MalawiÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s President Bingu wa Mutharika on Friday stuck to his same old line, spitting fire at donors, civil society organisations (CSOs), opposition and religious leaders when he opened the 43rd Session of Parliament in Lilongwe.
He also accused unnamed external forces of working to topple his rule.
In a speech titled The Parliament as the Agent of Development, which largely focused on the countryÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s development partners, Mutharika said government is working Ã¢â‚¬Å“day and nightÃ¢â‚¬Â to solve the ongoing forex and fuel crises.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I want to bring to the attention of the House and the nation the machinations by some external forces that are encouraging our detractors to bring about chaos, lawlessness, disobedience so as to foster regime change in our country.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“These external forces are working through civil society organisations which number over 550 in our country of only 13 million people. Such a proliferation of CSOs has never brought drugs to our hospitals, nor has it alleviated the fuel and forex shortages among us,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Mutharika.
He said there is little Malawians have benefited from huge resources donors channel to NGOs Ã¢â‚¬Å“to ferment chaos in the country.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I would propose that Parliament must find effective means of providing legislative oversight on the CSOs utilisation of resources they receive from donors. In other words, legislation must be passed to make CSOs accountable,Ã¢â‚¬Â said the President.
On devaluation, Mutharika reiterated that it is difficult for government to devalue the kwacha unless there is guarantee to protect the poor from high commodity prices, resulting from devaluation.
An IMF technical support team, which visited Malawi in December last year to help government get back on track on its Extended Credit Facility (ECF) Programme, urged for a devaluation of the kwacha to about K250 per dollar to solve the prevailing acute shortage of forex that has crippled the countryÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s economy.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Devaluation is not a panacea for solving our problems. Even in advanced countries, devaluation is used only as part of the solution. Which country has ever had meaningful development just by devaluing its currency?
Ã¢â‚¬Å“My ardent appeal to the IMF and the Western development partners is to allow my government a short time space of three years to try to put in place policies that will restore resilience in our external balances.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“If we fail, then we can try devaluation. Western donors should help government in its attempts to find lasting solutions to these problems instead of choking our throats,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Mutharika.
He, however, attracted boos from the opposition bench when he said the Nsanje World Inland Port project was one of the achievements his administration has made. He added that his administration has also successfully fought hunger and reduced HIV and Aids related deaths, among others.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Instead of despising these achievements, we should all own them regardless of which political camp we belong to and be proud of them. These constitute our national heritage to be handed down from generation to generation.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Those who say that Malawi is a failed State or that the country is sinking or that the country is off-track simply because we face temporary fuel and forex shortages, do not have the truth in them,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Mutharika.
He said sentiments that Malawi is off-track are based on evaluation standards that have not been explained to Malawians, insisting that through the implementation of home-grown policies, the country has achieved an average annual growth rate of 7.5 percent over the past seven years.
Mutharika said it was improper for his critics to use the media to fight laws that Parliament has Ã¢â‚¬Å“dulyÃ¢â‚¬Â passed.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“A new trend emerging in our country is that the Law Commission and Law Society have begun to challenge the passing of laws by this august House. I submit that Parliament is the only legitimate institution to champion the process of making laws for Malawi.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Civil society organisations are gradually usurping the mandate to legislate and seem to support individuals who can challenge any legislation passed by Parliament as bad laws or draconian laws,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said.
Mutharika said as a sovereign State, Malawi has its own customs, cultures, religions and laws, which he said are not subservient or inferior to any systems prevailing elsewhere.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“My prayer is that the people of Malawi will stand up for what is right for us and not give legitimacy to strange and unwelcome practices from other lands simply for a few dollars.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Another recent significant development that is of concern to the Executive is the attempt by some external forces, CSOs and even some religious leaders to erode the powers of the President in the governance of our country.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“More specifically, CSOs have attempted to give deadlines and threats to the President to submit reports to them on how the country is governed. This is not normal,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said.
BINGUÃ¢â‚¬â„¢S KEY POINTS
1. Western donors, civil society and religious leaders have no powers to govern
2. External forces are fostering regime change
3. Devaluation not a panacea for solving MalawiÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s problems
4. Devaluation should come after three years
5. Malawi should first implement home-grown policies to end forex, fuel crisis
6. Devaluation alone will hurt the poor and rural people
7. Law Commission, Malawi Law Society usurping legislative powers of Parliament
8. Appeals for optimism and patriotism to resolve challenges
9. Parliament should pass law to check NGOs
10. NGOs have never brought drugs to hospitals
11. Forex, fuel shortages not insurmountable
12. July 20 events remain ugly spot in MalawiÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s history
13. MPs should explain legislation to constituents, not wait for media
14. Zero-deficit budget neither accidental nor dangerous
15. Domestic revenue has amounted to K120.1 billion against a midyear target of K115.6 billion.
16. Recurrent expenditure has amounted to K120 billion against midyear target of K127.3 billion.
17. Grants, loans have contracted from 60 percent in 2004/05 to 20 percent in 2011/12
18. MalawiÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s domestic revenue has grown from K65 billion in 2005/06 to K242.5 billion