News / Africa

Malawian Analysts Look for Improved Politics, Economy in 2013

Lameck Masina
In Malawi, political scientists and human rights campaigners are looking back at 2012 as a year of both progress and setbacks. Over the past 12 months, Malawi gained its first woman president after the death of president Bingu wa Mutharika.

And, though the economy grew slowly, there was a return of donors who had withdrawn aid in protest over Mutharika’s human rights and governance policies.

Mustapha Hussein, a political scientist at Chancellor College of the University of Malawi in Zomba, says “there have been ups and downs and some negative things as well as positive things. On the positive side, the current government [of President Joyce Banda] has tried to stabilize the political environment. Politically, Malawi can be said to be stable. Unlike Bingu’s regime, there are no tensions between or among parties or between government and its citizens.”

Hussein says despite the stable political atmosphere, the country has not been faring well on the economic front.

“The issue of devaluation and floatation of the kwacha," he says, "has led to price increases that are affecting the disposable income of the people. They are suffering economically and the economic status of Malawi is fragile.”

Hussein says the change in the country’s top leadership helped calm the country’s contentious political atmosphere.

“The death of Bingu wa Mutharika was a sad occasion," he says, "but at the same time, it gave hope for changes for both on the political front as well as on the economic front.  Prior to that there were political tensions; there were misunderstandings between the government and civil society which culminated in the demonstration in July (2011) where we lost lives.”  

However some Malawians have been accusing human rights groups of deliberately muting their criticisms of the new administration. They say the administration has failed to respond to consumers affected by currency devaluation and price hikes.

But human rights activist Billy Banda, who is the executive director for a rights lobby group Malawi Watch, says they were silent because they wanted to build support for the new government considering the many problems it had inherited.

“We were not deliberately keeping quiet," he says, "but were lobbying silently so that the new administration [with its difficulties]  would be given sufficient support. But by giving support, that does not necessarily mean that were condoning the current administration.  We are urging the administration to open a window of interaction so that whenever people raise concerns they should take heed.”

In her Christmas address to the nation, president Joyce Banda cited the country’s struggling economy and asked Malawians to remain patient.  She did so amid threats of protests by the Consumers Association of Malawi over the rising cost of imported fuel and farm inputs.  They’ve contributed to a drop in living standards. 

Analysts say the success of the new year depends in part on whether the government’s austerity measures – blamed by some for increasing hardships – can help turn around the economy.

Listen to report on Malawi
Listen to report on Malawii
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X

You May Like

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid