Malawi’s flagship daily newspaper, The Nation, has reported that President Joyce Banda is becoming unpopular because her government’s one year performance on the microeconomic level is creating simmering anger in the voters, the paper quoted analysts.
The report on Tuesday comes after the paper’s weekly title, Nation on Sunday on April 14 reported that its survey showed that Malawians have expressed dissatisfaction with the president’s performance.
In his critique of President Banda’s first year in office, Dr Henry Chingaipe, an expert in governance and development, said: “It is worth noting that on a large-scale, the President has done well on high level needs, thus macro level. However, cash poverty has become worse since Banda took over the reins of power. As such, she has increasingly become unpopular among people at the grass roots.”
He told the paper that: “Many of them [the people] are poorer than they were before April 2012. The future is not optimistic in the short-term as fuel prices will continue to go up, meaning a continued rise in food prices.
“Stabilising the kwacha holds the key to stabilising the economy. But I do not know how government can achieve that knowing fully that there is not enough of forex being generated from the ongoing tobacco sales.”
Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) national secretary Chris Chisoni also told the newspaper: “The ever increasing prices of commodities are creating anger and animosity among the electorate. This is evident from the feedback we have been getting from these people as an organisation that aims at advocating people’s consciences.”
The commentators urged President Banda to do more to ease the economic problems Malawians are facing if she is to restore their faith in her.
According to a survey carried out by The Nation on Sunday newspaper released Sunday, 14th April 2013 which had 1 278 respondents, in 17 districts by way of face to face interviews as well as short message text service (SMS), President Banda is losing support.
Out of the total respondents, 900 indicated they were not impressed with Banda’s performance as president. This represented 70 percent of the sample.
Human rights activist Billy Mayaya hailed Banda in other areas but pointed out that her weak points stem from the extravagance and unbridled expenditure of her government on international travel which ideally should be delegated to technocrats in key ministries.
Mayaya said the President spends too much time out of the country with a begging bowl which someone else can easily carry.
“Her presence in the country is hardly felt. The purchase of new luxury cars for ministers is a slap in the face in this time of supposed austerity,” he said.
Mayaya said Banda needs to return to the drawing board and focus on articulating her vision for economic recovery as this will be the number one issue in the 2014 elections.
“Malawians will decide her fate based on the message she crafts related to the recovery of the free-falling economy,” he said.
Malawi’s Minister of Information and Civic Education Moses Kunkuyu said President Banda has performed very well in her first year in office.
“We had to devalue the kwacha for we knew the country will benefit in the short-term. It might be tough now, but it will soon be over. There are several initiatives government is undertaking to make sure everything is in order, one of them being the economic recovery plan,” said Kunkuyu who is also government spokesman.
Kunkuyu defended the President’s policies claiming whatever Malawi was implementing were owned by government and not the International Monetary Fund (IMF) prescriptions blindly
Banda ascended to the presidency in April 2012 in line with constitutional order after the death of Bingu wa Mutharika.