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6 wrap up debate

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By Serah Makondetsa & Macdonald Thom:

UPBEAT—Ndanga

Six out of the eight aspiring presidential candidates tussled last night during the third and final presidential debate ahead of May 21 Tripartite Elections at Bingu International Convention Centre agreeing that most of the challenges the country is facing border on character of leaders.

The six—Malawi Congress Party (MCP) candidate Lazarus Chakwera, UTM’s torchbearer SaulosChilima, United Democratic Front (UDF) leader Atupele Muluzi, Peter Kuwani of Mbakuwaku Movement for Development, John Chisi of Umodzi Party and Reverend Kaliya, an independent candidate—faced off in the three-hour debate.

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President Peter Mutharika, who is Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidate, and his Tikonze People’s Movement counterpart Cassim Chilumpha did not participate in all the three debates that were

organised.

Among other issues tackled during the debate include economy, irrigation, education, the youth and employment.

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On leadership, among others, Chakwera said a good leader must have a good personality and character in order to lead the nation.

“A leader must be exemplary and visionary and they should be able to lead people and the country as a whole in the right direction,” he said.

Chilima corroborated Chakwera saying a leader must ensure that they are leading people in the right direction.

“Make sure you do not lead people astray, make sure you are doing the right thing and that those behind you are able to follow the right path,” he said.

Muluzi said a leader must listen to the voice of Malawians and make informed decisions.

“Inclusivity is the key in leadership. A leader should achieve maximum results in issues they try to implement,” he said.

Taking his turn on what his government would do in the first 100 days in office, Chisi said he would ensure that his government puts measures on reducing poverty levels.

“Poverty alleviation is one of the things my government will prioritise if voted into power during the first 100 days in office,” he said.

Kuwani said his government would reduce borrowing arguing this has led to a lot of challenges that the country is facing.

“No country has ever developed with debt and, as such, my government will ensure that stringiest measures against borrowing are put in place,” he said.

Kaliya said, for the past years, Malawians have trusted political parties who, he claims, have failed to govern the country.

“What I can say is it is time to trust an independent because these parties have failed us. I will make sure I end corruption in my first 100 days in office,” he said.

University of Malawi political analyst Ernest Thindwa and his University of Livingstonia counterpart George Phiri said the candidates focused on basic needs and failed to articulate on how they intend to implement their visions and plans

“One of the key challenges about these debates is candidates articulating their aspirations or visions of the country but without articulating how they will deliver the vision.

“I would have loved if candidates explained where we are right now as a country and how they will move the country forward. Otherwise, it is the same thing of simply saying we will do this and that but without explaining how it will be done,” Thindwa said.

Phiri said the candidates did not focus on long-term plans in as far as advancing the economy of the country was concerned.

“All of these candidates were only emphasing the basic needs of Malawians and yet they are talking about growing the economy which cannot grow if the emphasis is only on basic needs. I think we need leaders that will take Malawi beyond basic needs of Malawians.

“If you take the issue of agriculture, they emphasised food subsistence farming only but, if the economy of Malawi is agro-based, then we need to think beyond basic needs of Malawians. We need to give Malawians beyond what they can consume. So, overall the candidates were not able to articulate beyond the basic needs, which will not grow any industry. I wish they connected agricultural productivity with the youth and how they advance the economy of the country,” he said.

Chairperson of the debate task force, Teresa Ndanga, said she believes the exercise has given Malawians an opportunity to scrutinise the candidates based on issues they were raising.

The presidential debate series started on Friday last week with Chakwera, Muluzi and Chilima participating.

The second phase was held on Tuesday involving Kaliya, Chisi and Kuwani.

The task force comprised Misa-Malawi, Times Group, Malawi Broadcasting Corporation, Zodiak Broadcasting Station, Centre for Multiparty Democracy, Democracy Works Foundation, Civil Society Agriculture Network, Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace, Malawi Law Society, Public Affairs Committee, Voluntary Service Organisation, National Initiative for Civic Education Public Trust and National Democratic Institute.

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