As the political tempo is rising in Malawi, many people are realizing that almost all the political players are saying the same things and promising the moon, which they will not deliver. Even the so-called new political players who are coming on the political fray promising change and a new political order have not really deviated from the typical rhetoric that has defined politicians in our multi-party democracy.
The issues that are dominating political discourse are the same: corruption, nepotism, lack of economic progress; failure of institutional reforms and others.
Although there may be a confluence in the general understanding that these issues constitute a deepening malaise in our society, there is also a general understanding that politicians have failed us.
However, those who have been following Malawian politics with keen interest will testify that the only president in the history of this country who made progress in implementing a real change agenda was Joyce Banda, president of the People’s Party (PP) and the first and only female President of this country.
Joyce Banda returned back to Malawi early this year after a four year successful international tour of duty and fellowship programme in the United States of America (USA). Since her return many people have been calling JB, as she is popularly called by her supporters, to return to presidential politics and to stand in the tripartite elections next year as a presidential candidate.
There could be many reasons why Malawians are calling for JB to be on the ballot next year, and one does not need to go far to see the reason why. As other aspirants are busy trumpeting this and that ideology in their campaigns, JB can point at so many things that she accomplished during the two years that she was in power, from April 2012 to May 2014.
When JB and PP took over the government, the Malawian economy was on its death bed. Following the expulsion of British Ambassador by the late President Bingu Wa Mutharika, the country was hit by an acute shortage of foreign exchange, and importing fuel was a big challenge. Long queues of people and vehicles scampering for fuel were a common site in our towns and cities and Goodall Gondwe, who was Finance Minister that time, conceded that Malawi had reached the end of its tither and could not have done anything.
As soon as she came in, JB did not waste time but to implement an Economic Recovery Plan (ERP), which was a well-thought out economic framework aimed at balancing the economic variables so that the economy recovers from the mess that the late President created. Within two years, the Malawian economy grew from 1.8 percent to 6.3 percent and the fuel status improved from no fuel for a day to 15 days’ fuel supply.
The former President also recorded huge successes in the fight against corruption, and today she still stands head and shoulders high as the only one who took the bull by the horn when others are just paying lip service.
Her fight against corruption was largely premised on her belief that economies that are afflicted by a high level of corruption do not prosper, and remain stagnated with serious socioeconomic consequences.
Her efforts against corruption were some of the boldest in the history of this country. She demonstrated unprecedented personal political will and commitment in fighting corruption, which was unlike her immediate both predecessor and successor.
For example, soon after she was alerted by former European Head of Delegation, Ambassador Alexander Baum in September 2013 that the Integrated Financial Management Information System (IFMIS) had serious loopholes, which some public officers were taking advantage of to steal government money, she immediately announced at ECAMA Annual Conference in Mangochi that her government would review IFMIS in order to ensure its integrity and to prevent any loss of Malawian taxpayers’ money through fraud.
She also made it clear that anyone involved in stealing public funds would be arrested and that she would not shield anyone from prosecution.
On top of this, she created the Ministry of Good Governance whose first occupant was Dr Chris Daza. This was clear step in the right direction because it ensured that all Cabinet Ministers operated and acted in their duties with diligence and integrity to avoid abusing their positions, and to protect government money.
With the help of the British Government, the former President also initiated a forensic audit into cash-gate and engaged an internationally-renowned audit firm, Baker Tilly, to conduct the exercise. The Baker Tilly audit report was released on October 30, 2014 complete with names of the people involved in cash-gate. This report can be accessed by all because it is a public document.
It is sad to note that Malawi deteriorated from a star performing economy in 2013, to the poorest country in the world in 2016, under President Peter Mutharika, according to latest ratings by international institutions. The economy has hit all-time low. Inflation is currently hovering at 20 percent and getting higher, which is causing an exponential rise in the prices of essential commodities. Foreign exchange reserves have also been depleted, which has resulted in very high foreign exchange rates.
Today, a lot of Malawians do not know where their next meal will come from, or whether it will come at all. The unfortunate thing is that there seems to be no end in sight to the status quo because the country continues to plunge, uncontrollably, into economic turmoil.
When JB left office in 2014, the exchange rate was around K400 to the US Dollar; it is currently hovering around K750 to the US Dollar. The Mutharika government has also miserably failed to deliver critical services to the population in areas such as electricity, water, food and nutrition, health, basic and secondary education, tertiary education, improved shelter and housing, roads and transport, public infrastructure, safety and security, as well as youth employment.
As we near 2019, it is important for Malawians to critically assess all those that are coming to present themselves as candidates and pretending to love Malawians. JB is the only answer to our plight because in her time she made things possible because she was blessed with a dedicated team at political, cabinet and the civil service levels, which implemented her corrective plans with utmost professionalism.
This was buttressed with support from other political parties; the international community and the civil society.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :