Malawi’s New President Aims To Rebuild Economy

Malawi's President Mutharika of the Democratic Progressive Party waves to supporters after he was sworn in in BlantyreMalawi President, Peter Mutharika, said on Monday that economic stability and national unity would be the focus of his government as he became the fifth leader of the southern African state following a disputed election.

Mutharika, declared the winner of the May 20 election last week, said that his administration would target annual economic growth of 7% and promised a lean cabinet of 20, including deputy ministers – half the size of previous governments.

“We are determined to change the direction of the economy. This is why …I chose a running mate outside of political ranks,” Mutharika said in his inauguration speech.

The new Vice President, Saulos Chilima, is an economist and former Managing Director of telecommunications firm Airtel, a local unit of Bharti Airtel.

Mutharika, a law professor, also sought to mend fences with his predecessor Joyce Banda, who at one point disputed the validity of the vote and demanded a re-run. Banda did not attend Mutharika’s inauguration in the commercial capital, Blantyre.

“I look forward to shaking hands with her to bury the past. I come to her with an olive branch. Don’t let it drop,” Mutharika said.

The poll, which was plagued by logistical problems and followed by sporadic protests, was declared generally “free, peaceful and credible” by a Southern African Development Community observer mission.

Mutharika, 74, is the brother of President Bingu wa Mutharika, who died in office in April 2012.

Banda took over after his death and tried to rebuild an economy hammered by fuel and dollar shortages, but prices have soared since she devalued the Kwacha currency on the advice of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

In January, the IMF rated Malawi’s economic performance “broadly satisfactory” after completing its third and fourth reviews under a credit facility, enabling the Fund to disburse around $20 million.

But recent revelations of corruption – dubbed ‘Cashgate’ in the Malawi media – led key donors to withhold millions of dollars in budget support to a country that has traditionally relied on foreign aid for around 40% of its budget.

“The scandal is evidence that we had lost our moral compass. We need new morality,” Mutharika said.

He added that his administration would pursue a foreign policy that was in the best interest of the country.

“Let me assure the West that we’ll maintain traditional ties, but we now also have new friends,” he said, citing in particular China, Brazil and India.

Floods kill eight; displace over 1 million in Kogi

Eight persons have been killed and about one million displaced from their home in Kogi State by the recent flooding that have ravage the state due to the release of Kainji and Shiroro dams of the River Niger, an official said on Monday.

The Coordinator of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) operations in Abuja, Ishaya Isah, who in company of some members of the National Assembly from Kogi West visited one of the relieve camp in Lokoja, confirmed that about eight persons have lost their lives as a result of the flood while over 332 communities were washed away by the flood.

“About nine local governments were affected by the waters and over 332 communities have suffered this devastation of the flood. People lost their household utensils, their houses and over 70 percent of them lost all their farm products,” he said.

Mr Isah said that the eight persons that died were killed when a boat cap sided in Banda, a community which is about ten minutes’ drive away from Lokoja, the Kogi State capital.


Abuja road blocked

The Lokoja-Abuja road wish have a free flow of traffic for quite sometimes now have been put on hold as a result of the flood, water from river Niger has over flown and move across the road in Banda village making it difficult for vehicles heading to Abuja or returning from the FCT to the eastern part of the states to move.

Some commuters trapped on either side of the road told Channels Television’s reporter that they have been there in the last two days without head ways. Getting out of Banda some commuters use canoes to get to the other side of the river while others ride on commercial motorcycle to get to Banda.

Some travellers said the state government should take a proactive step in putting a temporary solution to the situation by inviting an engineer to drain out the water.

Alternative routes
Meanwhile, the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) said it has worked out alternative routes to and from Abuja to lessen the agony of motorists, following the temporary closure of the flooded Lokoja-Abuja Road.
In a statement on Monday, the Deputy Corps Public Education Officer of the commission, Bisi Kazeem urged motorists driving from Lagos and wishing to use Okene-Lokoja-Abuja route, to divert to Okene-Ajaokuta-Ayangba-Ankpa-Makurdi Lafia-Akwanga-Abuja route.
Those coming from the South East should use Otukpa-Makurdi route, and those driving from Abuja to Lokoja should use Akwanga-Lafia-Makurdi-Ankpa-Okene route.
He said the commission had also deployed more personnel in those routes to forestall traffic gridlock.

2014 W.C. Qualification: Nigeria denied victory with late goal

 The Super Eagles’ must have been getting prepared to celebrate at the 90th minute but the game took another turn at the same minute as Malawi midfielder John Banda took a late effort at goal which saw to it that Nigeria’s campaign for the Brazil 2012 World Cup qualifiers do not sail well and their own long unbeaten home record still remains as it is as the game ended 1-1 in favour of Malawi in Kamuzu stadium.

Super Eagles’ goal came at the 89th minute after playing barren in the first half and long into the second, midfielder Reuben Gabriel nudged the Nigerian-side forward and in quick succession, while celebration would have been registered in the minds of the Super Eagles over the successful garnering of three full points, the goal that tied the game to a draw came forth as the Kamuzu stadium went agog with so much noise in celebration of Malawi’s equaliser.

Attending four of the last five World Cup finals, the Super Eagles’ were expected to dominate the group, but laboured again to add to the largely ineffective performance in Calabar last Sunday, when they needed an 80th minute goal from Spanish-based striker Ike Uche to take all three points.

The relief for the Super Eagles now is that they are still atop the group with four points in their favour thanks to the victory against Namibia in Calabar last week.