|President Arthur P. Mutharika|
Today, we begin another leg of 50 years. My fellow Malawians, the next 50 years of our journey presents us with an opportunity to reset our priorities, rethink our strategic focus, redefine Malawi, and make it progressive.
Today, we have people from the North, South, Centre and East to inaugurate a new era. During the 2014 Tripartite Elections, Malawians went to the polls to vote for change, and change they voted for a better Malawi. Today I stand before you to offer you, with your help a very distinct possibility of the future in our hands. Change has come to Malawi. Yes, our vote for change was not easy, you voted for change and victory belongs to us all.
UNITY OF PURPOSE
This is not time to rest; this is not time for vengeance; this is time to build our great Republic into the force for good that we can be. This is time for Malawi to be strong again. Strong against marginalization, strong against poverty and disease, strong against fraud and greed, strong against weakness and fear.
Let us pick up the pieces. The journey has just begun. We must strive for unity of purpose, oneness of vision. We may belong to different political parties, but we belong to one nation. We voted for different parties, but we all voted for development.
It is now time to share our common development agenda. It is time to share what binds us as Malawians. It is time to show the World that we may differ in ideology, but we stand together as Malawians. That we shall develop this nation together. That we shall defend, if need be, this motherland together. We may share a divided past, but we share a common future. We may come from different origins, but we are heading towards the same destination. We share a common destiny.
Today we embark on a long journey of hope, patriotism, security, passion for country and pride to be Malawian once more. And we have come on a long journey.
OUR FUTURE, OUR DESTINY
Every fifty years has brought a new era in our history. One hundred and fifty years ago, in 1864, the first European missionaries began the idea of creation of Nyasaland. This is the moment that began to unite tribes of the land. One hundred years ago, in 1914, a great World War began and ignited the spirit of independence in the dreams of our forefathers. These forefathers faced a global super power with conviction and courage. My fellow Malawians, we face similar challenges today.
Fifty years ago, in 1964, Malawi was born when we became politically independent. Today, in 2014, we inaugurate the rebirth of our nation. We inaugurate the lost dreams of our forefathers and fallen heroes. We inaugurate the spirit of economic independence. We re-launch a new, better, stronger, proud nation once more.
The pursuit of our dreams knows no limits, no boundaries, no skies. Our only problem is the way we think. The only barrier to our national achievement is our Belief in others at our expense. We know that no nation was created poor by God. No nation has license to bury its naturally endowed treasure: No country can call itself poor.
Today, we declare ourselves ready for the next fifty years. Today we get new faith and belief in ourselves. Today we begin the road to a coherent nation of achievers.
The first years of the DPP in government restored faith in ourselves. We proved that it is possible for Malawi to be the second highest growing economy in the world. We proved that it is possible to grow abundant food and make prices more affordable. We may not have done some things well. But we have learnt our lessons, great lessons. We pledge to do better, to do more, and to live the lessons of the years.
Our first task is to create a proper economic, political and democratic system. Our task is to re-create an environment that gives our people hope and belief once more.
SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC SERVICES
Security for our businesses and homes is key to sustainable national development. We intend to restore Peace and Calm, Law and Order. I intend to over- see a Malawi that has good road networks within the townships we live, a Malawi that does not victimize its professional civil servants simply because of change of Government. A Malawi which has clean cities, functional street lights, viable public transport, visible infrastructure, good housing for our Police and Army, strong security, jobs for our youth and college education for everyone who passes at Malawi School Certificate of Education.
We must be a country where critical dialogue prevails for our collective participation in the pursuit of socio-economic development. I am therefore looking forward to leading a listening government. It is only with a listening government that citizens participate because people feel valued whenever we listen to them.
I intend to actively involve the youth in my Administration. We need the Youth to participate. The Youth are the energy that drives any country, any vision, any dream. It is on their shoulders that we must delve away from the shackles of non- performance of the last few years. It is to them that I call upon to meaningfully move into small and medium enterprises, to get an education, to do something for themselves every day, to look up with pride and energy and help me transform our cities into clean places, help me defend our borders, help me move Malawi to a major force for good in this part of Africa.
We need women to participate in our development agenda. They are the ones that build the fabric of society. Women have always been at the core of the economic fabric of the African society. No society, and no economic system can do without women. My Administration intends to work with all women in utilising all of its human resource to develop this country in the shortest period possible.
