By Duncan Mlanjira
In its process to develop the successor of Vision 2020, National Planning Commission has concluded that there was nothing wrong with the original Vision because it was perfectly crafted and remains valid to this very day.
This has been presented by Dr. Winford Masanjala during the launch of envisioning process held at Bingu International Conference Centre (BICC), which was presided over by President Peter Mutharika on Friday together with Speaker of Parliament Catherine Gotani Hara and Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda among other dignitaries that included Members of Parliament.
The event is being held under the theme ‘Beyond Inclusive Envisioning to Getting Things Done.’
The report says Vision 2020 was derived from a nation-wide consultative process and was comprehensive, which was endorsed by both the State President and Leader of Opposition.
However, it lacked capacity and willingness to implement it and this should be a primary consideration if future Visions are to be realised, says the report by Masanjala.
NPC is, therefore, appealing that the Commission needs to be capacitated to demand alignment of sectoral polices with medium and long term plans and that the crafting of a National Vision ought to recognise the primacy of politics in such processes.
“Developing and implementing a national Vision in Malawi requires bottomless political will and commitment to a fresh transformational agenda,” says Masanjala in his report.
The report says what has worked so far is that the health sector posted some improvements in which Malawi ART Scale-up program is one of the world’s best practices.
Secondly, the maternal mortality rates (MMR) have declined as in 2004 MMR was at 984 deaths per 100,000 live births but now they are around 439/100,000 live births.
Child mortality has also been reducing significantly as in 1992, the IMR was at 135 deaths/1000 births but was 42 deaths/1000 births in 2016.
The Under 5 mortality has reduced because in 1992, it was 234 deaths per 1000 births but by 2016 it was at 63 deaths per 1000 births.
Education access has somewhat improved as the net enrolments in primary and secondary school have risen but issues of quality and efficiency have worsened.
Masanjala said inequality in the access to education is rising both in rural and urban for the rich or poor, saying Malawi’s access falls far short of regional peers.
What went wrong?: “Malawi’s economy did not grow at a rate sufficient to achieve Vision 2020 [because] to achieve Middle Income Status, Malawi needed to grow at an average of 9% per annum.
“Between 1998 and 2018, Malawi’s economic growth averaged only 4.39 percent and throughout V20 per capita GDP growth remained below V20 target
“If Malawi had grown at V20 target rates, average income today would be at US$1,154.”
The report says during V20, Malawi did not achieve economic transformation because lack of power and economic liberalisation led to premature de-industrialisation.
There was also a collapse of manufacturing industry that resulted in continued dominance of agriculture but within agriculture itself there has been no transformation, especially smallholder agriculture.
“Malawi failed to transform from an importing and consuming nation to a producing and exporting nation since exports growth averaged 6% — from US$431 million to US$1 billion.
“Imports growth averaged 10% — from US$515 million to US$2.8 billion. Therefore the trade balance deteriorated from US$84 million in 1995 to US$1.8 billion in 2019.”
It further says fiscal stress has worsened growth prospects as well as social welfare provisioning and that share of foreign grants has declined from a high of 42.4 percent in 2006 to about 10 percent in 2019.
Domestic revenues in government expenditure rose from 60 percent in 2006 to over 90 percent in 2019. Domestic revenues can hardly cover recurrent expenditure with little provision for capital investments.
“Although urban poverty has fallen, national poverty rate remains high because rural poverty has increased.
Masanjala presented that V20 didn’t work because it was orphaned since it had no institutional home or the right people to champion it.
“When Vision 2020 was crafted, Government created a National Economic Council (NEC) to champion it and it was very well evangelised through jingles and campaign material in different languages.
“When Government abolished the NEC, nobody in the MEP&D adopted and championed it; new civil servants were not introduced to V20 and the private sector never saw a stake in its implementation.
“Visions cannot be fulfilled by accident. V20 lacked a system of monitoring/tracking performance through reviews and it was never translated into measurable indicators to guide monitoring.
“The only target that was included related to becoming ‘a middle income country with per capita income of US$1,000 by the year 2020’.
“There was weak linkage between Vision and medium term development strategies. The Vision was supposed to be actualised through medium term development strategies (e.g. MGDS).
“But subsequent Malawi’s medium term strategies were aligned more to the UN’s Millennium Development Goals and Sustainable development Goals at the expense of V2020,” Masanjala said.
Some of the core activities ahead of the successor to V20, National Transformation 2063 include consultative meetings with donors to market the roadmap to the new plan and procurement of capital equipment.
There has and will also be engagement with the media and consultants, conducting a joint research symposium as well as other sensitisation activities.
NPC has assembled a Core Advisory Panel of 41 experts to offer advice on the country’s new vision and proposed development agenda in the Vision 2020 successor document.
The panel is being chaired by former Reserve Bank of Malawi Governor (economic affairs), Naomi Ngwira with former Secretary to the Treasury Ronald Mangani as vice-chairperson.