A member of Malawi’s Parliament says in the past, a lack of leadership has hindered progress in economic development: “If you do not have a leader who is well focused and [will] provide the type of leadership which can move the country from poverty to prosperity, then you cannot achieve.” Parliamentarian George Chaponda is also a minister of local government and rural development. He was one of the speakers at the Summit on Trade and Investment, sponsored by the World Agricultural Forum. The mission of the 10-year-old non-profit group is “to be a catalyst in developing action plans that meet the growing need for food, fiber, fuel and water.”
In this 1st of a 5 part series on agriculture in Africa, VOA English to Africa reporter Cole Mallard spoke with Chaponda about the role agricultural investment plays in creating prosperity in emerging African economies. Speaking from Blantyre, he said the top investment priorities are to develop food security, water and irrigation, energy, transport and infrastructure, and rural integration, and to manage HIV/AIDS.
Chaponda also says corruption is a problem: “You’ll find in many cases the question of leadership is affected where there is a corrupt regime.” He adds that corruption is tied to the issue of bad governance.
The Malawi parliamentarian says the issue of African leadership looks promising for the future, particularly where agricultural development is concerned: “We have now a new set of leaders who are emerging and these leaders are committed to remove poverty, and they are also fighting against corruption.” He says these leaders are the ones who are going to make a difference.
Another concern Chaponda mentions as a barrier to development is civil strife: “You find that many times, as much as you have brilliant development goals, once there is civil strife or conflict in the country, again that is an attribute to a lack of progress.” He says that the new emerging leadership is making every effort to settle issues amicably.
THE RIGHT PATH
The government official says the positive effect of new leadership applies to Malawi as well as other African countries. He mentions that Malawi’s president has worked for the World Bank, the IMF, and an African economic commission and says now that he’s in charge, “he’s put us on the right path.” As an example he mentions that last year Malawi had a bumper crop of maize; the surplus is being exported to neighboring countries. And this year, he says, is revealing similar success.
But Chaponda says despite the new direction of economic progress,one ironic twist is that when one fights corruption in order to make progress, one also makes enemies, and they try to stifle what’s being accomplished. But on a hopeful note, he says, “With God’s help we’ll succeed.”