President Peter Mutharika outlined his vision for Malawi in deepening of democracy and economic self-determination when he delivered a public lecture at Yale University in United States at the auditorium 45 years after leaving the university.
Mutharika lectured on ‘Democratisation and economic self-determination in Africa: The case of Malawi.” He entertained questions from the audience afterwards.
President Mutharika paid tribute to his alma mater, saying when he left Yale in 1969, destiny never told him that he would become a Head of State 45 years later.
“I didn’t know I would come back to Yale as President of the Republic of Malawi. But somehow, I knew I would return,” said Mutharika, touting Yale University as a place where the human quest for ‘light and truth’ finds its destination.”
He noted that during his time, there were very few African students at Yale, but that he was pleased that the numbers have grown significantly over the years.
In his lecture, Mutharika said Malawi is part of the paradox of Africa: “it is a rich country in terms of natural resources but sadly ranked as being among the poorest in the world. Yet we have some of the most magnificent parks and mountains of Africa and we have land for productive agriculture. We also have Africa’s third biggest fresh water lake which we are now harnessing to irrigate the land as part of Africa’s Green Revolution.
Mutharika also highlighted how Malawi moved from colonial era, to multiparty dispensation with himself being the fifth President of Malawi after winning the 2014 elections.
On democracy, the Malawi leader said countries have a long way to go as far as democracy is concerned citing flaws in the constitutions that govern democracy.
He said Malawi’s first decade of democracy – under president Bakili Muluzi – made progress in setting up structures and institutions of democracy.
“Over the past two decades, Malawi has experienced a significant degree of improvements in the quality of governance. Democratic reforms and political liberalization have helped improve the quality of politics, people’s representation and responses to people’s needs. Malawi is no longer autocratic; it is a liberal, multiparty democracy,” said Mutharika.
The Malawi leader however said the economic progress has remained “modest”.
He said second decade of Malawi’s democracy moved towards economic self-determination, led by late Bingu wa Mutharika.
“Under his leadership, we began to guide the country towards more home-grown economic policies, even promoting the use of subsidies in agriculture, against the position of some of our development partners. This policy led to food self-sufficiency at that time,” said Mutharika.
He also mentioned ‘cashgate’ scandal of looting public resources as the main enemy of Malawi economic prosperity that made the donors pull-out.
“We are now in the process of restoring full integrity to our public resources management culture and systems,” informed Mutharika.
“I have strongly condemned corruption at all levels, both in the public and private sectors. Since I was elected to office, 16 months ago, my administration has had a policy of zero tolerance towards corruption, including the successful prosecution of senior government officials found guilty in our courts.
“The process is ongoing and will continue until its logical conclusion – to rid the public sector of the scourge of corruption. In Malawi, no one is above the law. As a former Law professor, I know what this means and will be true to the values that I developed at Yale many years ago,” said Mutharika in the lecture that was covered Malawi Broadcasting Corporation.
The President said his government has embarked upon the process of reforming the public sector and strengthening public finance management to ensure efficiency, accountability and responsiveness to our people’s needs and requirements.
“The Constitution enjoins us to do so. As a step towards deepening development, we are in the process of setting up a national planning commission which will be empowered to facilitate long-term economic and development planning to avoid political short sightedness,” he said.
In terms of policy implementation, Mutharika pointed out that lack of skilled labour has been another challenge.
“This has undermined sustained growth and our efforts to diversify the economy. The skills challenge has come from a skewed education philosophy that has not been meeting market and industry demands. For a long time, we failed to provide education to underpin manufacturing and export.
“We are now rolling out community colleges across the country to create a skilled labour force that will meet the demands of investors, create new businesses that will set the country on the road to industrialization.”
Mutharika said his administration is equally committed to supporting the private sector to truly act as an engine of growth.
“At present, the government is the biggest employer but we will reverse this by facilitating the rapid expansion of private sector investment. Our goals is to diversify the economy and to double the exports from Malawi by 2019, and turn Malawi from a predominantly importing and consuming country to a predominantly producing and exporting country,” he said.
Mutharika was in New York for United Nations general assembly. He returns home Saturday.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :