Peter Mutharika’s acceptance speech at DPP convention—Full transcript

Mutharika addressing delegates at DPP convention

Mutharika addressing delegates at DPP convention

Ladies and gentlemen,

And all Malawians wherever you may be.

I would like to thank you all who stepped forward to take up leadership positions.

Leadership is a sacred commitment to the people.

I wish to thank Honourable Chimunthu Banda for competing for presidential candidacy

I know that you did this in good faith, in the spirit of democracy

And let the people choose who they want to be their leader.

Chapter 2: The Local and Global Context

Ladies and Gentlemen

Let us think globally. Our next DPP government will think and plan within the global context of our times.

Malawi is not a political island.

Malawi is not an economic island either.

We will cordially work with our development partners, global friends and neighbours while determining our sovereignty and nurturing the spirit of self-dependency.

And we will claim our place in the world as a proud people.

We always seek to balance between the priorities of Malawians and the global factors we cannot ignore.

We shall be friends of the people, and we shall be friends of our neighbours and developing partners who seek the good of our people.

Chapter 3: Socio-Economic Development

Ladies and Gentlemen, distinguished guests

Allow me to share the principles of economic framework within which we intend to govern this country.

We recognise that the God has given us everything we need develop. What we need is to believe in ourselves that we are a capable people. What we need is the right leadership to generate wealth and grow the economy for the benefit of the people.

Distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen!

Now that you have mandated me to stand as Presidential candidate, I am now ready to offer our country a clear, coherent, comprehensive, long-term, people-oriented economic vision. The details will come when we unveil our manifesto. But here are the key beliefs, principles and aspirations for now.

  •  Our Underlying Philosophy to Socio-economic Development

People are the reason why democratic societies exist. We come to power by the will of the people, and we govern for the people. For this reason, we are poised to set economic governance of the people, by the people, and for the people. This is the underlying philosophy of the DPP.

What is the wisdom of economic policies that oppress our own people? Why must we stay in power if we cannot use power to negotiate for what is good for the people? Where the interests of other economic players differ from those of the people, I personally believe in three cardinal virtues of problem solving:

One – negotiate!

Two – negotiate!

Three – negotiate!

You negotiate until you achieve what is good for the people. The power of negotiation; the spirit of consensus has always prevailed in human history.

Our democratic belief is that the welfare of the people must be prioritised and negotiated for, always. Once we are in the driving seat in 2014, we will ensure that every policy step taken by state and society shall reflect this very fundamental principle.

  • Mixed Economy and Developmental State

Distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen!

We refuse to believe that there is no alternative path from the deepening economic crisis we are in. We have a choice to make. In the first place, the Government of Malawi chose to implement policies based on principles of neo-liberalisation, devaluation, currency floatation and automatic pricing in the manner they are doing. The problem is not neo-liberalism, but the policies you generate out of it. The problem is not devaluation but the manner of it. We the People of Malawi have choices to make.

Ladies and Gentlemen, distinguished delegates and guests!

Let the world know that we are ready to take calculated measures to curtail this economic suffering as soon as we get back in government.

The DPP shall pursue the mixed economy and developmental state as twin paradigms that can promote the interests of the people while protecting economic growth at the same time.

Mixed economy implies the desire to sustain a market-based economic system that considers the people as the prime participants and beneficiaries. It recognizes the fundamental importance of economic growth to the welfare and prosperity of the people. Therefore, the DPP shall encourage private sector as the engine of economic growth. And yet, we shall ensure a proper balance between private sector interests and the public (popular) interests. Others have done it, and we can do it. We the People of Malawi can do it. And I am all set to lead the way.

Under this system, we shall establish fiscal and monetary policies that respect national interests and people’s welfare, while creating incentives and conducive business environment for private sector and all economic players.

The developmental state entails an economic and social system which prioritises the developmental interests of Malawians. Under this principle, we will align public institutions and regulatory bodies to the development agenda. We will streamline accountability systems to the priority needs of development. And we will demand accountability to the people to restore fiscal discipline. In that way, the little we have must always benefit the people. The DPP belief in security will extend to the safekeeping of public funds. We will create an environment in which the public and the media must easily demand accountability from government. As Allan More says, “People shouldn’t be afraid of their government. Governments should be afraid of their people.”

Pursuant of this principle, we shall align private sector operations to the developmental aspirations of the people. In essence, we will run a system governed by democratic principles where development becomes an embodiment of the wishes and aspirations of the people, fully owned and locally driven by community members. The DPP shall manage economic policies based on such ideological basis.

