Malawi's Independence Day a time for reflection - CNBC Africa

Malawi's Independence Day a time for reflection

Southern Africa

by Trust Matsilele 0

Peter Mutharika, Malawi's current president. PHOTO: in2EastAfrica

Malawi, one of southern Africa’s poorest economies, is celebrating 50 years of independence from British colonial rule this week.

However, the celebrations will be taking place against a backdrop of high illiteracy, ever-ballooning unemployment and considerable levels of poverty in the largely agro-based economy.

Since it gained its independence, Malawi has been governed by five presidents, with each one introducing new development initiatives.

Gary van Staden, a senior political analyst with NKC Independent Economists, noted that the new administration, which is set to introduce its development plans, needs to be given the benefit of the doubt to prove itself.

(READ MORE: Malawi electoral outcome crucial for the reform agenda)

“It’s important to always give a new president time to prove himself. So far he has awarded the people who wanted to illegally take power [away] from him and those who stood in his way,” van Staden told CNBC Africa.


He added that, assessing the current environment, indications suggest that the economic climate is relatively negative for the new leader in Malawi.

About 40 per cent of Malawi’s annual budget is funded by donor countries with the United Kingdom being one of the main funders.

“Generally speaking, Malawi is in torrid times as donors are having their own problems like inadequate funds and bureaucratic challenges,” van Staden said.

“It is becoming more politically difficult for donor countries to give money to African and Caribbean countries when their own people are complaining of hardships.”

(READ MORE: Malawi's new president Mutharika vows to rebuild economy)

Van Staden noted that donors were not particularly happy with Joyce Banda's regime due to the cashgate scandal, which some analysts attributed to Banda’s defeat in the last election.