President Joyce Banda has defended the establishment of the High Level Development Council, observing that currently there is a gap between development plans and implementation, a problem the council would help to solve.
The President made the remarks yesterday when she held a meeting with the council chaired by Professor Matthews Chikaonda at Sanjika Palace in Blantyre.
The council, formed on January 9 2014, is a multi-sectoral body to deliberate and advise on national social and economic development.
“Institutional development plans have lacked institutional ownership to remind government to remain focused on the long-term perspectives as planned even though situations may be difficulty.
“Our national development agenda needs to be re-organised in order to strike a strategic balance that will harness our development aspirations. We must change the way we do business. There is need to define the architecture of our development agenda as a driver of socio economic transformation for our country,” she said.
The President told the 23-member council that there is need for a new configuration in driving Malawi’s transformation in the next 50 years.
Chikaonda described the council as independent and non-partisan, and asked for support from all Malawians to fulfil its mandate which includes nine terms of reference but are being revised.
He acknowledged the challenge before the council but said failure is not an option.
“It is a daunting task. As a council, we do have a big challenge. The strategic guidance is to improve livelihoods to make a difference to people’s lives. The council will have to come up with a master development plan for Malawi. This council will advise government of the day and future governments,” he said.
The council meets on January 27 to look at the country’s development plans and will call for The All Inclusive National Conference in early March. But the council will intensify its work after general elections.
“One way of depoliticising the council is that most of the work should start after the general elections,” he said.
Social commentator Chris Chisoni of the Catholic Commission Justice and Peace (CCJP) welcomed the formation of the council, saying the desire is to depoliticise development as outlined by the Public Affairs Committee all-inclusiveness meeting in 2012.
But he wondered why the committee has members before Parliament approves it.
“How do you elect people to a body that has not been approved by Parliament? And what was the criteria for choosing the members? It is like the President has taken heed of choosing not to politicise development, but in a hastily manner,” said Chisoni.