Thursday, January 16, 2014
STATEMENT BY HER EXCELLENCY DR JOYCE BANDA PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF MALAWI ON THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE HIGH LEVEL DEVELOPMENT COUNCIL (HLDC) SANJIKA PALACE, BLANTYRE
THURSDAY 16TH JANUARY 2014
Hon. Ralph Jooma, MP, Minister of Economic Planning and Development;
Mrs Hawa Ndilowe, Chief Secretary to the Government;
Prof. Mathews Chikaonda, Chairman of the High Level Development Council;
Distinguished Members of the Council;
Government Officials here present;
Ladies and Gentlemen.
Addressed members of the High Development Council: Banda
Good morning and welcome to Sanjika Palace, Blantyre.
As you are aware, last week Thursday, 9th January 2014, I announced the establishment of the High Level Development Council which will provide leadership in reflecting on the past 50 years and advise us on the strategic options the country should consider in ensuring that our long term development goals are realized.
I am overwhelmed with the enthusiasm with which you have accepted the invitation to serve on this Council. I really wish to thank you all for accepting to serve your country in this capacity.
I have taken time to reflect on my life journey and how this has influenced my Presidency. As a human rights and development activist, I have learnt that it is possible to break the barriers of development. I know it is possible to transform our economy. It is possible for our country to prosper.
Through the economic empowerment programmes that I have been involved in, such as the National Association of Business Women (NABW), the Council for the Economic Empowerment of Women in Africa (CEEWA), the African Federation of Women Entrepreneurs (AFWE) and the African and American Business Women Alliance (AABWA), I have seen the poor become rich; I have seen the forsaken loved; I have seen abandoned children become heroes; I have seen the illiterate get educated; I have seen failed and abandoned businesses recover and flourish. Yes, this has been mostly because of keeping focus, proper planning and appropriate networking.
What I have learned most from this experience is the impact of income into households. It has taught me that income is critical in the overall development of individuals and families. I have seen women gain more respect in their homes and in communities when they earn incomes into their households.
In this journey, when I became President of the Republic, as many of you are aware, I inherited a battered economy, angry citizens and bankrupt treasury. Many prophets of doom said that the country would collapse and saw only disaster for Malawi. Others argued that a woman President would not be able to run this country. The two years have taught us that these challenges can be overcome.
During this journey, in my State of the Nation Address to Parliament on 18th May 2012, I told the nation that, “Malawi has to identify development tablets that will guide our development agenda regardless of which government or political party is in power”.
Banda: Malawi has to identify development tablets
This journey reminds us of the National Dialogue on the Economy soon after I took office where we developed the Economic Recovery Plan. We followed up with a review workshop in 2013 facilitated by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG). During the two years, I have asked myself many questions trying to understand the challenges that this country is faced with.
With all these efforts, we have since witnessed many reforms in Government. Our economy was expected to grow at 5 per cent and now we are looking at 4.5 per cent due to other emerging issues, a jump from 1.8 per cent in 2012. Today, our foreign exchange reserves are at more than two months cover from under weeks in 2012. Today, our industries are operating at more than 75 per cent production capacity from 30 per cent in 2012. Today, our electricity generation capacity is at 352 mega watts from 287 mega watts in 2012. Today our people enjoy more freedoms and exercise more rights than they were in 2012.
I have noted that the main disjoint in our development efforts stems from lack of national ownership of our development plans. There is also a gap between our development plans and implementation as a result the country has not been focused and consistent with its development plans. These development plans have lacked institutional ownership to remind Government to remain focused on the long term perspectives as planned, even though situations may be difficulty.
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Council
On 6th July, 2014, Malawi will be attaining fifty (50) years of independence. A critical assessment of the outcomes over the past fifty (50) years reveals that our country is failing to meet most of its development goals and aspirations.
Last year, I had an opportunity to meet many people including the Pastors Fraternal with whom I shared my vision on the clocking of 50 years and entering another jubilee this year. As an outcome of our meeting, I told them that what we need as a country is a Master Plan to guide us on the medium and long term development perspectives.
Many other stakeholders including the interfaith body, Public Affairs Committee, through their All-inclusive Stakeholders Conferences have also noted the need for the country to have an Agency to steer our development plans which must be insulated against negative political influences.
Indeed, there is consensus that most Malawians today are poorer than was the case at independence. We have a situation where more than 65 percent of our people are living below the poverty line of less than $2.00 per day.
It is evident that our growth so far has not been sufficiently inclusive as evidenced by the too many people that remain poor and marginalized. This is a clear indictment on the development agenda of our country.
Our primary education though free, many of our children learn under trees and in some cases in open air. We have witnessed public outcry on the quality of education in public schools.
Despite having district hospitals all over the country – except in Blantyre, Zomba, Lilongwe and Mzuzu where we have referrals only – our people still die unnecessarily of curable diseases due to shortage of essential drugs and facilities.
Yes, even though we are a hard-working people, more than 1.2 million of our people are facing severe food shortages. Fifty (50) years down the line, our agriculture remains less developed, characterized by low technology absorption levels and low productivity and very little value addition.
As a country, we have the resources needed for development however we need a complete change of mindset in order for our country to develop.
Good political and economic governance is a pre-requisite for economic and social development. Our nation’s development agenda needs to be reorganized in order to strike a strategic balance that will effectively harness our development aspirations.
As your President, I have come to the conclusion that a business-as-usual approach is unacceptable. We must change the way we do business. There is need to define the architecture of our development agenda as a driver of socio economic transformation for our country. As we have noted the past 50 years have failed to stimulate development and the transformation of our country’s economy.
Therefore there is need for a new configuration in driving Malawi’s transformation in the next 50 years. This will therefore entail urgent review of the Core Function Analysis of the work of various ministries and related development institutions with a view to identifying their contribution and current challenges in the transformation of our economy. Of importance is to focus on “game changers, paradigm shifts” that will make a difference in fast tracking socio economic transformation of our economy.
Our special focus should be on enhancing rural transformation including wealth and job creation, hunger reduction, improving living conditions in our villages and the role of the private sector.
As a country, we need to identify mechanisms that will spur the nurturing of Malawians entrepreneurs. We can draw from the experiences of the emerging economies such as the Asian Tigers and other countries of the south such as Brazil, India and Malaysia.
And here back home in the 1990s, we had a programme that provided skills and capital to small and medium enterprises. It was called Small and Medium Enterprises Fund and was housed in Reserve Bank of Malawi. We also had organizations like Small Enterprise Development Organisation of Malawi (SEDOM) and Development of Malawi Traders Trust (DEMAT) which sponsored and mentored small and medium enterprises.
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Council
I am of the view that Malawians are now ready to participate in a transformational agenda to realize our destiny as a nation and to define our strategic advantage in the region.
I am optimistic that Malawi has the capacity and capability to tackle its development challenges. However, this will require an inclusive approach and a strong transformational framework anchored on the support and determination of all Malawians and sectors of society. In any case we have human resource base which has built the economies of other countries.
It is against this background that I have established a High Level Development Council. The Terms of Reference for the Council are:
Analyse the status of our development after fifty years of independence: identifying lessons, successes and challenges;
Based on the above, provide strategic direction on the next long term vision;
Advising Government on strategic options as well as quick win strategies for implementing development reform programme in the short and long term;
Advising on the road map for policy and development programmes’ implementation;
Consider and advise on emerging issues on social and economic policies affecting national development;
Advising on the linkages and synergies on country development frameworks;
Strengthen national effort in resource mobilization to support national development;
Facilitate national consultations with all interest groups on socio economic development to bring change of mindset in order to strengthen ownership and adherence to implementation of national development plans, and;
Facilitate institutionalization of the culture of national debate and dialogue on development issues.
