Malawi’s economy, currently in the doldrums, needs a radical approach to be resuscitated, capitalising on pockets of success which it can on build on.
In his response to Malawi President Joyce Banda address when opening the 44th session of Parliament in Lilongwe last week, National Salvation Front (Nasaf) president, James Nyondo, argued in a statement that government’s talk about economic recovery is a joke.
“Malawi’s economy since independence in 1964 has been on life support, with donors propping our weak economy. Malawi has consistently been among the poorest on the planet. Our economy has never created sufficient jobs and the government remains the biggest employer, that is a problem,” said Nyondo.
But in her address, President Joyce Banda noted that steadily the dark clouds of despair are lifting, giving way to the season of hope, adding that Malawi, which, for some time has bled from a thousand wounds, is progressively moving towards healing.
“The continuing process of social, economic and political emancipation, to which we are all subject, constitutes an evolving act of self –definition. At the dawn of our recovery, our practical actions must ensure that none can challenge us when as a nation together—we shall say: we have recovered,” said Banda.
She said millions of Malawians breathed a sigh of relief when her government was sworn- in on April 7 last year, and that they hoped for a better life, stressing that it is that hope for a better life that this government is founded on and driven by.
“As we continue on the path of economic recovery, my government wishes to underscore the importance of all of us staying the course with the policy reforms. The path we have taken is the right one and, the only one, for our country,” said Banda.
The Joyce Banda administration came into power at a time the country was facing a twin shortage of fuel and foreign exchange, reduction in industrial production capacity that led to downsizing and closure of some businesses and drugs in public hospitals were also in short supply.
The shortage of foreign exchange was largely because Malawi’s traditional donors who contribute about 30 percent to the national budget had suspended its aid due to poor economic and human rights governance record.
But now, the economy is also in a tailspin characterised by the ever rising cost of living, run away interest and inflation rates and prohibitive bank rates.
President Banda said for the immediate and short term, some of the reform measures in the Economic Recovery Plan (ERP) include the realignment of the exchange rate to regain macroeconomic balance and stability and the introduction the automatic fuel pricing mechanism in the hope of reducing risks to the budget while maintaining constant supply of fuel, and also realigned prices of utilities.
But Nyondo argued that if words without deeds could change people, then Malawi’s history would have been rosy.
“Our government should seek to change society by behaving exemplary. Lofty words are just words. Examples are the only methods worthwhile for our leaders to adhere to if they sincerely want to transform our nation,” he said.
To illustrate how poverty has struck Malawians, Nyondo said just five kilometres from the Capital City, there is frightening poverty which did not start last year, not even 10 years ago.
“Also 10 kilometres from our commercial capital, Blantyre, visible signs of our poverty are everywhere. Civil servants, regardless of rank, rural farmers and all other workers, it has been a struggle for survival,” he said.
Meanwhile, parliamentarians are debating the President’s address, in a session Minister of Finance Dr. Ken Lipenga is expected to present a mid-term budget review.