One year on, Malawians see little change under Peter Mutharika

One year since Peter Mutharika was sworn in as president, Malawians say the new leader has done little to alleviate the poverty-stricken country’s dire economic situation.

Mutharika: A year since Mutharika was sworn in as president, Malawians say he has done little to fix the country’s dire economic state

Mutharika: A year since Mutharika was sworn in as president, Malawians say he has done little to fix the country’s dire economic state

Mutharika beat out Malawi’s first female president, Joyce Banda, in a hotly contested election on May 20, 2014, the results of which were disputed.

Mutharika, the younger brother of late President Bingu wa Mutharika, is seen by many as a progressive leader bent on ending the widespread corruption that had marked Banda’s rule.

Hated by the West and loved by the East, Mutharika promised to end what was described as incompetent governance instituted by Banda following Bingu’s abrupt death in 2012. Bingu had died three years into his final five-year term.

Banda, a darling of western governments, who is currently in self-imposed exile, lost considerable support following revelations that top officials in her administration had helped themselves to close to $100 million worth of public funds in a scandal later dubbed “Cashgate”.

But in the one year that Mutharika and his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) have been in power, critics say the new leadership has taken a “business-as-usual approach” instead of fulfilling their electoral promises.

Mutharika, for his part, in a Tuesday speech marking the end of his first year in office, defended his policies, promising his fellow Malawians that change was just around the corner.

He went on to say he had come to power at a time when “the economy was very unstable, amid the Cashgate scandal” and when “the country’s development partners had withdrawn budget support because of the looting scandal.”

Mutharika, however, went on to say that, in this short period, Malawi had enjoyed positive economic growth despite devastating floods that killed 176 people and dry spells that affected the country’s agricultural production.

He estimated that the national economy had grown by some 5.5 percent and was expected to reach 7 percent – or higher – starting next year.

“Inflation decelerated from 24.2 percent in November 2014 to 18.3 percent in April 2015, [which is] mainly explained by the relative strengthening of the Malawi kwacha, supported by declining pump prices of fuel,” Mutharika contended.

“We expect annual inflation to fall to 16.5 percent in 2015, compared to 23.8 percent in 2014,” he added.

The Malawian president added that this anticipated decline in inflation was expected to raise citizens’ disposable incomes, while interest rates were also expected to fall in 2016.

“The foreign exchange rate has continued to stabilize as a result of government initiatives to stock enough foreign exchange reserves, which have been more than three months of import cover,” he said.

“This has enabled the private sector to plan and be able to import their raw materials for industrial production without much difficulty,” Mutharika declared in his address.

Yet despite these assurances, the main opposition Malawi Congress Party has accused Mutharika of dragging his feet in regards to pressing national issues.

Ken Msonda, a spokesman for Banda’s People’s Party (PP), said the president was merely riding the wave of his brother’s success.

“There is nothing Mutharika can say he has done during his first year in office,” Msonda told Anadolu Agency. “Malawians deserve better; they want economic progress, but it seems we are going in circles and more people are languishing in poverty.”

Billy Mayaya, a vocal and government critic, says Mutharika must first fulfill his electoral promises.

“All we have seen [during his first year in office] is appointments along political lines, nothing more,” said Mayaya.

On Tuesday, State House press officer Gerald Viola asserted that Mutharika’s biggest achievement since assuming office was to “bring back donor confidence”.

In March, the IMF resumed its financial support for Malawi to the tune of $20 million worth of credit. And earlier this week, the African Development Bank disbursed $29 million in budget support for Malawi.

“The recent disbursements to Malawi signify a shift of mindset by multilateral and bilateral donors to a third-world country that has been in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons following the Cashgate scandal,” Viola said.

What’s more, even Mutharika’s critics credit him with reducing the number of cabinet officers from 43 to 20.

Mutharika has also embarked on a massive reform drive aimed at streamlining the country’s bloated civil service, which, he says, will save an estimated 30 percent of the state’s resources each year.

An educator and lawyer with experience in the field of international law, Mutharika will have four more years to prove his critics wrong.

His supporters were no doubt cheered by a report issued Tuesday by the U.S.-based World Justice Project, which ranked Malawi fifth in Africa in terms of adherence to the rule of law.

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Chinyengo
Guest

BEAM, NAC. PRIME MINISTER, INTERNET TAX oops no Internet tax, visa fees oops no visa fees, PAC mishaps, oops, hastily married ugly Gertrude

Funso
Guest

A reduced cabinet but a bloated number of advisers!

Blessings
Guest

Palibe koma kuba ku NAC etc,

Bolingo
Guest

Zoseketsa abwana apm, mwat mwapangapo chan mchakachi? mwina mugone kaye ndikudzunso ndye muone that u have done nothing, only 2 fuel up umbava powalanda anthu 2mabizi,njinga,pano mwat driver aliyense akhale nd id very confusing i thot that drivers licence its enough. kuba basi…!

rumphi east
Guest

It looks like the name Daniel phiri was given by ben phiri to the former president that’s why peter will always be a puppet of ben phiri hence nothing to write home about in as far as one year in office of peter is concerned. We just need federalism.

rumphi east
Guest

He has Broken the record as the only Malawian president serving along with a prime minister,ben phiri.

mtumbuka1
Guest
Kodi a Imran sadiki, ung’onoung’ono unathera kuti? Mwakwera ya mlakho? Shit happens men. We can follow a politician today tomorrow he changes colour and we as supporters are left in the middle of nowhere..not your fault though. Let’s support chakwera mdjomba others have proved to be vibekete vakufikapo in the same breadth I don’t see the dpp leveling the playing field in the 2019 elections cos if one can manage to rig an election while in opposition,you can imagine what he can do when he is in govt azatapa mavoti okuba ngati ngumbi!! We are in deep trouble guys. We… Read more »
Nyani wa ku Mwananyani
Guest
Nyani wa ku Mwananyani
Please, please, one year is too short to call any new government a success of failure. Unless the commentator is heavily biased. Even for ardent DPP supporters, all they are doing is pointing out the success. And the best detractors should do is list the failures. And try to give a score, maybe, on a scale. So far, it may be 7 out of 10; which is not too bad. A few points are in order, regarding this article: 1. “… Malawians say the new leader has done little …”. Where is the evidence for such a broad statement? Any… Read more »
vera
Guest

problem with this president is that he is running the country with greedy idiots who cant help him.i have heard he has recruited another puppet master in norman chisale,a man who cant read or write.chisale is the one who has taken ben phiri’s place as chief puppet master.

Kennedy
Guest

It is business as usual dancing in august as well as bicc its enough to fool the people of south not wise people can take it. We will contnue to sufer if we don’t wake up, even theift prays to the Lord when they go for robbing business. Let those who dance to Dpp’s foolishness continue one day God will give us good leader just like Bingu in his first 5years, amen.

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