Ernest Mtingwi critique the proposal to abolish party manifestos

I read with a great deal of interest the article that was recently published by Nyasa Times online in which two leading economists( Mr Henry Kachaje and Mr Edward Chilima) proposed the abolition of political party manifestos. They claimed that if this proposal was implemented it would facilitate national development.dpp manifesto

I must confess that I was very astonished with this proposal. To make matters worse the two economists  whom I take for granted that they are well read in economics did not give any example of a country where this idea was implemented with desired positive results.

In my view such a proposal needs to be backed with empirical evidence if it is to be taken seriously.

My negative reaction to this proposal is based on:

  • Almost all highly developed countries such as Western Europe, United States of America, Japan etc have used and continue to use the system of political party manifestos. They prospered economically and continue to do so.
  • Political party manifestos are part of the free interplay and dissemination of ideas in a free and democratic society. The competition of ideas is one of the pillars of development as the
    process of debate( that is the free flow of ideas) tends to weed out bad ideas.

Let us, for example, take the Shire-Zambezi waterway. If it is to be debated the question is: As a multimodal transport system can it reduce transport costs and if so by how much? As ideas are
exchanged something good is likely to be achieved because some bad ideas would be discarded thereby enhancing its positive contribution to the country if at all it is implemented.

It is generally well known by transport economists that a multimodal transport system is more
likely to be expensive than a single mode transport system.

In view of the foregoing rather than abolishing the political party manifestos system as suggested by the two economists the debate should rather be on strengthening the system. One way of doing this is to ensure that the proposed National Planning Commission will be truly independent and professional in the discharge of its duties.

  • Ernest Mtingwi is former director general of Malawi Revenue Authority
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30 thoughts on “Ernest Mtingwi critique the proposal to abolish party manifestos”

  1. truevoter says:

    Manifestos are a vision of a particular party. The problem is kuti a Malawife sitifuna kuyembekezera. Longterm and permanent results need time. Koma ife miyezi six tayambo ulimbana ndi ulamiliro kuti siukutha kuyendetsa dziko. Kamuzu analidi ndi mfundo koma osaiwala. Mpatseni Pitala zaka zake khumi kuto muone kusintha. Mkomwe-mkomwe sitipemphelera dziko lathu or a Chakwela angatani. Lekani kunyada a Malawi.

  2. Mlauzi says:

    My suggestion is that there should be a continuation of govt policies irrespective of regime change. The MCP govt for instance had some good policies which were unfortunately abandoned with the advent of multiparty policies. The same is true of subsequent ruling parties, the UDF, DPP and PP regimes.

    Again we need adequate consultations and consensus on key issues affecting our nation. Issues like abolishing Junior Certificate for example

  3. Mnunkhaludzu says:

    The issue with party manifestos is that the country is focusing too much on short terms, which are politically inclined, over long term goals which could help the country to grow. Parties always focus on things that will help them remain in power and not necessarily for national development. Secondly, the shift of policies from one regime to another is derailing us to move forward. In short, we have been embarking on inferior projects where are leaders have interest for their political survival rather than developing the country economically. This chronic illness of forex is just an example of these poor policies coming from our government. We would have not be in such situations if we don’t abandon our priority focus. Look how we killed the foundations built by MCP regime by the UDF. We either killed or sold all key companies like MDC, ADMARC, Press Corporation etc without really evaluating their constraints and resolve them to perform to the expected standards. We have been introducing and wasting huge resources to inefficient and ineffective programs like Malata and Cement Program, Cow Program, Fertilizer Subsidy, MASAF and many more. They are programs that came from minimal rigorous conceptualization where we have spent more resources with little or no impact. The country drifted too much from economic development to social relief interventions and we are now suffocated by forex shortage and we cannot move anywhere in development. The National Strategic Plan need to be protected and should not be violated by party interests which are only to appease their political followers. We have tribal or regional biased projects as a result of these party manifestos.

  4. Cecilia Mapila says:

    “PARTY MANOFESTOs”….What a waste of people’s valuable time! From MCP to UDF, to DPP,PP and back to DPP, what have we achieved as a nation, apart from letting thieves, masquerading as leaders and their Lieutenants enrich themselves from Government coffers? They have stolen with impudence, making sure the coffers are empty before the end of each term. Not a single leader has been held responsible for not delivering on their propagandist false empty promises aka MANIFESTOS.
    There is a point in Economist Kachaje’s view, we need a national development agenda, but overseen by an independent body with legal or constitutional mandate to enforce it and hold responsible those in charge if they don’t achieve. Otherwise, as Malawians, we should forget about our future in relation to our neighbours, and the goal world. We are a pathetic nation guided by greed, especially those in power.
    In a nutshell, Mr Ntingwi’s argument makes little sense.

  5. Malawi @ my heart says:

    Political manifesto has failed us as a country hence need for another alternative. Malawi will be best example where such strategy will work. We gat to be original sometimes

  6. Edward says:

    I do not agree that Party manifestos is the problem. The problem is with the leaders and the citizens. The leaders take it upon themselves that it’s them that will develop the Country and the citizens agree and watch to see if the promises will be carried out. It has to be both taking responsibility for the results good or bad.

