Programmes Outlined

PRESIDENT DR. LAZARUS CHAKWERA’S STATE OF THE NATION ADDRESS (FULL TEXT)

Written by  MBC Online

Madam Speaker,
Malawi stands in the twilight hours between the receding gloom
of a long dark night and the rising bloom of a new day. In this
time of transition, the providence of God and the profundity of
Malawians have conspired to bestow on me the honor of
presenting you and this August House with a portrait of the
state of our nation.

04
September


Although I am no stranger here, having twice graced this body
as a legislator, the miracle of my standing here as President is
uniquely sobering. It is, therefore, right for me to express, at the
outset, my thanks to Malawians for the singular honor of
choosing me to address this 49th Session of their Parliament.
Madam Speaker, my intent today is to tell you, along with all
Malawians represented here, the truth, the whole truth, and
nothing but the truth, so help me God. The truth is our most
potent weapon for development, as well as our defence against
the false narratives often told about our country. For example,
you may have heard it said that Malawi is a poor country, but
we must reject this lie. Surely, my country, with 85 million
dollars in gold exported to the Middle East every year, is not
poor. My country, with a freshwater lake and multiple rivers
capable of generating 100 million dollars a year in revenue, is
not poor. My country, with soils fertile enough to grow the food
needed to end hunger for good, is not poor. My country, home
to the coffee-scented hills of Misuku in Chitipa and the teacovered
plains of Satemwa in Thyolo, is not poor. My country,
home to the silhouettes of zebras and elephants grazing against
the backdrop of a golden sunset, is not poor.
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No, Madam Speaker.
As you will soon see from my diagnosis of what ails us, ours is
not a poor country, but an impoverished one. Ours is a country
stripped of its God-given wealth and potential by syndicates of
people in the public sector who exploit decades of bad
government policies and practices to enrich themselves and
their private sector accomplices. Ours is a country intentionally
mismanaged to sustain and commodify a perpetual state of
economic misery that affords certain entities, especially political
parties and organizations, a raison d’etre at the expense of
Malawians. In short, the poverty of our people is man-made,
which means it can and must be unmade.
In the elections we just had, Malawians showed that they are
tired of the human causes of their impoverishment. They are
tired of electing people to public office who use public funds for
personal enrichment, not public service. They are tired of a civil
service overrun by the rubble of unprofessional cronies who are
neither civil nor of service. They are tired of parastatals ran by
incompetent boards and careless executives. They are tired of
governance institutions driven by layers of wasteful
bureaucracy. They are tired of paying the highest taxes in the
SADC region, only to see them wasted on pet projects that add
no mileage to our pursuit of Sustainable Development Goals.
They are tired of Parliament sessions that produce budget after
budget to pay for the status quo without changing it. They are
tired of hospitals without care, schools without desks, families
without food, roads without tar, homes without electricity,
communities without water, courts without justice, crops
without markets, markets without capital, skills without jobs,
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jobs without wages, and wages without value. They are tired of
the biting long winter of economic hibernation.
For this reason, I have chosen to address you today under the
theme, Restoring Warmth to the Heart of Africa, covering my
assessment of the state of the Republic, the state of the citizens,
the state of the economy, and the state of governance.
THE STATE OF THE REPUBLIC
Madam Speaker, the framers of our Constitution conceived the
Republic of Malawi as a sovereign state, with the Executive, the
Judiciary, and the Legislature as its three arms of Government.
These arms are meant to have unique functions and
complement each other with checks and balances, yet they fall
far short of this ideal in practice. By way of diagnosis, my
Administration believes that the Executive is too powerful, the
Judiciary is too underfunded, the Legislature is too subservient,
and all three are too corrupt. This is what Malawians elected me
to correct.
THE EXECUTIVE
To reform the Executive, we have embarked on a full-scale
orientation of the public sector to the pillars of my SUPER Hi5
Agenda: Servant Leadership, Uniting Malawi, Prospering
Together, Ending Corruption, and Rule of Law. This will happen
across the public sector over the next year, beginning with
Controlling Officers, to promote and inculcate the public sector
reforms necessary for mindset change and structural reform as
a catalyst for achieving Sustainable Development Goals. To fast
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track this process, I have already put in place the key
performance indicators for ensuring that I and my Cabinet
embody the SUPER Hi5 pillars by our example. As a case in
point, my Administration will foster a culture of servant
leadership within the Executive by proposing legislation to
reduce those powers of the Presidency that stifle the
development of our human capital, our governing institutions,
and our citizens’ supremacy.
Similarly, to advance our agenda for uniting Malawians, my
Administration has created the Ministry of Civic Education and
National Unity. Through this Ministry, my Administration is
working on establishing the Truth and Reconciliation
Commission to complete the task left unfinished by the defunct
National Compensation Tribunal. Within this Ministry is also
the establishment of a Malawi Peace Commission, supported by
District Peace Committees in every district. This bold policy to
recover together from the wounds we carry will require plenty of
civic education. I am therefore delighted to report that within
the past 40 days, the draft National Civic Education Policy has
been finalized and is ready to launch. This means the National
Peace Policy will be reviewed to align the two.
