Renowned all-time economist Goodall Gondwe is one of very few politicians in the country that are able to hang their political gloves and give their candid and unbiased opinion on issues in the Tonse Alliance administration. This is not common among Malawian politicians. No wonder that the media does not hesitate to seek his expert views on economic issues in the country despite his political background. He has earned credibility and is leading from the front.
For starters, Gondwe has been a politician since 2004 when he was first appointed to the position of Minister of Finance by former president the late Bingu wa Mutharika. As Minister of Finance Gondwe brought into government his vast experience as an economist having previously worked as director of the Africa Division of the International Monetary Fund.
As Minister of Finance Gondwe was credited for the country’s economic success during Bingu’s first term. It is common knowledge that his economic development policies, together with Bingu helped to improve the economic situation in the country. Under Gondwe’s stewardship the rate of inflation fell from 30 percent in 2005 to 6 percent by 2008. The country’s economy grew by approximately 6 percent. In 2008, Gondwe was voted as Africa’s Finance Minister of the Year at the African Banker Awards, held at the Willard Intercontinental Hotel in Washington DC, USA.
Gondwe was first elected Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) vice president for the North in 2011, a position he still holds to date. When DPP returned to power in 2014, he was the former president Peter Mutharika’s automatic choice as Minister of Finance, a position he held until 2019.
Last week Gondwe may once again have stirred a hornet nest among his political peers in the DPP. But I think he doesn’t care. His crime? He showered praises on President Lazarus Chakwera for the signing of a $350 million Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Malawi Transport and Land Compact in Washington DC. Some would have given the programme a political spin by saying it was already nailed by the DPP administration in 2018. But Gondwe who is indisputably more knowledgeable about what is involved for a country to sign the deal than most of his political peers, did not.
It is unheard for any DPP politician to praise Chakwera’s or the Tonse Alliance administration on anything for the good reason that DPP desperately wants to return to power in 2025. It is for this reason that the only narrative from DPP, including the party’s president, Peter Mutharika, about the Tonse administration and Chakwera in particular, is one of disdain and that Chakwera should resign as president for allegedly failing to run this country.
But Gondwe spoke well of the multi billion kwacha project which will see some 300 kilometres of roads across Malawi being transformed in the next five years.
The project will greatly reduce transport costs and strengthening land administration, as it will cover the upgrade of various roads in Mzimba, Rumphi, Lilongwe, Kasungu, Mchinji, Ntcheu, Balaka and Mangochi.
In a pure display of statesmanship and political maturity, Gondwe described the signing of the compact as of great value for the social economic transformation of the country stressing that the package will have both short and long term impact for Malawi.
Said Gondwe: “This will largely have long term benefits for the country, for the short term, depending on the arrangement on how the money will be disbursed, it will help the country on containing the current foreign exchange challenges.
“It will help us acquire the amount of money they will spend in Malawi as they will buy Malawi kwacha in return for reign exchange for that amount and this will help us in short term.”
Gondwe said apart from changing the infrastructure development for the country’s rural areas hence sparring economic activities in various households, the package will be crucial in job creation for Malawi.
Gondwe is simply calling a spade by its name. He knows his job that being an opposition leader does not mean he should always be trashing and pouring cold water on anything and everything government does. Rather it is providing the necessary guidance and checks and balances to other branches of government. Gondwe is not afraid of saying the truth because his political peers will frown on him. What he is doing is what we expect of all other opposition leaders. They should not lose their credibility on the altar of petty politicking.