Muluzi’s economic arguments flawed
BY The Daily Times
08:30:05 - 08 May 2007
Former president Bakili Muluzi has this year set the record straight regarding his political ambitions. First, here is a former president who wants to get back to power at all cost after serving his two constitutional terms. Second, here is a former president who through his actions has implicitly told Malawians that he is the best thing ever that can rule Malawi after the country’s first president late Hastings Kamuzu Banda.
On the surface, there is nothing wrong for him as an individual to harbour such political aspirations. But a critical analysis of circumstances under which he is maneuvering to bounce back into power raises more questions than answers.
To begin with, Muluzi, since falling out with President Bingu wa Mutharika whom he handpicked to become his successor in 2004, has all of a sudden become the successor’s fiercest critic.
We recall, however, that Muluzi used to tout Mutharika as an economic engineer prior to the 2004 general elections. But now he says Mutharika has failed in his economic policies.
The United Democratic Front (UDF) chairman cites that prices of basic household necessities like sugar, soap and matches have skyrocketed during Mutharika’s three years in power. Muluzi also chides Mutharika for low civil servants salaries, citing, of all people, salaries of police officers.
But Muluzi’s ranting at political rallies is getting more laughable than ever before. Here is a leader who promised police officers some time during his 10-year reign that he would raise their salaries. He even told the officers’ wives to take to task their husbands if they brought little money to their homes at the end of the month because he was going to raise their salaries. But the salary increase remained a promise. He never implemented it.
Just to remind him if he has forgotten, he told Malawians that he never had a grocery shop when they questioned frequent price increases of goods. These are just few of numerous examples that would take a whole newspaper edition to chronicle.
But looking at Muluzi’s speeches at rallies, it seems he thinks Malawians have forgotten that his reign was characterised by fiscal indiscipline and poor economic governance such that international bodies like the International Monetary Fund and donors including the Danish had no choice but to suspend their aid to the country. It’s not even a secret that Muluzi’s government failed to implement steps leading to Completion Point for the country to be entitled to Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (Hipc) facility, simply referred to as debt relief.
But Mutharika’s leadership has in three years reversed some of the economic wrongs that Muluzi committed. To cite a few, Malawi has recorded food surpluses two years in a row, it reached a Completion Point and its external debt has been wiped out, price of staple maize has gradually gone down, something that was almost unthinkable during Muluzi’s reign.
It, therefore, beats us that there should be somebody trying to discredit this economic transformation, at least for now.
Our fears are on the rural masses that he is brainwashing some of whom do not understand the intricacies of the economy. Yes, Muluzi’s 10-year rule and Mutharika‘s three years in power could be totally different situations politically and economically. But the bottom line is that fruits of Mutharika’s economic policies are already being felt so far.
Let Muluzi salvage his pride by criticising Mutharika on other things and not on economy. He has no moral high ground to do so.