  • A Market Economy with a Human Face

Another principle is that we in the DPP believe in the market economy, yes – a market economy with a human face. We believe that the market economy must benefit the people. When a people cannot afford basic life, the economy is not for them. When a people’s wages and salaries are far below the cost of basic living, the economy marginalises its own people. When economic policies systematically push its own people deep into poverty, humans lose their dignity. Liberalisation without safeguard of the people’s needs is a recipe for chaos – and chaos has no other name. It is chaos!

Distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen!

Time comes when we must end this economic chaos. The DPP shall pursue a responsible and responsive market economy. We shall protect the people’s needs while meeting macroeconomic demands at the same time. We shall adopt a market economy with a human face.

Distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen!

The Democratic Progressive Party is innovative and progressive. We shall diversify our economic base beyond all measures taken so far. We will lead Malawi to move with global trends of new economies. We shall introduce knowledge-based economy. Yes, why not! We can lead Malawi to becoming a leading knowledge economy in this part of Africa. It is a route tested and taken before. This is another road to the creation of wealth in a country. And history is the eye-witness. History has seen countries walk this path from third world poverty to full scale development. And that is our deserved destiny. And, we can march to our destiny because we can.

Chapter 4: Education

Ladies and gentlemen!

Our problem is that we try to develop but we do not believe that Malawi is capable of becoming a country like Britain, Japan, China or the USA. And because we do not believe, we do not live the vision. This is an intellectual crisis that must be tackled by our education system.

Education is the very soul of development. I believe in the miracles of education.

As a humble child who walked out of a teacher’s house many years ago; I know how education can transform the life of a Malawian generation condemned and marginalised by poverty.

As a pilgrim of knowledge who rose by searching learning all over the world; I know how education can narrow the gap between the high and the low, the rich and the poor.

As an educationist who has been to the highest towers of world-class universities; I know how to use tertiary education to assemble the engine of socio-economic development.

As a policy maker, former Minister of Education; I know how “We the People of Malawi” can transform our education system and use it to create a new collective brain for socio-economic development. We can do this for us, and the generations yet to come.

We will reform the education system and align it with the values we want to see. We must cultivate the economic values we desire; the values that we need to become a producing rather than a consuming country; the political values in which our children must grow up; and the developmental values that must shape the character of our nation. And we need a nation character in which love for one another is deeply part of our humanity.

But we also have specific missions to accomplish. We have our unfinished business of continuing to build world-class universities across the country. And we will create an environment that ensures that these universities are research-oriented over and above teaching.

We shall also introduce community colleges with technical education programmes accredited by the university. These colleges shall offer associated degrees. We will then establish well-funded research departments with the specific goal to find new, export-quality, technical products that must inform the community colleges. The idea is to nurture and reward talent because, as Lee Kuan Yew says, “talent is a country’s most precious asset”.

We will create the community colleges by bringing new and well-equipped infrastructure to a selection of community day secondary school premises. Even practising local artisans will come here to be empowered with new skills and researched information. In short, we will invest in technical education as a road to industrialisation. We will need our development partners on this road. The more we train Malawians at this level, the more we reduce the gap between the rich and the poor; and the more we create jobs for the youth.

Finally, we will invest in the welfare of the teachers to whom we entrust our next generation. Teachers must be well paid.

Chapter 5: The Youth

Ladies and Gentlemen!

If this Convention is to live up to its aspirations of leading Malawians to find our destiny; then we must put the Youth at the front of that journey. The Youth must lead from the front while we, like shepherds, lead from the rear. The Youth are the generation that must finish the journey we began. They are the Malawians who must complete the journey to our destiny.

We will shift from the culture of politicising the Youth to investing in the Youth. Every Malawian youth deserves to be at the centre of our vision of the future.

The next DPP government shall introduce inclusive youth programmes whose aims shall be:

  1. Creating diverse jobs for the Youth who are out of school;
  2. Planning the means of employment for the Youth in school;
  3. Empowering them with the knowledge and skills for creating wealth at individual and national levels;
  4. Building Malawi’s new national character based on socio-economic values that make the spirit of a developing society;
  5. Building a national character of self-dependency; and belief in ourselves as a people. Why? Only a people who believe in themselves can develop. And we must believe in ourselves that we can do it.

We will invest in you the youth; invest in our children; and invest in the next generation. We will invest in our young men and women alike.

