Ernest Mtingwi critique the proposal to abolish party manifestos

I read with a great deal of interest the article that was recently published by Nyasa Times online in which two leading economists( Mr Henry Kachaje and Mr Edward Chilima) proposed the abolition of political party manifestos. They claimed that if this proposal was implemented it would facilitate national development.dpp manifesto

I must confess that I was very astonished with this proposal. To make matters worse the two economists  whom I take for granted that they are well read in economics did not give any example of a country where this idea was implemented with desired positive results.

In my view such a proposal needs to be backed with empirical evidence if it is to be taken seriously.

My negative reaction to this proposal is based on:

  • Almost all highly developed countries such as Western Europe, United States of America, Japan etc have used and continue to use the system of political party manifestos. They prospered economically and continue to do so.
  • Political party manifestos are part of the free interplay and dissemination of ideas in a free and democratic society. The competition of ideas is one of the pillars of development as the
    process of debate( that is the free flow of ideas) tends to weed out bad ideas.

Let us, for example, take the Shire-Zambezi waterway. If it is to be debated the question is: As a multimodal transport system can it reduce transport costs and if so by how much? As ideas are
exchanged something good is likely to be achieved because some bad ideas would be discarded thereby enhancing its positive contribution to the country if at all it is implemented.

It is generally well known by transport economists that a multimodal transport system is more
likely to be expensive than a single mode transport system.

In view of the foregoing rather than abolishing the political party manifestos system as suggested by the two economists the debate should rather be on strengthening the system. One way of doing this is to ensure that the proposed National Planning Commission will be truly independent and professional in the discharge of its duties.

  • Ernest Mtingwi is former director general of Malawi Revenue Authority
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Manifestos are a vision of a particular party. The problem is kuti a Malawife sitifuna kuyembekezera. Longterm and permanent results need time. Koma ife miyezi six tayambo ulimbana ndi ulamiliro kuti siukutha kuyendetsa dziko. Kamuzu analidi ndi mfundo koma osaiwala. Mpatseni Pitala zaka zake khumi kuto muone kusintha. Mkomwe-mkomwe sitipemphelera dziko lathu or a Chakwela angatani. Lekani kunyada a Malawi.


My suggestion is that there should be a continuation of govt policies irrespective of regime change. The MCP govt for instance had some good policies which were unfortunately abandoned with the advent of multiparty policies. The same is true of subsequent ruling parties, the UDF, DPP and PP regimes.

Again we need adequate consultations and consensus on key issues affecting our nation. Issues like abolishing Junior Certificate for example

The issue with party manifestos is that the country is focusing too much on short terms, which are politically inclined, over long term goals which could help the country to grow. Parties always focus on things that will help them remain in power and not necessarily for national development. Secondly, the shift of policies from one regime to another is derailing us to move forward. In short, we have been embarking on inferior projects where are leaders have interest for their political survival rather than developing the country economically. This chronic illness of forex is just an example of these… Read more »
Cecilia Mapila
“PARTY MANOFESTOs”….What a waste of people’s valuable time! From MCP to UDF, to DPP,PP and back to DPP, what have we achieved as a nation, apart from letting thieves, masquerading as leaders and their Lieutenants enrich themselves from Government coffers? They have stolen with impudence, making sure the coffers are empty before the end of each term. Not a single leader has been held responsible for not delivering on their propagandist false empty promises aka MANIFESTOS. There is a point in Economist Kachaje’s view, we need a national development agenda, but overseen by an independent body with legal or constitutional… Read more »
Malawi @ my heart

Political manifesto has failed us as a country hence need for another alternative. Malawi will be best example where such strategy will work. We gat to be original sometimes

I do not agree that Party manifestos is the problem. The problem is with the leaders and the citizens. The leaders take it upon themselves that it’s them that will develop the Country and the citizens agree and watch to see if the promises will be carried out. It has to be both taking responsibility for the results good or bad. When you look at what Governments have been doing since we became a multiparty state, you are tempted to think Governments design and implement projects that will bring them back to power regardless of future implications. Look at the… Read more »

The gist of the argument is that there is need for sustainable development efforts which should be safeguarded through an all inclusive national development agenda rather than a political party-based framework which has had little impact on our development as a country.No party can openly admit failure of its own policies because it would be negatively campaigning against itself.Hence people end up suffering for such arrogance which is not inevitable. Kachaje should be commended for suggesting a creative approach to address the usual political problems associated with national development planning efforts.

angoni apaphata

Are you people malawians? Or do you even follow what happens in Malawi? Kapena munaphunzira kwambiri to the point where you can’t see beyond your books? What national agenda are you talking about? MDGS is it not the most basic? What kind of school did you do. Start with basic. MDGS. Si imene ikutikanikayi? A national agenda need not be a white elephant.


Lack of party manifestos will be like a man wanting to win a lady without mfundo.


I think Mr Mtingwi has a point. Party manifestos shouldn’t be abolished. The National Agenda (NA) should be inscribed in our constitution and the political parties should set out in their party manifestos how they are going to achieve it (NA). This will allow for better debate on manifestos. I also believe that the Access to Information Bill and how political parties are funded plays a vital role on how development is spread Malawi.

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