In the first ever direct interaction between the public and the Head of State, Malaiwan President Joyce Banda scored a first by taking questions off-the-cuff from the general public as monitored on Zodiak Broadcasting Station (ZBS), on 31st December 2012.
President Banda answered questions on a wide range of issues including on the economy, gay rights, contractual issues of top civil and public servants, increasing university intake and youth policy among others.
The Malawi leader defended her bloated cabinet saying each of the ministries is vital for the country’s development agenda.
Responding to a question by host of the program Pilirani Phiri, President Banda explained that looking at the present composition of her cabinet each ministry has a role to play for the economic prosperity of the country.
“Take for instance the Energy, Mining and Natural Resources ministry; it was so big so much that it was becoming difficult to be run by one minister. As such some very crucial areas like mining and natural resources management were being overlooked as we only focused on energy but now that the three have been separated I’m very comfortable my government would perform efficiently and effectively,” said Banda.
Commenting on the economy, the President said that the economy was in bad shape; “We needed quick wins, we took steps to reform, we made decisions that were necessary but tough and we have to stay the course if we are to heal from the economic pangs that beset this country in the run up to my taking over office.”
“I was not voted into this office. I was put on this position by God. I cannot just change some of the policies that were pursued by the late president,” she said.
“People have been saying I have no substance, they should wait for my manifesto.”
Commenting on the planned demonstrations on 17th January 2013, the President said that she cannot stop people from demonstrating, but she hoped people will do a critical examination of the economic path this country had taken.
In as far as Public Private Partnerships (PPP) are concerned regarding University education, the President said that the country has benefitted from such arrangements before and that it was her Government’s wish that a way was found to tap into such arrangements.
On a related note, the President said that her government is working hard to source the required resources to complete and furnish the Malawi University of Science and Technology (MUST) located in Thyolo.
Several social and political commentators have hailed this gesture by the president and say it sets the tone for a more open and transparent political platform in the country.
Blantyre based social commentator Albert Chigoga said by talking directly with Malawians, the President has demonstrated that she is open for talks.
“I’m not sure about the criterion which was used to identify the callers but the impression I got is that it was done at random and almost each and every region was represented. Talking about the issues addressed, of course it was same rhetoric, but the president was composed and able to articulate the issues eloquently,” concluded Chigoga.
The commentator however bemoaned the program’s duration saying it was not enough for the president to clarify all pertinent issues.–(Additional reporting by Mana)
Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :