Here is an unedited transcript of President Peter Mutharika on 26 February 2020 at Bingu International Centre at the launch of Vision 2063 formulation consulattion conference, as provided by the State House.
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We are here today to begin the process of deciding what we want our country to be in the next 40 years. We are launching a process for Malawians to decide for themselves the future they want for this country.
Malawians are the owners of this country. They should therefore decide what they want their country to be 40 years from now.
So, I want to thank the National Planning Commission for inviting me to be here today to launch the consultations for Vision 2063.
What we are doing today is to begin the process of reflecting on our past and assessing our current situation so that we plan the future we want.
In 1998, we launched Vision 2020. Vision 2020 was a collection of our aspirations for the Malawi we wanted to have today. And Vision 2020 expires this year.
The question many will ask is: As a nation, what have we achieved in the past 20 years?
And my answer is: We have achieved many things. But, of course, we should have achieved much more.
Since we launched Vision 2020, we have developed and implemented programmes, policies and strategies that have reduced poverty and improved the quality of life of our people.
In the past 20 years, we have reduced maternal and child mortality rates.
In the past 20 years, we have reduced the impact of HIV and AIDS. Today, more of our people are living longer than before because we have Universal Access to Anti-Retroviral treatment.
Over the past 20 years, we have increased life expectancy.
Since we launched Vision 2020, we have increased the enrolment of our children in our primary, secondary schools and universities.
In the past 20 years, we have expanded our road network and developed our information technology infrastructure.
We have also improved in the way we tackle issues of gender equality, protecting vulnerable populations and managing climate change.
Over the past 20 years, we have grown in strength as a democracy. We have enacted appropriate laws.
Our institutions of governance have become stronger. Government has become more respectful of human rights and more accountable to the people.
No longer are people in the villages recipients of development plans from Government. They decide the development they want in their communities.
In the last 20 years, we have seen more Malawians at every level participating in the economy and contributing to the development of the country.
With Vision 2020, we have made progress. But we also agree that we should have achieved more.
Many of our people still live in poverty. Our economy is still weak. Our electricity capacity is still inadequate.
We are still importing and consuming more than we can produce and export. We have not yet industrialized. Our people need better health and agriculture services. Our children need more schools.
So today, as we stand in the middle ground between the past 20 years and the next 40 years, we need to ask ourselves how we can do right the things that we have done wrong in the past period.
There are many things we need to change. We need to change from focusing on poverty reduction to inclusive wealth creation and self-reliance.
We need to work even harder to move to economic independence where all Malawians live decent lives — without waiting for donations or hand-outs from anyone.
We need to aim to become a middle-income country that is self-sustaining.
In the next 40 years, we need to focus more on placing the rural areas at the centre of development.
As I have said before, for a long time, we have assumed that development must start in the city and spread to the rural communities. For a long time, we have been taking people to development instead of taking development to the people.
We all know this model has failed us. And we need to change it.
I want development to start from rural communities and feed our towns and cities. After all, people in the rural areas make up more than 80 percent of our population. They grow the food which we eat. They generate the money which we use in delivering public services. We should turn to rural areas into centres of development in Malawi.
To make rural areas centres of development, my Government wants every community to have the following:
Every community must be food secure;
Every community must have electricity;
Every community must have good road network;
Every community must have a secondary school;
Every community must have a community technical college;
Every community must have a hospital;
Every community must have potable water supply.
Our ultimate goal should be to improve the quality of life of every Malawian – from rural areas to towns and cities.
As we develop the new plan, I want the youths and women to be heard and their ideas included in this plan. We cannot afford to leave the youth and women behind in the process of deciding our national development for the next 40 years. And let me ask all youths and women in Malawi to take interest in this development plan and contribute their ideas.
But above all, this plan is not all we need. We will achieve nothing with this plan if we do not change our mindset. We need to change our mindset if we are to change our country.
In this nation, we are too often obsessed with what is not working than what we have achieved. We dwell too much on our failures than on our capacities.
We need to change our mind-set. We need to move from “sizitheka mentality to zitheka mentality”. We need to focus on our capabilities and potential. As I have said before, we need to learn to see every challenge as an opportunity.
There is no country in the world that does not have challenges. But the difference is that while our friends look at their challenges as opportunities to achieve success, we look at our challenges as reasons to find someone to blame and pull down. In every problem, our focus must be to identify solutions instead of looking out for someone to blame. That will not take us anywhere.
This country can only be developed by our ideas and by us. We cannot wait for someone to develop this country for us.
At this point, let me commend the National Planning Commission for beginning the work to develop this national plan. My Government established the National Commission in 2017 to develop and to be the custodian of development plans for our nation.
I am aware that the Commission has already reviewed Vision 2020. Now you have a daunting task of developing our national vision for the next 40 years. More importantly, you have a task of ensuring that our development plans are implemented.
One of the challenges we have faced with Vision 2020 is policy disruptions. As administrations come, they have been changing policies without proper reasons. I established the National Planning Commission to stop these disruptions. I want the commission to do your job! And be assured of my full support.
On this note, let me urge the Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development to make sure that the National Planning Commission is properly and timely funded. The National Planning Commission is our commission. We cannot not to relegate the funding of the Commission to development partners. We must fund it ourselves and we must own it.
As I conclude, let me say this: the Malawi we all want is possible. But we need to hold hands and move forward together – in Patriotism, Integrity and Hardwork.
Tiyende pamodzi ndi mtima umodzi.
With these remarks, I declare the consultation process for the Vision 2063 officially launched.
And I urge every Malawian to take part in making a great future for our children.
Thank you for your attention.
May God bless you all, May God bless Malawi.