Kachaje: Building a resilient economy

Twenty seven years ago, on 30th March 1989 to be specific, the Daily Times carried an article that questioned the effectiveness of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) ‘cures” for Africa’s economic woes. The paper quoted a distinguished African scholar, Professor Adebayo Adedeji who was then Head of the United Nations (UN) Economic Commission for Africa (ECA). “Africa should devise alternatives to the harsh International Monetary Fund (IMF) cures for the continent’s economic ills,” advised Adedeji.



In his speech, he indicated that about 30 African countries had implemented structural adjustment programmes along guidelines recommended by the IMF and World Bank since the mid-70s but none had been successful.

Another distinguished economist, Jeffrey Sachs who was thenSpecial Advisor to UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan and also named “the most important economist in the world” by New York Times, revealed a shocking piece of evidence, casting doubt on the effectiveness of foreign-developed economic prescriptions on Africa’s economic challenges. “By the start of the 21st century, Africa was poorer than during the late 1960s, when the IMF and World Bank had first arrived on the African scene”, says Jeffrey Sachs in his book; “The End of Poverty: How We Can Make It Happen in Our Life Time”.

Malawi has been a recipient of both World Bank and IMF technical and financial support for decades. In fact, the country might have a “permanently reserved sick bed” in the IMF Intensive Care Unit under the Extended Credit Facility supported program.

Based on the findings of the recent study by Oxfam on the state of inequality in Malawi, there is more evidence that Malawi is not winning the fight against poverty, growing inequality and deepening over-reliance on donor support, particularly on developmental projects.

Is there another way out of Malawi’s economic malaise and hopelessness? Should the country still bank its hope on the IMF economic prescriptions despite evidence that the country is not making significant progress towards full economic recovery? This is a million dollar question that every concerned citizen would wish to see answered sooner than later.

My first proposition is that as a country, Malawi should realize that solutions to its economic woes will not come from the East nor the West, but from internally generated solutions. External help becomes effective only when internally, there is a will and resolve. There is need for every Malawian, under the direction of its leadership, to realize that we have the capabilities, power and potential to build a resilient economy. There is need to have a national “think tank” that brings together practical ideas and solutions generated from a wide sector consultative process. This will ensure the development of home-grown economic solutions.

Secondly, there is need for extensive economic civic education so that every citizen becomes aware of the prescribed home-grown solutions and fully understands the contribution each and every citizen will need to contribute in moving the country out of abject poverty towards socioeconomic prosperity. No one should be left behind thinking they have no part to play, for we all have a role to play. Each and every citizen must strive to reduce his/her reliance on government and become an active contributor in the communities and engage into self-help projectsthat contribute to the overall national development agenda.


Probably most key is the drive for mindset change. There is need to instil self-pride and self-belief spirit in the hearts of Malawians. We have been beggars for far too long and many of our people have given up and resigned to the fate of poverty. This is probably why each time some donations are announced, there is a lot of clapping hands, believing our economic salvation is nigh. We must however realize that no single nation ever developed a resilient economy with a beggar mentality. We therefore need to invest heavily in mindset change and attitude transformation programs that will create a citizenry of high integrity, self-reliant, hard-working and patriotic.

Malawi is not short of brilliant ideas that if implemented, can take this nation from being one of the poorest to attaining a middle income economic status within a decade. What is lacking is the leadership and political will to harness that potential and use it to achieve our socioeconomic long-term development vision and goals. Malawi is not deficient in labour either, for it has a vibrant youthful population that if properly trained, skilled and inspired, it will be a great resource for building a resilient economy. Shall we please move from rhetoric to action?

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9 thoughts on “Kachaje: Building a resilient economy”

  1. Bololo says:

    Why do we blame World Bank or IMF for our own leadership intellectual bankruptcy. Accepting everything they tell us to a greater extent means we dont have alternative programmes of our own such that we look undecided and clueless (Many countries are negotiating IMF terms as long as they look to know what they are doing and convince IMF accordingly through a technical forum).

    Many of you clapped hands at Muluzi just for political independence not knowing he was messing up with the very basis of our survival; economic independence, hardworking spirit, sense of community participation and ownership in development programmes the government initiates (be it schools, hospitals, roads etc). Bingu tried to change that and we started ticking again only for him to forget that a hungry person does not see tomorrow. He starved us (no forex, fuel, inability to accommodate different views than his…) because of his stubbornness and there we were MHSRIP we ended up with Amayi, a clueless creature. She listened though, her bad nonetheless she could not discern which one is sensible and which one is not and typical of an uneducated fool she had no morals, integrity and statesmanship.

