Policy initiatives and programmes introduced under former Malawi president Joyce Banda are on the ice as in their places government is now factoring in Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) manifesto promises, Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) has said.
In her two-year rule, Banda introduced programmes and initiatives that included the Presidential Initiatives on Poverty Alleviation and Hunger Reduction (PIPaHR); the One Cow, One Family; the Mudzi Transformation Trust, the Farm Input Loan Programme (Filp) and the Goat Pass-on projects.
The initiatives entailed government using public resources to finance the president’s projects with scores of people employed to facilitate their implementation. Now the future of these projects hangs in balance.
OPC spokesperson Arthur Chipenda said government is reviewing its overall development programme in accordance with the ruling DPP manifesto.
“…And once this exercise is concluded, we will share with you the direction that government intends to take,” he said.
One source from Ministry of Finance said while government might not act quickly on the Banda-initiated programmes, it will be forced to pay for project staff salaries.
“It happened with the Greenbelt Initiative initiated by the Bingu wa Mutharika administration. Much as the Joyce Banda regime did not show much interest to fund the project, government continued to pay people that were employed to implement the programme. If the decision will not be made quickly on the Joyce Banda initiatives, it would mean taxpayers paying these people for doing nothing,” he said.
But Finance Ministry spokesperson Nations Msowoya said the sectors of government that were implementing the projects would decide whether or not they still need the initiatives.
“As Ministry of Finance, we will listen to them on whether it is justifiable to finance them or not depending on the available resources,” he said.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, which was implementing the PIPaHR; the One Cow, One Family; the Filp and the Goat Pass-on projects, said they were merely an implementing agency that gets direction from relevant authorities on policy direction of any project.
The ministry’s spokesperson, Sarah Chowa, said the initiatives were under OPC, which is likely to give them instructions on the way forward.
On her part, Presidential Initiative on Poverty Alleviation and Hunger Reduction national coordinator Flora Kaluwile said OPC was better placed to explain the projects’ future.
The Mudzi Transformation Trust, through executive director Macward Themba, claimed their activities were ongoing and “we have so far not been in touch with the current administration”.
Themba said the trust was registered as an initiative to uplift the socio-economic status of poor and marginalised Malawians regardless of their political affiliations.
But Minister of Information Kondwani Nankhumwa, while agreeing with OPC on the review of the programmes and initiatives based on their viability and impact to Malawians, completely ruled out continuation of the trust.
“Government would only continue with initiatives that were beneficial to people, but for the Mudzi Transformation Trust, we believe it is not a viable initiative. We cannot go about building houses for individuals, we have brought in the subsidised iron sheet and cement project. We will be reviewing each initiative and see how beneficial it was to Malawians,” he said.
Already the DPP-led government is yet to present a full budget to Parliament for approval because it wants to factor in some of its campaign promises included in the party’s manifesto.
Meanwhile, the government is operating on a provisional budget that will run up to end September.