Tonse Gov’t and opposition irk CHRR over their endless blame-game on who’s behind development failure

The Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) has expressed anger over the blame-game between by the Tonse Alliance government and the opposition on who is responsible for the economic challenges Malawians are facing at the moment.

CHRR Executive Director Michael Kaiyatsa said Malawians are fed up with the endless finger pointing between the governing coalition and the main opposition – Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

Kaiyatsa has made the sentiments in a statement issued on Wednesday. He said what Malawians want is to see the government side and the opposition side working together to find lasting solutions to the worsening economic situation in the country.

Michael Kaiyatsa

“Over the last few months, Malawians have experienced a crippling rise in the costs of basic necessities that has made it difficult for them to make ends meet. While it is true that there is no single household in the country that is not feeling the economic pinch, it is also true that the situation is proving particularly devastating for poor people in rural and urban areas, many of whom were already living hand-to-mouth, working in the informal sector,” said the CHRR chief.

“We observe, for instance, that many Malawians are unable to buy cooking oil, soap, sugar, bread, fertiliser and other basic necessities as they used to and we believe that if no urgent measures are taken to remedy the situation, particularly on the price of basic commodities, many people will be thrown deeper into abject poverty and will experience hunger next year. This dreadful prospect calls for collaboration between the government and opposition political parties to come up with robust, innovative and urgent solutions to lessen the burden, rather than engaging in endless blame-game that will not benefit Malawians at the end of the day,” he added.

Kaiyatsa said as CHRR, they remain uninspired by current efforts towards addressing this crisis.

Below is the verbatim of the statement Kaiyatsa has signed on behalf of CHRR:

We are not convinced, for example, that expensive presidential trips abroad will fix the worsening economic situation.

Of course, we are aware of the negative impact that the Covid-19 pandemic is having on the global economy. However, we are also aware that Malawi’s fragile economy is on a downward spiral due to several factors emanating not only from the pandemic but also from years of economic mismanagement and abuse.

CHRR observes that even before the Covid-19 pandemic, progress towards the Sustainable Development Goal of poverty eradication had slowed down, and the country was not on track to ending extreme poverty and hunger by 2030.

The Covid-19 pandemic has only exacerbated an already difficult situation. With this background, the hope of many Malawians who went to the polls on June 23rd last year was that the Tonse administration would work towards rescuing the situation.

But sadly, many Malawians are not seeing a light at the end of the tunnel, which is cause for concern. The campaign promise of “economic liberation” has still not materialised nearly 18 months after Tonse came to power.

We wish to remind the Tonse administration that the demonstrations that preceded the fresh presidential election were not just about change of leadership.

Most of the people who took part in those demonstrations did so because of worsening economic conditions at that time. Many protesters were optimistic that a change in leadership would transform the country.

It is, therefore, an insult to Malawians to keep wasting precious time by blaming the previous administration for the economic mess instead of clearing the mess.

President Lazarus Chakwera should know that the economic problems Malawians are facing right now are on him, not his predecessor.

During his inaugural State of the Nation Address last year, Chakwera told Malawians that Malawi’s poverty is man-made, which means it can be unmade. But since then so little has been done towards “unmaking” this poverty.

In fact, most of the economic challenges Malawians are facing right now are man-made, arising not out of natural causes but out of punitive man-made economic policies designed to squeeze people’s hard-earned income in the name of raising tax revenue.

It is an undeniable fact that some of the price rises have been influenced by rising taxes. We urge the Tonse administration to urgently fix these problems or they will look back in shame come the next general election.

However, CHRR is under no illusion that these problems can be fixed by the Tonse government alone. We believe the economic pressures Malawians are facing could be lessened if government and the opposition were to work together to find a way out of the deteriorating economic situation.

CHRR strongly condemns those opposition political leaders who are looking at the current economic situation as an opportunity to score cheap points. Such selfish politicians have no place in the new Malawi.

The current economic situation has affected all Malawians, regardless of their political affiliations and it is, therefore, only right that everyone gets involved to find lasting solutions to the same.

CHRR also urges government to work hard to bring back on track the International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme.

One of the reasons for the economic downward spiral is that the IMF Extended Credit Facility (ECF) went off-track, a situation that has made Malawi’s bilateral and multilateral donors reluctant to support us with direct budgetary support.

As a country, we have to be honest and admit to ourselves that we have not reached a stage where we can say we can do without donors. We need our international development partners to help us ease the economic pains we are facing.

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