President Chakwera Addresses Economic Challenges, Urges National Unity
"Malawians are in a state of compounded pain, and that pain deserves to be the chief preoccupation of every person who holds public office, whether elected or not." - President Chakwera.
LILONGWE, Malawi - In his State of the Nation Address delivered today, President Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera emphasized the need for economic recovery and resilience in Malawi, writes Winston Mwale.
The speech, presented during the opening of the 2024/2025 Budget Meeting in the 50th Session of Parliament, highlighted major issues affecting the nation and called for unity and determination to overcome these challenges.
President Chakwera began his address by acknowledging the significance of Malawi's Diamond Jubilee, as the country celebrates its 60th year of independence.
He stressed the importance of recognizing this milestone and the responsibility it carries, urging all citizens to approach the nation's affairs with utmost seriousness.
The President underlined the current economic turmoil faced by Malawians, stating that millions are experiencing compounded pain.
He attributed this pain to a combination of geopolitical factors, decades of failed public policies, and the devastating impact of natural disasters. President Chakwera called for a collective effort to address these issues and prioritize the welfare of the people.
"Malawians are in a state of compounded pain, and that pain deserves to be the chief preoccupation of every person who holds public office, whether elected or not," President Chakwera said.
The President highlighted the ongoing disruptions to the global supply chain caused by the war in Eastern Europe.
These disruptions have led to a sharp rise in the prices of critical imports such as pharmaceuticals, fertilizers, and fuel, which Malawi does not control. President Chakwera emphasized the need for resilience in the face of these geopolitical challenges.
Furthermore, President Chakwera acknowledged the detrimental impact of public policies over the past two decades that have destroyed Malawi's production and manufacturing sectors.
This has resulted in high unemployment rates, particularly among the youth, and has hindered the country's ability to generate foreign exchange through exports.
The President emphasized the importance of rebuilding the economy on the foundation of productivity.
Addressing the natural disasters that have plagued Malawi over the past year, President Chakwera expressed his condolences to those affected and highlighted the immense challenges faced by the nation. The disasters caused loss of life, displacement of millions, and widespread destruction of infrastructure and agricultural fields, leading to a dire need for food relief.
In his speech, President Chakwera also drew attention to the unsound fundamentals of Malawi's economy, including high inflation rates.
With December's inflation rate reaching 34.5%, well above the 2023 average, the President called for urgent restructuring to stimulate economic growth.
He emphasized the need for an economy that is not just recovering but is healthy and competitive.
"While the maturing of Malawi and the compounded pain of Malawians demand seriousness, we must also acknowledge that the fundamentals of our economy have been unsound for a long time," President Chakwera stated.
"Malawians deserve an economy that is no longer sick but is healthy and able to compete."
President Chakwera called on economists and policymakers to reject the notion that any small improvement in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is acceptable.
He highlighted the need for substantial growth and expressed disappointment that Malawi's GDP only grew by 0.6% between 2022 and 2023, falling short of the projected global economic growth of 3.1%.
The State of the Nation Address concluded with President Chakwera urging unity and collaboration in tackling these challenges.
He emphasized the importance of national cohesion and called on all citizens to work together towards economic recovery and resilience.
"We must unite as a nation, transcending political affiliations, to rebuild our economy and secure a prosperous future for all Malawians," President Chakwera stated.
The President's address has set the stage for the upcoming budget session, with expectations high for the formulation of policies and strategies to address the pressing economic issues facing Malawi.
As the nation enters its Diamond Jubilee year, the call for unity and determination resonates as Malawians strive to overcome obstacles and build a brighter future.
In response to President Chakwera's State of the Nation Address (SONA), Dr. Thomas Munthali, the Director General of the National Planning Commission, expressed his immediate reaction and optimism regarding the speech.
Dr. Munthali praised the SONA for its focus on Malawi's long-term development plan, MW-2063, and its emphasis on wealth creation.
"This is the most MW-2063 centric SONA. It enthuses so much hope. It places wealth creation at the center in language and priorities of focus," Dr. Munthali remarked.
He commended the President for sending the right signals to all stakeholders, including Parliament, government ministries and departments, non-state actors, and citizens, about the importance of taking concrete steps towards realizing the goal of wealth creation.
Dr. Munthali emphasized that the speech called for a collective effort to scale up initiatives and work towards achieving tangible progress.
Dr. Munthali also highlighted President Chakwera's acknowledgment of the need for stakeholders to get serious and translate the SONA's objectives into action.
He considered the forthcoming national budget as the immediate test to demonstrate the commitment to operationalize the goals outlined in the speech.
The Director General stressed the significance of holding each other accountable to ensure the implementation of wealth creation strategies.
"The most immediate test to getting serious and operationalizing the SONA is the forthcoming national budget for which this Parliament is sitting. He has set the most important tone of wealth creation, and we all have to hold each other accountable to get this into action," Dr. Munthali stated.
Furthermore, Dr. Munthali emphasized the importance of prioritizing wealth creation over perpetual reliance on borrowing and begging, which he deemed demeaning and unsustainable.
He echoed the sentiment expressed by President Chakwera that Malawi must move away from dependence on external assistance and focus on building a self-sustaining economy.
The National Planning Commission Director General's immediate reaction to the SONA reflects his optimism and support for the President's vision of economic recovery and resilience.
Dr. Munthali's comments highlight the need for collaboration and dedication from all stakeholders to turn the goals outlined in the speech into tangible actions that will drive Malawi's progress and prosperity.
*Download the SONA below: