The trajectory Malawi’s first and second citizens have taken – in turning tables around – as far as bettering the country is concerned, is unmistakable.
Truth be told, the country was fractured after a divisive 13 months following the disputed May 2019 presidential election, the result of which was cancelled by the courts.
But the duo of President Lazarus Chakwera and his deputy SKC, as he is fondly called, is bringing Malawians’ lost hope back. Chakwera with his foresight and unique cadence of a preacher cemented with Saulos Klaus Chilima’s prowess and rigor in outlining how the country would turn for the better convinced millions of Malawians that made them President and Vice President in the June 23 fresh presidential election by amassing 59.34 percent of the vote.
Just within the inaugural year, President Chakwera and SKC proved to be a force to reckon with. To begin with, Chakwera has proved to be a principled leader who is not swayed by cheap social media propaganda and naysayers who do not look beyond the bigger picture, and think that their own country is doomed for good.
During campaign—both for the May 2019 and June 23, 2020 presidential elections—Chakwera emphasized that a country whose people were well fed was better positioned to develop socio-economically. Thus, he pledged to make sure that more people, especially subsistence farmers in the rural areas, benefit from the Affordable Input Programme (AIP) once he gets into office.
While erstwhile ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) only targeted 900 000 beneficiaries through the Farm Input Subsidy Programme (FISP), Chakwera’s administration through the AIP reached out to 4.2 million beneficiaries, and the result? The country registered a record surplus in maize production of about 4 million tons when the country only needs 3.1 million tons. For the 2021/2022 growing season, the AIP is yet again targeting 3.7 million beneficiaries.
It is not just on the AIP that President Chakwera has been decisive. He, also, has maintained his calm on whether to reshuffle his cabinet or not. Chakwera has showcased his sanity that he is not some leader who always takes the direction of where the wind blows. Although the much-talked cabinet reshuffle has not occurred, government business has kept on running smoothly – very smoothly for that matter.
President Chakwera has also proved to be a democrat – a man of the people who upholds the rule of law. He remains steadfast to his Super HI5 mantra which stands for Servant Leadership, Uniting Together, Prospering Together, Ending Corruption and Rule of Law.
For his efforts, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on September 21, 2021 decorated him for ensuring that there is an admirable prevailing aura of democracy in the country in New York, United States of America.
According to State House Director of Communication, Sean Kampondeni, the “Africa America’s Institute” recognized Malawians for consolidating democracy for the past two years which has been noticed by the international community.
Said Kampondeni: “The international community through the Africa America’s Institute will at the UNGA sitting this month, award Malawi for doing all things possible to consolidate democracy in the country.
“It is worthwhile for us, as a country, to celebrate this recognition which the international community has bestowed on us. The president will virtually represent the citizens in receiving this award.”
Of course, with President Chakwera Malawi remains one, it is prospering in a number of aspects including infrastructural development. Corruption is being tackled head-on and rule of law is eminent. The arrests of Newton Kambala – former energy minister, Chakwera’s adviser on strategy Chris Chaima Banda and Alliance for Democracy (AFORD) president Enock Chihana for interfering with the award of fuel contracts at National Oil Company of Malawi (NOCMA) sent a signal that Chakwera is not only tolerating corruption but also making sure that the rule of law is upheld.
But Chakwera is not alone. He has a powerful right-hand man who means business—SKC.
Since their inauguration into office on July 6, 2020, Chilima has diligently shown that his heart is on making sure that Malawi works. Apart from being Minister of Economic Planning and Development, Chilima has been championing the public sector reforms and in May concluded assessments of ministries, parastatals, district councils, constitutional bodies, the judiciary and the legislature.
President Chakwera hailed Chilima and the public sector reforms taskforce for producing a recommendation report before the 90-day deadline.
Chilima, who before joining frontline politics in 2014 worked as the first Malawian managing director for multinational Airtel Malawi, said he always expects deliverables in government institutions which – to a larger extent – are run using taxpayers’ money.
He repeatedly said that the challenge, today, is not absence of political will because there is an overflow of political will.
Malawi University of Business and Applied Sciences (MUBAS) economics lecturer, Betchani Tchereni, commended Chilima for reforms’ review progress.
“There is wholehearted political leadership commitment this time around, all public servants and technocrats in the public service are pleaded to swiftly absorb the new philosophy of ‘Making Malawi Work’ and avoid what is termed as ‘administrative trap’ where institutional arrangements become inflexible and driven by narrowly defined management that is unable to take into account the new reform agenda,” Tchereni said.
Chilima who has been invited as guest speaker at various institutions in both the private and public sector, showed he was a man of action during the preparations and then the public lecture he delivered ahead of the 41st Ordinary SADC Summit of Heads of State and Government that took place in the Capital Lilongwe in August 2021.
The Public Lecture, organized by the Malawi National Planning Commission in collaboration with SADC Secretariat, had Vice President Chilima present a lecture under the theme: “Promoting Digitalization for the Revival of the SADC Industrialization Agenda in the COVID 19 Era,” in which he called on SADC countries needed to promote digitalization to minimize disturbances to the development of industry as a result of COVID 19.
The two—Chakwera and SKC—are a formidable force, and it is just a matter of time before the country experiences the best of their leadership skills.
During his response to the State of the Nation (SONA) address by President Chakwera in September 2020, Leader of Opposition Kondwani Nankhumwa hailed the Chakwera administration for showing interest in promoting unity in the country, especially through the establishment of Ministry of Civic Education and National Unity.
“Over the past years we have seen a lack of unity among people in the country whereby there have been a lot of issues concerning regionalism and tribalism.
“But now I am happy to see the Tonse Alliance government showing interest in addressing this issue and their gesture has come at the right time,” Nankhumwa said.