BLANTRYE, MALAWI - Malawi’s President Lazarus Chakwera is asking his country to remain patient as his government tries to improve the economic situation. Chakwera spoke Monday at a news conference in the capital Lilongwe, where he was reviewing the performance of his administration in his first 100 days in office.
Chakwera said he is aware that Malawians have a lot of expectations from his administration, such as increased employment, cheaper fertilizers and having good schools right away.
Chakwera said although he made a lot of promises before his election in June, fulfilling those promises is not an easy task.
“The focus of my administration for the first 100 days has been to turn Malawi around," Chakwera said. "For, our nation has long been a flooding ship sailing in hostile waters and heading in the wrong direction. As any good sailor will tell you, stopping a flooding ship from sinking and turning around in such hostile conditions of the pandemic, are not small feats.”
He said the Malawians should expect to continue sailing in “the unsafe waters and worn out vessel” for a while before they see a change.
However, Chakwera said despite the challenges they are facing, his administration has achieved a lot so far.
“One, we have ensured public safe by gazetting new regulations to prevent the spread of COVID-19," Chakwera said. "We have engaged in discussion with more than 500 investors from all over the world to make Malawi a destination for their investments. Three, we are in a process of passing a comprehensive budget that is designed to stimulate economic growth across Malawi.”
Chakwera also said his government has raised the minimum wage for employees to $66 per month — a 43% increase—and secured emergency funding for nearly 200 households affected by COVID-19 and increased the budget allocation for the Anti-Corruption Bureau to prosecute cases freely.
However, analysts have divided opinions on Chakwera's performance.
Sylvester Namiwa, executive director for the Center for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives, told VOA there are many areas which Chakwera failed to address in his first 100 days.
“In the appointment of the cabinet, there are only three females that made it to full cabinet ministers," Namiwa said. "This is in total violation of the Gender Equity Act. It like they are just continuing from where the previous government stopped from, if you allow me to compare the two."
Betchani Tchereni, an economics lecturer at the University of Malawi, said he would give Chakwera a 60% rating on his early performance.
Tchereni said the economic policies which president Chakwera is pursuing are encouraging, especially one that sets aside three-fifths percent of government projects and contracts for Malawian businesses.
“... [W]e are saying that the vision is about self-reliance, and of course inclusive wealth creation," Tchereni said. "So it’s a very, very courageous move that 60% of government projects and contracts are going to be given to pure Malawians, that’s very great.”
Sheriff Kaisi, political science lecturer at Blantyre International University, hails the Chakwera administration for its commitment in the fight against corruption.
But Kaisi says the crackdown should also be extended to those serving in the current administration and others, not just on those who served under former president Peter Mutharika, as is the case now.