Furthermore, as a Government committed to help Malawians
prosper together, my Administration has a Cabinet with the
highest representation of women and young people in history.
And as a demonstration of my commitment to ending
corruption, we are making the Anti-Corruption Bureau fully
independent and resourced to investigate and prosecute
financial crimes. You will also be pleased to note, Madam
Speaker, that in fulfilment of my promise to govern by the rule
of law, I will appear before this Session of Parliament three times
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to answer Members’ questions, the only President in Malawi’s
history to do so as required by the Constitution. In summary,
when it comes to the pillars of the SUPER Hi5 Agenda, we walk
the talk.
THE JUDICIARY
Madam Speaker, before I express my support of the Judiciary’s
reform agenda, I have a request to make of this entire house.
Please join me in applauding the Justices of the High Court and
Supreme Court for earning Malawi high praise across the globe
through their meticulous and transparent handling of the
Constitutional case on the disputed 2019 Presidential election.
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to report of other innovative
approaches to justice that the Judiciary has undertaken. Below
the Supreme Court, which now sits as a full bench of not less
than 7 Justices of Appeal, the following specialized divisions of
the High Court have been created: Criminal Division, Civil
Division, Commercial Division, and Revenue Division.
Consultations are underway to soon establish the Probate and
Family Division, as well as the Financial Crimes Division to fast
track the disposal of corruption cases. This necessitates
increasing the number of Judges of the High Court to support
the new divisions, clear a backlog of cases, and ensure a fair
distribution of work across the justice system. It also means
improving both the number and distribution of courts across the
country, with the goal of having Senior Resident Magistrates in
all 28 Districts by the end of 2022. As a prelude to these coming
measures, 50 Non-Professional Magistrates are presently being
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recruited to be deployed to satellite courts throughout the
country, and a functional review of the proposed reforms is
about to be completed.
Madam Speaker, in view of all this, I wish to state categorically
that my Administration considers it unacceptable that the entire
Judiciary is always allocated less than 1percent of the National
Budget. I therefore call upon this House to support my
Administration’s measures to correct this and ringfence the
Judiciary’s funding. It is not right to expect the Judiciary to be
at the mercy of the Executive for its finances, nor to operate
without proper infrastructure, courtrooms, or offices. The
Judiciary has no opportunity to draft the budget or vote for its
passage, so it is incumbent on this House to work with my
Administration in ensuring that the Judiciary, its Officers, and
its Staff are well provided for.
There can be no New Malawi until our courts are able to
administer justice without hindrance. All Malawians are equal
under the law, so justice must never be the preserve of the rich
or powerful. Whether one is a woman, child, person with
disabilities, elderly, person with albinism, victim of human
trafficking, victim of domestic violence, refugee, person living
with HIV/AIDS, or internally displaced, justice must be
accessible in an environment that is safe and free from
corruption and intimidation. That is why I pledge before God and
all Malawians to leave no stone unturned until a beautiful
Judiciary Headquarters is constructed across this Parliament
Building.
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THE LEGISLATURE
Madam Speaker, speaking of Parliament, the Legislature has a
critical role in consolidating our democracy. Being a house of
representatives, it gives citizens the chance to participate in the
governance process. During the year in review, Parliament not
only fulfilled its role by passing electoral reform Bills as ordered
by the Constitutional Court; it also publicly assessed the
competence of members of the Electoral Commission. The fact
that both acts reached a dead end upon submission to the Office
of the President justifies my resolve to propose legislative
amendments aimed at enhancing Parliament’s independence
and reducing the President’s power to obstruct its functions.
Despite all this, I congratulate you for registering the following
gains during the difficult period in review:
l Passage of a resolution scheduling the Fresh Presidential
Election against all odds;
l 3 plenary meetings which passed, tabled, and adopted
several Bills, committee reports, statutory reports, and
delegation reports;
l 38 Committee meetings which scrutinized Government
policies, projects, and expenditure;
l Operationalizing the Parliamentary Budget Office to
provide technical support to MPs;
l Conducting orientation programs for political leadership
in Parliament; and
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l Recruiting and training new staff to reduce the number
of vacancies and improve service delivery in support of
MPs, part of an ongoing effort to fill all vacancies in the
year ahead.
Madam Speaker, allow me to assure you and the Members here
of my Administration’s support in the implementation of the
following innovations soon to be undertaken here at Parliament:
l The development of the 2020-2025 Parliament of Malawi
Strategic Plan to guide implementation of activities;
l The automation of both the Hansard Transcription
System and Chamber Voting System to address delays;
l The establishment of Parliament Television and Radio to
improve public access to information about House
activities;
l The construction of new office blocks to increase
Committee Rooms and offices for Members of Parliament
and Staff; and
l The construction of 193 Constituency Offices to serve as
permanent points of access for Malawians to reach their
MPs.
Let me also add that it has long been my view that we ought to
have official residences for MPs within their constituencies to
ensure they are part of the communities they represent. My
Administration is therefore actively engaging investors to develop
plans for this project and to expedite its commencement.
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STATE OF THE CITIZENS
Madam Speaker, allow me to now report on the State of the
Citizens, with a focus on the quality of services our people
receive from the Ministries of Health, Education, Labour, Lands,
Youth, Gender, Social Welfare and Information.
