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Malawi’s Opposition Wants President to Resign Over Economic Challenges

FILE - Malawi President Lazarus Chakwera speaks in Glasgow, Scotland, Nov. 1, 2021. Malawi’s main opposition party is pushing for Chakwera to resign because of the state of the country's economy.

Malawi’s main opposition party is pushing for the resignation of President Lazarus Chakwera over a looming economic crisis resulting in fuel shortages, a scarcity of foreign exchange and increased grain prices.

A government spokesperson said pushing Chakwera to resign is unrealistic.

Dalitso Kabambe, a presidential aspirant for the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), told reporters that the country’s economy is heading into a crisis.

"You see the inflation is very, very high at 28 percent," said Kabambe. "Exchange rate is wobbling and there is no forex available. When you see growth, it has been subdued for some time now. All these are indicators that the economy has overheated and that it needs to be stabilized."

Kabambe, also a former governor of the Reserve Bank of Malawi, said the problem is that the current administration has no expertise managing the economy.

"To stabilize the economy, that's the big boy’s job to ensure that now you have opening up as many businesses as possible, you are developing as many mines as possible and in the agriculture sector you are producing large volumes of food and you are getting a lot of surplus for exports," he said. "That’s the big man’s job because that is what will help the country to grow the economy."

DPP spokesperson Shadreck Namalomba said the president should resign so other people can take over and address the economic problems Malawians are facing.

Ezekiel Ching’oma, a spokesperson for the Malawi Congress Party, a leading party in the governing Tonse Alliance, would not take a call from VOA to comment on the matter.

Government spokesperson Moses Kunkuyu told a local media outlet on Monday that DPP officials were making the remarks out of anger emanating from bitterness over losing elections in 2020.

Kunkuyu, also the minister of information, said Malawi faces economic challenges largely because of trends that have destabilized global economies. Pushing the president to resign is unrealistic, he said.

"What we can say is that President Lazarus Chakwera has not failed to run the affairs of the country," Kunkuyu said. "The country has taken a path to recovery and we are not where we were when President Chakwera came into office three years ago. This country was worse than where we are today."

Chakwera took office in 2020 after defeating DPP leader Peter Mutharika in a rerun election.

Chakwera later announced an anti-corruption campaign that saw several officials from the DPP arrested, a move that its president, Mutharika, called political persecution.

Political analyst George Phiri told VOA it is unjustified for the opposition DPP to call for Chakwera’s resignation because it also messed up the economy.

"Because the situation on the ground does not really show that people are looking to DPP and Mutharika for a solution to our situation," said Phiri. "No, because the surveys around can show clearly that Malawians are not on Peter Mutharika and DPP, they are on somebody else."

Phiri said Malawians are only waiting for the 2025 elections to choose whom they want.

"People are saying leave the current government until 2025 when we will have the power to bring it back or to throw it out," said Phiri. "So, it is only when we vote that a government can get out or can remain."

Malawi’s agricultural sector suffered severe devastation in March due to Cyclone Freddy — the country's fifth extreme weather event since 2016 — which claimed some 500 lives and displaced hundreds of thousands.

The cyclone came at a time when Malawi was facing several other crises, including inflated food prices and the worst cholera epidemic in decades.

Phiri said that, in the meantime, the Chakwera administration should work on fixing the country’s economic problems if it wants to win back people’s confidence.