United nations Resident Representative Mia Seppo has branded Malawi’s development trajectory as not only vicious, but also unsustainable, saying the country needs substantive change that will lift people out of the jaws of poverty.
Seppo was speaking on Wednesday during the opening of the two-day Public Affairs Committee (PAC) 5th All Inclusive Stakeholder Conference in Blantyre.
Said Seppo: ” So what is the picture we are worried about? With more erratic weather patterns, the rate of deforestation, the pressure on service delivery from a rapidly growing population, a decade of year after year of short term humanitarian responses;
“High stunting rates, the pressure to create jobs in an undiversified economy, and the high levels of violence against women, girls and boys, the development trajectory of Malawi is not sustainable. It is a trajectory of a vicious cycle.”
She wondered why Malawi, a stable nation, remains among the group of low human development countries that are mostly in conflict or coming out of conflict. The only change Malawi has experienced, according to Seppo, is her population.
“I believe the lion that needs to be tamed is mistrust. The voices calling for change in Malawi see the politicization of everything eating away much needed patriotism and affecting the quality of the public discourse.
“With the challenges the country faces, the best brains and ideas of all Malawians need to contribute to government decisions and policies, all Malawians need to feel part of the map to the future.”
On youth development, the UNDP boss stressed that the younger generation needs to drive Malawi’s change, but said that role is compromised by many factors such as unemployment.
“What kind of change will it be if the majority of youth are uneducated, unemployed and frustrated from not being heard? Malawi needs to unleash the full leadership and entrepreneurship potential of its youth to boost and fast-track job creation and lay the foundation for sustainable development,” wondered Seppo.
While admitting that there are no easy or quick solutions to turn around Malawi’s situation which has evolved over several decades, Seppo said Malawi needs collective and compassionate leadership across all sectors to deal with the question of poverty.
Meanwhile, Seppo said the PAC Conference provides space, where all Malawians, irrespective of party, religious or ethnic affiliation can meet and air out their views.
Making a presentation titled Economic Situation in Malawi, Economists Association of Malawi president, Henry Kachaje said overpopulation is a growing burden on government as. he said population was growing at a rate faster than that of the economy.
“We need to redefine and reposition our country, balance the budget by reducing expenditure and increasing the revenue base. We also need to invest on production, and not on consumption,” he urged.
Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Samuel Tembenu said the country needs “to stop politicising everything to move forward.”