The Council consists of 23 part-time members appointed because of their expertise, experience, ability and potential to contribute to a long-term, dynamic and sustainable development plan for the country. The Chief Secretary to Government and the Principal Secretary of Economic Planning and Development will serve as Ex-officio Members.
The mandate of the Council is to take a broad, cross-cutting, independent and critical view of Malawi’s development needs, to help define the Malawi that we seek to achieve over the next 50 years; prescribe the necessary and sufficient conditions for achieving the desired outcomes; and clearly outline the path and implementation; monitoring and evaluation strategies to achieve those objectives and the aspirations of our people.
This Council is a high-level advisory body which is tasked with preparing proposals and recommendations for the State President and ultimately Parliament, after being legislated, on issues affecting Malawi’s long-term development needs. Taking a long-term and independent view will add impetus, focus and coherence to our work. It is my hope that the Council will be able to take a bold stand for accountability of all the three branches of Government: the Executive; the Legislature; and the Judiciary in the delivery of services to the nation.
The Council is expected to put forward clear recommendations for Government based on solid research and sound objective evidence against the backdrop of international best practice.
The Council will work with broader society to draw on the best expertise, consult the relevant stakeholders and help to shape a consensus on what to do about the key challenges facing Malawi.
The establishment of the High Level Development Council is, therefore, our promise to the Malawi nation that we are extremely serious about building a just and fair society and a state that will grow the economy, reduce poverty and improve the quality of life for all our citizens.
As I said during the announcement of the Council, the immediate task for the Council will be to convene sector specific consultations that will input into a National Forum on Malawi at 50 to be held from 4th to 5th March this year. The conference will then draw up a Plan that will harmonise and inform the implementation of our various development frameworks. It is my hope that this will be a living document and can be improved upon.
In closing, Mr. Chairman and Members of the Council, I wish to remind you of my State of the Nation Address to Parliament where I said that indeed “I also have a dream. I see a Malawi where her citizens enjoy their freedom, dignity and a sense of pride. Yes, I see Malawians maximise their capacity to realise their social, political and economic empowerment. I see Government eradicate poverty of its people through economic growth and wealth creation.”
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Council,
Yes, it is possible to realise this dream as we journey on. I see a village with a clinic. I see a village with clean water. I see a village with a modern school. I see a village with a micro-finance bank. I see majority of my people becoming financial citizens. I see a village growing enough food and cash crops. I see a village whose people are empowered and take charge in shaping their destiny.
Yes, I see a community that decides where they want to be and get involved in getting there. I see justice and fairness upon our land. I see freedom upon our people.
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Council,
This dream is still alive. I see children going to school and not spending time in their parent’s gardens during school time. I see the girl child excelling in her education like her brother. I see more students accessing higher education. Yes, I see our education system delivering quality education. I see our health system delivering quality health care. I see more women and youth in decision making positions.
Finally, as we continue to reconstruct Malawi and reclaim the whole country for all, we break down the divisions and attitudes of the past. We free everyone from the last forces of oppression and cynicism. The emerging period must be a period of all Malawian peoples, to continue working together, building the nation.
For it is only when we strive towards this unity, as a people with one destiny, that we will release our energies, enabling us to fully rebuild this great nation. It is our task to make the most of our freedom, to entrench it as a fundamental and permanent feature of our existence. It is our task to continue to work for democracy and good governance in the coming years ensuring that peace, stability and development prevail throughout this country.
The appointing authority: President Joyce Banda
It is our task to manage the economy with prudence and diligence to ensure inclusive growth and prosperity. The challenge facing each and every one of us is to contribute to a complete and rounded picture of the emerging period.
I wish to congratulate all of you on your appointment to this High Level Development Council. It is my hope that you will live up to the expectations of all Malawians in the discharge of your duties.
I call upon all Malawians to give support to this Council so that together we can realize our dream of becoming a middle income economy.
May God bless you all.
I thank you for your attention.