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Opposition points out gaps in Peter Mutharika’s address

Leader of Opposition and Malawi Congress Party (MCP) President, Lazarus Chakwera, and People’s Party (PP) acting president, Uladi Mussa, have said President Peter Mutharika missed some crucial matters in the State of the Nation Address (Sona) which he delivered in Parliament on Friday.

Chakwera said the opposition is grateful that Mutharika acknowledged economic challenges that the country has faced in recent times “even though nothing is happening on dealing with corruption”.

In the address, Mutharika admitted that growth in manufacturing, electricity and gas as well as water supply activities in the last two years registered a declining trend, thereby hampering the performance of the private sector, resulting into a real GDP growth rate of only 2.7 percent in 2016.

He also acknowledged that the economy had faced some setbacks. He, however, attributed the trend to adverse weather patterns which destroyed crops and other property.

In an interview after Mutharika had delivered the Sona, Chakwera argued that the fight against corruption was “de-emphasised”.

“The president said something on corruption, but he did not say much on high levels of corruption. We know that the big fish are left free while smaller ones are prosecuted,” said Chakwera.

He also claimed that Mutharika’s omission of the electoral reforms shows that all along the president has not been willing to let them come to a fruitful conclusion.

“[Malawi Electoral Commission] said if nothing is done this year, then we should forget about the reforms and the president just ignored them in his address. This obviously raises fears on whether the reforms will be accomplished,” said Chakwera.

Among others, the reforms propose that a presidential candidate should attain more than 50 percent of the total votes cast if they are to be declared winner.

In a separate interview, Mussa said he expected that Mutharika would say something on the suspicious procurement of maize from Zambia which resulted in Mutharika’s own Commission of Inquiry recommending that George Chaponda should be investigated.

A the time of the procurement processes, Chaponda was Minister of Agriculture and was responsible for managing everything at policy level.

According to Mussa, Mutharika should have taken advantage of the Sona to appraise the nation on how he looks at the matter which observers claim will soon die a natural death.

“At least, we wanted a report on the maizegate. What happened and where are we now? What’s the way forward? The president is supposed to lead the fight against corruption,” said Mussa.

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