President Lazarus Chakwera Wednesday challenged Malawians to rise, unite and focus on national development endeavours.
Chakwera was speaking in Lilongwe during a National Service of Worship marking Malawi’s 58 years of independence from British.
In his speech, which was dominated by the phrase ‘A new Malawi is rising’, the Malawi leader said the nation was standing at a crossroads and in the valley of decision where citizens must choose whether they will sit as spectators or work as a team to build Malawi.
Nevertheless, the Malawi leader said Malawians must decide what Malawi’s place in the global community would be, whether to be a puppet and pawn in the race between the West and the East “or to be a leading and shining example in the Global South by accomplishing things other nations can admire, benefit from and learn from”.
“We must choose what our priorities in public spending and public discourse will be, whether to waste the little time and resources we have on petty matters that focus on politics, personalities, positions and pomp to generate more and more sensational headlines, more and more jealousies, more and more hostilities and more and more divisions, or to focus our time and resources on matters that build our country’s economy, our country’s industries, our country’s unity, our country’s pride, our country’s systems, our country’s infrastructure, our country’s healthcare, our country’s education and our country’s international standing.
“And, above all, we must choose what story we will tell about ourselves and our country to each other and the rest of the world, whether to say that Malawi is a nation sinking in the quicksand of Covid pandemic, climate change impacts, toxic debt, corruption and the negative effects of foreign wars, or to shout at every roof-top and every opportunity that ‘a new Malawi is rising’,” he said.
Chakwera also challenged development partners to move away from the failed policy of treating Malawi as a victim.
“I call on all our development partners to move away from the failed policy of treating Malawi as a victim that must be kept in a toxic relationship of donor-and-beggar or servant-and-supervisor and, instead, to listen to us and join us in showing the world that a new Malawi is rising,” he said.
He cited the landmark Constitutional Court decision overturning results of the May 21 2019 presidential election, appointing women to positions in new development projects and press freedom as some of the indicators that a new Malawi is rising.
Chairperson for the Evangelical Association of Malawi, Archbishop Mark Kambalazaza, said the country needed to hold prayers because, when a country puts God first, God also puts the country first.
“When you forget God, actually you forget yourself,” he said.
Reverend Webster Kameme challenged leaders to have unity of purpose, integrity and accountability to develop the country for the future generations, not for elections.
“Let us build the roads for the next generation, not elections. Let us not build schools for the next elections, but for the next generations,” he said.
Vice President of the Episcopal Conference of Malawi, Reverend Montfort Stima, said it is the responsibility of every individual in the country to build the country for the next generation.
Muslim Association of Malawi Vice-Chairperson Sheikh Yusuf Chibwana, also urged Malawians to be steadfast in prayer and hard work. Malawi received its independence from Britain in 1964.
Mathews Kasanda is a journalist who holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from University of Malawi (The Polytechnic).
In 2015, Media Institute of Southern Africa awarded him the Best Print Media Education Journalist of the Year accolade.
He joined Times Group Newsroom in September 2019.