The Consumers Association of Malawi (CAMA) argues that Malawians are better judges and critics on the benefits of President Lazarus Chakwera’s many international and local trips, saying they come with huge and unproductive delegations with huge negative impact on the country’s resources.
CAMA Executive Director John Kapito reacts to Chakwera’s remarks on Saturday at the Karonga-Chitipa cultural festival in Mbande Hill when he defended his trip to the United States for the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) and in Europe, claiming that he had been successful in securing investment. for the economic development of Malawi.
“Malawians have given the President a mandate to choose from among Malawians a team of ministers and ambassadors through whom he can select those who will represent the country on his behalf.
“The president can achieve the same results if he can use his chosen team and at a lower cost. These trips with huge and unproductive delegations are costing Malawians dearly.
Kapito cited the example of the former President of Tanzania, the late Pombe Magufuli, “who never traveled outside his country but achieved a lot economically for his people in his short time in office because he had clear economic policies”.
“He has done so much good with the people around him. President Chakwera can also learn from the President of Zambia who only travels with a small delegation and chooses his trips.
“He spends shorter periods outside his country and his economy is one of the most envied in the Southern African region.”
Kapito argues that “Malawians are better judges when the president is gone to the UN. Malawians were promised so many benefits from the trip and one was that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) program would be concluded.
“Unfortunately, the President was told in the face that the program would not be resumed and instead Malawi received such negligible pro-poor funding to address the challenges the President left behind such as the scarcity of forex and fuel, high currency exchange rates, high commodity prices, no electricity, etc.
“The IMF funding that has been pledged for Malawi is so meager that it cannot meet the challenges facing Malawians. The Millennium Challenge Compact (MCC) did not require the presence of the president as it was signed by a minister.
“MCC officials would have come to Malawi if asked to do so and the only achievement that Malawians remember were photo opportunities with senior US government officials – and not even the US President – that significant benefits.”
Kapito added that “Malawians are simply asking the President to consider the high cost of his extensive travels with his large delegations” and informed Chakwera that his extravagant travels are hurting poor Malawians.”
“As taxpayers, we will not stop advising the President as he continues to misuse taxpayers’ money from the poor. Mr President, be careful, we are a poor country and your appetite for travel creates poverty.
He concluded that the president should stop castigating taxpayers from the political podium as he did at the Karonga-Chitipa cultural festival where Chakwera said, “There were Malawians writing on social media to tell the IMF not to give money to Malawi.
He had said that a president carries the flag to represent the whole country, and “it is bad for the country when the outside world sees us castigating our own leaders to represent us in the world, because it discourages foreign investors and development partners”.
He defended his trip to the United States, saying he was able to secure a quick credit facility that will inject US$88 million into the economy, saying “this money is not for me, but for everyone Malawians – especially those of you who need hard currency to trade across the border.
“When I went to the United States to secure investments for Malawi, including $350 million from the US government for road construction, including here in the north, some Malawians said I shouldn’t go.
“When I went to Europe to negotiate a €125 million support package for Malawi, which we finally signed yesterday and part of which will be used to provide food for those whose crops have failed worked, some Malawians said I shouldn’t go.
“But all of these trips abroad were in search of resources that Malawians need, and I want to thank all of you who supported my decision to continue, because that’s what it looks like. national unity.”
Malawians, including civil society organization former President Peter Mutharika and the Catholic Bishops of Malawi in their pastoral letter published this month, had condemned the government for undertaking the trip to UNGA amid of an economic crisis in Malawi, saying the cost of travel for his and those around him was very high.
This all comes after revelations on social media that more than $21,000 was being spent on allowances per day for the 37-person Chakwera delegation, who were receiving $560 (approx. K580,000) each per day in allowances, the ministers receiving 900 USD (almost 1 K). million) per day for 24 days.
Reports stated that normally many members of the Chakwera delegation were supposed to receive US$280 (approximately K290,000) per day and ministers were to receive US$450 (approximately K465,000) per day, but allowances were doubled due to an increased cost of living in New York.
The revelation of this cost on allowance alone has not been officially confirmed and Kapito therefore argues that Malawians are better judges and critics of the benefits of Chakwera’s many international and local trips.
A fortnight ago, Kapito said Malawians expected the president, upon his arrival from the United States, to immediately begin addressing the critical challenges affecting the country, but “were shocked to see both the president and his vice president at a golf charity fundraising event that could have been delegated and reduced the high cost of security.
The Presidential Charity Golf had already raised K270 million of the targeted K200 million through contributions from various companies and other supporters, but the president and his deputy showed up to play at Lilongwe Golf Club.
Kapito said Chakwera had spent too long in the United States – nearly 25 days – leaving behind an economic crisis and at a time when Malawians needed his leadership to address the severe economic and social challenges facing the country. economy.
“The president with his large delegation took and swept almost every available dollar in the market for activities he could have carried out with a small number of people for a shorter period given the financial implications of the trip,” he had said. declared.
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