Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) leader Peter Mutharika has said President Joyce Banda has failed to manage the country’s economy and her government’s policies were making Malawians destitute.

Mutharika’s DPP is the party that brought most of the economic mess Malawi is in at the moment due to its retrogressive economic and political policies and Malawi will take time to recover from the problems.

Therefore it is interesting to hear such statement from the leader of the DPP, who had earlier in the year been assured of presidency by his brother the late Bingu wa Mutharika.

Information Minister Moses Kunkuyu has hit back at Mutharika, saying the DPP is the one which mismanaged devaluation by not devaluing when all the indicators supported the weakening of the local unit.

Speaking in an interview yesterday, Mutharika who is in contention to become Malawi’s next president said a team of economists in the DPP is already developing an economic plan which the party would use to resuscitate the economy once voted into office in 2014.

Among other things, Mutharika said President Banda has flopped in managing devaluation and that the majority of Malawians were going through unprecedented economic hardships because of poor handling of the economy.

“The devaluation should have been done gradually to avoid causing suffering on poor Malawians,” said Mutharika, adding: “And the government should have assured of the necessary cushion before devaluing the kwacha.”

He said the “extremely huge devaluation” has resulted in high levels of price increases which have made many Malawians unable to afford basic necessities.

The former foreign affairs minister said the DPP economic plan, with similar intentions but different strategies to Joyce Banda’s Economic Recovery Plan, will be unveiled at the party’s convention slated for December 2012.

“I don’t want to pre-empt the plan because I am a lawyer, not an economist. But what I can assure you is that our economic experts are working on it,” said Mutharika.

Speaking in a separate interview, Kunkuyu blamed the DPP for the economic problems prevailing in the country.

“Had the previous administration devalued the currency gradually when it was required to do so, there would not have been a need for the 49 percent devaluation implemented in May,” argued Kunkuyu.

He further urged the DPP not to come up with a separate recovery plan but join hands with government in correcting the economy “they messed”.

“Why should they leave Malawians to suffer now when they know that they have solutions to the problems we are facing today? They are the ones who messed the economy so they should come up with the solutions now, and not later, if they are patriotic Malawians,” said Kunkuyu.

Mutharika’s assessment of the Joyce Banda government follows similar sentiments from the Consumers Association of Malawi (Cama) which has gone to the extent of calling for a consumers’ protest over the continuous increases in commodity prices in the country.

Cama’s call has since been backed by the Council for Non-governmental Organisation (Congoma) which has vowed to support any protests initiated by the consumer rights body as a sign of solidarity.

Since the devaluation and floatation of the kwacha in May this year, prices of consumer goods have catapulted as symbolised by the price of a litre of petrol which has shot up to K606 from K380 in April this year.

Prior to the devaluation, there was a general feeling among Malawians that the devaluation would unlock budgetary support to the country which had been frozen over governance concerns and the derailment of Malawi’s Extended Credit Facility with the IMF.

But since the coming in of the new government and the return of the country to a programme with the IMF, only the World Bank, African Development Bank and, just last week, the European Union, have released budgetary support to the country.

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