Opinion: Malawians Still Face Abject Poverty Amid Sugar, Passport, and Hunger Crises Four Years Later



Former Minister of Civic Education and National Unity, Timothy Mtambo, stated on Saturday, April 27, 2024, that four years after the Tonse Administration came to power, Malawians are still facing abject poverty, along with crises in sugar, passports, and hunger.

Mtambo, who is also the leader of the Citizens for Transformation (CFT) People Power Movement, made these remarks during a press briefing in Lilongwe. He emphasized his ongoing role as an activist and called on Malawians to fight for their freedom.

Timothy Mtambo Malawi
Mtambo addressing Malawians on Saturday.

He declared that CFT is prepared to collaborate with all well-meaning Malawians to address the socio-economic challenges they face, but he urged the government to listen and take action. Minister of Information, Moses Kunkuyu, has requested more time before commenting on the matter.

Looking Back

In 2020, Malawi was a country on the rise, its democracy a beacon of hope for many, though I had reservations about the new team from the start for various reasons. They lacked expertise, commitment, and the sincere desire to serve the nation, instead appearing focused on defrauding state coffers.

The year before saw relentless street protests following a general election result that declared the incumbent, Peter Mutharika, the winner—a result widely perceived as rigged, though officially it was not. The contested election was ultimately overturned by constitutional court judges, influenced by corruption fears and mass protests.

President Lazarus Chakwera

The subsequent presidential elections faced severe intimidation, especially in the central region by the MCP. When votes were recast, the Tonse Alliance—a coalition of the two main opposition parties—emerged victorious. Leaders Lazarus Chakwera of the Malawi Congress Party and Saulos Chilima of the United Transformation Movement vowed to eradicate the country’s endemic corruption, but instead, corruption has only become more institutionalized.

The 23 June Fresh Presidential Election marked a pivotal moment, raising false hopes for a new Malawi under the Tonse Alliance, led by Chakwera. They promised to deliver Malawians from systematic poverty, corruption, and tribalism and to fix the ailing economy. However, they had no practical plan for their ambitious promises, leading to a reality far from the miracle many hoped for.

Four years later, nothing has significantly changed. The campaign promises that propelled this governing coalition of nine political parties to power seem to have been discarded, or perhaps they are simply out of their depth—maybe it’s both.

The cost of goods has soared.

The cost of living continues to rise sharply; the Kwacha depreciates against major currencies, cooking oil has become unaffordable for ordinary citizens, and to make matters worse, the Energy regulator—MERA—has recently raised diesel and petrol prices, sending the cost of goods soaring.

Both Chakwera and Chilima frequently reminded Malawians that their administration would be one of servant leadership, valuing people for who they are, not just for what they can offer. They promised to be humble, caring, and accountable leaders, but they have proven to be arrogant and careless.

Today, jobs are scarce, unemployment remains high as more companies close due to economic challenges, and the leaders seem indifferent to the struggles of Malawians, focusing instead on their personal interests. They promised to lift Malawians out of poverty but have plunged citizens into greater economic hardship, enriching themselves and their cronies. Rather than fighting corruption, they are embroiled in battles for personal political positions while development stalls.

Vice President Saulos Chilima

In November 2023, Malawians criticized former protest leader Timothy Mtambo for leading protests against the Peter Mutharika administration. Disappointment and frustration are widespread.

Mtambo posted a reel on Facebook showing himself working out in a gym, prompting a wave of negative comments. One commenter lamented, “You wronged us severely; you should have left us where we were.” Another added, “You really led us into fruitless protests? You should have just left us with the previous president.”

Is it not evident that the people of Malawi are suffering and disappointed? There are numerous challenges that continue to make life difficult for the citizens of this country, and nothing seems to be improving.


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