    When you look at what Governments have been doing since we became a multiparty state, you are tempted to think Governments design and implement projects that will bring them back to power regardless of future implications. Look at the Reserve Bank building in Mzuzu, Stadiums in Lilongwe, Hotels at City Centrre and Presidential Villas in Lilongwe. Beutiful structures by all Standards. Ask a question, what is the economic benefit to the Nation. Am not an economist but I think if the money we have spent on these structures was used to develop tourism , it would be enough to do Monkey bay in the South, Senga bay in the centre and Usiska in the North for Tourist to give us the forex we desperately need. I ask a question where are our Economist? Do they have an imput in what Governments are doing or it’s party chairmen with no Crüe of what development is that make costly decisions.

    It’s luck of contribution from citizens through rigorous debates that is killing the Nation. When we choose Leaders, they immediately become Christ that all what they say cannot be debated upon but rather let them go us opposed. Where is space for our contribution. We are so good in critising but we shy away to claim our right to speak what we want our Governments to do. How many of us sit down with our MPs to give then ideas of what we want.. The whole Country is sick . Parliament number one for KAmuzu Banda which was a convetion gave Banda an idea of what the people were expecting. Banda did not allow a Minister or an Mp to talk the first two to three weeks. He gave the chance to Chiefs, Branch And ARea Chaimen who were all Villagers to speak. He got peoples expectations from the grass roots and then took it to his Cabinet and polished the ideas to what you see now. Their is no forum for the Villager. It’s Government of the Elite and the Elite are ignorant of real life in the Country.

  7. Victor says:

    The gist of the argument is that there is need for sustainable development efforts which should be safeguarded through an all inclusive national development agenda rather than a political party-based framework which has had little impact on our development as a country.No party can openly admit failure of its own policies because it would be negatively campaigning against itself.Hence people end up suffering for such arrogance which is not inevitable. Kachaje should be commended for suggesting a creative approach to address the usual political problems associated with national development planning efforts.

  8. angoni apaphata says:

    Are you people malawians? Or do you even follow what happens in Malawi? Kapena munaphunzira kwambiri to the point where you can’t see beyond your books? What national agenda are you talking about? MDGS is it not the most basic? What kind of school did you do. Start with basic. MDGS. Si imene ikutikanikayi? A national agenda need not be a white elephant.

  9. What? says:

    Lack of party manifestos will be like a man wanting to win a lady without mfundo.

  10. MMalawi says:

    I think Mr Mtingwi has a point. Party manifestos shouldn’t be abolished. The National Agenda (NA) should be inscribed in our constitution and the political parties should set out in their party manifestos how they are going to achieve it (NA). This will allow for better debate on manifestos. I also believe that the Access to Information Bill and how political parties are funded plays a vital role on how development is spread Malawi.

  11. jk says:

    Political party based development agenda hasnt worked for Malawi. This is emperical evidence that Malawi needs different medicine to get cured of poverty, much as the same worked for USA and other countries. I guess our situation needs brains that can explore outside the usual perspective of development agenda than Mtingwi. Political parties and interests in Malawi are not focused on the nation but individuals, self pride, and narrowed to 5 years. On top of national manifesto, we need a law that criminalizes failure to follow such by the government in power.

  12. Yona says:

    Mr Mtingwi. The issue is that we don’t have a national agenda as Malawians. Our elections are mostly based on mere rhetoric with no proper interpretation of policy issues to the electorate. You know very well that developing countries have very good literacy levels and people can critique promises posed by party candidates at all levels. In Malawi only 35% can read and write of which less than 5% are well enlightened to understand policy matters.

    Mr Mtingwi you should understand that in Malawi we need to defined our goals properly rather changing our direction now and then. Of course that’s unavoidable fot other pertinent issues. We need to come up with a national agenda for example: where do we want to be in 20yrs time? All we need to do is define our priorities such as; 2. Health; 3. Economic growth; 4. Environment and so on…this is just an example Mr. Mtingwi but you know that the actual priority would be developed in consultation with the people. Political parties would then be expected to come up with actions or strategies of addressing such issues. As we are now, parties just come up with the so called manifestos based on speculations.. Not sure of what people really want. But in fact campaigns should be based on which candidate is able to articulate issues for a local man…that’s what we are saying….

  13. Hens Master says:

    Party manifestos are good and will be there for a very long time. Parties tell voters what they will do once elected into office. Voters can compare programs captured in manifestos and decide which ones appeal more to them than others.

    Challenge is that parties cheat in their manifestos. Once voted into office they stop using manifestos. Check Dpp vs feesbhike

  14. MB says:

    @Ernest Mtingwi what Kachage et al is saying to economics novices such as yourself is politics won’t develop our economy! You equally do not provide empirical evidence yourself! This gist of the matter is that a political manifesto can not develop the country- only a development plan can! And a Marshall plan used in Europe after WW2 is a fine example!

