The European Union (EU) Delegation in the country says there is need for soul-searching on why Malawi continues to register poor indicators in terms of social and economic development while other countries on the continent are progressing.
EU head of cooperation in Malawi Lluis Navarro said this in Lilongwe on Saturday during the opening of the National Planning and Training for National Initiative for Civic Education (Nice) Trust in Lilongwe.
He also called for the strengthening of civil society groups to empower the citizenry to hold duty bearers more accountable in terms of upholding the law and commitments to uplift the country.
But Navarro said it was puzzling to development partners that other countries, not just on the continent, including economies of Malawi’s neighbours, are booming while Malawi remains stagnant.
He said: “It is something we discuss among the development partners. There is a growing concern that things are really not working the way they should be. Why is Malawi not developing?
“If you look at the countries in the Sadc [Southern African Development Community] region; Namibia, Mozambique, Tanzania, Botswana, they are all moving ahead. And Malawi is not moving ahead. It is difficult to understand. Even countries that had [civil] war such as Rwanda are moving on. Why?
“If you look at the income per capita of the country, whether you look at the rankings of the World Bank, IMF [International Monetary Fund], the UN [United Nations], CIA [Central Intelligence Agency], Malawi is at the bottom.
“This country has enjoyed relative peace, has good land, a huge water body in the lake, why is it not developing? We need to find the answer to this question and correct whatever is wrong. This country can do better.”
Navarro challenged Nice to do more to change the mindset of Malawians to make leaders more accountable.
The diplomat’s remarks come months after Lilongwe disputed interpretation of a recent World Bank report which ranked Malawi as among the world’s poorest nations.
Nice Trust executive director Ollen Mwalubunju welcomed the call for expansion of the civic education institution’s mandate from traditional voter education to more governance role, saying Nice has the capacity to adjust.
He also said the body was already, through its strategic plan, seeking to strengthen its mandate while also expanding its funding base beyond EU and government.
The three-day training will, among others, also enable Nice to review its post-election activities at a time the country’s electoral stakeholders are mulling over plans to overhaul the electoral management system.