Bingu wa Mutharika’s Malawi is sinking fast. In the past few days, the embattled dictator has been forced to introduce a series of “austerity measures” in a last-minute attempt to save the country’s economy.

Amongst other steps, Mutharika has:

  • Frozen job appointments in Public Service despite a government policy to create 12,000 new jobs- there’s simply no money for salaries.
  • Banned foreign travel- government officials now have to get authorization from the highest level in order to travel. Last week, the advance party to the AU summit in Equatorial Guinea was recalled, and Mutharika did not attend.
  • Attempted to adjust tax on basic food items.
  • Rejected advice from the International Monetary Fund that he should devalue Malawi’s currency, the Kwacha.

Mutharika’s measures and announcements have come in the aftermath of his failed international relations- for example, he expelled Great Britain’s envoy to Malawi after he (Mutharika) was labeled as “increasingly autocratic and intolerant of criticism”.

The expulsion led to the withdrawal of funds by donor agencies, and the reluctance of others to assist in bailing out the tyrant’s regime.

Apart from food and fuel shortages, Malawi has had problems with maize crops it had intended to export, as well as a massive 72% decline in tobacco earnings.

Presidential Budget Up, Vice President’s Down

Some other odd moves by the President included reducing his vice-president’s budget by 60%, whilst increasing his own presidential budget by 11%. This is said to be in retaliation for Vice President Joyce Banda’s outspoken criticism of the leader.

The sad fact of the matter is that Mutharika’s regime is collapsing, and, instead of listening to the wisdom of allies and neighbours, he has, Mugabe-style, shut off the tiny country from potential aid. Malawians will be suffering at the receiving end of his foolishness.

 

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ZIMENE MUMAKONDA

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