    Now we have our very own, very educated in law and alas!!! undecided and goes by the wind (natural state of progress). If you are the last man in a race you should know better your speed has to be more than that of your counterparts if you are to win the race. For a start, decision making has to be on point most of the time and FAST. Progress is a factor of time. I am afraid even if a snail would wish to outpace a lion it cant happen, this our very own is the wrong one in office especially at this point in time. We are not doomed nonetheless, he should allow to ride on the pace of his deputy in the meantime. Saulosi should be given space to run while he takes the credit. I forgot, he cant afford to give him more room and actually he is derailing the vp; now we are doomed…

  2. Che Wanimiliyoni says:

    A Kachaje nkhani mwalembazi nzanzeru koma I doubt if your are quoting right authorities. You are saying something about “..Jefry Sachs who was then (meaning 1989) Special Advisor to UN Secretary General Kofi Anan..” Komatu a Anan analowa pampando 1997-2006.

  3. International Observer says:

    Besides our universities not taking a leading role in amending the deteriorating economy, the business community/companies/government are also to blame. For these college students to be effective their acumen has to be tapped right from an early stage in college. These guys need to be employed right from their first year in college in order to gain handson experiences. That is exactly what was happening in the past when organisations undertook recruitment campaigns throughout the colleges, the same thing is happening in developed countries whereby students know where they will go to work even before graduating because the companies groom them well in advance based on their required standards. Obviously these guys final research papers should be strong because all they will be discussing will follow their work experience in the 2 – 3 years in college plus work. Some of these ideas should be propped up by the university administration other than waiting for the students and parents fend for themselves. Lobby those willing organisations and gauge the outcome. To encourage fighting spirit only involve those students who are hardworking. Stop finger pointing.

  4. MERVIN says:

    I personally agree with you Mr President of Ecama that MALAWI needs a Think Tank, but let me start airing out my view by saying that almost these developed countries we have in this world, when they meet either economic or social problems in their nations University students are the ones who first provide alternative solutions to the problems, which means this is the Think Tank of these nations. Mr Pesident, I once personally thought that Universities of this country can be the Think Tank of Malawi but what I see is only acquiring the beautiful degrees with empty brains…. I think had it been Universities had done much research and provide alternative solutions to it basing on our current situations things would have been better by now…. Can you just imagine for more than 50 good years no university has come and make a reseach for our problems and come up with alternative solutions that can take us as Malwians form the den of economic hardships yet we claim that we have students studing economy, agriculture, business, entreprenuership, marketing and others…. The other part is being SELFISH, a lot of Malawians are selfish amafuna ziwayendeleokha… Titasitha kazanizidwe kathu and develop the hardworking spirit,,,things can change for the better of Malawi…. Lastly, Malawi is not poor but people are poor…. what is just needed is the good use of all what we have as the nation……( I would have said more but time is limited for me)……

  5. Hendrix says:

    This is very powerful Mr. Kachaje. I wish Malawi had 20 people of your calibre. Tribalism, Nepotism, Corruption, ill motives are bringing this country down. Eduacted people in government are contributing to widespread poverty in this nation. They are the ones perpetuating the inequalities. A revolution is needed to change the way things are done in this country.

  6. tuvitwana says:

    Kachaje, ur becoming my man. Stand for presidency in 2019, ur much better than mbuzi tilinazozi.

  7. Oscar Lemon says:

    The greatest challenge for Malawi and the rest of Africa is not greatly to do with IMF nor world bank but leadership bankruptcy ….In Africa we lack leaders but we have politicians…. How can someone singlehandedly steal k2b????from government coffers???the greatest challenge is corruption and lack of priorities….IMF does not yell us to steal money…Look at he late Prof Bingu did in his first five year term?it was very splendid and he did great wonders and he was serious in accountability and curbing corruption. So if Malawi can seriously deal with corruption then we can develop….Look at how cash gate was done???it pains me seeing many poor Malawians failing to access drugs in government hospitals….

  8. Lets take our country back says:

    How do you change the mindset of people when the president says alibe pulobulemu. Shouldn’t the change start from top down

  9. John Luzangulilo says:

    I agree with your observations Mr. President of Ecama but for Malawi to pull itself out of predicament will need more than inspiration of its inhabitants. We have done a lot of things the wrong way that it may take Malawi’s lifetime to correct. For example the quota system based selection into secondary school and university has put into education system mediocrity of unsustainable proportions that has become toxic to the future of this country. This is compounded by the manner by which people are hired and promoted in organizations particularly public sector organizations. Hiring and promotions are based on one’s tribe and region therefore people who came out of university as mediocres are today holding critical national jobs. How do you expect Malawi to move on. It is rumoured that currently promotions from grade F to E and above that require presidential authority are only permissible if one comes from the president’s tribe or region. The rest are rejected on account that under reform program these positions are supposed to be competed. The current approach to the way we do business in this country only serves to perpetuate our underdevelopement in all spheres of our lives. Mediocrity which we have legitimized as a country has no experience of developing any society. Societies have developed and thrived on meritocracy which as a society we have worked very hard to kill and replace with mediocrity

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