‘I’m not cheap’, Bingu justifies World Bank officials snub

Malawi President Bingu wa Mutharika said on Sunday that he did not meet the visiting World Bank officials headed by African Director of Economic Management, Marcelo Giugale , becasue they were very low.

Mutharika said he allowed his officials to meet their counterparts because as head of state, the officials did not deserve to meet the President.

Said Mutharika: “You newspaper people wrote last week  that Bingu refused to see World Bank officials. Should I see everybody? They were not even at ministerial level; they were at PS Principal Secretary]level. I’m president. I don’t just meet with anyone. I’m not for sale.”

Mutharika: I'm not for sale

He added: “Even if they come again and bring their programme, I will have to first look at it I will co-operate with the World Bank not as a white person and idiot, No! we are all wise people.”

Mutharika said this during the commissioning of the construction work for Blantyre-Zomba Road which Mutharika named John Chilembwe Highway.

A team of from the World Bank last week presented to government a turnaround strategy the bank is convinced could bail out Malawi from the current economic malaise.

The team met Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Ken Lipenga  and other government officials.

Mutharika mentioned the World Bank in the context of pressure from donors to devalue the Malawi Kwacha. He castigated some civil servants for enticing him to devalue the Kwacha saying such people are not well

“I have some childish people in government who tell me ‘Bwana let us devalue the Kwacha somehow’. What are talking about? I have studied these issues and know better,” said Mutharika.

He remained opposed to the official devaluation of the Kwacha, saying “I have studied 100 countries that devalued currencies. None of them recovered. Only few people benefit when currency is devalued.”

“ Some economists, inclusing Malawian economists, think prices that go up can come down. It never happens,” said Mutharika.

Mutharika  is on a campaign to drive home the government’s unpopular Zero Deficit Budget (ZDB) – it uses local resources – adopted last financial year and his bold move to refuse to devalue the currency at the behest of the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF).

He says he refuse “to say ‘yes sir’ to everything someone says.”

Meanwhile, government has introduced a K1000 bank note a sign economists say the Kwacha is getting weaker.

Nyasa Times also understands that Mutharika snubbed the U.S. Under Secretary for Political Affairs, Wendy Sherman, who visited Malawi last week.

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