Chakwera’s 2023 SONA Draws Anxiety
President Lazarus Chakwera is this morning expected to open the 50th Session of the Malawi Parliament in Lilongwe with a State of the Nation Address (Sona) which has drawn high expectations from Malawians.
This is because it comes at a time the country’s economy has been on the decline, with the nation at the same time facing social challenges, especially in the health sector where cholera has hit hard.
Earlier, governance and economic experts tipped the government to come up with practical solutions on challenges affecting Malawians to improve the performance of key sectors such as agriculture, the mainstay of the economy.
National Coordinator for the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) Boniface Chibwana and economic expert Dr Betchani Tchereni argue Chakwera’s agenda on fixing broken systems has performed below the hopes of Malawians.
They were referring to the president’s last Sona in February 2022 dubbed Fixing the System to Deliver Long-Term Priorities and Defuse Short-Term Pressure which centred on the fight against corruption and improving the economy.
Dr Tcheleni feels much of the Fixing Broken Systems Agenda Pillars have been punctured with slow implementation.
“We have issues to deal with; we were expecting there will be a lot of manufacturing companies being created but we haven’t seen much of that,” he said.
Chibwana also says government has not performed well on the key pillars.
“The rating is below average, and, as a country, if we move on this trajectory then we can continue singing this song that Malawi is still a poor country,” observed Chibwana.
Centre for Social Accountability and Transparency executive director Willy Kambwandira in an interview with The Nation said Malawians expect parliament to rise to its noble oversight duty and demand answers from the president on where he is taking the country to, citing the alleged intimidation of Anti-corruption Bureau Director General Martha Chizuma as one of the issues he needs to address today.
The government’s forecast for 2022 economic growth was recently cut to 1.7% from the 4.1% anticipated. Earlier, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank also cut their forecast to 0.9% from 2.7% and 2.1%, respectively.
This will be Chakwera’s 4th State of the Nation Address since he assumed office in June 2020 after winning a highly contested election which followed a Supreme Court decision to annul the previous election of his contender Peter Mutharika.
It also comes at a time his ruling coalition, Tonse Alliance, appears to be tumbling with one partner, Petra, recently pulling out citing lack of direction by the president and his failure to nip corruption.
Opposition MPs have taken advantage of the situation to satirize the leadership with some putting on suits made from fertilizer sacks to indicate what they say is the Tonse government’s failure to run the 2022/2023 farm subsidies programme.