My next guest is an Accountant and someone who I have known for many years.
Mr Lusayo Mwalilino, thank you very much for taking the time to do the 100 Voices interview. But before we begin, could you please take some time to summarise your background?
My name is Lusayo Mwalilino, I am an accountant, currently working as an auditor, in Lilongwe. I come from Karonga, bachelor, challenge addict, some say I’m extremely cool, but that’s their opinion… 🙂
- As a Malawian, how important is Malawi’s Socio-Economic stability to you and your family? – Malawi’s Socio-Economic stability is very important to me because it gives me hope for the future and makes it easy for strategic planning, but most importantly I think it makes it possible for one to realise their full potential in such an environment.
- After nearly 50 years since independence, what visible progress do you think Malawi has made since independence, and in your view, what pressing challenges remain? In view of those challenges, what do you think is the role of government and the people in tackling those challenges? – After nearly 50 years , there has been some general improvements in the country’s infrastructure such as roads, hospitals, schools, introduction of democracy, improvements in ICT, although it should be mentioned that the infrastructure mentioned above is mostly in poor condition and there is still so much that needs to be done in terms of progress as a country.
- What modern and progressive ideas in other foreign countries have had the greatest impact on you, and why? – I have not lived outside Malawi however I have read and heard of modern & progressive ideas in other countries. Most countries moved from developing to developed economies by moving from agricultural based to industrialised economies – making goods that they were able to trade on the world market, also up there is putting ones country first, collective patriotism.
- What lessons do you think Malawians and the Malawian leadership can learn from those ideas? – Malawians need to revolutionise their agricultural methods for example sophisticated irrigation methods and extensive R & D in agriculture, manufacturing of fertilizer etc. In addition to this revolutionise tourism, this could then fund a much-needed thriving industrialised economy.
- In your opinion, what is the greatest sign of improvement or development that has occured in Malawi in recent years? – I live here in Malawi so I would say the way the HIV/AIDS has been managed is quite remarkable, also improvements in ICT, it seems more people are using the internet, it also seems more people have access to clean water, not sure what the stats are though.
- What has struck you the most as the biggest sign of stagnation or regression? – The biggest sign of stagnation is just generally the state of the economy and of course the greedy and corrupt leadership.
- Malawians will be going to the polls in 2014, to elect a new president. In your view what kind of leader does Malawi NEED, considering the country’s current challenges? And specifically, how should that leader approach the top job in terms of creating sustainable development and foreign reducing aid dependency? – Sometimes it feels like African countries are going through perpetual cycle of ‘elect and regret’; however one must remain hopeful, I believe Malawi needs an exceptionally intelligent, selfless, driven leader who is truly passionate about making changes to the country.
- As you know, Tobacco is Malawi’s biggest source of export revenue. Looking at the problems that have plagued the tobacco industry in recent times, what alternatives do you think Malawi has besides Tobacco, and why are they viable alternatives? – Other viable alternatives are; cotton, coffee, supplying fresh bottled water to Middle Eastern countries, rice, fish exports. Some of these are already being done but could be done in a more sophisticated way, and on a larger scale.
- Considering our troubled history with donors and funders such as the IMF and World Bank, most recently when Bingu Wa Mutharika was president, how do you see Malawi progressing from this relationship in view of the criticisms these organisations have received in the media across the world? – Malawi cannot win by depending on these institutions, which do not understand our economy, and may advise us with ulterior motives. Our leaders should strive to think of what is best for their country and not just adopt a herd mentality, fiscal discipline is key.
- We now know that Malawi has some precious minerals, including Uranium, possibly oil and other natural resources. How do you think the present government is doing regarding managing Malawi’s natural resources? – I would give the present government a 4 out of 10, not very impressive. Botswana on the other hand has done well in managing their minerals [see sources 1, 2], we could learn from a lot from them.
- In your view, can the government do better to manage natural resources? If so, how can it do better? – Yes they can, basically by making sure the interest of the country , not an individual or any mining organisation are put first, come up with mining contracts that ensure this is achieved, as well as thorough reviews of these agreements. Learn from other countries that are doing it successfully.
- What is your answer to increasing transparency and eradicating corruption which is plaguing most governments across Africa? – By putting in systems and controls that prevent corruption from occurring, as well as a system that annually reviews progress being made on corruption and transparency , from the highest office in the land to the lowest paid civil servants by an independent group of audit firms. This could mean amendments to the constitution.It seems possible in theory but may realistically, be extremely hard to implement, because as long as there is abject poverty, corruption will exist, which gradually becomes a culture, even at organisational level changing an organisations culture is a difficult task, it could minimise it though.
- Any famous last words? – We cannot let the easy seductive funk of despair, negativity and doubt undermine the critical forces for change; hope, faith and action – Cory Booker
100 Voices is a collection of reflections, views, opinions, ideas and thoughts by Malawians across the world, regarding the past, present and future of Malawi.