Malawi government has rejected the latest Afrobarometer survey results that highlight performance on the governance front which says nine out of every 10 Malawians or 88 percent believe the country is headed in the wrong direction in terms of handling of major policy issues such as consumer price stability and job.
Afrobarometer is a pan-African , non-partisan research research organisation that conducts public attitude surveys across the continent on issues of democracy, governance and the economy – the sort regularly quoted by policy buffs, NGOs and academics with an interest in understanding what people think and how to make things a little better.
But Malawi government spokesman who is also Minister of Information and Communications Technology Nicholas Dausi argues that it is obvious that the survey was conducted to tarnish the reputation of President Peter Mutharika administration.
In the Mid-Term Review Survey of the performance of President Mutharika and his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) released, Malawians also say government is not doing enough to narrow the gap between the rich and the poor.
In its key findings, Afrobaromete said: “Almost nine in 10 Malawians [88 percent] say the country is going in the wrong direction. This view is shared by large majorities in both urban and rural areas as well as across all major political parties.”
The survey also found that “more than half of Malawians” think the government is performing “fairly badly” or “very badly” on 13 of the 16 policy issues the survey asked about.
Reads a summary of the findings: “A majority of respondents rate government performance positively on promoting women’s rights and opportunities [57 percent] and maintaining roads and bridges [51 percent]. The lowest scores are on keeping prices stable [9 percent fairly/very well], narrowing gaps between rich and poor [13 percent], and providing reliable electricity [13 percent].”
But Dausi said the DPP-led government is trying its best to steer the country in the right direction and that the gap between the poor and the rich is “ narrowing at the moment”.
Dausi said ,the needs of the youth “are being addressed” and that government is ensuring that Malawians have “enough to eat.”
Said Dausi as quoted in the press: “Government has put in place incentives to make sure that the gap between the rich and the poor is closed and that youths are trained in technical and vocational skills to enable them fend for themselves and their families.”
However, according to the findings, slim majorities see government as doing well in promoting rights and opportunities for women and maintaining roads and bridges.
The Afrobarometer survey has come hot on the heels of several other negative assessments such as United Nations Commission on Trade and Development (Unctad) data which indicates that 71 percent of Malawians are living in extreme poverty despite increased public spending on health and education, which are Malawi’s priority areas.
In May, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa’ African Social Development Index (ASDI) report revealed that Malawi and the rest of Africa are getting poor than two decades ago fuelled by inequality.
In April, the Public Affairs Committee, a quasi-religious body and governance watchdog, also rated poorly the Mutharika administration as it indicated the country was experiencing mediocrity as poverty levels have been deeply entrenched among ordinary citizens.
In the survey, the Afrobarometer team, led by the Centre for Social Research at Chancellor College, a constituent college of the University of Malawi (Unima), interviewed 1 200 adult Malawians in both urban and rural settings belonging to the four major political parties represented in Parliament, namely DPP, Malawi Congress Party (MCP), People’s Party (PP) and United Democratoc Front (UDF) in December last year and January this year.
On the overall direction of the country according to political party affiliation, the survey shows that 92 percent of MCP followers, 89 percent of PP supporters, 82 percent of UDF sympathisers and 82 percent of DPP supporters see the country going in the wrong direction.
Other policy issues where government has been rated as performing negatively include managing the economy, creating jobs, ensuring everyone has enough to eat, fighting corruption, improving living standards of the poor, addressing needs of the youth and reducing crime.
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