Economic Association of Malawi (ECAMA) President Henry Kachaje has accused President Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika of running away from the truth in his State of the Nation Address delivered on Monday evening beamed live on Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC TV and radio 1).

Mutharika on Monday outlined a number of measures that his government has put in place to iron out the challenges rocking the country such as water crisis, power outages, economic down turn, shortage of drugs in public hospitals, looming hunger and others.

But Mutharika’s speech has attracted strong condemnation from all corners with others describing it as empty.

Writing on his official facebook page, Kachaje while noting some positives in the speech said attributing every challenge to cashgate is not helping matters.

“Look Mr. President, every president before you has said the same thing. As a leader, take full responsibility and stop pushing the blame.

“STILL STUCK ON CASHGATE AS THE “SCAPEGOAT”: “Cashgate was so devastating that we will continue to face its consequences for the next decade”.

“Really? Cashgate was about MK20bn. Surely this should not be our excuse for the next decade. Maybe Mr. President, let us conclude the investigations into the MK577bn / MK320bn financial scandal, then we will know that MK20bn “cashgate” was simply a tip of the iceberg,” reads in part the statement.

Below is Kachaje’s statement:

POSITIVES:

1. He has acknowledged that we are in a mess “Accepting the presence of a problem is the first stage in solving any problem”.

2. He has fully acknowledged that “We are all tired of being a poor country”.

3. He has acknowledged the need for a “collective approach and will” to address the challenges. He has actually used “WE” more than ever before (unlike the usual, “my government”)

4. He has called on us to have a “positive mindset” that inspires our collective drive for us to pursue “long-term solutions”.

5. He has mentioned “population growth” as one of the major issues to be addressed.

6. He appreciates our “resilient spirit, enduring heart” and that we are “a great people of a small country”.

7. He believes “together, with unity of purpose”, we can overcome our challenges

A FEW CONCERNS:

1. STILL “PUSHING THE BLAME”: “I found an almost bankrupt country”. Look Mr. President, every president before you has said the same thing. As a leader, take full responsibility and stop pushing the blame.

“STILL STUCK ON CASHGATE AS THE “SCAPEGOAT”: “Cashgate was so devastating that we will continue to face its consequences for the next decade”. “Really? Cashgate was about MK20bn. Surely this should not be our excuse for the next decade. Maybe Mr. President, let us conclude the investigations into the MK577bn / MK320bn financial scandal, then we will know that MK20bn “cashgate” was simply a tip of the iceberg

3. PRIVATE SECTOR ARREARS: “in June 2014, we owed private sector MK176bn. How much of this has been settled? If private sector is our engine for economic growth, then this engine will “knock” if not cared for.

4. GENERAL PERFORMANCE OF THE ECONOMY: This section is vague, and not clear about what we will do to reverse the downward spiral (GDP growth: 2014 = 6.2%; 2015 = 3.2%; 2016 = 2.8%). “It is expected that better weather conditions during the coming growing season will help to establish a robust macroeconomic situation, as well as the resumption of high growth.” Really? Is this where our hope is? What if we have another bad growing season (God forbid)? This area, Mr President, needs cracking of brains “together”. A few solutions will be forwarded to you Sir.

5. FOOD SECURITY: This is a great challenge. 8.4 million affected is no joke. Yes, we might have maize but will it be accessible at current prevailing prices? We thank God for donors for coming to our rescue.

PROPOSALS / SUGGESTIONS:
1. IN THE SPIRIT OF “WE”, LET US DEVELOP A “COLLECTIVE APPROACH”: You don’t have to mind whether brilliant ideas come from Chitipa, Rumphi, Mzimba, Kasungu, Lilongwe or Dedza. Be open minded and solicit workable solutions beyond party loyalists and “praise teams”.

2. SPEED UP THE SETTING UP OF THE “PERMANENT PLANNING COMMISSION”: Without this, we will be talking about the same problems 10yrs from now. 5yrs after implementing MDGS II, almost all the 9 priority areas have failed to register any success (Energy, Food security, industrial development, tourism, public health, Green Belt Initiative, Climate change, e.t.c.) Let us for once promote a long-term National Development Agenda and not a 5yr- political party agenda.

3. DECISIVELY DEAL WITH CORRUPTION: Trust me, Cashgate was just “kindergarten stuff”. We have real professionals that are smartly looting in this government. Get to the bottom of it and you will have saved resources for national development.

4. ENERGY: Let’s get serious with this. “Currently, a number of Independent Power Producers (IPP) have expressed interest to invest in power production…” Mr President, This was the same statement last year at the Investors’ Forum (17 months ago). Let’s quickly move from “they have expressing interest” to “we have facilitated their investments”. One more thing: Let’s take politics out of power generation. Free up the board of ESCOM and let it be headed by “professionals” not “politicians”.

5. PRIORITIZE “MAJOR SHAKERS” TO THE SYSTEM, FORGET THE “PETTY”: Distribution of Standard 1 & 2 text books, or reporting on construction of 461 latrines and 58 urinals is not for the “Presidency”. Leave this to the PS or Minister of Education. Your focus Sir, should be on the “few key strategic issues” that will have the greatest impact on the bigger picture. Surely, “registration of Births and Deaths and Issuance of Certificates” should not qualify as a “notable milestone”.

6. OUR “POLITICS” SUCKS: Mr President, you once said “Our style of democracy seems to be our curse more than a blessing for us”. Do you still remember this? Your Excellency, this is THE REAL PROBLEM we must fix. We have become more tribalistic and regionalistic and we are paying dearly for practicing this kind of retrogressive politics.

(Ooops! Paja anati tipeleke maganizo athu kwa a Chief Secretary to Government! My bad. Let me write a proper submission to that office then. Sorry, wrong parking!)

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