“Ours is not a poor country but an impoverished one,” the newly-elected Chakwera said this during his maiden speech in the House when he opened the country’s 49thsession of parliament in the capital Lilongwe.
The president was elected in June this year following a protracted court battle to annul a rigged May 2019 presidential poll which gave his predecessor Peter Mutharika the tainted victory.
But after months of streets protests and the court case, the country’s Constitutional Court ordered re-run of the contest which saw Chakwera win by over 50 percent in an alliance of several parties.
The president told the House: “Ours is a country stripped of its God-given wealth and potential by syndicates of people in the public sector.
“These syndicates have exploited decades of bad government policies and practices to enrich themselves and their private sector accomplices.”
He added: “Ours is a country intentionally mismanaged to sustain and commodify a perpetual state of economic misery that affords certain entities -- especially political parties and organisations, a raison d’etre, at the expense of poor Malawians.”
“In short, the poverty of our people is man-made. This means it can and must be unmade,” a defiant Chakwera said.
The Malawi leader said days of exploiting the poor are over and, with the current reforms to end corruption in the three branches of government (executive, parliament and judiciary), the country would realise its potential to serve the people.
“Malawians are tired of electing people to public service who use public funds for personal enrichment, not public service.
“They are tired of a civil service run by a rubble of unprofessional cronies who are neither civil or of service to them,” the former evangelical preacher said to a full House which included High Court justices and the diplomatic corps.
The new president themed his speech, “Restoring ‘Warmth’ to the Heart of Africa” – an apparent word play on the country’s longstanding tourism slogan: “Malawi -- The Warm Heart of Africa”, which describes the country’s good natured people in their warmth towards welcoming visitors to their land.
Parliament resumes its month-long session on Monday.