President Peter Mutharika is firmly set to win the 2019 elections again, according to the London experts at Economist Intelligence Unit.
This firm prediction follows a similar position taken in 2016, and this time given with a much brighter economic outlook for Malawi where the EIU notes it could lead to the return of donor support to the budget. Mutharika has presided over an administration that has not received budget support for two consecutive years since donors pulled out in reaction to Joyce Banda’s cashgate.
Yet, even after devastating floods in 2015 and severe drought in 2016 both of which have battered Malawi’s economy, the economy is recovering. For example, Inflation is now at 16.1 percent, banks are reducing lending rates and the economic growth rate has now been pegged at over 5 percent. The London experts thus predict:
“The president, Peter Mutharika, is expected to remain in power, as his rivals are too divided to mount an effective challenge.”
The experts say Joyce Banda’s recent announcement that she would return to the Peoples Party leadership does not threaten Mutharika. They say regardless of which party Joyce Banda represents “we consider Ms Banda’s electoral prospects to be relatively bleak.” The EIU notes that in the minds of voters, Banda still represents an era of Malawian politics that is characterised by corruption. “Moreover, after the prolonged absence of its leader, the PP will struggle to mobilise the party machinery to effectively challenge the DPP…. “We maintain our view that the incumbent, Peter Mutharika, is the favourite ahead of the 2019 presidential election, regardless of whether Ms Banda returns to politics,” it says. The EIU country report affirms that Malawi Congress Party will lose because it is internally weak and divided besides its inability to command nation-wide popularity. In a quest for balance of power, EIU observes, opposition political parties may resort to take advantage of their numerical strength in Parliament to attempt to sabotage government business.
However, the EIU says, they would struggle to secure the support base that would enable them to dislodge Mutharika from power come 2019. The EIU observation comes after Malawi Congress Party (MCP) has continuously engaged in politics of sabbotage and Lazarus Chakwera publicly denying development in an attempt to erode public confidence and derail Mutharika. The EIU report comes as an expert indictment of the failure of the MCP politics of sabbotage. The London report further adds that Malawi’s famed stability is not under threat, although low public confidence in public institutions and a shaky political landscape will continue to frustrate the needed political and economic reform. It also forecasts that while political volatility may heighten in the run up to and immediately after the elections in 2019 – as has been the case in precious election periods – election-related volatility is unlikely to seriously threaten Malawi’s underlying stability.
According to EIU, Malawi scores highest on electoral processes and civil liberties with a Government that allows dissenting views and media freedom. Malawi’s democratic processes are known to be reasonably well-established, it says. Because of this, attempts to scale any unrest up to a level that could challenge the Mutharika government’s hold on power are unlikely. And the EIU predicts further good tidings for the economy under Mutharika and how that will result in development projects for the country. “An upturn in aid inflows and a gradual strengthening in business confidence will, however, spur some activity in the construction sector, particularly with the government likely to expedite projects that address the country’s infrastructure deficit,” says the EIU.