President Banda’s first 60 days in office: Orange Intellectuals statement

As one of the youth wings of the ruling Peoples’  party, Orange Intellectuals is composed of students who are currently studying in institutions of higher learning (colleges and universities). Our mandate, among many others, is to provide positive criticism in the day-to-day running of the country especially at this crucial moment when our beloved party is on the driving seat. Hence this statement seeks to highlight major strides this government has undertaken in just 60 days that our dear president has been in office. As students, we always feel duty-bound to provide the much needed checks and balances since we are privileged to be heard when we have spoken and this is why, for a long time, we have assumed the role of the ‘voice of the voiceless’. Therefore, this commentary has been so tailored to achieve the common good the party in particular and the country in general.

FOREWORD

In the first place we sincerely congratulate the Head of State and all Malawians for managing the transition with a sense of sobriety and responsibility. At a time when some misguided souls were involved in some conspiratorial plans, the general populace sought solace in the order of the constitution. This is no mean achievement especially when just hours before the official swearing in on the 7th of April, a team of influential ministers swore never to hand over power to the incumbent in what is now been popularly referred to as the ‘midnight coup plot’. We thank God for being on our side!

ECONOMY

The new regime deserves our pat on the back in the way it has managed the tattered economic situation of the country. It is an open secret that the late president left our economy in shambles. Fuel scarcity, forex drought, low tobacco prices, et al were the order of the day. On top of that was the artificial valuing of the currency, no wonder that the calls for Devaluation were just inevitable from both, within and outside. When we read IMF articles 7 and 9 we easily grasp the wisdom behind the move. We therefore, salute the President for taking heed of the wise counsel to devalue the Kwacha, this was a necessary evil because even the late president did not hide the huge benefits of devaluation but his only worry was the availability of Back up Cover.

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And now that we have restored the confidence of our major cooperating partners, it is our sincere hope that it’s not the ordinary man who will feel the pinch of the side effects of devaluation. This we say, with vivid memories that even before the ‘official’ devaluation of the currency, prices of basic commodities like sugar and fuel had already sky rocketed. This loosely means that we could no longer leave in borrowed robes; the obvious just had to be implemented and face the reality other than leading a pretentious economic life.

FOREIGN RELATIONS

We commend the new regime for winning back the lost trust of our foreign cooperating partners. It was so out of place that, due to the growing executive arrogance; we had lost support of our major bilateral donors as well as multilateral. It was indeed uncalled for that we could not even drink from the same cup of tea with our close neighbours like Zambia and Mozambique. Winning back these relations is a crucial step in the right direction as a Nation. On our own, there is virtually nothing we can achieve because even the famed ‘Nsanje Inland Port’ project requires the intervention of others. We therefore, urge the PP led government to build on this footing for more glory in the development sector.

SECURITY

It is quite heartening to note that as Commander –in-Chief of the Malawi police Service, the president cordially allowed her Inspector General to go to Chancellor College and make peace with the institution following that unfortunate eight long break that was ironically orchestrated by the former late president who urged the then IG, Mr. Mukhitho never to apologise on an otherwise simple issue that originated from a mere classroom example. This attitude gives the Orange Intellectuals community hope and pride that the safety and security of our future is even ‘safer and secure’. We can now feel that we are in the right hands. And the fact that a civilian Committee to observe and report the abuse of police officers is in the offing, just adds an icing on the cake. A responsible police service is what we need, not a trigger happy police force that thrives in torture and brutality.

EQUITY

We salute the equitable and meritorious appointments that have so far been implemented. Coming from a background where one home of origin was a major deciding factor in ascendancy to high offices, the recent appointments gives us a glimpse of hope. Examples are just too numerous to cite; the cabinet is equitably distributed across all the four regions (North, Central, East and South). Another area is the choice of Electoral Commissioners. It is a very welcome development that the president consulted all the political parties in coming up with the appointments. Having representatives of all political parties in a committee that will oversee the elections is the highest thing any party on earth will demand for the sake of free, fair and peaceful electoral process. We call upon the president to continue with the habit of picking the deserving candidates for their rightful roles without looking at the individual’s leanings.

UNITY

What struck our chords was the call for Unity from the word go. On her inauguration, the president called for unity and togetherness in our Endeavour of putting our country back on the map. She emphatically spoke against cheap politics of revenge and retribution. This is a unifying call ever! United we stand, divided we fall, so goes the wise saying. It is this component of Unity, alongside that of Equity highlighted above, which will drive the country to Development. No wonder, Unity, Equity and Development make up the three corner-stones of our beloved Peoples’ Party.

