By Nations Publications
With only 11 months to the next elections, President Peter Mutharika is racing against time to fulfill a third of what he promised Malawians in the run-up to the May 20 2014 Tripartite Elections.
We looked at 23 promises APM made during his campaign, and found that only six have been fully met.
•Achieve economic stability by bringing down inflation and interest rates
•Pass the Access to Information Bill
•Maintain a 20-member Cabinet
•Embark on the Public Sector Reforms Programme
•Introduce Decent and Affordable Housing Subsidy Programme (Dahsp).
We also found that one pledge: to achieve food security, has been partially fulfilled. The country realised a surplus in 2016/2017. But the Minister of Finance Goodall Gondwe said in the budget statement for 2018/19 that this year, government has budgeted K42 billion to purchase maize to meet national demand.
APM has failed on the following 16 promises:
•Zero-tolerance on corruption
•Introduce health insurance
•Initiate total security
•Ban handouts and prevent MPs from increasing their salaries
•Reduce concentration of power in the Presidency
•Reduce distance to schools
•Establish child, youth rehabilitation fund
•Make appointments on merit
•Engage private sector on development
•Revise Section 65
•Bring back Section 64
•Establish a National Security Council
•Ceate new wealth and reduce poverty
•Complete construction of university campuses in Karonga, Mzimba, Nkhotakota, Mangochi and Nsanje.
Commenting on the creation of new wealth and reduction of poverty, as APM promised in his election manifesto, Chancellor College-based economic professor Ben Kaluwa said in an interview last Tuesday, many people are still living below the poverty line.
“Low income earners have increased over the past four years. Public resources continue to be wasted through corruption in government. That exerts pressure on the budget as the government cannot meet poor people’s needs such as nutrition, health services and education.
“There is need for the government to provide quality education that would break the cycle of poverty. But as it stands, children born from poor families inherit poverty from their parents and pass it to the next generation. All indicators show we are worse off than four years ago,” said Kaluwa.
In the health sector, APM among others, promised to ensure an efficient and effective health system end critical drug and staff shortages, and also repair and maintain medical equipment.
But health rights activist Maziko Matemba in a telephone interview on Tuesday said efficiency in the health sector is still a far-fetched dream.
“Efficiency can only be achieved if the sector has enough highly trained personnel which is not the case as at now. With high vacancy rates, we can only hope that someday we will improve,” he said.
Said Matemba: “Of course, there has been an attempt to make the sector effective by, among others things, giving central hospitals administrative autonomy. But for the health insurance, it is still just a debate that has not yielded anything.
“Although drug pilferage has reduced, there is still drug stockouts while maintenance of equipment is still a big challenge. It is only in the 2018/19 budget that have we seen government putting aside resources to maintain medical equipment.”
On APM’s promise to repair and upgrade schools, construct new ones in order to reduce the distance to schools to a minimum of five kilometres, education policy analyst Limbani Nsapato said failure to allocate enough resources to the sector means there has been minimal impact in addressing the perennial challenges.
“Currently, we have a number of challenges which include shortage of teachers, teaching and learning materials, infrastructure challenges and limited incentives for teachers.
APM also promised to introduce a special child and youth fund to support education for needy learners besides upgrading the teaching profession, making it attractive. This has not happened.
On new universities to increase access to tertiary education, APM only laid a foundation stone for the proposed Mombera University in Mzimba. However, infrastructure development is yet to take shape.
Renowned education commentator Benedicto Kondowe wondered why there have been no allocations in the budget for the construction of the promised facilities.
“We are surprised that allocations for construction of Mombera and Mangochi Marine universities are not coming out clearly despite reports that construction of Mombera University has commenced,” he said.
Apart from Mombera and Mangochi Marine universities, APM also pledged to construct universities in Karonga, Nkhotakota and Nsanje. None have been constructed.
Head of governance and administrative studies at Chancellor College Happy Kayuni said in all sectors the current administration has not done well.
“Unfortunately, this has been both on key and basic promises. We cannot talk about development when we are failing to deal with corruption. That should have been an urgent assignment the government should have prioritised. Therefore, I can say without fear that the government has failed big time. There is no way we can double export when we do not even have power for domestic use. Power is an essential factor of production and we are in a big mess,” he said.
Political analyst Nandin Patel said the culture of impunity is hindering the process of democracy consolidation.
She said: “Every political party is judged by its own manifesto. It is a document which contains the vision and the mission which the party has set out to do. That should not stop at only mentioning the items but should give a clear roadmap and realistic timeframes that they [political leaders] will deliver the promises therein.”
Patel said the DPP made a lot of promises which naturally they would not deliver; hence, the need to hold it accountable.
She said: “The failure to implement key electoral reforms, its inability to deal with widespread corruption will go down to be amongst the major setbacks of this administration. How can you talk of macroeconomic stability when the country is still soiled by impunity and corruption?”
DPP has itself to blame
Political analyst Ernest Thindwa added that the DPP administration had itself to blame.
“Every report that you read— starting from those from Bretton Woods institutions and the United Nations—shows that Malawi is far worse than it used to be a decade ago in terms of its economy.
“Corruption is getting worse every year. To be honest, the failure by this administration to reduce presidential powers has stagnated the country into a quagmire of misgovernance and nepotism. No wonder we are the third poorest country in the world, even worse than Somalia that has seen decades of war.”
But in an e-mailed response to a Weekend Nation questionnaire on last Wednesday, presidential press secretary and spokesperson Mgeme Kalilani defended the President’s performance.
He said the promises contained in the DPP manifesto ‘Towards A People-centred Government’ launched in April 2014 were designed to be delivered beyond the President’s first five-year term of office.
Said Kalilani: “The DPP manifesto does not say all the promises shall be completed in [or] under five years. The implementation of the promises is in progress and those yet to commence shall continue during the President’s second-term of office from 2019 to 2024.
“At the pace things are going, by the end of the President’s second-term, most of the promises, if not all, would have been met.”
However, Kayuni and Thindwa have shot down Kalilani’s rebuttal, saying the manifesto which the DPP sold Malawians was in line with the electoral cycle of five years between 2014 and 2019.