Malawi Elections: Rural transformation tops ruling party’s agenda
Lilongwe ‑ Malawi's ruling People's Party (PP) became the first political party to unveil its election manifesto ahead of the country's tripartite elections scheduled for May 20.
The document “Transforming Malawi (It is possible together)”, highlights policies and programmes the party intends to implement if ushered into power to take the southern African nation for the next five years. The party came into power after the death of former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) leader and State president Bingu wa Mutharika died of cardiac problems in 2012.
Unveiling the document, PP President Joyce Banda said the two years that her party was in power following the tragic death of Mutharika were transitional and meant to prepare the party for the major task after the May elections.
“In the past two years, we have been in the transit lounge where we were preparing for the people's mandate to govern them and change their lives,” she said pointing out: “I do so in all humility, knowing, as you do, how far we have recently come in rescuing our country from the mismanagement and abuses of the past.”
President Banda, the first SADC female leader and Africa's second, however, noted that the PP had a lot of work to do in order “to turn the country around and create the foundation for a clean and competent government that meets the aspirations of the people of Malawi”.
When Banda took over government in 2012, Malawi was reeling from shortages of foreign exchange, fuel, and drugs. Its relations with some of the development partners and some neighbours were at the lowest.
“The country experienced poor political and economic governance, human rights infringements and a slowdown in industrial production,” said Banda, observing that the situation led to increased suffering of the citizens.
She said the PP has in the past two years worked at urgently changing the status quo and has since drawn a blueprint in the manifesto to lift the lives of Malawians.
President Banda said, “In the short time I have been President, we have taken decisive action to recover the economy, build a foundation for growth and deal with corruption. These steps represent the beginning of a transformation agenda that we are now called upon to implement. As Malawians, we all share a vision of what we want our country to be. That vision requires us to agree on what we must do to realise our destiny.”
She said her government serves the people by guaranteeing freedom, dignity, and pride of every Malawian.
“This lies at the heart of the proposals we set forth in this manifesto.”
President Banda said she was committed to continue to champion the cause of the rural and urban poor, women and youth, workers, people with disabilities and the elderly, the cause of the business community and those of students.
“Indeed, I am committed to rural transformation as the centre-piece of my transformational agenda,” she said pointing out that this was in response to the fact that life in rural Malawi is a continuous struggle and “the rural folk are looking for a leadership and a government that can change their circumstances forever”. President Banda said she sees prosperity upon the nation.
“It demands of us to make a better Malawi possible – a Malawi that becomes the hope of our people and the continent, a Malawi that is a centre of excellence for doing business, a Malawi that is efficient and skilful and indeed a healthy Malawi,” she envisioned.
The president said her government would make critical choices in determining the future.
“I have full confidence in the people of Malawi who share the same dream of a better future for our country, our families, and our children,” she said.
President Banda said the manifesto outlines what the PP government, under her leadership, intends to do in order to achieve that objective.
Basically, the manifestoes outlines PP’s agenda to provide transformational leadership that can take action to uplift the lives of Malawians by laying a foundation that will enable Malawians to fulfil their potential.
The party proposes to introduce innovative ideas and programmes that will ensure that no Malawian has to worry about whether they will eat, but rather, what choices of food they will get. It envisions to transform the country into an upper middle income country in the shortest period possible.
Since its formation in 2011, the PP formed after Banda, then Mutharika's vice president, was side-lined from government activities, has prioritised three sets of programmes focusing on transforming the political, social and economic sectors to create a Malawi that works for all regardless of their political affiliation, ethnicity, religion, region of origin and social status.
The party said it was formed when it became clear that the system and practices of government that had evolved in Malawi were no longer suited to the needs of Malawians.
“In effect, it had been hijacked by a select few to serve their own interests at the expense of the people,” reads the manifesto.
The manifesto proposes to return the control of government back to the people. The party's mission is to champion economic growth, wealth creation and political empowerment as well as to serve Malawians and the world with integrity, honesty, tolerance, selflessness, commitment and dedication. The party also undertakes to promote unity, equity and development.
“The PP seeks to embrace a development agenda that unlocks the potential of Malawi and Malawians, enhances opportunities for individual and national growth; reduces inequalities and the prevalence of poverty,” says the document.
Meanwhile nine aspiring presidential candidates and parliamentary candidates have started presenting nomination forms to represent their respective parties in the forthcoming election.