It is three years since Malawians ushered into power President Peter Mutharika and his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), but with two years to wrap up the five-year term, an assessment shows that most campaign promises have crashed.
In the run-up to the May 20 2014 Tripartite Elections, Mutharika and the DPP promised Malawians several things in their manifesto ‘Towards a People-centred Government’ launched in April 2014.
However, three years down the road, some social and political analysts feel the promises are yet to be fulfilled.
To date, DPP and Mutharika have managed to implement some of their campaign promises, but several pledges touching on thorny issues are yet to be put into action.
Among the outstanding promises yet to be fulfilled are a reduction of concentration of the President’s power, appointment and removal of heads of public institutions through a special public appointments committee and zero-tolerance to corruption, bribery, fraud and theft.
Mutharika is on record as having publicly refused to assent to any Bill that aims at trimming his powers.
Political, social and economic analysts The Nation interviewed believe the unfulfilled promises, mostly bordering on governance, could cost Mutharika and his party popularity ahead of the 2019 Tripartite Elections as there is little time left to effectively implement them other than focusing on campaign.
Mzuzu-based political analyst Emily Mkamanga said the performance of Mutharika during his three years has not been inspiring. She said she could rate his performance 3.5 out of 10.
Said Mkamanga: “The reason is that most of the important pledges they made in 2014 have not been delivered. And those that have perhaps been fulfilled, like the roads, most of them are very substandard that within few months they have already been damaged.”
She said it was unlikely the DPP administration could deliver and make significant change in the coming two years as the party’s focus will be on campaigning to retain government.
But social and political commentator Charles Kajoloweka, also from Mzuzu, while observing some notable achievements such as the lean Cabinet, enactment of the Access to Information (ATI) law and public service reforms, said there are also several deficits.
He said: “Leadership indecisiveness to curb corruption remains worrisome. The President has tolerated corruption that he has even come to the defence of some culprits, particularly political bedfellows.
“There has been a spate of corruption scandals at Mera [Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority], Escom [Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi], Admarc [Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation], Teveta [Technical, Entrepreneurial and Vocational Education Training Authority] and Roads Authority, among others, which mostly have their roots to political machinations of the ruling party and its sympathisers.”
However, economics professor Ben Kaluwa of the University of Malawi’s Chancellor College in Zomba said it was worth noting that after performing badly during the first months, government was becoming serious with critical issues.
He said: “Lately, we have witnessed a turnaround in the economy as well as on the government front. Politically and economically, there have been positive developments and that augurs well as it is sending positive signals to the international world.”
But Kaluwa said unless the momentum that has lately been built is not maintained, Mutharika and the DPP may be on the right path ahead of the 2019 elections.
While acknowledging that they could not deliver everything, DPP spokesperson Francis Kasaila said the party “is very satisfied with the significant progress it has made in three years”.
In an interview yesterday, he said: “To us, despite whatever is being said, in as far as we are concerned, we have done the best for the people of Malawi.
“For the rest of the promises, we believe by the end of our term in 2019, we shall have implemented everything that we promised Malawians.”
He cited the community colleges and Decent and Affordable Housing Subsidy, popularly known as Malata and Cement Subsidy, as some of the outstanding cases of fulfilled DPP promises.
In its manifesto, the DPP also promised to construct a technical college in each of the 28 districts, but so far only12 have been built.
The DPP also promised to complete construction of university campuses in Karonga, Mzimba, Nkhotakota, Mangochi and Nsanje districts which are all yet to start off. The Mzimba university, named Mombera University, only had a foundation stone laid at the proposed site two years ago.
But Kasaila defended the slow pace to complete launching of the community colleges, arguing the works were wholly funded by government resources.