zero-tolerance
He explained that government would harmonise all information management systems across the public service so that systems talk to each other. The Integrated Financial Management and Information System (Ifmis) must be linked to Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) and the Procurement Authority while systems at Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) are linked to the Human Resource Management System.
The President promised that his government will also continue the Farm Input Subsidy Programme (Fisp) as per the DPP’s manifesto, build irrigation schemes and 250 secondary schools across the country.
Among others, Mutharika boasted of ending power blackouts, making, the country food-secure and establishing the National Planning Commission (NPC)—which will ensure that national strategies continue beyond an outgoing government. He said the office will be fully operational this financial year.
Outlining his plans for the mining sector, Mutharika promised that his government will put in place a robust policy and legal framework to guide investments in the sector.
Said Mutharika: “Moving forward, we will establish a mining investment vehicle. This institution will provide stewardship in promoting sustainable mineral development and mining investment. The vehicle will also assist in curbing illegal mining in the country.”
He added that government will also ensure that this country has its own laboratories to test minerals.
Reacting to Mutharika’s speech, European Ambassador to Malawi Sandra Paesen singled out peace and development as issues that are key to propel the country forward.
She explained that the country now needs to put its trust and confidence in institutions such as Parliament and the legal system.
“I don’t think it’s up to a single party to lead the country. … If we really want to develop the country, everyone has to come on board,” said Paesen.
Among others, Mutharika boasted of ending power blackouts, making the country food secure and establishing the National Planning Commission (NPC), which will ensure that national strategies continue beyond outgoing government. The commission will be operational this financial year.