The Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI) has predicted a tough future for businesses as the problems rocking the country are bound to continue.
MCCCI chief executive officer Chancellor Kaferapanjira blamed the continued problems the country is facing on leadership.
“Generally, 2011 has been tough for businesses as the economy was rocked by a number of challenges ranging from forex shortages to acute fuel crisis. Utilities also let us down during the year.
“The biggest problem is that our leaders do not want to listen. We have been meeting policy makers on a number of occasions and we have proposed a number of reforms which if implemented can improve the situation, but we have yielded little to no positive results,” said Kaferapanjira.
He said instead of addressing real problems at hand, the countryÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s leadership has resorted to blaming the current situation on other things.
After taking almost all the blame for the economic mess Malawians have experienced in 2011, President Bingu wa Mutharika in his Christmas and New Year message blamed the devil for the economic quandary.
“The devil brought problems [such as] jealous, hatred, lies and envy that we have never experienced in this country and the whole world, but God told him that this is not your time so the devil has failed, God has triumphed,” said Mutharika.
Three days later, Mutharika added opposition Malawi Congress Party and United Democratic Front to the list of contributors to the current fuel crisis.
Said Mutharika: “The challenge of fuel did not just come today. For 31 years, MCP did nothing to ensure that we have enough reserves in case a need arises. The same with UDF. These two regimes sat phwiiii [idle] and you claim Bingu has failed? That is not fair.”
The President said Malawi, as a landlocked country, should have built enough reserves to stock fuel, adding that criticism from opposition mainly borders more on jealousy than offering alternatives.
“I have planned to build two tanks each in the cities of Blantyre, Lilongwe and Mzuzu that can stock fuel for six months. These challenges will go and we will improve. You now say my administration is finished, the MCP and UDF did not have any vision that is why they finished,” said Mutharika.
But Kaferapanjira said instead of pushing blames on everyone, the countryÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s leadership should have just concentrated on addressing the problems as advised by the technocrats.
Malawians, both individuals and businesses, endured a very tough 2011 due to both manmade as well as other factors beyond the countryÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s control.
Among the problems are the chasing away of former British ambassador to Malawi, Fergus Cochrane-Dyet after a cable he authored pointed out some shortfalls of the countryÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s leadership, was leaked. This resulted in Britain withholding its aid to Malawi.
Other problems in the year included the continued delays in weakening the overvalued kwacha which was one of the key agreed benchmarks in the Extended Credit Facility (ECF) programme.
Malawi allowed the ECF to go off-track, a development which resulted in more development partners withholding their aid to Malawi since the fund-supported programme also acts as the aid traffic light for donors.
The July 20 demonstrations which left 20 Malawians dead and many others injured, could be seen as another man made error as it resulted in the US-Government withholding its $350 million (about K54 billion) compact grant to Malawi.
On the other hand there were factors beyond the countryÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s control which included the astronomic surge in international oil prices which now hover around $100 per barrel.
Then, tobacco started misbehaving on the auction floors, attracting prices as low as $0.50 (K84) per kg, with rejection rates hitting
a record high of 90 percent.