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And, though the economy grew slowly, there was a return of donors who had withdrawn aid in protest over Mutharika’s human rights and governance policies.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

Disappointing Report on China's Economy Shakes Markets

In London and New York shares lost 3 percent, while Paris and Germany dropped around 2.4 percent More

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations 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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs