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Peter Mutharika owes Malawians his campaign promises

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President Peter Mutharika was voted into office based on the promises he made to Malawian through the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) manifesto which he marketed aggressively on his campaign trail.

The president, therefore, has an obligation to fulfill the promises which earned him more votes at the polls than anybody else.

The DPP manifesto, titled “Towards A People-Centered Government: Prosperity, Justice, Security – a Government We Can Trust” starts with a foreword from Mutharika in which he emphasizes the importance of keeping promises by the government.

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He rightly observes that the people of Malawi want “a government they can trust, a government that can deliver on its promises and a government that prioritises people’s needs”.

“Now is the time to have a government that can keep promises. DPP does not believe in empty rhetoric,” writes Mutharika, adding: “We in the DPP believe that if a government does not have integrity, it has no right to govern”.

The manifesto, states Mutharika, is a reflection of DPP’s beliefs and values grounded on “people-centered development approaches, long term infrastructure developments, people-driven economic paradigms, and a culture of respect for human rights and human dignity for all”.

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In the document, the DPP promises to abolish the coupon system under the Farm Input Subsidy Programme and make subsidised fertiliser available “for every maize subsistence farmer that needs it”.

It also undertakes to implement a subsidy on cement and iron sheets to empower the poor in Malawi to build and own decent houses.

The party also promises to introduce a health insurance scheme for all public servants while explorin g one for all citizens in the country.

The party undertakes to construct community colleges in every district to facilitate knowledge and skills transfer.

It promise to complete the construction of the Chipembere Highway, Zomba-Jali-Chitakale Road, Thyolo-Muona-Bangula road, central region roads, city roads in Mzuzu, Tsangano- Mpatamanga-Chileka road, Lilongwe City bypass, Machinga- Naminga Road, Jenda-Edingeni- Rumphi road, the Lirangwe- Machinga road and the Nsanje World Inland Port.

It also undertakes to start new road projects such as the Chitipa-Nthalire-Kasungu roads, Chitipa-Misuku road, Mzimba- Nkhatabay road, Rumphi- Livingstonia Mission road, Nyika road, Tsangano-Mwanza Neno road, Mwanza – Thambani road, Thyolo-Khonjeni-Luchenza road and Lirangwe-Chingale road.

The DPP also promised to construct new university campuses in Karonga, Mzimba, Mangochi and Nsanje, a state of the art judicial complex in Lilongwe and develop the Bingu International Conference Centre into an industrial, office and tourist park.

In the manifesto, the DPP also promises to pass and implement a number of laws including a law on handouts and a law that will prevent Members of Parliament from increasing their own salaries and benefits.

It says there shall be 20 members in cabinet, including deputies “whose appointment shall be based on merit, interview and vetting by a Public Appointments Committee”.

The appointment and removal of the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Malawi, Director of the Anti-Corruption Bureau, the Auditor General, the Director of Public Prosecution, Clerk of Parliament, Malawi Human Rights Commission Executive Secretary, the Malawi Law Commissioner, Director General of the Malawi Broadcasting Corporat ion, Macra Director General, and leaders of other accountability institutions, promises the DPP, shall be on merit through a special public appointments committee.

Merit, says DPP in the manifesto, will also be observed in the appointments and removal of chief executive officers and board members of parastatals.

The party promised to pass and implement the Access to Information bill and respect the right to freedom of opinion and expression without interference, including the right to seek, receive and impart information through the media regardless of frontiers.

“We recognize that access to information is a major challenge for the fourth arm of the state to play their important roles,” reads the DPP manifesto.

In the manifesto, the ruling party also undertook to pass and implement recommendations from the constitutional reviews, including facilitating implementation of revised Sect ion 65 on automatic crossing the floor and bring back the revised Section 64 on the recall provision, with proper safeguards to prevent abuse.

The DPP will establish a National Security Council, with statutory powers, to guide long-term national decision-making and determination of government actions for national interests, the well-being of the people and institutions as well as the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

It promises to foster what, it says, Allan More said that “People shouldn’t be afraid of their government, governments should be afraid of their people.”

These are but some of the many and attractive promises made to the people of Malawi by President Mutharika and his party during their campaign. And it is only fair that they be implemented.

As the party declares at the end of its manifesto document, “the DPP promises only what it can deliver and will deliver what it promises”. Indeed, we await fulfillment of the promises.

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