A scathing yet honest account of Malawi’s economy: A review of George Chaponda’s book

Dr George Thapatula Chaponda, I should mention from the beginning, proves in his new book The Struggle for Economic Independence and Development in Malawi (1960-2015) that he is both a tried and tested international diplomat and politician.

Chaponda: His book book applies a holistic approach to the study of the fight for economic self-rule in Malawi.
Chaponda’s book

He has seen it all having worked at United Nations for 19 years and as a politician having served in such cabinet portifolios as Minister of Education, Minister of Local Government, Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Minister of Foreign Affairs as well as Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development.

For 15 years now he has served and represented the people of Mulanje South West as MP.

And reading through his book—with a sober mind—one gets a feeling of the author’s crave to see that Malawi turns its tables around for the better.

The book applies a holistic approach to the study of the fight for economic self-rule in Malawi. This has been done by looking at the historical perspectives through the lens of political development before and after political independence. It looks at various strategies applied by the country in the fight for economic independence, including sectors of the economy that the country prioritized through the years.

The varied approaches applied by different successive political leadership have been substantiated to determine the level of the fight for economic independence. The book sets itself apart from other historical books by not only stating the facts as they were but also offering an analysis of the facts, and where necessary, offering comparative statistics.

It starts with a rebuttal of the general consensus in economics and politics today that aid has a crippling effect and could be the reason the country is backward in its struggle for economic independence. The author brings to light countries that have benefitted from aid in their fight for development and economic independence by introducing the idea of aid typology.

Aid is of varying types and each type comes with its own conditions. Some types of aid indeed could cripple, but anyone who generalizes that all aid is crippling has got a narrow understanding of aid. It is advised therefore that government must select the type of aid that will advance its policies unlike those types that will limit it.

After all, the book argues, it is the donors who most of the times come with the aid, so government can simply asses for the best offer. The issue of aid dismissed, the author turns to the structure of the economy, the focus is on specific sectors of the economy that validate the country’s state of economic development. These sectors include agriculture, social development, education, health and economic. The policies that determine how the structure functions are key to the struggle for economic independence.

The Malawian political structure is such that, of the three branches of government, the executive dominates. The author laments for example that the legislature meets at the mercy of the executive. It is therefore dependent on the willingness of the executive if the struggle is to be won. It is highlighted that during the Dr. Bingu wa Mutharika regime, there was an attempt to have some independence in how the government system functioned, cabinet ministers could be investigated and summoned to court to answer charges on corruption whilst they were in office.

And previous to that during the Kamuzu Banda regime “the civil service was relatively honest, disciplined, of high-status, professional, and hardworking (perhaps out of fear) but not well paid. Today the bulk [though not all] of the bloated civil service is lazed, demoralized, distracted by their private businesses, and more easily corrupted but well paid. Using their positions, some civil servants have ‘succeeded in appropriating a significant share of [the state’s] resources and in redistributing part of their social [i.e., their own patronage] networks.”

Such unstable political system makes it difficult for a progressive struggle for economic self-rule. The author argues that “had the country had very good health care, education and political systems it could have potentially precipitated economic independence. It is argued, therefore, that one of the major challenges faced by the country to attain economic independence is power change. Regime change in Malawi has been ineffective with successive governments discontinuing workable and tested economic development policies of their predecessor regimes. As each successive government threw away the baby with water, the struggle for economic independence for Malawi suffered huge blow.”

Chaponda’s account offers a great deal of fodder for thought. It is a timely and handy resource for politicians, economists, topnotchs in the civil service, students studying economics as well as any patriotic Malawian wishing to make a positive difference to their country.

  • Biza I. Mulambia is a fourth year Bachelor of Social Science (Economics) student at the University of Malawi, Chancellor College.

Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :

Sharing is caring!

Follow us in Twitter
40 Comments
newest
oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Stephen
Stephen
1 month ago

Isn’t this teh same guy who embezzled our tax money through ADMARC??? Of course he likes aid! Chifukwa he gets to eat it! There politicians are all the same. No respect for this thief ndipo azivaya

Rocky Dada
Rocky Dada
1 month ago

Let him retire gracefully. Malawians no longer need him. They alot of very good talented young politicians with proper ideas to be given a chance.

Kamabuku eBook Creation and Publication

The book is on Amazon now. Wonderful honouble

Last edited 1 month ago by Kamabuku eBook Creation and Publication
Kaa bambo
Kaa bambo
1 month ago

By the way, this book urges on the importance of foreign aid. For those of you who have read “Dead aid by Dambisa Moyo, how can you compare the two books?

Kango
Kango
1 month ago

This man was destroyed by Nankhumwa aka Malemia the Form Form gurus

Luka
Luka
1 month ago

Our leaders have always been blessed with intelligence and ability. Unfortunately, however, they were ethically challenged which resulted in their becoming rich while the nation became ever poorer.

GCK
GCK
1 month ago

This is  a must have

GCK
GCK
1 month ago

I hear it’s a good book

Noble Silungwe
Noble Silungwe
1 month ago

Sometimes I wonder why this man decided to join politics, he
had already achieved  a lot before it. Anyway
looking forward to read the book

Takondwa James
Takondwa James
1 month ago

Great book written by a great mind

shares
Read previous post:
Malawi Post Corporation to introduce city busliners

As part of turning Malawi Posts Corporation (MPC) from loss to profit making business-oriented parastatal in line with the reforms...

Close