Chapter 5: Food Security

We have become a nation that begs another to feed us. We have become a people begging our existence from others. This is unacceptable indignity of a people. Our people in the villages we come from say “kulemera ndi kudya” (richness or development is food). This is the philosophy of our people. And it is in the wisdom of the people to understand that feeding ourselves is the core of development. Only a people who can feed themselves are capable of developing.

Distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen!

Only one year ago; this month of April; 5 days from today; we buried Bingu. But we did not bury his vision. We buried the dreamer, but the dream lives on.

We are a party that has always believed in food security; lived and walked the dream of food security; and governed by the policies of food security. We have led Africa on this path before, and we will lead this country back to food security again.

We will continue with agricultural subsidy with new measures that ensure sustainability of the programme over time.

We will uproot the spirit of corruption from the system and permanently end the culture of political abuse that has invaded the system. You don’t politicise food; we don’t politicise people’s existence.

We will phase out the spirit of dependency and “hand-outs” so that every Malawian can afford the means to produce food while earning the dignity of labouring to feed ourselves.

We will tailor agricultural policies that diversify production for both subsistence and commercial purposes.

We will march forward; and return to the Green Belt project; and turn Malawi into the bread basket of Africa. Just as ancient ones did with the Nile River in Egyptian Civilisation; and so shall we do with Lake Malawi and the Shire River. Just as the people of Israel can feed deserts from their river and lake; “We the People of Malawi” have no excuse if we cannot feed ourselves. God has given us all we need to become a modern civilisation. That is our destiny. That is our promised land. And we shall lead to find the prosperity Malawians deserve.

Chapter 6: Healthcare

But only a healthy people can take that journey to the land of prosperity we pledge this day. Only a healthy people are capable of developing. And you cannot develop a country from hospital beds.

The next DPP government will revive the Malawian Dream of a comprehensive and world-class health care system.

Before the tragedy of Bingu’s death sent us on this bereavement leave, we were on the plans to build world-class hospitals. Now time is about for us to live that dream. We shall build top star hospitals with state of the art equipment in this part of Africa. We will increase access to health care across the country. We shall continue combating HIV/AIDS with a comprehensive programme that (a) continues preventive education (b) continues to provide ARVs for free.

Finally, we will shift our country towards preventive health care of both communicable and non-communicable diseases. We shall invest in research to promote preventive medicine and health care in general. We need a healthy nation to develop this country.

But must retain and dignify healthcare workers with appropriate salaries.

Chapter 6: Security

The DPP will restore public security and confidence in our security officers in whatever department they may be. This will take a number of policy measures. We shall provide them with sophisticated training to advance their knowledge, skills and cultivate their discipline. We shall equip them accordingly. It will be in our policy to refrain from politicising our security forces so that they can function professionally. We shall dignify the lives of our military officers – those that make us feel secure. And we shall treat every police officer with his or her due dignity. We shall also undertake to improve prison security by dignifying the lives of security officers and the prisoners as part of a broader human rights agenda. These security officers are human; and dignifying their lives will include improving their salaries.

As part of security, the DPP will return to the Zero Tolerance of Corruption principle in order to improve fiscal discipline and secure public funds. Yes, fighting corruption makes enemies. But it is a good fight to fight.

Chapter 7: Infrastructure

The world knows us as a party that brought infrastructure development where nobody expected it. We are known for visionary infrastructure development. We did it; and we are ready to do it again, and do it even more. Infrastructure development is a huge opportunity for getting our economy back on its feet again. I speak of the revival of the construction industry to create immediate jobs for skilled and unskilled workforce. The construction revival will be good news for those in business and banking sectors too.

We shall continue to build a world-class road network across the country. We shall revive Nsanje Inland Port and proceed to ensure that Nsanje does grow into a city. International ports naturally grow into cities. We shall see to it that Zomba grows into a city that it deserves to be. And we shall complete the construction of the university in Mzimba, the university in Mangochi, and the universities in Nsanje. We know that the university in Thyolo is a done deal.

Let me finally say this. The infrastructure development shall provide us with the service industry. The service industry is the road to industrialisation. This is the way to go!

CONCLUSION

Our national prosperity depends on our politics and governance. It depends on how we serve the people. It is not what we say that matters in governance; it is what we do for the people that matters most. Let the world know; that we are ready to find our lost destiny of prosperity. And let the world know; that we are ready to work with our global friends and neighbours in serving the people of Malawi. Let the people know; that I am ready to lead the DPP to victory; and I am ready to lead people of Malawi. And history will remember; that I, Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika, made this solemn promise this day. And history, and victory, and Providence will walk on our side. And so, help us God!

May God bless you all!

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