Two newspaper columnists on Saturday launched at attack on President Peter Mutharika’s New Year address when he equates importation of goods and service to sound economic management.
According to the President, Malawians now have a high sense of taste and can afford to buy imported cars and that fuel service stations sprouting up all over the country are a sign of a growing economy.
“More than ever, I am seeing new cars on our roads – and Malawians have a high sense of taste. More and more Malawians can now afford to buy a car,” said Mutharika in his New Year’s message.
But Weekend Nation columnist Suzgho Khunga queried Mutharika: “ As his convoy passes Area 18 in Lilongwe or Chichiri Trade Fair grounds in Blantyre, the President does not see the high number of vehicles that stay for months without being sold, he does not know that those vehicles translate to the millions in forex that have left this country due to our gluttonous nature to consume more than we can produce.”
Khunga wrote:”Whatever happened to the promise of turning the country from consuming nation to a producing one when the whole President can take pride that his people are importing excessively?”
The prominent columnist Mutharika’s New Year address, pointing out that some of the content was just “ too laughable for words.”
In the commentary, Khunga reminded Malawians when Bingu wa Mutharika, the President’s brother, came into power in 2009, he told Malawians that the country had developed beyond recognition, so developed the sunrise on the flag became a full blazing full white sun. Not long after that there were fuel, power and forex shortages and the people did not like him as much as they did on May 20 2009.
“Just the fact that the same institutions that have been in existent for 53 years under different administrations including the DPP have failed to resolve the challenges facing the country should tell the government that APM is no miracle-maker,” Khunga wrote.
The columnist continued : ‘Only a President that has no clue what is happening in his own country can claim that new jobs have been created when over 3 000 people lost employment in 2017 and 1 500 in the year before.’’
According to Khunga, it would be kind to believe that the President could not have written the “litany of hogwash” that was presented as a New Year address on Monday, “he had to have been misled by someone who thought patting himself on the back for developments that are actually depressing was the perfect gift to Malawians.”
Another columnist, the ‘Backbencher’, similarly went out of his way to bash Mutharika on economy talk.
While the Backbencher noted that Mutharika was “spot on” regarding the stabilisation of the kwacha and the rolling down of both inflation and interest rates, he pointed out that the challenge is in making this a rule and not an exception to the rule.
“How can the stability be sustained so it trickles down to impoverished Malawians? I missed that part if it was articulated at all,” wrote the Backbencher.
Despite the positive economic data presented by the President , the columnist gently pointed out that what isn’t true about the economy is the “arrogant claim” by Mutharika that we are managing without donor aid.
“The truth is that many donors stopped giving us direct budgetary support. They were nauseated by the rampant fraud and corruption which made them liken government’s Account Number One to a ‘leaking bucket.’
“Only a mad person would try to fill such a bucket by pouring in more water. But aid flows into the country. It doesn’t only help government implement its social and developmental agenda but it also is a major source of foreign exchange without which this consumer economy which largely depends on exporting tobacco, would once again be reduced to ‘zigubu’ economy of Bingu’s disastrous second term,” reads the influential column in part.
The Backbencher also argues that it doesn’t help government’s image for the President to insist that Cashgate —the plunder of public resources at Capital Hill exposed in September 2013— was a former President Joyce Banda problem when audit has shown that massive pilferage of public funds was rampant even when Bingu was at the helm of a government in which President Peter Mutharika himself served as a Cabinet minister from 2009.
‘What most law-abiding Malawians would probably like to hear is an out-of-the-box strategy for making the zero tolerance for corruption policy work.
‘Otherwise, not only is corruption rampant but it’s now on your watch that Malawi–the poorest country by GDP per capita –is still losing more than 30 per cent of its revenue. Could it be that your government is clue-less on how to effectively and decisively fight corruption?Trust me, that’s probably a major reason some tax-payers may be looking for an alternative leader,” conclude the columnist.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :