By Kondanani Chilimunthaka
The State Of National Address (SONA) delivered by President Lazarus Chakwera during the opening of the 5th meeting of Parliament in the 49th Session which is the 2022/23 budget meeting focuses much on the need to fix the systems to deliver long-term priorities and diffuse short-term pressures.
Making his remarks in the chamber at Parliament Building in the capital Lilongwe on Thursday, morning, President Chakwera started by remembering February 3 as very historical as it marks the second anniversary of historical ruling of the High Court of Malawi that sat as a Constitutional Court to examine the State’s conduct of 2019 Presidential Election, which he said remains memorable.
“Like all Malawians, I remember that day like it was yesterday. The most enduring memory I have from that day is of Dr. Chilima and I walking into that crowded courtroom knowing that we were not merely there as petitioners, but as servant leaders carrying upon our shoulders the weight of a nation’s hope for justice.” Said President Chakwera reflecting on the ConCourt judgement in connection to the title of his SONA *”Fixing the systems to Deliver Long-Term Priorities and Diffuse Short-Term Pressures.”*
In his SONA, Malawi leader told the nation that Malawi has so many national treasures, which just need to be translated into national transformation to fix the broken systems.
“In fact my dream is that by the time my administration is done, it will be remembered as the administration that fixed the systems to usher this country into a new future.” Read part of Chakwera’ SONA.
He added that fixing the systems is the bridge to the country’s future in many sectors like tourism industry, manufacturing, civil service, health, security, education, and youth empowerment.
Further, President Chakwera told the Parliament that establishment of Presidential Delivery Unit, four months ago, has been helpful in fixing the system failures and get projects meant for serving Malawians back on track.
“The PDU is a big success and has kick-started routine tracking and follow-ups with MDAs responsible for delivering on key projects. So far the PDU has brought together more than 140 people from 40 different organizations working together to fix systems and get projects meant for serving Malawians back on track. Of 192 projects we assessed, 104 were prioritized and worked on. One example is the construction of the COMESA Competition Commission and the COMESA Federation of Women in Business Complexes.” Said Chakwera in his SONA.
Turning to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth, President Chakwera reported to the house through his SONA that it has grown by 3%, up from 0.8 percent of 2020 as per its estimate in 2021, owing it to Government interventions among which is the Affordable Inputs Programme, improved energy production following the commissioning of Solar Farm in Salima, rehabilitation of Tedzani Power Station, and Nkula Power Plant.
In his State Of National Address, President Chakwera came in open to admit that the cost of living has gone up by 0.7 percent from 8.6 percent in 2020 to 9.3 percent in 2021, but was quick to describe the rise as being originated from the increase in the Landed Costs of fuel following the rise in global demand as economies began to rebound.
“It is worth noting, Madam Speaker, that while the annual average inflation has increased, the annual average food inflation actually dropped from 13.0 percent in 2020 to 11.4 percent in 2021 on the back of a bumper maize harvest last season, a demonstration of the impact of the AIP in macroeconomic management.” Said Chakwera while commenting on monetary performance.
Through his SONA that tacked most essential sectors, President Chakwera told the house that his administration will construct Orton Chirwa Airport in Mzuzu with support from European Investment Bank (EIB), Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA), and Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) among other major projects, adding that already his administration has created 997,423 jobs in the 2021/22 fiscal year by both Private and Public Sectors.
President Chakwera also used his SONA while emphasizing on fixing the systems to deliver long-term priorities and diffuse short-term pressures, to tackle areas of energy, transport, security, industry and trade, human capital development, health, information and digitalization, gender welfare and youths, education, and climate change among many areas the SONA touched on.
The budget meeting will run from 3rd February up to 1st April, 2022.
President Lazarus Chakwera has since left the country for Addis Ababa in Ethiopia to attend the 35th Session of the Assembly of the African Union which starts from 4th February and runs to 6th February, 2022.