As Malawi?s elections come closer [May 19], the local business community has given presidential candidates some advice about private enterprise and how it can thrive. 

Business leaders say Malawians are eager for development, and local businesses do not want to waste time, or elect corrupt officials.

Mike Mlombwa, the president of the Indigenous Business Association of Malawi, said the next government should empower local businesses.

Mlombwa said the time has come for locals to take a leading role in controlling the economy rather than foreigners. ?What we are saying is that there are a lot of foreigners here running businesses that are supposed to be done by locals. For example, some of them are running restaurants, car [rentals], spare parts shops, [and] stationary shops which are supposed to be run by locals,? he says.

He says his association has been appealing to its members to vote for leaders who would have the interests of local businesses at heart.

Mlombwa says the major problem is what he calls the country?s weak business policies.

He says what local businesses need from the next government is a 51:49 investment policy, in which locals will own 51 percent and investors owning 49 percent in any business venture coming into Malawi.