Health
Madam Speaker, my Administration’s vision for the health
sector is to give all Malawians access to quality, equitable and
affordable healthcare through the Universal Health Coverage.
The following key interventions will be of focus in our approach:
Maternal and Child Health: My Administration will strive to
meet the target of 350 deaths per 100,000 live births by 2022
and the SDG target of 70 deaths per 100,000 live births by 2030.
We will also scale up the provision of sexual and reproductive
health services, ensuring 100 percent availability of affordable
family planning services and commodities. Meanwhile, it is also
our goal to eliminate AIDS as a public health threat by 2030,
and so my Administration will implement a National Strategic
Plan for the HIV response, which aims at 95-95-95 coverage
targets for diagnosis, treatment, and viral suppression by 2025.
Madam Speaker, I am also pleased to report that my
Administration has recruited 76 Nutritionists across the country
to lead our efforts to eradicate all forms of malnutrition. To
provide a legislative framework for these efforts, we will be
tabling the Food and Nutrition Bill before this House very
shortly. However, I recognize that good nutrition must be
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augmented by good immunization services, which is why there
is K1 billion for that in this budget.
Even so, my Administration’s most daring goal is to eradicate
Malaria, and we will soon be launching the “Zero Malaria
Campaign’’ to support community awareness. We are also
extending the Indoor Residual Spraying being implemented in
Nkhotakota and Mangochi to Nkhata-Bay and Balaka, with a
total budget of about K12.7 billion. Another disease we must win
against as a nation is Tuberculosis, which is why my
Administration has put in place measures to achieve the United
Nations High Level Meeting commitments by 2022. For us as a
nation, these include treating 99,200 TB patients, including
14,100 children, and 1,286 Multi-Drug Resistant patients; and
putting 343,050 people on Preventive Therapy. Madam Speaker,
it is important to my Administration to ensure that the gains we
have made against these diseases are not lost in the face of new
pandemics like COVID-19.
In terms of the coronavirus itself, as of 12 hours ago, we had
5,593 cumulative confirmed cases, 1,904 active cases, 3,516
recoveries and 175 deaths. To facilitate our response to COVID-
19, the Treasury initially availed K2.4 billion to the Ministry of
Health to cover prevention and control measures and a further
K3.9 billion for the procurement of essential Personal Protective
Equipment and the installation of a new Oxygen Plant at
Kamuzu Central Hospital. In the 2020/2021 budget, we have
allocated K1.3 billion to central hospitals and the Ministry’s
headquarters, while K2.7 billion will go to district councils.
Admittedly, these measures are part of our last line of defence
against the pandemic, our first being stronger community health
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systems. Toward that end, my Administration is in the process
of recruiting 1,600 Health Surveillance Assistants. Similarly, we
will strengthen Community Health Infrastructure by
constructing 900 Health Posts and accommodation for staff in
hard-to-reach areas by 2022, which is one step towards our
long-term goal to put health services within walking distance of
every Malawian.
Education
Madam Speaker, obviously a healthy population by itself is not
enough. We must develop the capacity of our citizens by giving
them skills that are competitive in this fast-changing world. I
believe that education is a catalyst for national development, so
long as it is accessible and has quality. My Administration is
committed to ensuring that every child goes to school, stays in
school, and finishes school. One way we will do this is by
passing legislation and developing guidelines for implementing
our manifesto promise to make primary school education
compulsory. As the world forges ahead into the future, we
cannot afford to leave any child behind.
I am aware that many of the children in our country have no
good school near them to attend. For that reason, it is the policy
of my Administration to ensure that all schools have modern
classroom blocks, teaching and learning materials and, most
importantly, qualified teachers. To push us towards this goal,
we will speed up the completion of all new primary schools and
classroom blocks. This includes 14 urban primary schools and
over 500 classrooms currently under construction, whose
progress is at 60 percent; 13 Community Day Schools at 35
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percent; 100 laboratories and libraries nationwide whose
progress is at 50 percent; 100 girls’ hostels; and many secondary
schools under the Secondary Education Expansion
Development (SEED) Project. Regarding secondary schools in
general, our manifesto promised to bring back the Junior
Certificate Examinations, and now that we are here, it will be
done. Also promised was the removal of the Quota system, and
I want to assure all Malawians that while the previous
Administration made sure that its Quota system was gone, my
Administration will make sure that it is dead.
In the area of tertiary education, my Administration is assessing
funding proposals for the construction of Inkosi Mbelwa
University for the study of animal science, as well as the
establishment of Kamuzu University of Health Sciences and
Malawi University of Business and Applied Sciences. Meanwhile,
my Administration will increase enrolment in universities from
36,000 in the 2019/20 academic year to nearly 48,000 in the
2020/21 academic year. The construction of three Teacher
Training Colleges for training primary school teachers in
Mchinji, Rumphi, and Chikwawa will also be done in the coming
year, alongside Domasi College of Education with support from
JICA. The training of teachers will also include 200 Special
Needs Teachers at Machinga TTC. More broadly, though, I am
thrilled to announce that my Administration is on course to
open all Covid-19 compliant schools next week.
