The National Assembly reconvenes [in Lilongwe] for the Mid Term Budget Review, a legislative norm and finance management requirement that happens, or is expected to be fulfilled, six months into the budget implementation.
It is that time when the Executive must report to the people of Malawi whether the ship remains on course, or whether through the turbulence on the widespread sea has changed course.
This is the time when the people of Malawi expect their representatives to hold the Executive accountable on all the excesses that may have occurred in its spending patterns, demand answers for all overflows that happened and reprimand it for going overboard.
The chaff cutter will follow those proceedings keenly to see whether the legislative sitting will provide dividends to the people of Malawi. The people of Malawi will also not be expecting anything less from their representatives.
The MPs can never be in a better mood to tackle national issues having just had their pay revised.
This happened despite the fact that the economy is in bad shape. The interest rates and inflation figures are still way up into the sky. The currency had been in free-fall before it stabilised and started picking up recently.
The national resource envelope remains troubled and overstretched because donors are yet to lift their suspension of direct budgetary support.
This has affected the entire social fabric clearly represented by the worsening scarcity of drugs in hospitals to the rationing of resource allocation for the fulfilment of campaign promises.
The disposable incomes have shrunk with inflation pushing the bar of affordability beyond the reach of the spending comfort of many households.
Life is hard and in some cases outright unbearable, which should explain a manifold of strikes that typified the last several weeks among different public workers.
But truth be told, President Arthur Peter Mutharika (APM) has done nothing untoward to create the economic challenges besetting the country. These are inherited problems.
The questions he will not avoid are based on his management style of those problems. He has appeared to be hesitant and uninvolved to confront many preventable storms as they appeared on the horizon of his administration.
He only showed up when the Judiciary strike, for instance, had already worsened after several weeks of silence.
He may have employed silent diplomacy as a tool for conflict resolution, but in crisis times the Judicial staff strike became, for instance, people die to hear sentiments of assurance from their leader that something is done behind the curtains.
These came late.
But that is chuff where the President scored miserably in the period under review. In terms of the grain—as measured by his campaign promises—he has scored remarkably well.
He promised to run a small government. He has delivered on that promise. Including the President and his deputy, the full Cabinet has 20 members.
Never make a mistake about it, reducing to 20s a Cabinet that previously kept oscillating between the 30s and the 40s is significant in terms of prudent resource management when one considers what goes into maintenance of a Cabinet minister.
He promised to devote more of his time as President to office work. This he has done. Ministers too have had their foreign travel restricted to only three trips in a year.
What is more? He has also placed a freeze on willy-nilly attendance of public functions by public workers, directing that only those directly concerned should grace the functions.
Compared to his predecessors, APM is the least travelled leader in the context of his duration in office.
The economic value of these decisions is that huge sums of money have been saved, helping to feed the public purse in lean times.
He promised to reduce presidential powers with regard to making public appointments, which ideally should be independent of the Executive influence.
He has started doing this. Senior technical positions will now be filled through a competence and suitability vetting process to be conducted by an independent and professional body.
This is important because it gives the public officials so appointed the latitude to fully exploit their potentials and talents, retain their objectivity and work without checking over their shoulders if in what they are doing they are scoring on the political scorecard.
He promised to institute public reforms. He has delivered on the promise, with his dutiful Vice-President Saulos Chilima providing a rare glimpse of political leadership to deliver his boss’ vision.
The Malawi Public Service Reforms which he constituted has cleared a lot of ground already.
He promised to implement a building materials subsidy programme. Admittedly there are teething problems, but which new initiative does not have problems at the formative stage? He is delivering on that.
The point is this: In terms of delivering promises, President Mutharika is good. If his genes in this regard were to be inculcated into the manner in which he responds to unforeseen challenges that affect every President, his leadership would be successful.
Let’s hope this area will improve going into the last six month of this fiscal year.
Otherwise it looks like Mutharika is headed for a strong legacy. That, in short, is how I would rate APM. If you want marks, I would give him a nice seven out of 10 so far.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :