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Envisioning 100 years of independence

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FOR MW2063 POPULARISATION—Munthali

By Wanangwa Tembo:

Macdonald Zimba leads a group of young people dubbed ‘Kasungu District Youth Network’, whose objective is to champion youth participation in various aspects of life including politics, economic activities, environmental management and development.

He admits having heard about Malawi 2063 (MW2063), but does not know what it is all about.

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Other members of the youth network he chairs are ignorant of the contents and objectives of the country’s most ambitious long-term and youth-centred development agenda.

“I have heard about MW2063, but cannot competently explain what it is,” Zimba told a gathering of fellow youths from the district at the beginning of a training workshop on the popularisation of the supposed game-changing development agenda.

The daylong event was organised by National Initiative for Civic Education (Nice) Trust with support from the Malawi Government.

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Another young leader, Josephy Kapiye of Kasungu Municipality Youth Network, together with other youthful members, said he was unaware of much of what the vision entails.

MW2063 aims to transform Malawi into a wealthy and self-reliant industrialised upper middle-income country by the year 2063 or earlier.

About 51 percent of the country’s population are young people aged 18 years below.

In a commitment preface of the vision document, youths representatives Asharn Kossam and Madalitso Chipekwe say the youth are aware of the resolve the country has made to become prosperous and self-reliant, and the great role given to them in the implementation and realisation of the vision.

“We, therefore, take full responsibility to oversee the successful realisation of this vision by taking active roles in the implementation process as we did in the formulation.

“We call upon government to continue providing us, the youth, with the necessary platform where our contributions will be recognised, taking on board only those transformative initiatives that will catalyse and sustain the inclusive wealth-creation and self-reliance agenda,” reads the commitment in part.

However, the situation in Kasungu suggests that many youths are not aware of this development blueprint; hence, cannot play an active role in ensuring that the listed aspirations are realised.

National Planning Commission (NPC), through an inclusive and participatory multi-stakeholder consultative process, developed the plan.

Speaking during an orientation of civic educators in Lilongwe recently, NPC Director General, Thomas Munthali, said most people based on rural areas were not familiar with the aspirations of MW2063.

Nice Civic Education Officer for Kasungu, Gerald Chirwa, also says his institution acknowledges the knowledge gap that exists among various quarters of the country, including the youth, regarding the development plan which was launched on January 19, 2021.

“The plan is itself youth-centred. So, we want to ensure that all youths are aware of its contents so that they own it and are part of the process,” Chirwa says.

He believes Nice Trust’s over 9,000 volunteers scattered across the country and its rural libraries can help in popularising the agenda so that everyone is aware of what it entails.

“The spirit of MW2063 is that no person should be left behind. For that to happen, we need to empower people with information and that is what we are doing,” Chirwa explains.

Authorities concede that Malawi’s development efforts have previously focused on poverty reduction and were largely driven by development aid.

The new vision challenges the status quo and shifts focus from poverty reduction and dependency to wealth creation and self-reliance.

“Our collective resolve to go beyond political freedom to sustainable economic independence and development for each and every one of us is the engine that will drive the implementation and realisation of the vision,” reads part of the plan.

However, to realise this shift, Chirwa says, there is need for new ways of thinking and doing things as emphasised in the vision document.

“Change cannot come by itself, but we must work to change things ourselves. This calls for mindset change which I consider the vision’s main enabler,” he says.

President Lazarus Chakwera echoes this in his commitment preface of the agenda document.

“We cannot wait for someone to develop this country for us. We need a mindset change that embodies a national consciousness built around the belief in our own capabilities, home-grown solutions and a positive value system, a system that recognises unity of purpose, hard work, self-reliance, patriotism, integrity and hate for hand-outs,” Chakwera declares in his preface.

The successful implementation and realisation of MW2063 is also dependent on factors such as political will, visionary leadership and environmental sustainability.

It will also depend more on a shift from the tenets that frustrated Vision 2020 such as misalignments of the plans with the national budgets, lack of monitoring indicators and political interference.

Vision 2020 was ambitious development framework which was envisaged to lift the country to a lower medium-income nation by 2020. It, however, largely missed the targets.

And having understood the intentions of MW2063, Zimba and Kapiye called on Nice and other stakeholders to continue popularising the agenda so that the youth meaningfully contribute towards its realisation.

“MW2063 is our agenda as the youth. We must be part of it; we must own it and this is possible only when we have the right information and knowledge,” Zimba sums up.

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