Labour and Land
Madam Speaker, this round up of focus areas in education
naturally brings me to the subject of employment, without which
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our pursuit of the economic aspects of Sustainable Development
Goals would be rendered futile. It is no secret that Dr. Chilima
and I promised to create one million jobs in our first year in
office. To realize this, we have embarked on a job creation
initiative and are treating the creation of a conducive
environment for further job creation as an ongoing and multisectoral
effort. We are currently consulting with and collecting
data from key stakeholders for use in our ongoing assessment
of the economy’s current employment situation. That way, the
actionable job creation strategy we are developing is responsive
to the evolving fundamentals of the job market. The strategy is
a cocktail of the right policies, incentives, partnerships, and
microfinance programs that will be applied strategically to
produce the enabling environment for sustainable job creation
and the productivity of marketable goods and services.
Madam Speaker, it pains me to say this, but I must: One of the
things depleting jobs for our people is the influx of expatriates
who have no unique expertise. Although we already have laws
proscribing this, the institutions mandated to enforce those laws
have largely failed to do so. In many cases, we have expatriates
doing things dissimilar to what they indicated on first entry. As
a nation, we must welcome experts from all over the world, but
we must never allow our hospitality to be used in a way that
disadvantages our own citizens. For that reason, my
Administration will ensure that only those expatriates with
transferrable skills we have in short supply are welcome to work
within our borders. The point here is to ensure that what jobs
we create for our citizens are not a free for all, for that defeats
the purpose of this project.
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The same principle applies to issues of land, Madam Speaker.
Our land must be protected and utilized to benefit our people.
With this understanding, my Administration is rolling out land
reforms which will be piloted in 8 districts for study before the
nationalization of the same. In addition, my Administration is
committed to reforming the management of land records
through the Land Information Management System and the
decentralization of land administration to the district level.
Madam Speaker, I want to be clear. The sale and acquisition of
land by unauthorized persons, the concentration of land in the
hands of a few, and the use of land without proper
documentation are all signs of a nation run amok. We must
restore law and order. My Administration is fully aware of
various cases of land disputes and encroachment, and since we
are committed to the rule of law, we will regulate security of land
tenure to ensure that all individuals and entities with legal
entitlement to land are protected and violators are brought to
book.
We have a similar crisis of lawlessness in relation to housing.
My Administration is aware of the acute shortage of housing for
its citizens, especially in urban centers, which some have taken
as a license to break our country’s housing laws with impunity.
But the underlying problem is that demand is way higher than
supply. According to the National Statistics Office, Malawi needs
21,000 new housing units every year, but we are far from
meeting this demand because of the previous Administration’s
lack of seriousness with the housing needs of Malawians. To
address this gap, my Administration is engaging various private
sector players in the development of a robust housing
programme through Public and Private Partnerships. In any
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case, one of the key issues this programme is being designed to
address is the chronic disenfranchisement of women and youth
in matters of land and housing justice. This, Madam Speaker,
brings me to considerations of matters related to the Ministry of
Youth and the Ministry of Gender, Community Development,
and Social Welfare.
Youth, Gender and Social Welfare
Malawi’s population now stands at 17.5 million, of which 75
percent are youths and 51 percent are women. This means that
empowering youth and women is key to unlocking the economic
potential of Malawi as a whole. To achieve this, my
Administration will soon be launching the National Youth
Service as I promised before I took office. But in the short term,
we will train 3000 youths in vocational, livelihoods and technical
skills; train 300 youths in Business; provide start-up tools and
equipment to 600 youths; link 600 youths to Financial Lending
Institutions; engage 1000 youths in entrepreneurial endeavors;
and equip 35,000 youths with leadership skills.
In support of this ambitious programme, we will embark on a
nationwide project to rehabilitate existing Youth Centers, build
new sports centers, including the National Netball Complex and
a Sports Academy as promised in our manifesto.
Simultaneously, 800 School Coaches will be trained in various
Sports disciplines; sports competitions in all disciplines will be
revived at all levels, and 500 schools that teach Physical
Education will receive support. Of note, my Administration will
provide special support to schools and school programs aimed
at educating girls, for that is a key driver for advancing our
Tonse cause of gender equality.
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Madam Speaker, I am determined to sustain the gains made
towards Gender Equality with a view to making new ones. This
budget, for example, includes funding for the formulation of
women business groups; advocacy for implementation of gender
quotas; dissemination of gender laws; development of the Report
on the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of
Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW); and the review of the
National Plan of Action for combating Gender Based Violence.
For the improvement of our children’s welfare, my
Administration will implement child-friendly programmes that
will provide better opportunities for child development,
protection, and participation. These include upgrading 150
Community Based Child Care Centres to Model Centres in 10
selected districts, as well as the training of at least 3,000 Early
Childhood Development Caregivers and parents, and
operationalizing the National Children’s Commission.
However, Childhood Development and Community Development
must go together, for no child grows up in a vacuum. Therefore,
to promote Community Development and Functional Literacy
Programmes, my Administration will continue building the
capacity of local governance institutions at district council levels
by training 1,200 Village Development Committes, 2,000 project
committees, and 600 extension workers. I am particularly
thrilled to announce the introduction of certificate-level courses
in community development and social protection at Magomero
Community Development College and Liwonde Community
Development Training centre. This is on top of adult literacy
classes we are also opening, which will enrol 400,000 learners.
