The Consumers Association of Malawi (Cama) says it is unlikely that the Buy Malawi Strategy will successed considering that consumers, who are critical to the successful implementation of the strategy, have not been incorporated in the process of setting up the policy.
Cama Executive Director, John Kapito, said on Tuesday it is unfortunate that consumer choices and needs are not considered when establishing initiatives that affect them directly.
“For this strategy to work, the consumer needs to be taken on board at any level. By choosing to ignore the consumer, this strategy has deliberately chosen to fail,” said Kapito.
He noted that since the launch of the strategy in March, 2016 emphasis has been on producers and not consumers.
Kapito said the strategy is being rolled out on the assumption that the authorities and producers will come up with mechanisms to change buying patterns among Malawians even without consulting them.
“What the authorities are forgetting is that for a consumer to spend their K10 on product A and not product B, there should be a good reason. That reason is only better known by the consumers themselves.
“So to think that you can sit down in a boardroom somewhere and design strategies to change the buying patterns of the consumers without involving the consumers themselves is disrespectful,” said Kapito.
He also questioned the rationale behind setting up the strategy.
“Are they promoting goods made in Malawi or sold by Malawians? Do they know why the Malawian consumer is opting for the imported commodity? Are we not trying to create a huge market for imported commodities in the event that they are sold by Malawians?” quizzed Kapito.
Launching the strategy in Lilongwe in March, President Peter Mutharika described the initiative as an oath of patriotism.
“We have no other country to be proud of except Malawi. This is a land of opportunities. And those with eyes for opportunities see and find them. We pledge to buy Malawian because we are proud of our Mother Malawi. We are proud that Malawi can produce fine products and services worthy our pride,” said Mutharika.
He said Malawi is importing too much because the citizens are not patriotic enough to promote their own industries and services.
“Under Buy Malawi Strategy, we are talking about investment. We are talking of change of business strategies. How long will our businesses be importing and supplying imported products? By importing, we export valuable jobs, import inflation, we strain our forex cover; and complain that the kwacha is depreciating,” Mutharika said then.