The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) on Tuesday took President Lazarus Chakwera to task over the one million jobs he promised to create for Malawians in the first year in office in the run-up to the June 23 2020 presidential election.
In a pre-recorded Hard Talk television interview with BBC’s Sarah Montague, Chakwera was asked to explain how many jobs the Tonse Alliance-led administration has created since June 28 2020, when it took over the reins of power.
The Malawi leader was also taken to task on whether appointing his daughter Violet to a diplomatic mission in Brussels was in line with the spirit of creating a new Malawi and clearing the rubble.
Chakwera, who is in the United Kingdom (UK) attending the Global Education Summit which started yesterday, said, through the rollout of the Affordable Input Programme, the Tonse Alliance-led administration managed to create some jobs for Malawian youths who were recruited to help in the process.
“When we started, for example, with the Affordable Input Programme, we had thousands of jobs. Young people were employed across the country with millions of people accessing the affordable inputs. It was 3.5 million accessing inputs,” Chakwera said as Montague insisted that the Malawi leader provide an exact number of jobs.
He noted that the impact of about 300,000 jobs created was not felt because about 600,000 people lost their jobs due to companies’ downsizing and foreclosures in the wake of Covid.
According to Chakwera, had it been that his administration did not put in place mechanisms for protecting jobs in the wake of Covid, more people would have lost their jobs than those that did.
Asked about the appointment of his daughter, Violet, to a diplomatic mission, Chakwera described the sentiments as not true. This is despite State House Press Secretary Brian Banda justifying the appointment last week.
Chakwera accused the BBC of not doing its homework on the matter.
“Violet is not going to Brussels. She is not going as a third secretary to Brussels. Check your facts; investigate those things,” Chakwera said.
Chakwera also justified the composition of his 10-man entourage to the UK, which includes First Lady Monica, the President’s daughter and his son-in-law, saying everyone on the trip had a responsibility to play.
“I brought Malawians that are doing something along with me on this trip and they are just as valuable. I can tell you each one of them has specific functions and the specific functions are such that, for me to be able to attend a meeting like this, I need their services,” Chakwera said.
University of Livingstonia Political analyst George Phiri said Chakwera struggled to answer the question on one million jobs because Malawi missed an opportunity to create real jobs from the pandemic as other countries have done.
“The BBC were deliberately asking the President that question because it knows that Malawi has lost an opportunity in that area. With Covid and growing pressure on healthcare workers, Malawi would have created many jobs by creating opportunities for nurses and other healthcare workers,” Phiri said.
Last week, the Public Accounts Committee (Pac) of Parliament urged Chakwera to cancel the trip to the UK and attend virtually, saying the trip had no value for money.
On Sarah Montague’s question to Chakwera, to the effect that he [Chakwera] had appointed his daughter Violet to Brussels as one of the workers at the Malawi embassy, Chakwera’s Executive Assistant Sean Kampondeni told The Daily Times that the President’s role ended at the appointment of ambassadors or high commissioners and their deputies.
“The President appoints ambassadors and deputy ambassadors. All other postings to foreign missions are the domain of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which has its own processes for making such decisions and should be contacted for any information on such,” Kampondeni said.