Minister Goodall Gondwe credited for Malawi’s economic success during President Bingu wa Mutharika’s first term, is said to have told US diplomat in Lilongwe that the head of state is making mistakes in his economic management, according to cables released by internet whistle-blower, Wikileaks.
The cable exposes a report former US ambassador Peter Bodde sent to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in which he wrote that Gondwe at the Ambassador’s Thanksgiving gathering quietly remarked that “the President is making a lot of mistakes.”
He further confided that while at one time he had been able to temper the President’s views and steer him in the right direction, he was no longer able to do so, according to the report.
Gondwe noted that even the President’s brother, Peter Mutharika (now minister of foreign affairs), “finds it difficult to moderate the President’s sometimes extreme public statements.”
The report noted that a series of bad decisions and policies by Mutharika including Malawi’s overly rigid exchange rate, rejection of World Bank support to join the Southern African electrical grid, overspending on fertilizer and frivolous government procurement, and clumsy intervention in agricultural markets.
It also noted about Mutharika’s “threads of populism, capriciousness, and even xenophobia run through the President’s public pronouncements, and have some local commentators for the first time drawing comparisons with Robert Mugabe.”
The report says Mutharika rather than reassessing his policies, preferred to blame the IMF, Asian traders, and other scapegoats for Malawi’s problems.
“The IMF and World Bank have been forcing us to have a free market economy…but now all foreign business operators externalize forex to Asia and the Middle East,” the reported quote President Mutharika speech in a radio address.
Chancellor Kaferapanjira, CEO of the Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI), disagreed, instead blaming government interference in the market.
“Government is controlling market prices too much. There are no indications that the market is failing, therefore government must not interfere with it. The market should be left to decide the prices. Too much control of prices does not work,” Kaferapanjira said, according to the report.
The report further noted: “Many of [Mutharika] advisors know better, but are increasingly reluctant to challenge the President’s views, even in private.”
US Embassy say they do not comment on antisecrecy website WikiLeaks in any frame or manner.