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In the Social Cash Transfer Program, my Administration is
retargeting and increasing by 5 percent the number of
beneficiaries. We are also increasing the amounts transferred to
beneficiaries of the Program from the current average of K7,000
per household per month to K9,000, while the e-payment
system will also be rolled out to more districts beyond Balaka
and Ntcheu.
Information
Madam Speaker, the ICT sector comprises of three broad
subsectors: Telecoms, Broadcasting, and Postal Services. Our
goal in Telecoms is ensuring that by 2025, at least 80 percent of
Malawians should have access to internet services and reap the
digital dividends as per SADC commitments. To facilitate this,
we will reform MACRA into a people-centred and professional
regulator. In broadcasting, our aim is to break the spell of
political servility that binds the Malawi Broadcasting
Corporation (MBC). In the postal sector, my Administration aims
to make the Malawi Posts Corporation a profit-making enterprise
through the digitization of postal services.
Madam Speaker, all this will require reforming
the Ministry of Information as a key policy driver in the ICT
sector. The first signature reform in this regard will be a
functional review to restructure the Department of
E-Government, the National College of Information Technology,
and the Department of Information. The second signature
reform is operationalizing the Access to Information Act, which
will take place in less than a month.
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STATE OF THE ECONOMY
Madam Speaker, at this point, the inevitable question rising in
many people’s minds is, “What about the economy?” Let me
answer that question by looking at our economic performance
over the last year, our economic prospects in the coming year,
our macro-economic framework, our infrastructure access, our
four key Ministries for driving economic growth, and then a word
about Sustainable Development Goals.
Economic Performance
Madam Speaker, the growth of the economy measured by the
Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is projected to fall to 1.9 percent
in 2020 from an initial estimated growth rate of 5.5 percent for
the year compared to the 5.0 percent growth rate achieved in
2019. This is due to the impact of political uncertainty and
instability, occasioned by the rigged elections of May 2019,
which triggered mass demonstrations countrywide. As you may
recall, these developments occurred from the onset of the fiscal
calendar in 2019 and continued up until the second quarter of
2020. In the middle of it all, the economy was hit by Covid-19
and the shock of local and global containment measures.
Predictably, the inflation rate has been declining, with headline
inflation decelerating to an average of 8.9 percent in the second
quarter of 2020, mainly due to the decline in food inflation after
the improved maize production in the 2019/2020 agricultural
season. Subdued industrial demand for maize due to Covid-19
restrictions, declining domestic fuel pump prices, and stable
exchange rates also assisted in bringing down the inflation rate.
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Annual inflation is projected to average 9.8 percent for the year
2020 on account of lower growth projections.
Madam Speaker, allow me to say a word about fiscal
performance. The 2019/2020 fiscal year had a revenue of
K1.527 trillion against a total expenditure of K1.841 trillion,
which means the year ended with an estimated deficit of K315
billion. This deficit was financed in large part by domestic
borrowing, which crowded out private sector from accessing
financial resources for productive purposes.
Further, there are arrears amounting to K169.4 billion
originating from unpaid bills by Ministries, Departments, and
Agencies of Government in the form of water and electricity bills,
compensations from court cases, unpaid road construction
works, and various suppliers of Goods and Services to the
Government. Accruing arrears, Madam Speaker, is a weapon
which the previous Administration used to stifle private sector
growth and the health of parastatal utility companies. It is
therefore not surprising that unemployment in this country has
reached unacceptable levels, and that Government has become
the source of temporary jobs for fresh graduates in the form of
internships. When private sector operators and utility
parastatals are constrained in this fashion, they cannot expand,
neither can they create new businesses which should ordinarily
be the principal sources of sustainable jobs for fresh graduates.
Madam Speaker, cumulative public debt has resulted in total
public debt stock of K4.1 trillion as at the end of June 2020,
which is 59 percent of nominal GDP. Of major concern is that
57.3 percent of this total debt stock is domestic, representing
33 percent of GDP. In the past year alone, public debt increased
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by K430 billion. This position has resulted in interest charges
reaching the region of 36.6 percent of GDP. In other words, for
every K100 we generate, K36.60 is used to pay interest on the
debt that we have accumulated, excluding repayment of the
actual loan.
Madam Speaker, by the end of June 2020, the country’s trade
deficit stood at US$887.98 million, which is an increase of 9.5
percent over the past year. What this means is that the country
imported more goods and services than what was exported, by
this amount. Clearly there have not been appropriate policies to
support the growth and diversification of exports. The foreign
exchange that we used to import these goods and services
almost exclusively came from donors in various forms, at the
expense of providing the necessary support to existing and
potential exporters. The foreign exchange position at the end of
June was adequate at 3.27 months of import cover, but this is
hardly a consolation. Considering that the number of tourists
visiting Malawi has dropped due to international travel
restrictions, we need greater cover.