  15. omex says:

    Point of correction! The name Mr Masangwi in my comment was supposed to be Mr. Mtingwi

  16. omex says:

    We really need contributions like this. This is what we as Malawians have to be debating, developmental. Hot debate on this topic is needed. Each of you guys has a point but we need to adopt the best. One point I can argue with Mr masangwi is comparison as to where in the world did the idea of abolishing party manifestos taken onboard and development was noticed. My view is that the idea can start here un malawi. The point should be that the continued developmental programs must be only those that are beneficial to the nation not few individuals.

  17. kachikho says:

    Well spoken Mr Ntingwi , by the way, if there are honest hard working patriotic people in Malawi Ernst Ntingwi is one of them. The guy is a workaholic who always got the job done

  18. NYAKA 1 says:

    Mbava uyu kufuna kutidoja, akutuma abwana akowo eti

  19. Attention Seeker says:

    Much Ado about nothing. Nyasa why are you wasting our time with meaningless articles like these which essentially says nothing substantial?

  20. becks says:

    It is fallacious for Mtingwi to require empirical evidence of a country where the proposal has been successful. Such thinking marks nothing but lacking originality. You don’t have to copy everything as it may. Mtingwi must be asking the proponents how this might work and what mechanism should be put in place.

  21. Meynard says:

    Mr Ernest Mtingwi, I think you are wrong. We have tried this party Manifesto, even if they fail to achieve their manifestos, they walk away freely. Another party comes, leaves everything the other party was doing and starts new things altogether. This is what is happening in Malawi.

    While in other countries, their is continuity of those activities. This is why in that country, the party manifestos are working because their is continuity as opposed to this country.

    This is where Kachaje and his friend have thought a abolishing these manifestos and rather come up with a 20-30 year plan which parties shall abide by.
    Which is good for continuity of activities.

  22. Davide says:

    sometimes malawi can try its own experience and other countries learn from it.

  23. Gerald mapanga Phiri says:

    The nerve centre of Malawi underdevelopment is political party manifestoes. Long term national development plan which will be followed all parties to implement will stop cunning politicians taking advantage of Malawians. They shift development on their will for appeasing their voters, project cost with be well known and reduce corruption. We should remember that to write party manifestoes and preaching about it is easy but to sponsor and implement is another journey,since is party manifestoes they can stop or do whatever they want. Now its good to know how they will sponsor and implement existing development plan before we vote them. It’ll be must do job. I support mr chilima and mr kachanje on this. But is not easy.

  24. alfred says:

    Mr ernest while you might be correct in ur argument, it is still important to note that what the two youthful economists suggested is something which can accelerate the real development of this country. Our country has not necessarily been at a complete stand still…there has been some remote flashes of development like parliament building for the first dpp govt and ntaja road and renaming of few infrastructures by bakili. Not sure what to point at for ama, perhaps she needed 10 years too. The point is mere one off isolated flashes of development are not enough. We need to have a clear direction of the nature and timing of development we need to achieve as a nation and ruling parties should be appraised on their ability to attain them. A party in govt shud not merely give promises of a moon coming in some distant future. Govt is supposed to be serious business, not a mere pretence that something good is being done for the people when no result is showing. We are tired of being the only country in the region which still remains the most miserable and the poorest. It is time we started doing things unusual. Our old ways are a total failure and a disaster for us.

  25. xxxxx says:

    Shallow but sensible contribution from Mtingwi. Munasowatu Baba.

  26. nzelu says:

    Head pn Ntigwi. I agree with you.

  27. munthuson says:

    common nosense by mr mtingwi.

  28. Naligonje says:

    With due respect,it seems Mr Mtingwi has not read the arguments advanced by the two economists,,,the two economists are nt saying there must not be debate,,,what they are saying is that the debate should centre on the national development goals and nt on party manifestos,,,quoting the issue of zambedzi water way project which Mr Mtingwi has given as an example,,the economists are saying the politicians should debate on how when they get into power are they going to make that project a reality etc,,,the economists are saying party manifesto has proved a failure to malawi,,,if it is working in developed countries like USA or UK that’s another issues but in Malwi, what they are saying is that it has failed,,,And the reasons are clear;each party when it gets into government it wants to implement its manifesto and all the projects that were being implemented by the outgoing party are stopped,,,and this is true,,,if anyone has been Malawi should know this better,,so wat the economists are saying is that to ensure continuity of development, party manifesto should nt be there,,,bt that there must be a National Development Plan spanning for a period of may be 20-30 years,,,and political parties should debate on how they are going to implement these,,,and those who will convince malawians should be voted into office,,,with this I find the critique by Mr Mtingwi lacking congency and substance,,,it is nt a critique to say the least

  29. h.molande says:

    The national planning commission will list priority required developments and the party manifestos could say how they would achieve other words the manifestoes should respond to the planned needs of the country. H. Molande

  30. haward says:

    Palibe chogwira mtima chomwe mwayankhula apa mr Mtingwi, inuyo mukuwona kuti party manifesto yatithandiza chani mu zaka zonsezi? Osamangotsutsa for the sake of kutsutsa mwamva?

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