Malawi President Joyce Banda on Wednesday outlined her agenda for the nation beyond 2014, 50 years after independence, saying she wants implement a “transformative agenda” to fast track development in the country.
Banda used Chilembwe Day to extol the virtues of the man who was Malawi’s early freedom fighter and outline her vision for the nation.
“My Government’s agenda is focused on political, socio-cultural and economic transformation of our country,” said Banda at Providence Industrial Mission Headquarters in Mbombwe to commemorate Chilembwe Day in Chiradzulu during the commemoration of Malawi’s martyr John Chilembwe who and other people like John Grey Kufa were first to fight for freedom.
Rev. John Chilembwe, President Banda said, believed in both the spiritual and social political development of his people.
“Whenever I reflect on this hero of our soil, I feel greatly inspired that even during the darkest moment of our society; we had people who fought for what would have been the ideal for the people of Malawi, then Nyasaland,” Banda said in remarks aired on national broadcaster MBC.
Speaking to a gathering which also attracted leaders of opposition parties such as Lazarus Chakwera of the Malawi Congress Party (MCP), Mark Katsonga of People’s Progressive Movement (PPM) and Friday Jumbe of New Labour Party, among others., the President noted that the issues that challenged Chilembwe still haunt Malawi today.
“In the two years I have been State President, I have reflected on these issues. I have asked myself a number of questions: why is it that after 50 years, we are poorer today than as at Independence. Why is it that those countries which were at war and poorer than us are now doing better than us? Why is it that those countries that used to buy groceries and other commodities from us, are now far much better developed than us? Why is it that those countries that learn and borrow from our development plans, are now more successful than us? Where has Malawi missed the plot?” said Banda.
The Malawi leader said the questions have influenced her policy perspective.
“I have recognized that time has now come for Malawians to do things differently,” she said.
Banda said leading Malawi when the nation is clocking 50 years of independence, her administration will implement a transformative agenda to fast track the development of our country.
“My Government’s agenda is focused on political, socio-cultural and economic transformation of our country,” she said.
“We must reject that after 90 years of Rev. John Chilembwe’s uprising and 50 years of independence, our villages should remain in the condition that we see them today. We must reject as a nation that after 50 years of independence, our agricultural system is still rudimentary. We must reject that after 50 years of independence, we can continue sending about 2,000 students to University per year against a population of 15 million now from 4 million at independence,” said Banda.
“Yes, we must reject that after 50 years of independence, most of our land is bare and eroded. We must reject that after 50 years of independence, poverty, unemployment, homelessness and hunger, and underdevelopment are still prevalent in our country,” the Malawi President said.
Banda pointed out that the struggle Chilembwe led was not only against racial inequality, but also a struggle against oppression against humanity; a struggle for democracy and human dignity.
“It was the struggle for the emancipation of the youth. It was a struggle that our children can be safe and go to school. It was a struggle for the empowerment of women in politics, in commerce and in public and private high offices. It was a struggle to overcome poverty. It was a struggle for Malawi’s freedom,” she said.
She said 2014 being what she described as a “year of possibilities”, Malawi can attain economic freedom and social freedom.
“Today, let spirit that motivated Rev. John Chilembwe continue to inspire us as a nation to break with poverty and underdevelopment. I want to say that yes, it is possible,” she said.
Banda said Malawi managed to achieve political freedom but asked citizens to exercise the freedom and rights with responsibly.
President Banda also pledged the construction of Aida Chilembwe Conference and Training Centre.
She also donated K2 million towards PIM church, 800 bags of maize to be given to the people of surrounding areas, and 100 bags of fertiliser to give to less privileged people in the church.
In his sermon president of Providence Industrial Mission, RevPatrick Makondetsa prayed for forgiveness and asked Malawians to put God first in what they do to help deal with the challenges the country is facing.
Makondetsa said the country needs leaders who can ensure that hospitals have enough drugs and who can develop infrastructure such as roads.
He also said the country needs leaders who can fight poverty and hunger in villages.
January 15 is the day that was set aside for the country to remember Rev. Chilembwe, who was ordained as a preacher in the United States, organised an uprising against British colonial rule in Nyasaland which is Malawi today.
In fact many Malawians believe that Chilembwe’s courageous acts and rebellion against the white rule acted as a springboard for people like Malawi’s first President the late Hastings Kamuzu Banda and his others to continue the fight and successful freed Malawi from the colonial rule.
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