Economic Prospects for the Year 2020/21
Madam Speaker, the success of Malawi’s economy going
forward will be anchored on solid institutional foundation. We
will not tolerate corruption nor will we interfere in the affairs of
institutions fighting corruption; we will observe the rule of law
in order to provide predictability of the political and economic
environment; we will provide the necessary security to all
residents, be they natural or corporate persons; we will empower
institutions of economic governance to service the needs of
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investors and all manner of business people and the general
populace; we will continuously carry out public sector reforms
in order to reorient public officers’ approach to work when
offering service to the public. We will demand accountability by
all public service position-holders to get the maximum value
from them.
We will do this because we love our country and wish to restore
confidence in our citizens, but also to give confidence to
investors, both existing and prospective. My Administration is
aware that there are some investment opportunities that may
appear to be high risk, and yet their returns to the economy are
also high, because they have potential for employment and new
industry creation, new product generation, and technology
upgrading. My Administration will not hesitate to lead the way
in such instances. In some cases, we will work alongside private
sector, and in other cases, we will work alone as trailblazers,
without taking opportunities away from the private sector. This
is what we mean by a developmental state.
Macro-economic Framework
Madam Speaker, my Administration will maintain
macroeconomic, fiscal, and budget stability to not nullify any
hope of developing our nation. We will spend for productivity
improvements. Moving forward, we will ensure that the Boards
of parastatals, which will be announced in the coming days, are
held accountable for their actions and delivery on their
performance contracts without government interference.
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Infrastructure Access
Madam Speaker, following on from this, we will catalyze
domestic and external economic integration through improved
infrastructure development. Central to achieving this is
providing electricity for industrial and commercial purposes and
road network to provide access to input and output markets.
Currently, only 18 percent of Malawians have access to
electricity, while an estimated 80 percent of the country’s roads
remain unpaved. This travesty has been happening at a time the
rest of the world is making phenomenal advancements in
transportation, especially rail, neglected by the previous
Administration to favor politically connected transporters. My
Administration is bringing rail back.
Our intervention to cut the power deficit will be to work with the
Mozambican authorities to ensure that the deadline for
connecting to their electricity grid in 2022 is not missed. Once
this is done, Malawi will have access to the Southern Africa
Power Pool. In addition, we will resume construction of the
country’s 60 MW solar project and secure a strategic sponsor
for the 350MW Mpatamanga Hydro Project. We are also
concluding Independent Power Producer Agreements, which will
open the sector to private investors, which will require new
leadership at ESCOM to facilitate such reforms as new tariff
structures that reflect market realities. We will, in addition,
revisit many of the existing energy contracts and petroleum
production sharing agreements in line with the law, ending
those that are economically unsustainable and signed under
questionable terms during the previous Administration.
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Agriculture
Madam Speaker, agriculture has been the lifeblood of the
Malawi economy for a long time. The sector, however, can benefit
dramatically from a series of reforms. It must become easy to
trade within and across borders. Export restrictions without
consultation must come to an end. The gazetting of the
regulations under the new Control of Goods Act is a step in the
right direction. We will put in place deliberate policies to make
ADMARC functional again. Smallholder farmers must be able to
export through corporations that aggregate their produce.
ADMARC should be able to play a very fundamental role in this
respect.
Productivity in the agriculture sector lags far behind when we
consider that over 80 percent of the population engaged in the
agriculture sector contributes only 30 percent to Gross Domestic
Product. Starting from this year, my Administration will
introduce the Affordable Inputs Programme (AIP) through which
about 4.3 million smallholder farmers will access affordable
inputs including fertilizer at K4,495 per 50 kg bag. This will
tremendously improve the level of productivity in this sector.
Madam Speaker, while tobacco remains Malawi’s primary
export and a key form of income for many Malawians, the crop
is unlikely to provide a sustainable source of income in the
longer-term given a decline in global demand. By working with
tobacco companies, we can help blend other crop types into the
farmers’ mix over time. Diversification efforts such as this can
contribute significantly to household food security while
supporting the establishment of a more resilient agricultural
system. This is especially important given the resources,
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expertise, and strong domestic and international networks
which tobacco companies can offer.
Tourism
Madam Speaker, as any Malawian will attest, we live in a truly
remarkable country. From our beautiful game reserves to our
magnificent lake, our country should not be kept hidden from
the world. Rather we should invite people from far and wide to
experience what Malawi has to offer! This is because the
generation of business and jobs on a large scale will require
mass tourism. However, to successfully leverage tourism, we
have to make Malawi an inviting destination. This will involve
the legislating of visa-free travel for tourists from high per capita
GDP countries; encouraging private investment in the country’s
hospitality sector; securing agreements with commercial airlines
so as to include Lilongwe in their global networks; improving
logistics and security in and around the country’s airports, and;
training duty bearers to view and treat tourists with respect,
courtesy and care. Complimenting these developments, we will
also need to drive up demand by targeting key markets,
including the United States of America and Europe.
