A Catholic priest Fr. Piergiorgio Gamba said Malawi has been gripped with a sombre economic atmosphere making it a subdued nation with no celebratory mood during Christmas and as it welcomes new year.
Fr. Gamba, a Monfort missionary, said cash-strapped Malawians had to kick off preparations for critical New Year expenses at the expense of the festivities.
“What I want to say must not be seen as criticism of Malawi or because I want to judge or even seem negative, but simply reflect on the challenges for us to start again, stresses Fr. Gamba in an interview with Agenzia Fides, the news agency of the Vatican.
He said this year’s Christmas had challenges for Malawians as a nation.
“The security situation in the country has taken a dive for the worst. Recently, a policeman was killed by armed robbers at First Merchant bank. The criminals got away with 90 000 Malawian Kwacha. Amidst the growing insecurity in the country, an official from the Embassy of the Republic of China warned that Chinese investors would relocate to neighbouring countries due to insecurity in the country. Wang Jiaxin Hudson, the Embassy’s Economic and Commercial Counsellor said this,” the priest noted.
Fr. Gamba further said: “The delayed rains in Malawi are worrying farmers especially peasant farmers who make-up 80% of the population. Similarly, the Government programme for the distribution of fertilizers has not yet materialised. Without fertilizers, there will be no harvest to feed the population.”
Among other woes Fr. Gamba spoke about include the industrial action by the judiciary and the continued lack of donor support to the Malawian budget by the international community.
Fr. Gamba reports that the Reserve Bank of Malawi has even launched a campaign that teaches people the good use of banknotes to avoid having to print new notes.
Ironically, Fr. Gamba added, “Malawi exports an entire forest of timber and imports toothpicks, exports cotton and imports clothes, exports millions of Kilograms of tobacco and imports cigarettes”.
Malawi government hope and wish for 2015 to be a productive year.