Economic woes dominated daily newspaper headlines in Malawi on Wednesday.
“Inflation leaves Malawians hopeless” and “Mapeto retrenches 300 employees” were the respective headlines on the front page of the flagship The Daily Times newspaper.
The paper reports about 300 job cuts at the biggest textile making manufacturer in the country, Mapeto DWS, formerly known as David Whitehead and Sons Limited, due to what it says is a difficult economic situation.
Mapeto’s General Manager, Martin Mpata told the paper that most of the employees, who have been laid off, are from the manufacturing, crop purchases and support department in the Manufacturing Department.
Minister of Trade and Industry, Joseph Mwanamvekha, conceded the retrenchment of 300 people is “huge”.
The daily also zeroed in on the rising cost of prices and living with inflation quickening leaving Malawians hopeless, highlighting that government officials are “vague” on how to jump-start the economy.
The paper notes that inflation hovering at 24.90 percent is the highest in the southern Africa.
Quoting executive director of Consumer Association of Malawi (Cama), John Kapito, the paper reports that basic commodities in Malawi have been turned into luxuries.
Kapito does not see a light at the end of the tunnel in the economic turmoil, saying “as times goes by, things will continue to bite.”
He said the stakeholders do not want to be “rational” but approach government “so that it knows the direction we want and at the end of that process should be able to change a few things.”
Civil rights activist, Rafiq Hajat who is executive director for Institute for Policy Interaction (IPI) also told the paper that Malawi is in an “inflation spiral” and that “there’s no end unless we restore the stability of Kwacha.”
Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI) president Newton Kambala is also quoted saying “things will continue getting bad.”
According to paper, civil servants are also demanding salary increase to be in sync with the living conditions.
“Workers in the country are facing tough time to live on the same wage,” said Malawi Congress of Trade Unions (MCTU) secretary Pontius Kalichero.
In its editorial comment, the daily said it’s an appalling situation that “in the face of such a dehumanising experience” the President Peter Mutharika administration has not spelt out “the exact steps it is taking to address the situation in the shortest possible time.”
The paper notes government has only been making admissions of the challenges it is facing and giving assurances “which often have no basis.”
The editorial pointed out that “sound advice” from economic experts has often fallen on “deaf ears.”
President Mutharika recently challenged economists in the country to come up with workable solutions to deal with economic problems of the country than preaching doom.
“Bring forward solutions that would inspire the nation than preaching doom,” said Mutharika.
He said economists should strive to portray the economic situation in a way that inspires not in a way that leaves Malawians hopeless.
Mutharika said his government is set to take the right actions.
“We have no choice but to keep pushing forward peddles of the economy. And we are aggressively pursuing the Public Sector Reforms, including those on Public Finance Management. It is time to make the people trust their government. Give me the right advice, and I will give you the right decisions. Give us the best advice, and we will take the best of the actions. In that collective spirit, Malawi cannot fail,” said Mutharika.
“The economic reality is not as bad as some people want us believe,” he indicated.
But the paper said government should consult stakeholders such as Economists Association of Malawi, MCCCI and CAMA to have a route map in the recovery of the ailing economy.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :