As 2021 came to a close last night and Malawians crossed over to 2022, various leaders, including President Lazarus Chakwera, expressed their views on how the country faired in the past year with some saying it was a difficult year while others said it was a mixed bag.
Chakwera, speaking through presidential press secretary Anthony Kasunda, said he laments the continued Covid-19 pandemic which has affected the people’s livelihoods, incomes and businesses in the just ending year.
Kasunda said in a written response that the President is aware that people are living in uncertain and turbulent times, in which every nation and economy globally has been affected.
“However, he [Chakwera] is encouraging Malawians not to despair. The President says this is the time to stand together as one nation behind a plan to recover what has been lost.”
He said the President is confident that the economy will rebound with the measures outlined in the Socio-Economic Recovery Plan for 2021 to 2023 with everyone taking part.
In a statement Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) issued yesterday, signed by national chairperson Gift Trapence, the coalition faulted Chakwera for failing to fulfil some of his campaign promises in 2020.
He expressed concerns with the “slow pace, lack of boldness, indecisiveness and lack of harmony” in how the Chakwera-led government is managing affairs of the country.
Reads the statement in part: “President Lazarus Chakwera’s inability to demonstrate assertiveness and decisively act on matters of national concern is creating a murky outlook of the governance situation in Malawi. Inefficiency in the public sector remains at its worst.
“Corruption is still rife. It is not surprising that by now the majority of Malawians, who voted for President Chakwera into power, have quickly begun to doubt the ability of the current leadership to deliver the promised Canaan.”
Former president Joyce Banda and United Democratic Front (UDF) leader Atupele Muluzi described 2021 as a difficult year in which many Malawians were affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Banda, who is also People’s Party leader, asked Malawians to love one another and come together and pray for a better 2022.
Muluzi, speaking through UDF spokesperson Yusuf Mwawa, expressed optimism that the Tonse Alliance government has seen how Malawians have suffered economically in 2021 and believed that it will address some of the challenges in 2022.
Malawi Congress Party and UTM Party secretary generals Eisenhower Mkaka and Patricia Kaliati, respectively, described the year 2021 as mixed bag.
Mkaka said on the downside, the party lost some of its key members due to Covid-19 but also won by-elections where it lost in 2019.
Kaliati said some of UTM Party members left the party while others joined it.
On his part, Farmers Union of Malawi president Frighton Njolomole described 2021 as a nightmare, saying most farmers did not get what they were promised.
He said, among others, government committed that Agriculture Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) would start buying farm produce in time, which did not happen.
Said Njolomole: “Farmers relied on informal traders who have been buying maize at below-government published minimum price of K150/kg. With the increase in prices of inputs for the 2021/2022 season, this meant farmers have to sell more maize in order to access inputs.
“This is why in the 2021/2022 AIP [Affordable Inputs Programme] season there has been increased incidences of farmers selling their electronic coupons to vendors as they are not able to redeem them.”