By Kondwani Munthali – The AfricaBrief.
The Covid-19 pandemic, slowing down of the economy and an empty treasury coffers has not deterred his administration from working hard to deliver his 1 million jobs promise to the electorate, President Lazarus Chakwera has told the BBC.
Taking his seat at the BBC House in London, President Chakwera defended his first-year record in office as host Sarah Montague wanted the mathematics of jobs created and lost during his time in office.
Dr. Chakwera says he is proud of Malawians during his first year in office, stating that he has laid foundation to grow a hunger free nation, develop infrastructure and work towards empowerment of the people.
The President said over a third of a million paid opportunities had been created by his administration, but the gains made mainly through the flagship Agriculture Affordable Input (AIP) has been wiped by job losses caused mainly by the Covid 19 pandemic.
“Malawians are resilient people. If we can feed ourselves. If certain services can start moving again, we can start growing again. Even with 3.8% growth of our economy as projected, we can be able to do more for our people,” said President Chakwera.
He said that he was firm in his resolution to create jobs and empower Malawians.
“Projects such as Affordable Inputs Programme we created thousands of jobs. But We lost 600,000 jobs. The loss could have been more should we have created over 300 000 jobs using the projects we have,” said the President.
The President said all was not lost as through the AIP and other crops which had a bumper harvest and the projects that created opportunities for people such as business loans, large numbers of people were working through informal and small-scale sectors not necessarily through employment.
“The jobs pledge was not only the campaign promise. Most Malawians are small holder farmers who voted for affordable farm inputs that we delivered. We started to say this in 2019 when there was no pandemic. We will deliver the promise on jobs. I explain to the people all the time,” said Chakwera.
Chakwera took a jibe at his predecessor Peter Mutharika saying he is not telling the truth when he speaks about the situation in Malawi.
“He should be the best and first one to know what they did by destroying the economy of that country and expecting it to be resuscitated in one year. You can not take him seriously. He is not telling one iota of truth,” hit back Chakwera.
President Chakwera’s wide ranging interview tackled several areas from Covid, economy and state of the nation.