The Nation Newspaper today carried a headline titled “Malawi is not developing – UN”, which is misleading.
News Analyst, Grace Phiri uses the UN Report titled “The Least Developed Countries Report 2018”, as reference. But her headline is a disgrace. In her article, she DOES NOT quote any content of the report. She also does not outline exactly what this report is about. Neither does she analyse its exact contents.
The only reasonable conclusion we can reach from the poor article by Grace Phiri is that the Nation’s article is nothing but propaganda, and we argue why.
Let us first share what the report is about, for the sake of Ms. Phiri, who referenced a report that she has never read.
The preamble from the UN Report states:- “The list of least developed countries (LCD) is reviewed every three years by the Committee for Development Policy, a group of independent experts that reports to the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. In reporting to the Economic and Social Council, the Committee for Development Policy may recommend countries for addition to, or exclusion from (the so-called graduation), into the list of least developed countries.”
What are the UN Criteria to graduate from Least Developed Country?
UN Report lists three factors as criteria for qualification to graduate from LCD, namely;- per capita income, human assets criterion, and an economic vulnerability criterion.
The UN Report states that “per capita income criterion” is based on a three-year average estimate of the gross national income per capita, with a threshold of $1,025 for identifying possible cases of addition to the list, and a threshold of $1,230 for possible cases of graduation from least developed country status.” Malawi’s GNI Per Capita has grown from $1,120 in 2014, to $1,180 which is the 2017 performance. This is exceeding the $1,025 set by the UN.
A country will normally qualify for graduation from least developed country status if it has met graduation thresholds under at least two of the three criteria in at least two consecutive triennial reviews of the list. Malawi will need to stay and maintain its current performance for at least six years in order to make the graduation list. Facts that Ms. Phiri conveniently omitted to share with The Nation readers.
There are currently 12 least developed countries eligible or pre-eligible, as of 2018, for graduation from least developed country status, Angola being one of them. Most of these countries became eligible to graduate since 2011 (for example – Samoa and Equatorial Guinea), however, they will attain their status in 2020 and 2021.
Why is Malawi Developing, and how did The Nation get it wrong?
When you look at the key economic indicators, Malawi has been on an upward trend. Malawi’s Gross National Income per capita, which the UN uses to measure the classification of countries has been on an upward growth since 2014.
Malawi’s GDP has been on an upward trend and is set to continue to grow – with the World Bank and the IMF projecting above 5% growth in the next 2 years. This GDP will not be growing positively in a country that is “not developing”, as the Nation would like to claim.
Malawi has invested heavily in infrastructure development, boosting the economy. Invested significantly in the social programmes, leading to great stability of all the areas that the UN measures as criteria for graduation from LCD.
Being an LCD country does not mean you are “not to be developing”, and I am sure that a “journalist” from a paper such as The Nation would know. The UN Panel reviews countries’ performance every 3 years to see if they meet the rigorous criteria.
The IMF, World Bank, the US’ Millennium Challenge Corporation have all painted a positive outlook to Malawi’s economic and social development, including its fight against things such as corruption.
Taking all economic indicators into consideration, Malawi is developing – and moving in a right direction. Grace’s article in the Nation was very vindictive and failed to do a simple analysis of Malawi’s key economic and social indicators in line with the UN LCD criteria. If she did, her article headline would have come to a different conclusion.
What The Nation did was to simply confirm that Malawi is in the LCD list, and then draw a very wrong propagandistic conclusion which they ran with as a headline.
As a national paper that is expected to inform and educate the country, you would expect that journalists would apply some rigour in their analysis.
Grace Phiri, in her article, has further contributed and confirmed the perception of a decline in editorial quality of the local newspapers. It has further confirmed the unfair anti-government position that local commercial media journalists and their editors hold.
A proper analysis and research of facts by Grace would have avoided bringing her name into a disgrace, let alone turning the newspaper into nothing but a rag.
Malawi is developing.