JB takes development agenda to rural masses

President Joyce Banda has addressed two ‘development rallies’—one in Zomba and another in Ntcheu. Both of them have been characterized  with huge crowds that speak volumes about the level of acceptance she is enjoying as Malawi’s new leader particularly after the country suffered isolation by the international community owing to deteriorating governance, human rights and economic situation under the late President Bingu wa Mutharika.

President  Banda was sworn as the fourth President of the  Republic on April 7, 2012 after Bakili Muluzi (1994—2004) and Mutharika (2004—2012) after her predecessor succumbed to a cardiac arrest on April 5, 2012. Founding president of Malawi is late Kamuzu Banda – not related.

Banda has already won international acclaim for her rare decisiveness in reversing the situation that pitied Malawi against its traditional bilateral and multilateral donors. The British, the Americans, the IMF and the World Bank are returning. Malawi is on the verge of social, economic and political recovery!

On Saturday, President Banda addressed a mammoth public rally at Songani Ground in T/A Malemia’s area, Zomba. Clad in her People’s Party orange colours, the buoyant Banda had one important message—Unity; Unity of Purpose.

“As a leader, I will have no time to alienate people on the basis of political affiliation or beliefs; my immediate obligation is to stamp out sickening poverty among Malawians and I can only achieve that by involving everyone without regard to politics,” said Banda.

“In this vein, I wish to request all members of the PP to keep the party’s doors open and accept anyone willing to become a member and support our efforts to bring back the country on a sound economic footing. The situation our people are in and how we should get them out of it is my immediate preoccupation,” she said.

She said to achieve this, a Presidential Initiative on Poverty and Hunger Reduction had been put in place to coordinate efforts to deal with the two vices.

“Poverty and Hunger are related; when people are poor, they are unable to put food on the table; hungry people can hardly contribute to soci0-economic development of a nation,” noted President Banda, saying that the initiative was also part of the larger economic recovery plan her administration has hatched—economic empowerment of the rural masses.

Presidential Initiative on Poverty and Hunger Reduction

President Banda presided over the official launch of the Presidential Initiative on Poverty and Hunger Reduction at Lipinda, an ex-Malawi Young Pioneers (MYP) base in T/A Katuli in Mangochi on Sunday as a manifestation of her resolve to achieve her objectives of the initiative.

Banda said the initiative would involve assisting rural households produce cash crops like soya beans, groundnuts, pigeon peas and rice, among others that they could sale and realize cash to improve their livelihood. She said this was also part of her vision to create wealth and employment through accelerating production in agriculture and non-agriculture sectors.

Banda said she had already consulted would-be buyers of such produce saying days where smallholders were encouraged to grow cash crops and ended up having no markets were now gone. She said farmers, particularly, women and the youth, who are the most productive when it comes to farming, will benefit as her government will now link them with the markets.

“Part of the terms of reference of the committee is to conceptualize innovative ideas on how this initiative would help rural households improve their welfare through maximized incomes and help rural communities mobilize resources for production purposes.

“I’ve told this committee that there shall be no ‘business as usual’ as we have to work extremely hard to bail our people out of abject poverty,” said President Banda, adding that enhanced livestock production shall also have to be part of the initiative and that “if it means importing dairy cattle, we shall do that”.

Think Tank

President Banda said the committee, which comprises Chairperson Professor Ben Kaluwa of Chancellor College, Dr. Grace Malindi, Agriculture Extension Specialist, Jimmy Koreia Mpatsa, Managing Director of Mpatsa Holdings, Monica Khoromana of NALI Limited, Paramount Chief Kyungu of Karonga, Senior Chief Malemia of Zomba, the Initiative’s National Coordinator Flora Kaluwire and Evans Matabwa, Aution Holdings CEO among other members, would act as a “think tank” which would “constantly” advise her on how to deal with the two vices of poverty and hunger among the population.

Malawi holds a “National Dialogue on Economic Recovery” between June 29 and July 1, 2012 in Lilongwe and said the committee would be a “critical player in that dialogue”.

Ntcheu Development Rally

On Monday, the Head of State addressed another “Development Rally” in T/A Ganya’s area in Ntcheu district with almost a similar messages like that of Songani—unity, national economic recovery, poverty and hunger reduction.

The climax however must have been when she directed that 30 disadvantaged girls be identified from the area whom government can offer bursaries and therefore attain quality education.

President Banda also pledged that government would upgrade the Kasinje—Ntcheu Boma Road and some health facilities in the area and that additionally, she would ensure that electricity comes into the area.

President Banda laying the foundation stone
President Banda and the chief laying a foundation stone at clinic in Ntcheu
President Banda poses with Committee on Poverty and Hunger Reduction

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