Commentators have described the just ended year as one when the government performed dismally and failed to improved people’ lives in several sectors.
However, the commentators also pointed out some positives which, among others, include the successful implementation of the national registration exercise and the stabilisation of the local currency against major currencies.
However, persistent power outages, violent deaths sparked by bloodsucking rumours in some parts of the Southern Region, child trafficking and suppression of several freedoms have been listed as some of the negatives which, commentators argue, have eroded gains Malawi might have made in the year.
The suppression of the Electoral Reforms [Amendment] Bills by the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) was also a dent on governance in the year.
Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation Executive Director, Timothy Mtambo, said the government has failed to perform on human rights and governance.
However, Mtambo said developments such as the National Registration exercise, which has seen over nine million Malawians officially registered as citizens, paint a good picture of the current administration.
“Additionally, we have also seen stability in our currency and some sustainable reduction in inflation from double digit to single digit.
“We are, however, concerned that there was suppression of freedom of association, freedom of expression and the right to demonstrate freely. These are provided for in the Constitution but the State is not accepting them. It has to change,” Mtambo said.
Meanwhile, the Public Affairs Committee (Pac) has cautioned Malawians not to expect change from the many challenges that are affecting the country.
Pac spokesperson, Fr Peter Mulomole, said the DPP has not delivered even half of what it promised during the 2014 campaign period and, as such, Malawians should expect the same old promises from the government.
“To say we will see change in the year 2018 is a total white lie. DPP has been in power for the past three years and all we have seen and experienced is problem after problem. The greatest let down was what we witnessed in November, when the Electoral Reforms [Amendment] Bills were shot down. Simply put, we will experience the same old excuses,” he said.
Mulomole further described the just ended year as one of the worst on issues of transparency, accountability and economic governance.
“We witnessed a lot of political violence, industrial strikes, rampant corruption and the worst electricity blackouts. The President [Peter Mutharika] was not listening to the cries of Malawians on the many challenges that the country is going through. We can say the government lost the plot even more in the just ended year,” he said.
A resident of Blantyre, Maltida Biliat, said 2017 will be remembered as a year of low productivity due to blackouts that rocked the country.
“We have, for a long time, been expecting long hours of electricity or even days without blackouts. This has not been the case in 2017 when, most of the days, we had no electricity supply. We only hope 2018 will be different,” she said.
Another Blantyre resident, Mclean Kawanga, said, on paper, the economy has improved but this has not trickled down to common Malawians.
“Look around in the shops; how many people are shopping? How many people are you able to see on the ATMs cashing money? This is my simple analysis on the state of the economy. The situation is not that rosy as more needs to be done,” Kawanga said.
Mzuzu University Students Council leader, Wazamazama Katatu, said strategies drawn by the government on youth development failed to translate to positive change on the ground, with young people being sidelined in most development processes.
“In the year 2017, we have seen young people being victims of circumstances; the leadership of the country has failed to translate its vision for young people to real practical terms where we would see lives being changed for the better,” Katatu said.
He added that the frequent closures that characterised institutions of higher learning in the country are an indication that the government does not have the welfare of young people at heart.
Katatu said the government is failing to realise that institutions of higher learning are centres for grooming young leaders who, he said, are critical to the socio-economic development of any country.
However, government spokesperson, Nicholas Dausi, said, as far as the government is concerned, it is on the right path.
“They [commentators] are entitled to their opinions. We have lined up a number of strategies that will develop the country. We have plans to develop the infrastructure, the education sector, the health sector and many other things. Malawians should know that we, as the government, foresee a great 2018,” Dausi said.
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