Standard Bank Plc asks Chakwera to reinforce an effective performance management system for all MDAs

Standard Bank Chief Executive Phillip Madinga

* We believe this would complement current efforts by Government to put economy on a sustainable recovery and growth path

* We applaud the government’s commitment to move with implementation of some of the economic reform proposals

* Which were tabled during the Standard Bank-hosted Business Leadership Round-Table series

By Duncan Mlanjira

In a public statement, Standard Bank Plc has asked President Lazarus Chakwera’s administration to reinforce an effective performance management system for all Ministries, Departments & Agencies (MDAs) and implement an accountability framework where performance of all MDA personnel up to Ministerial level is continuously assessed publicly.

Advertisement

This is in response to the President’s State of Nation Address (SONA) he presented in Parliament on Friday to mark the launch of the 2024/25 National Budget Session.

In the statement, Chief Executive, Phillip Madinga said as one of the key economic stakeholders and major player in the financial sector in Malawi, Standard Bank Plc takes note of “some of the positive steps Government is taking towards economic recovery and putting Malawi on a sustainable growth path”.

Standard Bank leads a high-level forum named ‘Business Leadership Round-Table, that brings together government, regulatory agencies, donors and private sector to discuss areas of economic policy reform.

At its last meeting on December 12, the forum made calls for some reforms on some areas of economic reforms and Madinga thus applauded Government “for heeding calls for the urgent reform and implementation in some aspects of our national economy that we consider as critical in helping to catalyze growth and economic recovery.

Soon after the removal of travel VISA restrictions which the President ordered to be done, Madinga, whose bank had been advocating for the relaxation of the Visa requirement, described the government’s decision as timely as the country continues to battle foreign currency shortage, saying: “This will help make Malawi an attractive tourism destination and boost foreign currency flows in the long-term.”

He reiterates on the same, saying: “The decision will help boost tourist arrivals from key source markets of Europe, the America’s, Asia, and rest of Africa.

“In the medium to long-term, increasing tourist and business arrivals to Malawi helps boost inflows of much-needed foreign currency, and opens Malawi as an ideal Foreign Direct Investment destination.

“Easing travel restrictions for developed countries also sends strong intent of the government’s commitment and readiness to do business with major global investors seeking to move their capital to selected African markets endowed in natural resources and agriculture — Malawi offers this potential.”


On Government’s renewed focus on mining, Madinga says the sector “is key to government’s recently adopted Agriculture, Tourism & Mining (ATM) strategy, as mining seeks to complement the role that the agriculture sector has played over many decades as the key earner of foreign exchange and growth for Malawi”.

“Mining can become one of the alternative economic growth drivers for the country. Mining and Tourism form part of the ATM strategy as they offer alternative sources of foreign currency generation and receipts by maximizing on Malawi’s intrinsic natural endowments and creating a conducive environment for their exploitation.

“The signing of the Mining Development Agreements (MDAs) with Kanyika Mines signals the government’s commitment to the sector. At the same time, the government’s initiative to create regulatory organs for the sector is one we will continue to watch keenly.

“We look forward to the conclusion and signing of the other remaining Mining Development Agreements that are currently under negotiation.

Thus Madinga applauds government’s commitment to move with implementation of some of the economic reform proposals tabled during the Standard Bank-hosted Leadership Round Table series.

Madinga, Malawi High Commissioner to South Africa and Chief Economist Chifipa Mhango during Malawi Business Forum in SA which Standard Bank sponsored

“The Leadership Round Table forums are Standard Bank’s initiative that creates a platform for dialogue on economic reform by government, its agencies, private sector and donors.

The session that took place on December 12 at Bingu International Convention Centre (BICC) in Lilongwe, relaxation of Visa requirement and mining development issues were among five key areas of reform tabled by the stakeholders.

In reinforcing an effective performance management system for all MDAs to be continuously assessed publicly, Madinga says: “We believe this would complement current efforts by Government to put economy on a sustainable recovery and growth path.

“At the next Business Leadership Round Table, to be convened soon, Standard Bank Plc and its partners from Government, Private sector, Development Partners, and the donor community will continue to review progress.

“We believe in Malawi, that is why at Standard Bank we affirm that Malawi is ‘Our Home, We Drive Her Growth’,” he said.

In his SONA — under the theme; ‘Taking Stock and Advantage of Our Progress in Achieving Economic and Resilience’ — President Chakwera’s take on mining was that early in his Administration, he took cognizance that there cannot be wealth creation from the country’s “bounty of minerals without organizing the sector to end decades of exploitation and negligence”.

“Ever since I announced the reforms I was going to effect in this sector three years ago, we have faced resistance, roadblocks, and rebellion — but we have prevailed.

“I am therefore happy to report that during the year gone by, we have set up the institutional framework for bringing sanity to and creating wealth from our Mining sector. First, we repealed the Mines & Minerals Act and replaced it with a new one so that the law protects the interests of Malawians in all mining activities.

“Second, we have developed the organizational structure for a Mining Regulatory Authority that we will begin building once the new Act has been duly gazetted. Third, we established a National Mining Company that belongs to the Malawian people, with a mandate to catalyse private sector development, encourage joint ventures, act as a state equity partner, undertake in-depth exploration, and most importantly, maximize revenue generation and social benefits to Malawians.

“Fourth, we have created the Malawi Development Cooperation Holdings Limited, through which Malawi will safeguard its interests in its national treasures, and the new Mining Company has been incorporated as a subsidiary of this larger conglomerate.

“Fifth, in the past I announced here that we would construct a state-of-the-art Mineral Laboratory Complex for processing mineral samples, and today I am happy to report that this crucial facility has been completed.”

Advertisement

He continued that his administration had been reorganizing the mining sector by reviewing the existing mining agreements themselves, “because some of the deals that have been negotiated in the past show a lack of seriousness”.

“As a result of this effort, my Administration has successfully negotiated and signed a Mining Development Agreement for the mining of niobium at Kanyika in Mzimba District, and we are in the course of renegotiating other MDAs, including those with Lotus Resources Limited for the Kayerekera Mine, and Mkango Resources Limited for Rare Earth Project at Songwe Hill in Phalombe.

“Malawians may also wish to know that an investor is all set to start mining works at Kangankunde Hill, which is estimated to have 261 million tonnes of rare earth worth billions and billions of US dollars.

“Notwithstanding these big mining companies, our wealth creation agenda demands that we make the sector accessible for Artisanal and Small-Scale Miners (ASM) — this is why my Administration has trained 134 ASM members across various regions on mineral tenement, acquisition, and cooperative management.

“Additionally, 296 ASM participants from 12 mining groups have also undergone training on Safety, Health, and Sustainable Mining Practices, and we are currently facilitating the registration of four cooperatives, with a cumulative total of 17 cooperatives registered to date.

On the progress of Kasiya Rutile project, Chakwera announced that Sovereign Metals Limited and Rio Tinto have entered into a partnership, and now the project is undergoing a Definitive Feasibility Study and an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment, which mark a crucial step in advancing the Kasiya Rutile-Graphite Project in Malawi.

“When all these operations begin to yield a harvest, it will be a game changer for Malawi not only economically, but also geopolitically, for we have every reason to expect that we will become less dependent on outsiders for any resources to build our roads, our hospitals, our bridges, our schools, our universities, our airports, and more.

“The work we have done this year to restructure the sector is great progress, and we will build on it to keep our recovery going,” said the President.

Advertisement