President Lazarus Chakwera has asked Malawians to support his administration’s efforts to rebuild the country and adopt a focused collective action approach in 2021.
The President, who emphasised that nation building is a national activity, made the appeal last night in a televised New Year address monitored on taxpayer-funded Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC).
He said: “I say that our response to national problems in 2021 must be characterised by action, not finger pointing and blame game. I know that there are those in our midst whose entire profession and income depends on their persistence in pointing fingers and playing the blame game.
“But the task of nation building needs men and women of decisive action, not nay-sayers.”
Chakwera said adopting a nation-building approach is necessary because the problems the country faces, including food security, corruption, healthcare, education, agriculture, unemployment or Covid-19, affect everyone.
He said even in the middle of multiple crises, the country can rise to the occasion and beat the odds if people choose to take collective action.
Added the President: “The country needs practitioners and not theorists… So as 2020 leaves the stage and 2021 enters, I want to call on all of you to choose the path of always responding to problems around us with focused collective action. I look forward to sharing my administration’s top priorities in the next few weeks.”
Chakwera further highlighted some accomplishments his administration has made in the 185 days it has been in office.
The achievements include removing incompetent and corrupt officials from public service, managing the prevention and treatment of Covid-19 by involving multiple stakeholders, and increased funding to Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB).
Others were launching the Affordable Inputs Programme which has so far reached 75 percent of farmers, removing income tax for people earning less than K100 000 a month, bringing inflation down from 11.5 percent to 7.3 percent and operationalising the Access to Information (ATI) Act.
The President also pointed out the raising of the minimum wage from K35 000 to K50 000; restructuring of the National Economic Empowerment Fund, formerly Malawi Enterprise Development Fund and an increase in the fund’s allocation from K40 billion to K75 billion; commencement of construction of 10 000 houses for security agencies and completion of the first phase of the Public Sector Reforms across the civil service.
Chakwera reiterated that fixing the country will be a painful process which cannot be done without a significant measure of fortitude and sacrifice.
He said: “It cannot be done if our concern is getting what we each think we deserve for what we each did to make Chakwera and [Saulos] Chilima as President and Vice-President.
“It cannot be done if we keep thinking a change in the presidency signals an invitation for a new set of rabble to have their turn to eat and plunder. Fixing this country requires focused collective action motivated by a love of our country, not personal reward.”
The President also hailed the five Constitutional Court judges for their role in the presidential election nullification case.
In October last year, the five High Court judges who presided over the landmark May 21 2019 presidential election nullification petition case, were conferred a prestigious international award by London-based think tank Chatham House for upholding judicial independence. The judges were Ivy Kamanga, Dingiswayo Madise, Healey Potani, Redson Kapindu and Michael Tembo.
He ended his address by emphasising that with focused collective action, executing the 2030 agenda and moving towards agenda 2063 with discipline, Malawi will be the country of the decade.
A special analysis The Nation did in October 2020 to highlight the Tonse Alliance’s 100 days in power, gave a mixed picture of its performance.
While United Democratic Front secretary general Kandi Padambo praised Chakwera for appearing in Parliament and displaying decisiveness in dealing with issues of fraud, corruption and abuse of office, governance expert Henry Chingaipe said the President has been slow on action.
He, however, said Chakwera “set the policy direction”.
Responding to questions on Chakwera’s performance in promoting national unity and reconciliation, Chancellor College political analyst Ernest Thindwa lauded the President for laying the foundation for resolving regional and political divisions.
Chakwera partnered Chilima, who is president of UTM Party, and seven other political parties to form a nine-party Tonse Alliance in the June 23 court-sanctioned presidential election that ousted the Democratic Progressive Party from power.