Findings by the Institute of Public Opinion and Research (IPOR) of the Afrobarometer has shown that people of President Peter Mutharika’s home district do not trust him.
University of Malawi political science lecturer Boniface Dulani made his presentation titled ‘Democratic Governance and People’s Assessments of President Peter Mutharika’s One Year in Office’ at a meeting in Salima on Monday organised to assess Mutharika’s 12-month-long rule.
The survey that was conducted in three districts, Rumphi, Salima and Thyolo established, under political assessments, that there are low levels of trust ratings for Mutharika in Thyolo and Salima.
“Interestingly, Rumphi residents trust the President more than those of Thyolo and Salima,” said Dulani.
According to the key findings Dulani said the general picture from the survey is one of negativity where seven in ten (70 percent) respondents from the three districts say the country is going in the wrong direction.
“The negative assessments cut across sex and age,” he said. “However, residents of Thyolo are slightly less pessimistic about the overall direction of the country compared to those from Rumphi and Salima.
According to the survey, more than three quarters of Malawians in the three districts say that the country’s economic situation is bad or very bad while nearly seven in 10, about 69 percent, rate their current economic situation equally negatively.
He said it might be too early to pass judgement on the Mutharika presidency from a democracy and governance perspective after only a year in office but said it was still important to acknowledge that there have been a few promising signs, but some not-so-promising ones as well.
“The people, however, have passed their judgement- and that judgement is mostly negative,” he said.
Dulani said the survey on the aspect of trust was conducted in view of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Election Manifesto, 2014, on page 17 titled Principles of Good Governance which states:
“The DPP will strengthen a government that is accountable to the people and that can be trusted….The DPP will engage the best men and women who have the highest integrity to implement government programmes…”
In other observations not related to the survey, Dulani said there are still lingering questions about liberalisation of the public media while no major progress on promises to trim presidential powers have so far been made.
He also said government has failed to demonstrate that it is accountable and transparent to who, considering the ambiguity in the asset declaration law which requires that one should apply in order to access the ‘so called public information’.
The academic also said there are some vestiges of intolerance where DPP followers brag that it’s their time to plunder public resources and that people should do their bidding.
“[During] this year under review there has also been lack of leadership on critical issues, including issue of salaries for ministers; failure to resolve the issue of Nac funding to First Lady’s body; judicial strike; MSB sale, and their focus on trivia.
“Much as the President said we focus on trivia, we would also want to point out that they have also been focusing on trivia like painting of the police cell [in Lumbadzi in Lilongwe],” he said.
Dulani also said another failure is government’s attempts to stifle civil society using the NGO law ‘whose origins, lest we forget, was to stifle opposition to the third term bid’.
Presidential Adviser on NGOs Mabvuto Bamusi told the meeting that he will pass on all the observations to the President uncensored.
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