YOUTH EMPOWERMENT

As a youth movement, at the core of our campaign is the issue of promoting and safeguarding the interests of Malawian youths. We therefore, find it amusing that the president has shown how serious she is in the promotion of youth participation in Decision Making positions by incorporating a number of youthful members in her first cabinet. It is indeed interesting that 40 percent of the cabinet is composed of youths; Hon Atupele Muluzi, Hon Enock Chihana, Hon Anita Kalinde, Hon Grace Maseko, Hon Jennifer Chirunga, Hon Racheal Zulu, Hon Sosten Gwengwe, Hon Ralph Kasambara, Hon John Bande, Hon Moses Kunkuyu and many others fall within the age bracket of forty. If this is not youth empowerment, what is? But of course, we hasten to add that a lot needs to be done in the area of youth empowerment because the largest population of the youth is in the rural setting. We need job creation strategies that will significantly reduce the high rate of unemployment that this government has inherited as well as injecting honest and fairness in the process of acquiring YEDEF loans. These loans should truly benefit all youths of Malawi and not just a few party zealots. But we find hope in the fact that our president has always had the welfare of the youths at heart. The formation of Youth Movement for Development (YOMODE) as part and parcel of her Joyce Banda Foundation is a clear testimony of how the president values youths’ role in development.

WOMEN EMPOWERMENT

Much as we appreciate that the president’s ascendancy to the highest office in the land is, in itself, a remarkable and significant stride in the campaign of Women empowerment, we feel a lot needs to be done to elevate the life of a village woman. This is why we commend the state president for taking it upon herself to launch the National Safe Motherhood Campaign. The fact that there are Traditional Leaders in the National Working Committee makes the whole project sustainable. We know from history that the president has always dedicated her life towards the uplifting of women welfare and we are sure that this will even be simple in her current post. This is why we are tempted to take mention of Market Women Activities and Initiative (MWAI), another brain child of Joyce Banda Foundation. This attitude towards the vulnerable and under-privileged is what we cherish in our dear president.

JUSTICE

An efficient justice delivery system is a back bone of any successful democracy. It is therefore, pleasing to hear that the new regime is not bent on calling names the men of the bench as mercenary or corrupt. This gives the judiciary the much needed independence and autonomy in carrying out their fundamental routines without fear or favour. In the same vein, we are happy to hear that some of the cases that were stopped like that of the ‘single signature consolidated account’ and the “Vwaza Concession’ will now be resumed. It’s cases like these which will give even the current holders of lucrative offices a timely reminder to always be cautious and avoid abuse of public resources. It is our hope that this will not target only those in opposition but even those who are hiding behind the ruling benches in Parliament. We know there is a stinking lot who have dramatically switched allegiance for the sole purpose of avoiding prosecution of the shady deals they were involved in whilst serving that mafia regime. Cases, like that of the ‘MHC Scam’ instantly come into mind. These need to be scritunised.

COMMISSIONS OF INQUIRY

It is so obvious that at the beginning of almost every regime there are changes. And change doesn’t come on a silver platter. One of the changes is that the new regime would want to go deeper into what went wrong in the previous rule. And these normally require an inquiry. Hence we salute the president that the first of these commissions of enquiry was that to look onto the brutal demise of our fellow student Robert Chasowa, a final year Engineering student at Malawi Polytechnic. As students, we can’t hide our excitement because we know that now we will get the whole truth regarding friend’s sudden and premature death. We therefore not only commend but also encourage the Head of State not to hesitate whenever she needs to get to the bottom of any mysterious event that took place in the previous regime. This is the time for reckoning.

CONCLUSION

As concluding remarks, we would like to make it clear that the Orange Intellectual Community will not just sit and watch when something is going wrong. Whenever we sense foul play, we won’t hesitate but criticise for the general good of Mother Malawi. Likewise, wherever we see reason and ration taking root, we will clap hands for a job well done. It is therefore, with this spirit that we commend our beloved president of the Republic of Malawi, Her Excellency Mrs. Joyce Banda for starting well in her first sixty days in office. We pray that this continue for the betterment of our dear Nation and we offer our unwavering and solid support. We know she can’t be 100 percent right as any other human being but we expect informed decisions from her. Decisions made out of goodwill and not malice, decisions that will build and not those that will destroy decisions that will make all of us proud of being Malawians. We thank God that this has exactly been the norm in the past sixty days; it has been a new Malawi!

* Edgar Chipalanjira, National Coordinator

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