There are mixed views on Vice-President Saulos Chilima’s 12-point plan which he said he would implement if elected president in next year’s tripartite elections.
Chilima unveiled his 12-point plan on Saturday at Masintha Ground in Lilongwe where he officially launched United Transformation Movement (UTM).
Among others, the Vice-President pledged to create one million jobs, abolish the quota system of selecting students into public universities, end presidential immunity from prosecution while in office, increase teachers’ salaries and make Parliament the appointing authority of the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) director general and other important positions, in the first year if elected president in the 2019 Tripartite Elections.
But reacting to the 12-point plan in an interview on Sunday, social and political commentator Rafik Hajat observed that in previous elections, political parties have been promising good things but failed to deliver.
He said: “It’s too early to tell because during elections, every party promises to abolish poverty and create jobs, but not much happens afterwards. So I would say only time will tell.”
Hajat urged UTM members to declare their assets and get clearance from police, ACB and Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) to show that they have avenues to deliver on the promises.
“If the party really wishes to establish itself as a serious party that needs change, all its members should start by declaring their assets and also getting a clearance from police, MRA and ACB to say we are clean and we have avenues to deliver what we have promised. The action will speak louder than words,” he said.
Commenting on the creation of one million jobs in Chilima’s first year if elected president, economist Henry Kachaje said job creation should be one of the deciding factors for the potential leaders wishing to take Malawi out of abject poverty and set it on the sustainable socio-economic path.
Kachaje, who in 2014 introduced an ambitious plan to create one million jobs by 2017, said this will be a tall order though not impossible.
He said: “Creating a million jobs within a year might be a tall order, especially considering the current macroeconomic environment.
“Where will the jobs be created? In the public sector or private sector? If it is public sector, will this not increase the burden on the national budget? If it is private sector, which industries and sectors will be identified? Private sector response to a change in government policy might not be fully registered within a year, thus achieving this ambitious goal within a year might be a tall order, though not impossible.”
Kachaje said his programme was being implemented but faced challenges, including lack of support from government, a rough macro-economic environment and lack of cooperation from small and medium enterprises.
In a separate interview, Civil Society Education Coalition executive director Benedicto Kondowe said Chilima has been part of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)-led government that promised to abolish the quota system but has not fulfilled.
He said: “Quota system is unnecessary and any serious government should have abolished it by now. We note that the Vice-President has been in government and was part and parcel of the DPP manifesto, but the manifesto has not lived up to what they promised Malawians, including the commitment to abolish the system.
“We are not yet convinced whether the Vice-President would act that way once elected into office.”
On her part, Mzuzu-based political commentator Emily Mkamanga said Chilima spoke what people wanted to hear.
She said: “Creating one million jobs may not be easy. In this country, we have left behind areas such as factories where jobs can be created.
“But some of the things are achievable; such as ending corruption which even now can be ended. What we need is political will. He has created a lot of expectation and people really expect something from him.”