I have been assessing the Malawi leader Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika (APM) and his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) performance on pertinent areas amidst many accusations from different quarters labeling him as a failed leader. In my assessment I have sampled major areas of success that are geared to develop Malawi by addressing social economic challenges therefore unlocking more developments and uplifting the lives of many Malawians of whom majority are poor.
It is good to highlight that the DPP led government has prioritized infrastructure development as key in its development agenda for the country. I am also pleased to see that the DPP government has pledged to construct new and comprehensive network of rural access roads and trunk roads to serve the remote agricultural areas so that produce can reach the urban markets safety and efficiently. As per APM’s famous quote “No country can develop without a good road network”, He has actually walked the talk as Malawi has seen major road construction, rehabilitation and upgrading under his leadership as per his party’s campaign promise.
For instance: Apart from many city roads too numerous to mention here, there are also major road construction taken and taking place across the country.
The 47Km long Chikwawa Chapamanga road is part of the link on the 109 kilometer Chikwawa Mwanza (S136) road.
Rehabilitation of Liwonde-Mangochi Road a 75 Km stretch of road from Kamuzu Barrage in Liwonde to Bakili Muluzi Bridge at Mangochi Boma.
The 81.7 km Chikwawa – Ngabu – Bangula Road is a section of the main backbone road designated as M1 which traverses across Malawi from Karonga in the Northern region of Malawi to Marka in Nsanje in the south.
Lilongwe City West Bypass road.
Rehabilitation of Mzuzu-NkhataBay Road (M5) This road is a 46km long. It connects the Mzuzu City – biggest city in the North to the Nkhata-Bay on the shores of Lake Malawi.The 95 km long, Lilongwe Old Airport-Kwanyanda-Santhe (S117) and Kasiya spur (T342) road project starts from the M12 ( the Lilongwe to Mchinji road)
Upgrading of Lirangwe-Chingale-Machinga Road Project
Upgrading of Jenda-Edingeni Road Project
Thyolo – Makwasa-Thekerani – Muona – Makhanga Road
Upgrading of Zomba – Jali – Phalombe – Chitakale Road
Upgrading of Milepa-Chiladzulu road section
The upgrading of Rumphi-Nyika-Chitipa road is one of the planned/upcoming project in the pipeline. Also upgrading of Lirangwe-Chingale-Machinga Road Project not forgetting Nacala Road Corridor Development Project Phase 4 and Karonga –Songwe boarder road that was recently commissioned by the Transport Minister.
The transport sector also takes care of railway rehabilitation and constructions and also airport face uplifting currently taking place at KIA and Chileka International Airports. The north is yet to have a state of the art new airport whose foundation stone was already laid down by APM himself.
National IDs is another good initiative done by APM. To begin with, Malawi is the only country in the sub Saharan Africa which has not yet fully implemented the national registration system. In the absence of the national ID, Malawians used other forms of documents such as passports, driver’s license, the voter’s card just and many others. But these documents cannot surpass a national ID, the only document offering the positive identification of every individual in the country. Malawians should be proud therefore to learn that the country has accelerated its efforts to fully implement the National Registration and Identification system in the nearest possible time. Bravo APM!
SIM Card mandatory registration is another milestone as far as combating crime is concerned. The mandatory SimCard registration is aimed at preventing the use of mobile phones for criminal activities which has been so rampant in Malawi of recent.
Public Service Reform is another milstone APM has achieved. As the country continues to register tremendous development, the people’s expectations in terms of service delivery keep on growing as well. This compels the government to seek new knowledge and best practices of serving the citizenry. Fifty two years after Malawi’s political independence, the need for the public sector to be more people focused has never been greater than it is now. Currently, various ministries have signed contracts with the Head of State to adhere and implement their promises to the people of Malawi in terms of national development.
Food security is one of the most crucial factors for Malawi being agro economic country. DPP’s symbol of maize cobs seem to keep on igniting the party creating a hunger free nation. Under DPP Malawi has passed through many shocks of drought, erratic rainfall and devastating floods, and now the fall army worms have led to a life-threatening situation. Against all odds DPP has made Malawi food secure and as per APM’s assurance no one has ever died because of hunger. As if he was a Prophet APM stood firm not to uplift maize export ban despite heavy pressure from different sectors. That maize export ban has now become a wiser decision following the looming hunger that Malawi is to experience due to drought and fall armyworms. With APM I feel Malawi will never go hungry.
APM and his DPP have managed Malawi economy considerably well. As per World Bank, the country’s headline inflation rate continues to decelerate faster than anticipated, falling to 9.3% in August 2017, compared to 22.8% in August 2016. This downward trend has largely been due to a sustained decline in food prices resulting from the increased availability of maize, and a stable exchange rate. There are reduced lending rates from 33% to 23% across the banks and this sustainable growth is predicated on sound macroeconomic management. Malawi Kwacha has been largely stable for the past one year or so despite the country’s inflation going down to a single digit.
Water is life and APM seems determined to end water problems in Malawi. $500million Salima – Lilongwe water supply project to be carried by Khato Civils Limited will be a lasting solution to the problem in Lilongwe and surrounding areas.. Karenge Water Supply Project which is expected to benefit over 30,000 people in Chitipa district was commissioned by APM himself. There are also plans for more water sources in Mzimba and several other places to arrest the water shortage in Malawi. The much awaited $23.5 million (about K18 billion) water supply project to tap water from Mulanje Mountain to Blantyre City and surrounding areas is another game changer is clean water supply amongst many other developments in the water sector. This is without mentioning recommendable and many other projects carried out by developmental partners in many communities across Malawi.
Apart from the above discussed, APM is determined to move the country forward through Community colleges where the youth are taught different skills hence making them self reliant and reducing unemployment rate which causes crime among the youth.
Good governance is a foundation for a strong united nation. When some quarters thought Chilima and APM’s relationship was sour and the youngster deserved a boot, APM stood on the podium and told the nation Chilima is my beloved son. When the innocent Chilima read the famous mass demonstration letter in the church against the government some party followers felt this was un-forgiven sin but APM continued to work with him with a happy face. Malawi prisons are not keeping anybody on political reasons despite many personal attacks to the President. He also kept his promise by maintaining a lean cabinet throughout his tenure and also by accommodating opposition member in his cabinet in the name of Hon Atupele Muluzi.
One of the most denting factor on the DPP government is the perpetual blackouts which has affected many sectors of economy more especially the small scale businesses and industries which incur high production costs, resulting into low profits and job cuts in the process.. I for one do not blame DPP alone for this problem but all previous governments for not investing much in electricity with the growing population of Malawi. It is pleasing to note all the short, medium and long terms solutions put in place which will completely end the electricity blackouts for once and for all.
There is great improvement on health medical situation across the country’s hospitals with less theft reports with improved systems and services. The young Muluzi seems very active on his portfolio and making things move for the better.
Having said this, I don’t want to believe that APM is a failed Leader but if this is failure then failure is good. What APM needs is just a strong fresh clean workforce to help him realize his dreams on Malawi. Many times it is the workforce that spoils leadership. If elections were to held today I would surely vote for APM.
In conclusion, APM has shortfalls and weaknesses just like anybody but he has more positives as well which many people chose to show a blind eye. This is the spirit that we need to get rid of if we are to progress as a nation by supporting the leader, providing constructive criticism and being part of the solution. Malawi is lacking one major instrument to foster and lead the development agenda at a national level and this is National development plan which every leader and party that takes government should be mandated to follow unlike moving one step forward and two steps backwards because every party and leader that takes the mantle will need to start his or her own projects and in many cases abandons the predecessors’ projects.