We need collective participation in development. That is why I have extended a hand of RECONCILIATION to my colleagues who contested for this highest office. I offer them a new way of doing politics in Malawi: Respect, Consultation, Integrity and Honesty. I offer them a progressive way of doing politics which should not push us asunder, but rather bring us together. Together we can do more for each other. Together we can do more for our communities. Together we can do more for our country.
We must begin to put interests of Country First before our own. And you do not need to be in government in order to love, serve and develop your country. We were all fighting for the same thing - passion for a new direction, a transformational Leader for genuine change, we all shared those sentiments during the debates, We still share that common purpose to heal our country.
You voted for me because you saw that what we need as a Country is not vengeance and pretence but a transformational leader who would take this country to greater heights. Greater heights, indeed I promise you.
You saw just as I did that what we need is a unity of purpose to transform our country to a middle income country; capable of producing and exporting once more. You saw that what we need is development. Today we begin that journey, TOGETHER!
I swore to defend and protect the Constitution of Malawi and uphold the rule of law. This I will do. But let me make one thing clear. The law must be left alone to do its work whenever crime is committed. We should never again arrest anyone and hunt for the crime later. We should never again punish those we don’t like because they hold a political view different from ours. The age of using state instruments of justice to deal with our political opponents is gone. Let us not confuse the pursuit of justice with political vendettas.
RULE OF LAW
In the last 12 months or so, there were a number of crimes committed against the State for example the infamous cashgate scandal. I wish to state that the cashgate investigations which Her Excellency Dr Joyce Banda started will be pursued and concluded justly. Malawians are waiting to know who did what. Malawians need their plundered resources paid back. Malawians need justice delivered and no one should blackmail the state by saying this is witch-hunting.
The Police, the Anti-Corruption Bureau the Directorate of Public Prosecution and other security and law enforcement agencies are from this day free to operate independently but, professionally. We will fully arm the Anti-Corruption Bureau with human and financial capacity to do its job without the interference of the executive. I will not tolerate one day more if a Cabinet Minister or civil servant takes what does not belong to them. Next time you see a cabinet minister arrested, do not be surprised. My cabinet shall live up to this principle of being accountable to the people.
I want this message to be very clear even before I appoint my cabinet. If what anyone wants is to become rich instead of serving Malawians, then do not come into my cabinet. When I appoint you, please just say ‘No’! Today, I hereby draw a red line against corruption, theft of public funds, and I am prepared to draw this red line with my blood.
We are launching a government that must be accountable to the people. The central principle of democracy is that everyone must be accountable to someone else. The rule of law follows to ensure that we are all accountable to the people and the law. We cannot afford to waste time with plundering public resources. We have urgent work to do.
As I have said, our country is on the edge of collapsing. This country is dying. Organs of government departments are in a state of paralysis. The veins of the economy in the private sector and businesses are paralysed. The cost of living is no longer affordable by many anymore. We cannot even afford to heal those in pain because there is no medicine in our hospitals. It is time to get this country functioning again. And we have no time to waste.
We shall protect the public purse because we need to provide adequate public services. These include quality health care to all Malawians, quality education, good infrastructure and investing in the creation of jobs. We need to invest in the creation of an efficient, motivated, results-oriented civil service which will be the catalyst for the creation of wealth. Our manifesto has promised to create new wealth, and we need a motivated and performing civil service to deliver our policies to the people.
MEDIA AND PUBLIC INFORMATION
Our administration will ensure that there is access to public information and in this regard we shall cooperate with all relevant stakeholders including the media in passing and implementation of the Access to Information Bill into law. We will allow the Malawi Broadcasting Corporation operate in an open, free and fair manner, make independent editorial decisions and I don’t want my Minister of Information to interfere in their work. This is a promise I make to Malawi. The era of using the Public Broadcaster for Political mileage is gone. The era of intransigence through use of the public broadcaster is gone.
There is no more doing business as usual. For the first time, we shall now have a central and local government. This will be the government of the people. From this year, the politics of development has changed. With the arrival of the ward councillors, government has come to your doorstep. I welcome all ward councillors, irrespective of your political party into the fold of government. You are part of the government of the people. And to you the people, make sure we do your will, provided it is the right will. And I invite the media to ensure that we deliver our promises.
