Malawi, the Warm Heart of Africa, has an estimated population of 16.8 million as of 2014. Despite the support of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank and several development partners, poverty is still widespread and the economy remains undiversified and extremely vulnerable to external shocks.
Since the end of the one party regime in 1993, Malawi has organized five peaceful presidential and parliamentary elections, one of which (2014) was a tripartite and included local government elections.
The Malawi Congress Party (MCP) has participated in all these elections with invariably the same outcome: coming a close second, a dynamic the party is determined to change in 2019 for the sake of suffering Malawians.
Real gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 5.7% in 2014 but slowed down to 2.8% in 2015 as Malawi suffered from dual challenges of adverse weather conditions and macroeconomic instability.
Flooding in southern districts followed by countrywide drought conditions saw a contraction in agricultural production.
Maize, the key crop for food security purposes, saw a 30.2% year-on-year drop in production. As a result, an estimated 2.8 million people (17%of the population) were unable to meet their 2015/16 food requirements.
To address this, Malawi imported 100,000 tonnes of maize in an arrangement that has raised more questions than answers.
Weak fiscal discipline has been a core driver of macroeconomic instability during recent years.
The public financial management scandal (Cash-gate) that made headlines in 2013 but is suspected to have been incubated as early as 2004 triggered sharp reductions in the level of on-budget development assistance received by Malawi. The result is that Malawi Government has run persistently large fiscal deficits standing at 5.4% in FY14/15.
Similarly, expenditure has been under pressure due to rising debt service costs, increasing public sector wage demands, costly and corruption-ridden subsidy schemes and the settlement of outstanding arrears.
All these have resulted in the Malawi Government having to borrow heavily domestically and internationally in order to finance fiscal deficits.
Corruption, poverty and inequality remain stubbornly high in Malawi. The 2010/11 Integrated Household Survey showed that over half of the population was poor and one quarter lived in extreme poverty.
Given the prevailing weak public financial management and rampant corruption, these numbers are not expected to change much.
With the lack of will demonstrated by the current administration, the masses have lost all hope for positive change in the foreseeable future.
As the gap between the rich and the poor has been widening, poverty in rural areas where 85% of the population lives has been increasing, compared to urban areas where it fell significantly from 25% to 17%. A key obstacle to reducing poverty is low agricultural productivity, as the majority of the poor remain locked in low productivity subsistence farming.
Malawi’s main challenges include improving infrastructure, especially energy and water delivery which are adversely affecting private sector investment; addressing a scarcity of skilled Human Resources; providing affordable and accessible health care; reforming the public financial management (PFM) system and the oversized and relatively inefficient public service, including parastatals .
Reform of the PFM, making the offices of the Auditor General and the Director General of the Anti-Corruption Bureau independent are critical to restore public and development partners’ confidence.
As the Malawi Congress Party, through the policies as documented in the various sections of this website and its manifestos, we are confident that when Malawians give us the mandate, we will address the challenges summarised above.
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