MPs push for debt relief

DEEP IN PRAYER—Mwanza Central lawmaker Nicholas Dausi

Members of Parliament (MPs) Wednesday asked President Lazarus Chakwera to plead with the country’s bilateral and multilateral lenders to grant Malawi debt relief for the economy to have some breathing space in the aftermath of Tropical Cyclone Freddy.

Lilongwe South lawmaker Peter Dimba and Lilongwe Mpenu MP Eisenhower Mkaka raised the issue when Chakwera went to Parliament to present a report on the impact of the cyclone on Malawi.

The push for debt relief comes at a time Malawi’s public debt hovers at K7.9 trillion, with the government expected to cough K914.86 billion in interest repayment in the 2023-24 national budget.


Dimba said, since Malawi has been hit by myriad shocks in recent years, citing Covid, cyclones Ana, Gombe and Freddy as well as cholera, it would need more resources to rebuild.

The legislator said if lenders were to cancel Malawi’s debt, the country could have some breathing space to rebuild.

Mkaka concurred with Dimba, adding that canceling the debt or giving the country a moratorium on debt repayment could ease Malawi’s rebuilding process.


Nkhata Bay South East lawmaker Noah Chimpeni said time was ripe for Malawi to call for climate justice, saying that would be the right thing to do because climate change is leading to the escalation of natural phenomena such as cyclones.

Presenting his report, Chakwera described Cyclone Freddy, which has, so far, claimed over 500 people and injured over 1,300 others, as a national catastrophe.

Chakwera said the cyclone has also displaced half a million people and washed away over 100,000 homes.

The President said another source of anguish is the fact that there are still over 530 people missing and unaccounted for.

“In this dark hour, we cannot afford to entertain political rhetoric and finger-pointing that send us down the useless rabbit trails of unhelpful petty interests, interests that add no value to what this moment demands from all of us.

“The only questions that matter in this moment are: What has this cyclone done to our country and people? And what must we each do to meet the challenge until we rise from this calamity?” Chakwera said.

While indicating that over 40 roads and bridges have been cut off, Chakwera said authorities are still computing the extent of the damage and that the government will inform Malawians once the full assessment is done.

“I have directed every ministry to conduct a full assessment of the damage to the sector it oversees in order for us to have a consolidated view of what our economy has suffered and what the cost of rebuilding and reconstruction will be.

“When that consolidation is done, my administration will bring you a full report of what we need to rebuild,” Chakwera said.

He added that the World Bank has already committed to work with Malawi in the completion of the assessment and resource mobilisation as reconstruction plans take shape.

Leader of the Opposition in Parliament Kondwani Nankhumwa agreed with Chakwera on the need for people not to politicise the response to the cyclone.

Nankhumwa urged Chakwera to ensure that technocrats are in control of financial resources channeled to the cause of assisting survivors of Cyclone Freddy.

“Would you please set up a team of professionals to handle the finances,” Nankhumwa said.

According to World Food Programme, the cyclone, which it says hit 14 districts in the Southern Region, dumped the equivalent of six months of rainfall in six days.

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