By Nenenji Mlangeni
LILONGWE-(MaraviPost)-Barely two months to May 21 Tripartite Elections, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is yet to implement some of the campaign promises they made in their manifesto ahead of 2014 polls.
Among others, for the past four years, DPP has failed to implement the recommendations from the constitutional reviews.
“The DPP government will pass and implement the recommendations from the constitutional reviews, including facilitating implementation of revised Section 65 [Crossing the floor] and bring back the revised Section 64 [recall provision with proper safeguards to prevent abuse] of our Constitution,” reads part of the party’s 2014 manifesto titled ‘Towards people-centred government’.
However, DPP publicity secretary Nicholas Dausi on Friday told The Daily Times that a manifesto is not a two-day implementation plan saying it can take more than five years for some issues to be implemented.
“The advantage of Malawi’s Constitution is that they give a president the mandate to rule for 10 years and everyone’s vision is never for a day but the future, so a manifesto is a guideline for what someone intends to achieve. The way you are asking is as if when a manifesto is done, it will be achieved the next day.
“I can give you an example of one of America’s president Dwight Eisenhower, his plan to construct a middle road took over 50 years to be implemented. The problem here in Malawi is that you want things to be implemented there and then. As far as we are concerned, we have achieved most of what we promised to do and that is why Malawians have confidence in us,” he said.
In the manifesto launched in April 2014, DPP said it would enact and establish a Public Service Remuneration Board which shall be responsible for harmonisation of pay in the public service.
“The board will be responsible for the harmonisation of pay in the public service, and which will be mandated to remove the inequities, and iron out the incongruities, that exist in the system whereby employees doing similar work at similar grades are remunerated differently merely because they work for different departments of the government,” reads part of the manifesto.
However, this has not been the case as civil servants have been demanding that government should table the Public Service Remuneration Bill which, among others, would spearhead salary harmonisation in the civil service.
In its response, government said in July 2017, the piece of legislation which is in its draft form and has been on its shelves for close to five years is still undergoing scrutiny and may not be ready by the 2017/18 budget sitting of Parliament.
Through the manifesto, DPP said they shall restrict borrowing in line with the Public Finance Management Act.
However, recent reports revealed that Malawi’s central government debt stock rose by MK177.4 billion in the fourth quarter of 2018, from MK3.1 trillion in the third quarter to MK3.3 trillion triggered by an upsurge in both domestic and foreign debt.
University of Malawi’s Chancellor College-based political analyst Mustapha Hussein dismissed a manifesto as a wish list which most party’s fail to implement once elected in power.
“Well, my impression is that they [manifestos] are meant to win votes, they are promises but they are not matched with action of the party when in power.
“We can, for example, take the previous manifesto for DPP on the issues to do with appointment of ACB director general and reduction of powers of the president. The formulation of manifesto there is disconnect with the electorate,” he said.
In 2014, DPP promised to introduce health insurance for all public servants with a possibility for health insurance for all.
Malawi Health Equity Network Executive Director George Jobe however said the insurance was not implemented arguing government struggled with identification.
“It was not, because there were concerns about how it can be implemented. We looked at what contributions citizens can make, what measures can be put in place to target the poor. Because we have people who have money, more money than those that need the help, it was not easy to do that identification, which meant, in the end, we would find the poor being injured,” he said.
Some of the campaign promises DPP government passed and implemented include Access to Information Act and construction of various roads across the country.
Other notable campaign promises in the 2014 DPP manifesto are:
- The DPP shall promote our economic prosperity by establishing new processing industries to add value to our exports by transforming our cotton, tobacco, tea, coffee, groundnuts, fish, hides and skins into finished products. This will generate additional incomes as well as create jobs for our people.
- From 2014, the DPP government will abolish the use of coupons and make the subsidized fertiliser available to every maize subsistence farmer who needs it.
- The DPP will establish a National Security Council with statutory powers to guide long-term national decision-making and determination of government actions for national interests, the well-being of our people and institutions, and our sovereignty and territorial integrity.
DPP is yet to launch its manifesto for the forthcoming elections. So far, Malawi Congress Party (MCP), UTM and Umodzi Party have launched their manifestos ahead of the May 21 polls.