A large majority of Malawians feel the country is going in the wrong direction including a significant proportion of sympathisers of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), an Institute of Public Opinion Research (Ipor) survey has established.
The survey dated October 2018 led by University of Malawi professors Blessings Chinsinga, Boniface Dulani, Joseph Chunga and Mwayi Masumbu with support from Centre for Multiparty Democracy (CMD) is similar to the same findings by Afrobarometer survey last year that said 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 creation.
“A clear majority of Malawians (78%) say the country is going in the wrong direction. This is across political party alignment of respondents although opposition parties passed a more damming verdict,” reads the Ipor report.
On the overall direction of the country according to political party affiliation, the survey shows that 91 percent of PP followers, 87 percent of MCP and UTM supporters, 67 percent of UDF sympathisers and 66percent of DPP supporters see the country going in the wrong direction.
In its key findings, Ipor – established in 2013 which also released its Local Governance Performance Index (LGPI) focusing on education and healthcare service delivery – said the national economy and living conditions of households are also considered by large majorities of the country’s citizens to be in “bad shape”.
Reads a summary of the findings: “Worse still, fewer Malawians are optimistic that things will change for the better in the next 12 months. Furthermore, there is a widespread feeling that the current government is performing badly in addressing issues of national concern. This is exacerbated by the perception that corruption in the country has worsened over the past year.”
In the survey, Ipor said on the state of democracy and democratic attitudes, Malawians are “split evenly” regarding supply of democracy.
“Slightly more than half say they are satisfied with how democracy is working. Generally, the environment is open for freedom of association but relatively closed in terms freedom to speak one’s views on political matters. A substantial number of respondents reported they fear falling victim of political violence,” reads the findings.
It continued: “Overall, there is hope for continued support for democracy as a system of government. Democracy remains popular while other alternatives are strongly disapproved, especially military rule and dictatorship.”
However, a significant proportion still holds that one party system may be an option in some circumstances.
“These results imply that democracy as a system of government in the country is not a done deal. There is need to continue investing in efforts to entrench it against potential possibilities reversals if it continues not to deliver to people’s expectation. The country is thus doing well in terms of procedural and not substantive aspects of democracy. The latter are, however, very crucial for democracy to become the only game in town,” reads the summary.
The Ipor survey has come hot on the heels of several other negative assessments of government performance on the governance front.
Afrobarometer—a pan-African non-partisan research network that conducts public attitude surveys on democracy, governance, economic conditions and related issues in Africa— in their survey last year 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.
The Public Affairs Committee, a quasi-religious body and governance watchdog, also said the country was experiencing mediocrity as poverty levels have been deeply entrenched among ordinary citizens.
Ipor survey had a national representative final sample of 1 350 of eligible voters and was carried out between August and September this year to assess the political environment in Malawi ahead of the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections and give an understanding of the political and economic environment of the country.
All political parties and commentators have not undermined the credibility of Ipor which is based in the eastern city of Zomba and the researchers were also involved in surveys of Afrobarometer, a pan-African, nonpartisan research network that conducts public attitude surveys on democracy, governance, economic conditions and related issues.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :