Vice President Saulos Chilima and Malawi President Lazarus chakwera

LILONGWE, MaraviPost: In a Statement made available to the Maravi Post, The Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (CDEDI) is challenging President Dr. Lazarus Chakwera to come out very clearly on some of the deferred Tonse Alliance Campaign promises before Malawians conclude that he is a liar.

CDEDI has been prompted to take this stand after noting that it has become a tradition for the Tonse Alliance administration to keep changing, deferring or at worst keeping mum on most of its flagship promises which were very attractive to the Malawian voters.

The following are some of the campaign promises made by the Tonse Alliance partners which CDEDI has on tape:

No universal fertilizer subsidy in the budget
  • The universal fertilizer subsidy programme which has now been changed to the Affordable Inputs Programme (AIP), where only two 50kg bags of fertilizer will be accessible to four (4) million smallholder farmers in Malawi at MK4, 495 per bag. This is a complete departure from the Tonse Alliance’s promise that apart from the programme being made universal (making the affordable fertilizer accessible to everyone), Dr. Chakwera is on record as having told Malawians prior to the June 23, 2020 Fresh Presidential Elections (FPE) that at least 1 million needy farming families which cannot afford the cheaper fertilizer will be given free farm inputs. CDEDI has a video clip readily available to challenge anyone who will dare to dismiss this. The Vice President, Dr. Saulos Chilima is also on tape carrying the 50kg bags of fertilizer as evidence that the Tonse Alliance administration will make the programme a universal one.
  • The MK15, 000 allowances to the senior citizens aged 65 and above.
  • The reduction of passport charges from the current MK90, 000 toMK14,000.
  • The one million jobs within the first one year.
  • The mega farms that should have significantly contributed to the creation of jobs for the youths.
  • The one-week tax holiday.

While CDEDI is aware that all these promises cannot be achieved in one financial year, our expectation was that Dr. Chakwera would explain in his inaugural State of the Nation Address (SONA) which was delivered some two weeks ago, how these promises would be achieved within his five year term of office, if at all they were a priority. 

It was also our expectation to hear from the President on how the promises he has made will be achieved, by giving a noticeably clear roadmap for the same. 

As if this were not enough, just recently, the President through his Press Secretary Mr. Brain Banda told the nation that the names of the board members for the parastatal organisations would be released in the second week of September. It has been three months since the boards were dissolved, and the President still cannot keep his word.

This deplorable conduct can best be perceived as a breeding ground for impunity and executive arrogance. It has reminded Malawians of the unfulfilled senseless promises that were made by some politicians in the past, such as the purchase of a pair of shoes for every Malawian citizen. It can be concluded, therefore, that such promises were made only to win the elections, but not to be fulfilled. 

President Chakwera should be reminded that all his Tonse Alliance campaign promises and those of his Vice are on tape, therefore there is no way such promises can just be ignored. 

CDEDI would like to cease this opportunity to remind the President that the Republican Constitution is very clear; his authority to govern, be it legal or political derives from the people of Malawi and the one exercising that authority does so on trust and that trust ought to be sustained. This now begs a question as to how would the people trust someone who does not stick to his words? Someone who promises one thing and ends up doing something completely different from what he promised?

While we are commending Government for walking the talk by operationalizing the much-awaited Access To Information (ATI) legislation, we are challenging Dr. Chakwera and Dr. Chilima to explain to Malawians what necessitated the change of tune to their campaign promises.

Malawians of good will may recall that CDEDI appealed to President Chakwera to cease the opportunity that had arisen through the SONA to share with the nation a roadmap that should clearly spell out how his Tonse Alliance government intended to implement its consolidated manifesto. It appears the appeal landed on deaf ears if the contents of the SONA are anything to go by.

The Tonse Alliance government also needs to explain some inconsistencies in the national budget, such as the 16.5 VAT on essential commodities such as cooking oil, when the same administration expects Malawians to afford three meals a day.

Failure to explain to the taxpayers and voters on the matters raised above will leave CDEDI and indeed patriotic citizens of this country with no choice but to brand the current government as a team of liars who cannot be trusted. It can further be construed that Malawians were duped on that material day on Tuesday, June 23, 2020.

On the other hand, CDEDI is saddened with the lukewarm approach that was taken by the Leader of Opposition in Parliament Hon. Kondwani Namkhumwa who missed an opportunity to take to task President Chakwera on his lies cited above, when the President appeared before the house to answer questions from Members of Parliament. Hon. Nankhumwa instead concentrated on very trivial issues!

CDEDI would like to take this opportunity to caution the opposition political parties to get organized and rise to the occasion to provide checks and balances to the Tonse Alliance government which is showing clear signs of deceit and manipulation, when they have been in government for just less than four months! The dictates of democracy require that there should be the opposition as a government in waiting to keep those in power in check to among many others protect the weak and stop those in power from abusing their authority. 

A member of the Maravi Post WhatsApp Group noted, CDEDI is becoming an opposition pressure group to the government just to frustrate!!!

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