Malawi’s Bingu takes on donors, activists once again

Mutharika is angry with donors

Malawi’s President Bingu wa Mutharika took on the country’s donors withholding millions in budget support, civil society organisations (CSOs), opposition and religious leaders accusing them of working to topple his rule.

The southern African nation’s key donors are in agreement with religious leaders, activists and opposition parties that Mutharika’s bad economic policies have left the country teetering on the brink of collapse.

“I want to bring to the attention of the House and the nation to that some external forces are encouraging our detractors to bring about chaos, lawlessness, disobedience so as to foster regime change in our country.

“These external forces are working through civil society organisations which number over 550 in our country of only 13 million people. Such a proliferation of CSOs has never brought drugs to our hospitals, nor has it alleviated the fuel and forex shortages among us,” said Mutharika.

He said there is little Malawians have benefited from huge resources donors channel to NGOs “to forment chaos in the country.”

“I would propose that Parliament must find effective means of providing legislative oversight on the CSOs utilisation of resources they receive from donors. In other words, legislation must be passed to make CSOs accountable.”

On devaluation, which the IMF has recommended to be implemented to stem the flourishing parallel market, Mutharika  reiterated that it is difficult for government to devalue the kwacha unless there is guarantee to protect the poor from high commodity prices, resulting from devaluation.

The IMF wants the kwacha devalued  to about K250 to a dollar to help Malawi win back the suspended IMF programme – crucial to unlocking donor support.

“Devaluation is not a panacea for solving our problems. Even in advanced countries devaluation is used only as part of the solution. Which country has ever had meaningful development just by devaluing its currency?

“My ardent appeal to the IMF and the western development partners is to allow my government a short time space of three years to try to put in place policies that will restore resilience in our external balances.

“If we fail then we can try devaluation. Western donors should help government in its attempts to find lasting solutions to these problems instead of chocking our throats,” said Mutharika.

Mutharika however attracted boos from the opposition bench when he said the Nsanje World Inland Port project was one of the achievements his administration has made. He added his administration has also successfully fought hunger and reduced HIV/Aids related deaths, among others.

“Instead of despising these achievements, we should all own them regardless of which political camp we belong to and be proud of them. These constitute our national heritage to be handed down from generation to generation.

“Those who say that Malawi is a failed state or that the country is sinking or that the country is off-track simply because we face temporary fuel and forex shortages do not have the truth in them,” said Mutharika.

He said sentiments that Malawi is off-track are based on evaluation standards that have not been explained Malawians, insisting that through implementation of home-grown policies, the country has achieved an average annual growth rate of 7.5 percent over the past seven years.

Mutharika said it was improper for his critics to use the media to fight laws that Parliament has “duly” passed.

“A new trend emerging in our country is that the Law Commission and Law Society have begun to challenge the passing of laws by this August House. I submit that Parliament is the only legitimate institution to champion the process of making laws for Malawi.

“Civil society organisations are gradually usurping the mandate to legislate and seem to support individuals who can challenge any legislation passed by Parliament as bad laws or draconian laws,” he said.

Mutharika said as a sovereign state, Malawi has its own customs, cultures, religions and laws, which he said are not subservient or inferior to any systems prevailing elsewhere.

“My prayer is that the people of Malawi will stand up for what is right for us and not give legitimacy to strange and unwelcome practices from other lands simply for a few dollars.