At central government, we shall keep our promise to maintain a lean, disciplined and efficient cabinet of 20 members. Other new measures include reorganising our ministries for more efficiency. The new measures we bring include elevating the Ministry of Labour to a key ministry in my government. For us, Ministry of Labour is the engine-room for creating jobs. We must create jobs for the youth and everyone capable.
We will implement stern cost-cutting measures. This will include the President working in the office more than on the road. Yes, I will come around to visit you on state functions. But do not ask me to travel around aimlessly and spend your state resources. I will empower all relevant officials in the public service to do their work as they are mandated.
ECONOMIC GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT
But first, we will see to it that the economy begins to grow again. And we plan to take a “bottom-up” approach that involves and directly benefits ordinary people. And we plan to deliver a people centred economic growth at the rate of 7.5% in the next five years.
What you need is not your President being all over, but it is infrastructure development coming all over and wherever you are. Our plans are to build a new network of first class roads across Malawi. We need open up our rural centres to the main roads and cities of our country so that rural areas have tarmac road access to the rest of the country. We plan to build more rural growth centres so that we can take development to the people.
The DPP has already planned some of these projects. We started some of these projects before and we want to continue and do even more. We will revive Malawi’s colourful dreams of Nsanje port and building new cities.
We plan to ensure that every Malawian can afford adequate food, a descent house, and a dignified means of earning a living. You did not vote for maize in vain. We want to make fertiliser subsidy available to all subsistence maize farmers. We shall continue to grow surplus food to bring down the cost of living. And we shall revive the Green Belt initiative to make Malawi the breadbasket of Africa.
It is time to revive an education system that empowers the youth in technical and productive skills as well as train them on how best to run their businesses. That is why we will introduce Community Colleges to empower the youth of this country to start creating their own wealth. This robust entrepreneurship education will also create a new middle class which has been missing since we received independence 50 years ago.
Our education programme also includes rehabilitating and expand existing universities while building and opening five new universities in Mzimba, Nkhotakota, Mangochi and Nsanje. And the forgotten MUST in Thyolo needs to properly open with high calibre internationally recognised scholars as soon as we get settled.
Is a Malawi without grass thatched houses possible? Yes it is. We promised to subsidise iron sheets and cement and we are going to do just that. This policy will make construction easy and revive the construction industry. A vibrant construction industry resuscitates the economy. A vibrant construction industry creates jobs for everyone, and it creates business for all sectors. We want to make construction easy because every Malawian wants to afford to sleep in a descent place.
Our street vendors, our tomato growers and our civil servants should be able to build houses for our mothers and fathers across those rivers, hills and villages where we all come from. And one day, we will travel this country and see development with our eyes everywhere.
As we begin a new era today, we commit ourselves to provide Malawians with “Total Security” so that every individual, our children, our property and businesses are safe. We must live in a country where we all feel safe.
This country lives in a global community and it is no longer possible to think as if we are an island. We need development partners from the West and the East equally, North and South alike. Let it be known that Malawi will strive to be a friend to everyone in the global community. Even as we protect and uphold our sovereignty, we need each other as humankind in a common global community. Malawi will continue being a good and trusted partner on the international scene. We remain committed to the ideals of SADC, COMESA, African Union, the UN and other International Organisations where Malawi is a member.
We voted for the rebirth of our country and a new beginning. We voted because we believe in the best of Malawi. We are ready to walk the new beginning. In every house of our communities we have gathered before television sets because we want to see the new beginning. Across the country, in every village, at every trading centre, in every shop and every house, and at every veranda, we have glued our ears to our radios because we want to hear that we have begun a new beginning. Because this is a new beginning we must walk together.
This is the will of the people. May the will of the people prevail as we move forward as one nation, one country, one destiny! And may God grant us the courage to change the things we can, the serenity to discern the things we cannot change, and the wisdom to know the difference.
We have this day consecrated our nation to walk the path of progress. Our future is for us all, and we need to work for it. No nation can live for us. No country can develop our country for us. So, let each one of us go and work hard knowing that we have a government that will see to it that we earn as we labour. No food for lazy man. Let us all go and roll up our sleeves and be productive with our lives.
I want to thank our development partners our neighbours for being with us at all times. I thank Malawians for the spirited fight for our country to be where we are today.
May God bless our beloved country. May God bless you all.
By Arthur Peter Mutharika
President of Malawi.