Transformative development, mindset change in Malawi

KALINDEKAFE— Mindset change is not a technical challenge

By Gray Kalindekafe:

“A nation is not defined by its borders or the boundaries of its land mass. Rather, a nation is defined by adverse people who have been unified by a cause and a value system and who are committed to a vision for the type of society they wish to live in and give to the future generations to come. ” ― Fela Durotoye

This write-up appreciates the critical role of mindset shift towards the implementation of the Malawi 2063 in view of new approaches to development that our country has embarked on.


Over time, it has been realised that citizens’ negative mindsets are some of the key national constraints to development and social transformation in many nations and it is widely held that the growth of any country’s economy is only possible if citizens play their various roles and responsibilities diligently.

The wealth of any society is mutually created by the collective efforts of citizens who include workers, farmers, intellectuals and entrepreneurs.

Let us begin by defining mindset, which is basically a set of assumptions, methods, or notations held by people or simply beliefs held about oneself.


A mindset can also be said to be a mental attitude or disposition that predetermines responses and interprets situations.

In other contexts, mindsets are beliefs that orient our reactions and tendencies towards many aspects including development.

When our mindsets become habitual, they define who we are, and who we can become.

One of the most powerful aspects of mindsets is how quickly they can be shifted, and how influential the values can be.

Unlike skills that have to be practiced again and again, mindsets sometimes show vivid alterations according to social orientations.

So, what is the link between mindset, citizens and national development?

Development is a process that creates growth, progress, positive change or the addition of economic, environmental, social and demographic components.

The resolution of development is a rise in the level and quality of life of the population and the creation or expansion of local income and employment opportunities.

Consequently, national development is the aptitude of a country to improve the social welfare of the people, for instance, by providing social amenities like quality education, clean water, transportation infrastructure, medical care, etc.

As veracity, every country is made up of citizens and the strength of the country or community depends upon the mindsets and attitudes of its people.

Further, we must bear that sound policies still require positive mindset from implementers and citizens in order to translate into positive developmental results.

This has been the case in countries of best practice such as China, the far eastern Tigers and an example of Rwanda in Africa.

Mindset change is not a technical challenge; rather it is administrative and social, because it is about people.

Citizens bear most of the impact of transformation and thus have to be included in the decisions and understand the benefits because accomplishment comes from what they do every day.

Experience has further disclosed that countries with an entrenched culture of hard-work develop faster than those without such a culture; hence, the need to inculcate new approaches of development delivery.

Within the framework of transformative development, it is expressed that cultural traits tend to influence development in Malawi in both positive and negative ways.

However, further observations designate underscores negative traits that may be detrimental to achieving rapid progress in development including poor time management, poor working culture, low productivity, poor reading culture, poor entrepreneurship culture and low levels of innovation.

These negative traits need to be confronted and remedied whilst building on the positive traits of our culture and development model.

Transforming these traits will call for widespread mindset education programme and sensitisations, which combine positive traits towards developing a positive Malawian identity and propel a profound approach towards development, patriotism and looking after the environment, among other things.

The aim is to ensure that the majority of the citizenry reach a level of sharing the same concept and idea about our development path and approaches.

This would certainly promote a coordinated approach to development. One of the pathways towards attainment of MW2063 is the current Malawi First Implementation Plan (MIP-1).

The MW2063 Enabler 1 talks about mindset change that promotes embracing of national ethics and mindset shift towards a positive Malawian identity.

This paper recommends the establishment of a National Mindset Education Programme, which would promote patriotism and above all a positive Malawian identity and positive attitude towards development among citizens.

The categorisation of citizens in this case implies firstly with the actual implementers of the plan and spreads to the rest of the citizenry to promote coordinated and multi sectoral approach to development.

The changing of mindsets will require substantial awareness, strong institutions and management, which will strengthen our strategies and facilitate for cohesive policies and implementation.

Finally, I call on Malawians to take ownership of MW2023 and contribute towards implementation with a shift in mindset, as this will contribute towards Malawi attaining the status of being upper middle-income nation by 2063.

The author is writing in his own capacity as a governance, elections, human rights and civic education specialist.

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