Nine out of every 10 Malawians or 88 percent believe the country is headed in the wrong direction in terms of handling of major policy issues such as consumer price stability and job creation, an Afrobarometer survey has established.
In the Mid-Term Review Survey of the performance of President Peter Mutharika and his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) released today, Malawians also say government is not doing enough to narrow the gap between the rich and the poor.
In its key findings, Afrobarometer—a pan-African non-partisan research network that conducts public attitude surveys on democracy, governance, economic conditions and related issues in Africa—said: “Almost nine in 10 Malawians [88 percent] say the country is going in the wrong direction. This view is shared by large majorities in both urban and rural areas as well as across all major political parties.”
The survey also found that “more than half of Malawians” think the government is performing “fairly badly” or “very badly” on 13 of the 16 policy issues the survey asked about.
However, according to the findings, slim majorities see government as doing well in promoting rights and opportunities for women and maintaining roads and bridges.
Reads a summary of the findings: “A majority of respondents rate government performance positively on promoting women’s rights and opportunities [57 percent] and maintaining roads and bridges [51 percent]. The lowest scores are on keeping prices stable [9 percent fairly/very well], narrowing gaps between rich and poor [13 percent], and providing reliable electricity [13 percent].”
In the survey, the Afrobarometer team, led by the Centre for Social Research at Chancellor College, a constituent college of the University of Malawi (Unima), interviewed 1 200 adult Malawians in both urban and rural settings belonging to the four major political parties represented in Parliament, namely DPP, Malawi Congress Party (MCP), People’s Party (PP) and United Democratoc Front (UDF) in December last year and January this year.
On the overall direction of the country according to political party affiliation, the survey shows that 92 percent of MCP followers, 89 percent of PP supporters, 82 percent of UDF sympathisers and 82 percent of DPP supporters see the country going in the wrong direction.
Other policy issues where government has been rated as performing negatively include managing the economy, creating jobs, ensuring everyone has enough to eat, fighting corruption, improving living standards of the poor, addressing needs of the youth and reducing crime.
Commenting on the findings in a telephone interview last evening, Minister of Information and Communications Technology Nicholas Dausi expressed disappointment with the results stating that government is trying its best to steer the country in the right direction.
He said: “I thought we were going to get higher scores in most of the policy issues where we have gotten lowest scores. For instance, if you look at the gap between the poor and the rich, it is narrowing at the moment, the needs of the youth are being addressed and we are ensuring that Malawians have enough to eat.
“Government has put in place incentives to make sure that the gap between the rich and the poor is closed and that youths are trained in technical and vocational skills to enable them fend for themselves and their families.”
The Afrobarometer survey has come hot on the heels of several other negative assessments of government performance on the governance front.
In April, the Public Affairs Committee, a quasi-religious body and governance watchdog, received a backlash from authorities and some clergy after rating poorly the Mutharika administration.
In its assessment, PAC said the country was experiencing mediocrity as poverty levels have been deeply entrenched among ordinary citizens. n