Industry
Madam Speaker, Malawi needs to start moving towards
industrializing itself for it to become a middle-income country
by 2063. Industry conveys a lot of spillovers including providing
links to other sectors of the economy such as agriculture. My
Administration will emphasize manufacturing as a base for
transformation and creation of employment. I recently created
26
a separate Ministry for Industry to lead Malawi’s
industrialization efforts. Some of the specific projects designed
to promote the industrialization agenda include establishment
of Special Economic Zones at Chigumula and Matindi Industrial
Parks in Blantyre, Area 55 in Lilongwe, Liwonde Dry Port in
Machinga, and Cape Maclear Tourism Hub in Mangochi. The
Special Economic Zones Bill will be tabled here shortly,
supplemented by the gazetting of the Export Processing Zones
Regulations to operationalize the Export Processing Zones Act
of 2013.
Foreign Affairs
Madam Speaker, my Administration recognizes that foreign
relations have a significant role to play in promoting the socioeconomic
development and growth of Malawi. In this regard, we
will continue pursuing vibrant engagement with our immediate
neighbors, and in the Southern African Development
Community (SADC), the Common Market for Eastern and
Southern Africa (COMESA), the African Union (AU) and the
United Nations (UN) at the global level. Due to challenges posed
by Covid-19, we will participate in the 75th UN General
Assembly in a virtual format.
At the regional level, our focus is to integrate within the
framework of SADC in the fields of trade and industry and in
the maintenance of peace and security. My election as SADC
Incoming Chairperson during the recently held meeting of SADC
Heads of State and Government aligns with our priorities in
international relations. We also intend to fully integrate
ourselves within the African Union Agenda 2063, including such
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related programmes as the African Continental Free Trade Area,
while also helping stabilize the region by participating in UN
Peace Keeping Missions like the one our brave soldiers are part
of in the Democratic Republic of Congo. By contrast, our focus
on the world stage will be reforming the Foreign Affairs Ministry
Headquarters and its Missions abroad so that our embassies are
able to deliver on the ambitious objectives of promoting Malawi’s
national interests globally. The reforms will also include a review
of our diplomatic presence, including our resolve to have new
diplomatic missions in Lagos, Nigeria and Jerusalem, Israel. I
will be sharing more details about this in the near future.
The 2020/2021 Budget Framework
Madam Speaker, the 2020/2021 National Budget will
contribute to the achievement of the promises the Malawian
people voted for. These include investment in infrastructure,
provision of loans to an increased number of beneficiaries
through the Malawi Enterprise Development Fund (MEDF), and
revitalizing farming through the Affordable Inputs Programme
(AIP) that will give farmers access to fertilizer. To achieve these
policy objectives, the 2020/2021 National Budget has been
formulated to promote the following major outcomes:
First, my Administration will exercise strict fiscal discipline. This
will require getting monthly expenditure reports from Ministries,
Departments and Agencies (MDAS) of Government for the
previous months as a basis for additional funding. Since the
previous Administration left near-empty coffers, huge domestic
and external debts, and an insurmountable budget deficit, we
must learn to do much with less. To make matters worse, the
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Covid-19 pandemic and its containment measures has hit
taxpayers hard, leaving our revenue levels so low that we have
to find creative ways to finance our planned activities. Second,
my Administration has allocated financial resources strategically
by directing its spending according to its priorities and programs
with the highest net economic and social benefits. Thirdly, my
Administration has allocated resources in such a way that there
will be operational efficiency to enable Government to produce
and deliver services in a timely and cost-effective manner.
Homeland Security and Defence
My Administration is cognizant of the fact that national security
is a prerequisite for the socio-economic development of Malawi.
It is only when Malawi is secure that investors, both foreign and
local, can have the confidence to invest in this country. To show
my commitment to internal security, I recently redeployed
General Vincent Nundwe as Commander of the Malawi Defence
Force, but I will also be meeting the Defence Council soon to
consider their recommendations towards greater security. The
following are additional measures in the coming year to
strengthen our military:
l Rehabilitation and construction of houses and
apartments for our men and women in uniform;
l Construction of the state of the art Military Referral
Hospital in area 35, Lilongwe;
l Finalising the rehabilitation of roads within Cobbe
Barracks in Zomba;
29
l Rehabilitation of Cobbe Barracks office structures; and
l Formulation of the National Service Policy and the
completion of the Defence Policy.
Other security considerations high on my agenda include the
humane custody of prisoners, management of refugees, and
promotion of safe and orderly migration. The Malawi Police
Service (MPS) is key in this, but that means the historic abuse
of its officers must end. The death of precious lives, both for
civilians and officers, incidences of sexual violations, physical
assault and use of excessive force over inmates, women and
girls, within or outside police premises, which have been
reported against police officers, create an environment that is
unsafe for both police officers and citizens. To restore the dignity
of the police uniform in the eyes of the public, my Administration
will fast track the implementation of the MPS functional review
report to address investigation, prosecution and public order
competency needs.
During the 2019/20 Fiscal Year, the Prison Services managed
to successfully undertake a functional review which will soon
necessitate changing of the Department from a Prison Service
to a Correctional Service. This change will bring reforms such
as the introduction of a parole system that allows well-behaved
inmates to be released early. The Department has also
constructed 20 modern staff houses in Zomba, as well a 120-
bed cellblock in Nkhotakota and a gazetted Half-Way House in
Balaka.
