Opposition, Civil society not impressed with Joyce Banda’s state of the nation address

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Malawi President Joyce Banda on Friday had to endure booing from opposition benches to deliver the State of the Nation Address which the opposition and civil society organisations described as “mere sweet talk” and lacking details of results achieved in the economic recovery path.

In her address when opening the 44th Session of Parliament, she described 2013 as the year that demands all citizens to work hard to give birth to a “new Malawi.”

But throughout her speech, the government bench and People’s Party (PP) officials were kept busy clapping hands to counter the jeering from the opposition bench.

Government is currently pursuing the Economic Recovery Plan (ERP) as an attempt to stabilise the ailing economy, but it has triggered high cost of living which has eroded the purchasing power of the average Malawian.

Banda said the economic recovery path her administration has taken is the only route to end the economic problems the country is facing.

“The dark clouds of despair are lifting, giving way to our season of hope. Our country which for sometime has bled from a thousand wounds is moving towards healing,” said Banda.

Council for Non-Governmental Organisation of Malawi (Congoma) chairperson Voice Mhone accused Banda of contradicting experts by saying that the economy will recover this year when economic pundits have extended the economic recovery period to between three and five years.

“We want action on the ground to improve the economic situation. She has failed to demonstrate real action on the ground,” said Mhone.

Leader of opposition John Tembo said he needed more time to analyse the speech, but expressed concern about poor management of the Farm Input Subsidy Programme.

UDF chief whip Clement Chiwaya said the President delivered a replica of the ERP, saying she failed to explain what her administration is exactly doing on the ground to improve the economic situation.

Leader of DPP in the House Dr. George Chaponda said: “The speech lacked substance in terms of the problems the country is gracing. She delivered a lot of sweet talk on what government is doing.”

But donors including the European Union and World Bank commended Banda for staying the course on the economic recovery path, saying the private sector is critical to turning around the country’s economy.

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