Professor Abiti Dr Joyce Befu and we, the members of her indefatigable delegation, congratulate the constitutional President and Vice-President of this estate we all proudly call Malawi on their successful first 100 days of tenure. We also congratulate the official political opposition led by the mighty Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
In their 100th day celebratory speeches both President Chakwera and Vice-President Saulos Chilima listed their achievements and successes in the first 100 days of their five year mandate.
Among the highlights mentioned was the arrest of Malawians that had commandeered the Malawi economy and turned it into their personal source of wealth. Also, the Tonse Alliance government successfully continued with reforms of the civil service and state corporations, also known locally as parastals. The government has also rebranded and streamlined the Malawi Enterprise Development Fund (Medef) limited to National Economic Empowerment Fund (Neef) limited. The Farm Input Subsidy Programme (Fisp) has now become Affordable Inputs Programme (AIP).
Perhaps the most outstanding achievement is in the area of power and water supply. In urban centres, power outages and dry taps are slowly and maybe truly becoming things of the past.
We have argued over the years that the power outages and water stoppages had nothing to with availability of water in Malawi. Rather, incompetence and lack of political push tolerated and normalised outages and dry taps. We argued that between 2012 and 2014 Joyce Banda’s government successfully, to a large extent, provided Malawians, the owners of the estate called Malawi, with power and water. But soon after the DPP came back to power, the power outages and water shortages returned.
So, we concluded that who, and not what, was the problem. Our hypothesis seems to have been confirmed by the Tonse Alliance performance that the DPP, and not water, was the problem.
So far so good Messrs President and Vice-President. However, listen carefully to the DPP and minor opposition parties’, such as the UDF’s, observations.
The DPP has rightly pointed out that rebranding and renaming of state programmes and institutions should not be called successes. We agree and add that the taste of the rebranding and streaming is inthe service delivery. What Malawians are looking for are equitable services that these rebranded programmes offer. The 4.5 million farm families or households targeted by the AIP should be from all regions, religions, districts, social statuses and areas. Unless messed up by political favouratism and corruption, the AIP is likely to be a successful programme that will make Chakwera-Chilima match Kamuzu and Bingu– Joyce Banda in terms of agricultural output in Malawi.
The Neef loans should be available to all Malawians irrespective region, religion, district, social status and area. The application procedures and conditions should be eased.
Studies show that in microcredit, social collateral is the best guarantor of replayment. Members of the group set conditions and remind each to pay back the loan because failure by one member to repay makes the entire group suffer. From Bangladesh to Brazil, from South Africa to Kenya and Ethiopia, group or social collateral has made microcredit successful.
We find the age ceiling and gender bias in the conditions for accessing Neef anti-developmental, anti-empowerment, anti-Tonse, and anti-section 20 of Malawi’s constitution. Neef loans should benefit all, prioritizing those in groups.
Thanks to constant reminders by the DPP, in the next 100 days, we expect the Chakwera-Chilima duo to start implementing the very promises that made us vote massively for the Tonse Alliance. We were promised a duty-free week once a year, reduced passport applications fees. We thus find the upward revision of passport charges a betrayal and an affront to our expectations.
We were promised total removal of water and electricity connections charges. We are waiting patiently but you know us Malawians, soon and very soon we will… march.