‘Empowering Women And Youth Key To Unlocking Malawi's Economic Potential '
Forbes Africa|December - January 2021
Early this year, at the inception of the Covid-19 pandemic, Malawi was also battling for democracy. When Lazarus Chakwera became President in June, his win was hailed as a victory for democracy and justice. Born in Lilongwe to a subsistence farmer, the philosophy and theology graduate leads a nine-party coalition, the Tonse Alliance. He spoke to FORBES AFRICA in this exclusive interview about taking on the reins during the pandemic and his plans for the country’s future.
Karen Mwendera

Q. What has changed in the few months you have been in office in the midst of a pandemic?

A. My first task when I came into office was to change the direction of our country. Ours had been a country deeply entrenched in systematic corruption, greed, nepotism, executive arrogance and economic atrocities committed by a huge cartel of state criminals. That’s why we are talking of changing direction for this sinking ship. That change of direction is embedded in my administration’s Super Hi5 Agenda, which is a blueprint for the plan to transform our country’s approach to governance. The tenets of this agenda are servant leadership, uniting Malawians, prospering together, ending corruption, and the rule of law. To execute this agenda, we have put together a formidable team of cabinet members committed to the renewal of Malawi, close to 40% of who are women.

Q. How have you managed to deal with the health and economic ramifications of the pandemic so soon into your new role?

A. The Covid-19 pandemic is such a colossal challenge that requires a complex cocktail of both domestic and international interventions. At a local level, we have focused on supporting our fragile health system in its provision of care for Covid-19 patients, campaigning vigorously with messages for preventive behaviors across our society, monitoring the inflow of travelers across our points of entry from Covid-hit countries, setting up a robust nationwide infrastructure for testing suspected cases, and curating innovative ways to support economic activity and income security for the most vulnerable of our people.

At an international level, we have worked relentlessly to forge partnerships with other nations and international corporations to scale up and fast-track our access to and mobilization of funds, expertise, and medical supplies for our fight against Covid-19.

In my capacity as President, I have also used my addresses at various global fora to call for a wide range of interventions for countries like mine, including debt cancellation and favorable terms for the movement of supplies and goods we need to sustain our fight and our economy.

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