Chakwera arriving at Parliament for his SONA
In his State of the Nation (SONA) address in Parliament today, February 3, President Lazarus Chakwera said in balancing the attention between long-term priorities and short-term pressures, the citizenry “must resist the despair of thinking that Malawi is a glass half-empty”, but believe that Malawi has “so many more national treasures than other economies that are doing better than ours”.
“All we need to do to translate our national treasures into national transformation is fix our broken systems,” he said. “In fact, my dream is that by the time my Administration is done, it will be remembered as the Administration that fixed the systems to usher this country into a new future.”
He went on to say that “fixing the systems is the bridge to a future tourism industry around natural resources like Lake Malawi, Mulanje Mountain, Majete Game Reserve, Kasungu National Park, and Nyika Plateau”.
It is also “the bridge to a future manufacturing industry around agricultural products like maize, ground nuts, pigeon peas, soya, tea, mangoes, bananas, sugar cane, tomatoes, hemp, and tobacco”.
“Fixing the systems is the bridge to a future creative industry around the musical, artistic, sporting, and artisanal talents of our youth [and] to a future civil service that is so free of corruption that it delivers roads that do not wash away when it rains, hospitals that do not increase a patient’s chance of dying of curable diseases, schools that do not produce unskilled graduates, and a police service that protects citizens without harassing or extorting them.”
He told the august House that if the country’s fiscal space was limitless, “we would be fixing all state systems at once. But since our fiscal space is limited, I stood here nine months ago and announced that we would first focus on fixing the systems for achieving and accelerating our three priorities over the next three years.
“Firstly, I announced that we would be fixing the economic system in order to create wealth for Malawians. Secondly, I announced that we would be fixing the production system to create jobs for Malawians.
“Thirdly, I announced that we would be fixing the agricultural system to achieve food security for Malawians. Additionally, Madam Speaker, you will recall that I also announced some areas we would be investing in to speed up our progress towards wealth creation, job creation, and food security.
“The three areas I singled out as accelerators were human capital development; infrastructural development; and digital governance development.”
He further said the three priorities and their three accelerators were chosen in line with the Malawi 2063 Vision to turn Malawi into an inclusively wealthy and self- reliant middle-income economy, which was launched a year ago, in line with the First 10-year Implementation Plan launched three months ago.
It is also in line with the 2-year Socio-Economic Recovery Plan that was announced just over a month ago — “and since these plans must be implemented while also fixing broken systems and an economy that are failing to withstand the ravages of CoVID-19 pandemic and natural disasters, I established a Presidential Delivery Unit in my office, and its mandate is to fix dysfunctional systems in order for progress towards our goals to be made”.
“I can report that within the four months that my Delivery Unit has been addressing systemic bottlenecks, so much has been accomplished already in various sectors.
“The Presidential Delivery Unit is a big success and has kick-started routine tracking and follow-ups with MDAs responsible for delivering on key projects. So far, the PDU has brought together more than 140 people from 40 different organisations, working together to fix system failures and get projects meant for serving Malawians back on track.”
Of the 192 projects that were assessed, Chakwera said 104 were prioritised and worked on, that include the construction of the COMESA Competition Commission and the COMESA Federation of Women in Business complexes.
“Malawi won the bid to host the two regional institutions in 2013, which would bring US$110 million in investment and create 2,000 jobs, but bureaucratic system failures left the project stuck on paper and in meetings for 8 years.
“We fixed those system failures and now construction is scheduled to start this coming Fiscal Year.
Another example is the Nchalo Greenbelt Limited, which is implementing a cotton irrigation project worth MWK18 billion in investment with the potential to benefit 20,000 farmers and develop 10,000 hectares of land.
“Because we fixed the system failures that were holding it back, the project is now back on track towards completion by June 2024. Similar systemic failures have been delaying progress on the 350MW Mpatamanga Hydro Plant, a US$1 billion investment.
“We met with stakeholders and identified the systemic failures that need fixing, and now we are on the move.”