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Malawi is broke, says Mutharika

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Malawi President Peter Mutharika Thursday went to town on civil servants in the country, blaming them for contributing to economic woes the country is facing through their salary hike demands.

Mutharika said the country’s programme with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is off-track because of the big appetite for salaries which has bloated the wage bill.

Mutharika has since vowed that his administration will not effect any salary increases until the economy recovers.

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An emotionally charged Mutharika attacked the civil servants at a press briefing held at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe, Thursday, where he updated the nation on his recent two-week trip to the United Nations 70th General Assembly in New York.

Said Mutharika: “There is no money in this country. This business of putting deadlines on government has to stop. You need to start respecting government. If you want to be rich go to the private sector; working for government is a sacrifice. I said it in April that if we are not careful with how we are spending, we will go off track. I hope now you believe me.”

Ironically, the President himself has been accused by different stakeholders of failing to lead by example by among other things, spending needlessly on political rallies and the UN summit itself.

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He said the inherited arrears— coupled with the withdrawal of direct budgetary support by development partners—has worsened the situation for his administration, adding that he is optimistic that things will start improving before the end of this year.

“Brace yourself for serious change. I have ideas, I need your support. No single person has come forward with an alternative. Don’t think you are hurting me when you go on strike. I was already a millionaire when I became President. My salary is only K1.4 million. I was making 10 times that when I was out of the country,” charged Mutharika.

Commenting on the reported bloated entourage that accompanied him to New York, Mutharika described the reports as ‘garbage’ which was only meant to discredit his government.

Mutharika, who purportedly had with him a list of the Malawian delegation to the UN meeting, said only a few officials were sponsored by government, claiming that the rest were funded by UN agencies and other non-governmental organisations.

Interestingly, journalists who attended the briefing were not granted access to the list to verify it. Additionally, he did not come out clearly on the exact number of people who were funded by taxpayers.

“Our delegation was the smallest and I am proud of the delegation. I couldn’t go [alone]; I am not a machine to do all the work. All these reports that people were on a shopping spree is garbage.

“Let’s put this nonsense to rest. Don’t be obsessed that I am wasting your money. Shame on all those who were spreading these lies. I hope you are decent enough to apologize,” said Mutharika.

He also took time to justify his continued chartering of planes at a time the majority of Malawians are languishing in dire poverty.

“Do you want your President to sit at an Airport for 10 hours? I know we are poor but do we have to advertise our poverty. I think that’s silly. Why don’t you instead query the People’s Party that sold the country’s presidential jet? he said.

Recently, the World Bank said Malawi’s increased wage bill and subsidies are among elements that are weighing down on the country’s economic growth.

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