BLANTYRE-(MaraviPost)-The Findings of an Afrobarometer study released this week show that the public has judged the nine-party Tonse Alliance administration harshly in areas of governance, including fighting corruption and improving people’s living standards.
Political and governance commentators observe that the findings, whose data was collected in February this year, were a reflection of the reality on the ground.
Minister of Information and Digitisation Gospel Kazako on Wednesday told the Nation Newspaper that the government will not fault the report, but use it as part of the formula to rebuild the nation.
According to the survey, 70.7 percent of Malawians perceive the government to be doing badly in managing the economy while 70.8 percent hold the view that the government is doing badly on job creation.
The survey further found that 88.8 percent of Malawians think the current administration is doing badly on stabilising commodity prices while 72.4 percent think the governing alliance is doing badly on narrowing the gap between the rich and the poor.
Seven in every 10 respondents said the government is doing badly on improving living standards while 50.2 percent think the government is doing badly on providing reliable supply of electricity and 52.2 percent think the government is doing badly on fighting corruption.
Reacting to the findings in an interview on Wednesday, governance commentator Boniface Chibwana said the results were not surprising because Malawians had high expectations from Tonse Alliance.
He said: “Since the Tonse Alliance government was entrusted with the mantle to govern under their promise to turn around a lot of misfortunes, the citizens have all the reasons to rate the new regime poorly on such governance aspects.
“Two years since assuming political power is adequate time for people to gauge their government’s performance although politicians would view such an assessment differently because of political considerations that are only driven by political myopia.”
Chibwana, who is also national coordinator for the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP), said any meaningful and serious government would show tangible results within two years without blaming any past regime or external forces.
He said the Afrobarometer survey findings are indicative of the fact that Malawians want more from the new government as they got rid of the erstwhile governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) hoping for meaningful change.
In a separate interview, political analyst Ernest Thindwa said the survey suggests that there is a huge mismatch between citizen expectations and the performance of Tonse Alliance in a number of dimensions.
He said it is, therefore, not surprising because an economic environment is central to citizens’ evaluation of governments.
“ I t f u r t h e r s u g g e s t s that attributing perceived underperformance of the administration to effects of the Ukraine and Russia war and Covid-19 can no longer be sustained,” Thindwa said.
He said the implications are that the Tonse Alliance will have to engage in an extra gear to match citizen expectations if popular support the political consortium enjoyed in 2020 is to be sustained till 2025.
But Kazako, who is the official government spokesperson, observed that the survey was conducted in February 2022 and that government strongly believes that so much has happened in between.
He said: “Malawians spoke on two occasions. In February 2022 with Afrobarometer and in August 2022 during the [Local Government] by-elections in Karonga, Chitipa and Balaka where they confirmed through a vote that the Malawi Congress Party [MCP] which is a lead partner in the Tonse Alliance government is their choice and have confidence in it.
“Take note Afrobarometer results are not about 2025, they are results of a survey conducted in February 2022. Nothing to do with 2025 elections.”
Kazako said the government believes that if the Afrobarometer survey was done now, the results would be different.
Efforts to seek reactions from MCP publicity secretary the Reverend Maurice Munthali proved futile, but DPP presidential spokesperson Shadric Namalomba said the results are not surprising as “the country was well governed under DPP”.
He said: “It is also good news because the Afrobarometer has confirmed that DPP is a truly national party that is loved and trusted to redeem all Malawians from Chitipa to Nsanje from the economic dungeons inflicted by the Tonse government.
In recent years, Afrobarometer survey findings have correctly predicted outcomes of presidential elections with minor variations.
The pan-African research network correctly predicted results of the 2014 presidential election as well as the June 23 2020 court-sanctioned Fresh Presidential Election.
The survey also found that 41 percent of the respondents said they would vote for a DPP candidate if presidential elections were held at the time of the survey while 26 percent were for MCP candidate, about seven percent for UTM Party torchbearer and three percent for United Democratic Front candidate.
Source: Nation Newspaper