Mutharika claims developing, feeding Malawi

President Bingu wa Mutharika has claimed the country is “changing from worse to better” despite complaints that Malawi is facing the worst economic crisis with acute shortages of fuel, electricity and foreign currency.

“Malawi is getting better every day,” President Mutharika claimed in a recording of the BBC’s Africa Have Your Say aired Thursday evening.

The statement attracted immediate Twitter and Facebook rants by Malawians.

“Malawi is one of the best managed economy,” said Mutharika an Indian trained economist, adding the country is “a victim of development” and not mismanagement.

“I brought this country from zero growth in 2004  to 7.5 percent,” boosted Mutharika.

Mutharika: I am feeding the people

“I fed this country, people were dying in the street, and they were dying at Admarc and at other shops. I am feeding the people and we are successful,” he said.

But civil society activists on July 20 during the nationwide popular anti-government demonstrations presented a petition to Mutharika demanding him to among other things account for his wealth, address the chronic fuel and foreign currency shortages.

During the BBC programme, one of the organisers of the protests and a fierce critic of the President, Rafiq Hajat asked Mutharika “what is preventing you from resolving issues in the petition.”

Mutharika responded: “The mistake you civil society leaders were making is to believe that you can actually dictate the government what to do.”

He added: “Then you come to say we want a response within seven days or else. Or else what, who are you civil society against an elected government.”

Mutharika told the humble sounding Hajat “you adopted a combative spirit” and that the civil society “took a confrontation position.”

The President e claimed some “forces” were jealous with his government and lobbied for the cancellation of credit facility to purchase fuel which led to shortages.  He assured that the situation of fuel will soon be “under control.”

On forex, Mutharika said the country is discussing with IMF on mitigating the problem but noted that Malawi’s economy is “over-liberalised.”

He said “at the insistence of the Washington institutions, we transferred the control of forex from the Reserve Bank where it should be, equivalent of the federal reserve system or Bank of England, we transferred all that at the insistence of the Bretton Woods Institutions to commercial banks. As a result all the tobacco proceeds were externalised, they disappeared from our banks in less than three months. And yet that is our major foreign exchange earner.”

Mutharika said Malawi is discussing with IMF “to be given derogation to take measures that will restore the external balances.”

Responding to a question from a caller identified as Dr Linje, Mutharika said the country has agreed with the donors that “the problems facing Malawi are multifaceted and we have also agreed that we do need external assistance.”

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