During the 2020/21 Fiscal Year, my Administration will
continue ensuring that prison services meet international
standards by among others:
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l Expanding crop and livestock prison agriculture to
ensure food sufficiency in our prisons;
l Expanding mechanized irrigation farming in prison
farms to ensure food sufficiency;
l Constructing additional cellblocks in prisons to
decongest them; and
l Continuing rehabilitation, vocational and correctional
programmes to ensure smooth reintegration of prisoners
to their communities once released.
In the Department of Immigration and Citizenship Services, the
following achievements have been registered:
l Migration to the e-platform for its major operations to
improve service delivery;
l Joint Border Operations with Malawi Police Service and
Malawi Defence Force to ensure that our borders are
secure; and
l Introduction of an e-passport with advanced security
features.
During the 2020/21 Fiscal Year, the Department plans to:
l Operationalize the new Dual-Citizenship Bill which will
help create an enabling environment for investment;
l Operationalize the new Immigration Act; and
31
l Move the Immigration Headquarters Offices from
Blantyre to Lilongwe to cut operational costs.
Similarly, the National Registration Bureau will embark on a
mass registration of all children below the age of 16 years to
ensure that each of them has a birth certificate as a human
right. Another human right issue my Administration has been
working on is the completion of the 2019/2020 functional review
on the management of refugees, culminating in the
establishment of the Department of Refugees under the Ministry
of Homeland Security, as well as the development of the first
ever National Migration Policy.
Public Sector Reforms
The current public sector reforms agenda is housed within the
Presidency through the Office of the Vice President under the
Ministry of Economic Planning and Public Sector Reforms. The
Right Honorable Vice President has revived the reforms agenda
through consultations with all Government ministries,
parastatals, and other constitutional bodies to identify the
persistent challenges to efficiency and effectiveness. In the
remainder of this year, the reforms will continue to implement
the following major activities:
l Enacting and developing reforms laws and policies;
l Training all public servants on the Malawi National
Public Sector Reforms Policy and the Malawi Public
Service Management Policy; and
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l Initiating and Implementing Reforms in Constitutional
Bodies.
The goal of all this is the creation of a results oriented, high
performing civil service by 2022 that facilitates positive
transformation of the economy and the country’s modernisation.
Local Government and Rural Development
Madam Speaker, the Tonse Government will continue to place
Integrated Rural Development and Decentralization high on the
national development agenda. I am aware of the slow pace of
decentralisation experienced during the past Administrations,
mainly due to lack of political will. But my Administration has a
clear timeline for the remaining sectors to devolve, all to be
completed within the coming year. Similarly, I am aware of the
need to improve the human resource capacity in the local
councils, which we will address by recruiting qualified
individuals. However, one hindrance to such recruitment is that
most Councils do not have a healthy working environment, no
less compounded by the fact that some Councils are still using
dilapidated buildings as offices. This is unacceptable. My
Administration will therefore construct District Commissioner’s
and Civic Offices in Councils. We will also review the policies
and systems related to the administration of local councils and
the improvement of Chiefs’ welfare.
The Councils are critical stakeholders in our Rural
Transformation and Development agenda, for they are at the
epicentre of inclusive wealth creation in local communities. As
such, we will continue with the development of Rural Growth
33
Centres. However, we will improve the current approach and
format for Rural Growth Centres to establish secondary cities
that have such facilities as a commercial bank, ADMARC depot,
technical college, secondary school, youth centre, village
industries and processing plants, organized markets, and rural
buses. To achieve this, I have directed the Ministry of Local
Government and Rural Development to work with the Office of
the Vice President through the Public Sector Reforms to develop
a concept and budget for these cities. As far as I am concerned,
the true measure of our nation’s development is not the
mammoth projects in our cities, but the lifted livelihoods in our
villages. It is there, in the rural parts of Malawi, that my
Administration desires to build a New Malawi to inspire a
generation of New Malawians.
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
Madam Speaker, the world came together in 2015 in an
unprecedented effort to adopt the Sustainable Development
Goals. The world agreed to end hunger, to end poverty, and that
prevention and treatment of measles, malaria and TB is
possible, that we can break the cycle of poverty and our people
can rise to prosperity, and that investment in public health can
work.
The SDGs, just like the African Union’s Agenda 2063, are
detailed blueprints for delivering to our people the future they
deserve. The ambitious goals represent real, tangible progress
in the well-being of our people, reflected in improvements to
health, economic opportunity, gender parity, and environmental
protection.
34
The National Planning Commission presented the Malawi
National Voluntary Report in July 2020 at the United Nations
High-level Political Forum to assess progress of SDGs to-date.
However, Malawi is not on track to meet the goals. There is some
progress in 29, mainly in SDG 3, Good Health, and SDG 4,
Education for All, while there is moderate progress on 59 targets
and poor performance on 81 targets especially ending poverty
and gender equality. I have therefore prioritised the SDGs as
integral to the attainment of our national development and
achievement of our national priorities, some of which are stated
in the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy. The National
Development Conference, which I officially opened on 27th
August, 2020 as a first step towards the National
Transformation 2063 or NT2063, demonstrates this
commitment. It is our national roadmap, for transforming
Malawi into a middle-income economy by 2063.
Madam Speaker and Honourable Members, I submit for your
consideration this report on the Malawian people and their
cause.
Thank you for listening. God bless you and God bless
Malawi.
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