In three months’ time, Malawians will be going to the polls to elect a President; Members of Parliament (MPs) and ward councillors in another tripartite election; the second one in the country’s multiparty history.
Incumbent President Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika will be seeking a second term of office, but before he does that he will have to see off the challenge coming from a few presidential hopefuls to the State House tenancy.
Currently, there are 20 individuals who have collected presidential nomination papers with an intention to compete with President Mutharika, but there are only about three serious presidential challengers.
However, despite the challenge, President Mutharika appears to be head and shoulders higher than his closest competitors because he has fulfilled most of his campaign promises and steered the country on a path of social economic development despite facing some impossible odds.
When he blazed on the political scene in 2014, few people gave President Mutharika any chance of achieving any tangible development because they thought he had inherited a poisoned chalice, which will be very difficult to manage.
The previous People’s Party (PP) government of former President Joyce Banda had just been tainted with a grand malfeasance called ‘Cashgate’, which involved some civil servants in connivance with private sector individuals to steal money using fake companies or got money without doing any work for it at all.
This theft resulted into bad international publicity and donors fleeing the country with 40% of budgetary support. The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) of President Peter Mutharika, therefore, took over the reins of power when donors were unwilling to come back with their purse (they are still unwilling to resume direct budgetary support to this day).
However, President Mutharika was single-minded in his purpose to develop this country. He promised to be a President of the people and not to be like any other President before him but unique in his ways. He promised to do things unusual and to bring a different perspective to how government is run.
President Mutharika’s initiated a socio-economic development revolution to uplift the socio-economic conditions of Malawians and to rescue them from biting poverty. Now five years down the line, there are visible results of performance by President Mutharika and the DPP government across a variety of sectors such as the health sector; the education sector; the economy as well as the provision of an array of social amenities to caution Malawians against the effects of poverty. It is therefore worth noting that this time around President Mutharika will not be like the other candidates; he will be competing based on a background of deliverance and solid performance.
What makes President Mutharika and the DPP government particularly deserving of praise is the fact that this grand performance came despite the fact that DPP found empty government coffers as a result of zero donor aid due to Cashgate. On top of this, the DPP government also faced natural disasters in the 2015 and 2016 fiscal years, which contributed to low economic performance and GDP growth.
Although this election will in many ways be a different turf than it was in 2014, particularly due to the coming in of new players such UTM of Saulos Chilima and Muhammad Sidik Mia in the Malawi Congress Party (MCP), President Mutharika and his ruling DPP have risen to the party to neutralize the threat which came about as a result of the these new players. DPP is staying ahead in terms of popularity and it is still the political party, which Malawians will still vote for this May.
It is evidently clear that President Peter Mutharika has the upper hand among all the presidential candidates that have so far shown interest to contest this election.
It is only President Mutharika among all contestants who has a well laid out plan to take Malawi out of its economic doldrums. Under his stewardship, DPP has spearheaded an infrastructure development revolution never seen before in this country.
In fact, in five years, President Mutharika has literally put this country under construction such that other areas have been completely transformed beyond recognition. In fact, Mutharika has constructed and rehabilitated many roads in this country more than all previous presidents combined.
The economy, which almost tanked five years ago, has been revamped even without donor support. President Mutharika has created a conductive environment for investment by among other things promoting investment forums where investors from all over the world are invited to appreciate a compendium of investments areas across various sectors that government profiles annually.
Fuel cover is currently at almost six months, a feat that has never been achieved by any government in the multiparty era. Just recently, government reduced fuel prices for the second time in a few months to respond to global price trends. Again, a feat that has never been achieved before by any government.
With inflation at single digit, prices of basic commodities including maize, salt, milk, sugar and other important foodstuffs have been unprecedentedly stable.
It is because of such fiscal, social and economic initiatives by the Peter Mutharika government Malawi has enjoyed steady investments in the tourism sector such that five star hotels are currently under construction in Lilongwe, Blantyre and Mangochi. The Liwonde-Mangochi road has just been rehabilitated to ensure ease of travel by local and international tourists to this prime tourism districts on top of a stadium and other facilities constructed in the district.
Another area where the DPP government has also recorded impressive performance is in the education sector. Under Peter Mutharika, the education system has been comprehensively revamped.
For example, the promise of community colleges has been a reality; there is almost a community college in every district in this country and the first cohort of over 1,000 students graduated in 2017, in various disciplines ready to take on the country as entrepreneurs.
The University of Malawi has been unbounded allowing various constituent colleges under it to be autonomous and to operate freely. This would encourage creativity, and will also help the universities to make more money through research and improve their quality standards.
There has also been an improvement of human freedoms under President Peter Mutharika and the DPP. Democratic institutions have also flourished and are operating without any government interference. Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) are able to engage with the President or openly criticize him without any recriminations like it was in the past; human rights activists are allowed to hold demonstrations freely. President Mutharika vowed in 2014 never to arrest anyone for political reasons and has been faithful to that promise to this day.
Under President Mutharika, the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has also rediscovered its ‘teeth’ and is able to investigate and make high profile arrests without any interference. Of course, there is need for improvement but there has been steady progress in terms of ensuring independence for the graft-busting body. The media in Malawi is also operating freely, and there has never been any arrest of journalists under Peter Mutharika.
As Malawi glides towards May 21, President Mutharika should, therefore, be the most confident among all presidential contestants because his performance speaks for him and has put him in his own league. President Mutharika’s performance has made his opponents irrelevant because Malawians are able to see and gauge that performance, and it is for such reasons that the people are prepared to give him another term of office.
This would be a confirmation of some of most reputable firms’, local and international, who have continuously predicted that President Mutharika will win a second term in office on May 21, 2019.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :