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‘Align party manifestos to national agenda’

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An economic expert says lack of coherence between political party manifestos and national development strategies is one of the factors affecting the implementation of medium term development strategies in the country.

The expert, Dr Winford Masanjala, made the observation when he presented a paper during the Economics Association of Malawi (Ecama) annual conference.

His observation comes at a time when the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy II is said to have flopped meeting only two of the six yardsticks for it to be considered successful.

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Masanjala said a national development plan is agreed upon by all citizens of a country regardless of political affiliation as the roadmap a country is supposed to take to achieve accelerated development.

He said, therefore, political party manifestos should not supersede the national development plan but should provide how best they can help implement the national development plans.

According to Masanjala, it has been observed in recent times that some parties are selling things that are not in the long term national development plans.

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“There is need to put in place a mechanism to vet whether political party manifestos are speaking the same language with the overall national development plan.

“How can a political party just come into power and start implementing its manifesto as if it’s a nationally agreed document?” asked Masanjala.

Commenting on MDGS II, Masanjala said the medium term strategy which ran from 2011 to 2016 failed because, among other things, its costing was needs based rather than resource based.

According to Masanjala, the assumption was that donors would come in to fill the financial gap, a development that never happened.

“In addition, the implementation of the strategy faced some exogenous challenges as just months into its implementation, the then President Bingu wa Mutharika died which meant the coming in of a completely

different party with completely different ideologies,” Masanjala said.

He also underscored the need to implement a mechanism to start vetting how international development agendas fit into the local development roadmaps.

“If it were for me, now that Capital Hill is drafting a successor to MGDS II, I would have lapsed all sectoral policies so that new ones are developed in line with the new MGDS,” Masanjala said.

He called for the need for authorities to come up with an anchor to the economy in the next five years of the new development plan.

The Ecama annual conference attracted a number of high profile presenters from the World Bank, International Monetary Fund as well as the academia.

Ecama president, Henry Kachaje, described the 2016 conference as successful, saying it helped to show the country that it has enough pool of talent which could help shape the political destiny of Malawi.

“If the authorities listen to the contributions from the economic experts, there is no way Malawi could remain where it is at the moment,” Kachaje said.

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