Chakwera’s SONA unveils ‘three-pronged yardstick’: Focus on food security, jobs and wealth creation

Malawi President Lazarus Chakwera on Wednesday delivered his third state of the nation address (SONA) at the Parliament Building in the capital Lilongwe where, among others, he outlined that—for the next four years—his administration’s chosen outcomes were three-fold.

During the address titled ‘Accelerating the Change Malawians Fought For’ which was also the opening of the third meeting of the 49th session of Parliament, Chakwera said much as there was a vision for the country, it was important that it be sharpened by concentrating more on what was overly crucial.

He said his government would focus more on “achieving food security for all Malawians, creating jobs for Malawi’s youth so that they are self-reliant, active and productive contributors to Malawi’s development, and create wealth for Malawians so that they are the primary beneficiaries of any economic activity we foster.”

‘Lion’s share for concerned MDAs’

President Lazarus Chakwera and Madame Chakwera arriving for SONA

As a result, the Malawi leader said the concerned Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) most integral to the realization of the outcome would get both his government full attention and financial support.

“It also means that these strategic MDAs will be uniquely targeted for Public Sector Reforms so that we make them fit for use in our pursuit of these priorities. In view of the instrumentality of Government MDAs to the delivery of wealth, jobs, and food security to our people, my Administration will henceforth treat any cause of slowness or stagnation within any MDA to our pursuit of these outcomes as an enemy of the change Malawians fought for,” read Chakwera from the 45-paged address that took him about an hour to complete.

‘Sluggish Change’

President Chakwera admitted that he was aware that Malawians were verily frustrated with the rate at which things were expected to have been changing in the country.

Eight months since he took office last year, people in the country have repeatedly expressed their discontentment—mainly via Facebook—with most saying the Tonse alliance government has fooled them on promises.

For instance, most people say the promises such as the creation of 1 million jobs in the very first year of their being in office has been a scam.

Chakwera, who was accompanied by his vice, Saulos Chilima, during the address which also saw the presence all the three arms of government and representatives of the diplomatic fold said he shared Malawians’ frustration on the matter.

“I have felt the palpable and justifiable frustration that many Malawians are feeling towards certain MDAs over their slowness to effect the change Malawians fought for. As one who shares this frustration, I think it matters not whether an MDA’s slowness in effecting the administrative, legislative, regulatory, personnel, policy, or operational changes I was elected to implement is caused by professional incompetence, or political sabotage, or contractual entanglements, or personal laziness, or entrenched corruption.

“What matters, and I think I speak for all Malawians here, is to see those either mandated by law or appointed by me to effect these changes doing so with the expedition and efficiency Malawians deserve. I refuse to believe that we must choose between operational standards and delivery speed. My understanding is that the change Malawians fought for through tears, blood, and sweat to put us here demands that we make good on our promise to do both,” he said.

‘Higher gear in second year’

The Malawi sixth head of state and government also mentioned that much as he felt proud of his achievements in the first year, he was aware that Malawians wanted to see him “engage a higher gear to increase the pace of change.”

He said through three delivery accelerators his administration would invest time, resources, and energy to speed up the realization of our agenda to create jobs, create wealth, and create food security.

He said: “These accelerators are infrastructure, especially in the areas of transport and energy; human capital, especially in the areas of health and education; and governance reform and digitization.

“To use a metaphor, the creation of jobs, wealth, and food security is the promised land at the end of our journey; the strategic MDAs instrumental to achieving these ends are the vehicle that must be driven skilfully to that destination and no other; and investment in better human capital, better infrastructure, and better governance are the road we must pave to accelerate the movement of this vehicle.”

‘Brighter Future’

According to Chakwera, the future of Malawi looked bright as in 2022 the economy was “expected to rebound and grow by 5.4 percent.

“Conditional on easing of Covid-19, this growth will be supported by the rebounding of sectors such as manufacturing, transportation, construction, and wholesale and retail as Covid-19 gets contained and the economy becomes more resilient,” he said.

During the SONA, President Chakwera also expressed his frustration regarding the rejection of his appointee Martha Chizuma as director general of the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB).

Parliament has since adjourned to Monday, May 17 where members are expected to begin commenting on the SONA.

 

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