By Banthu Times Reporter 6/03/ 2014
President Dr. Joyce Banda on Wednesday challenged the High Level Development Council (HLDC) to find ways that will assist in improving the country’s economic status in the next 50 years.
Dr. Banda made the appeal at the Crossroads Hotel in Lilongwe when she opened a day-long HLDC national dialogue which was organised to solely reflect on Malawi’s development after 50 years of independence and prospects for the next five decades.
She said it was sad to note that after 50 years of being independent, the country continued to register little economic progress with more than half of the population living in poverty.
This, she said, needed to change starting with the way Malawians did things.
“Not every Malawian is happy with the way the country has developed since we got our independence and it is not the aspiration of almost all of us to be where we are today.
“We really need to change the way we have been doing things and collectively plan for a bright future. The meeting we have today is very crucial as it will help us draw lessons from our past mistakes and capitalize on what should be done for the next 50 years.
“It is my hope that from this meeting, we should be able to face the future with reality,” Dr Banda said.
The President set up the HLDC on 9 January 2013 to look at the challenges the country is facing in its development endevours since independence and find solutions for the future.
The Council comprises members from the academia, faith groups, civil society groups as well as professionals from various fields.
Dr Banda in her speech appealed to the Council to critically scrutinise ideas that would help in improving the country’s economic status.
Dr. Banda said her two years in office have taught her that it was possible to take drastic action for the country to move forward.
She cited the devaluing of the Kwacha as one of the contentious actions Malawians were against but which in the long run helped to address the economic challenges that the country was faced with.
Dr Banda also expressed the need for Malawians to change their perception and learn to take risks. She said many countries in the world were developing as a result of citizens’ passion to change their country and desire to take risks.
“There is need for mindset change in the implementation of our national programmes and every Malawian regardless of political colour should take part in this,” she said.
Professor Mathews Chikaonda, Chairperson of the Council, said the mandate of the council would be to generate ideas and ensure that those ideas are implemented by future governments.
Chikaonda acknowledged that Malawi had made little progress during the 50 years the country had been independent, and blamed political leaders.
“The big problem has been that many politicians have not had the will to continue with programmes that are initiated by other governments.
“In other words, we have had good policies and programmes which if well implemented, could have helped in improving the social economic status of this country. However, the challenge has been how to sustain such programmes,” Chikaonda said.
He assured that the Council would work tirelessly in monitoring the sustainability of government programmes as well as keep on reminding those in power not to abandon programmes that are of benefit to the general public.