How long is a string of letters?

Edward Tsumele

An important awards ceremony has taken place in the country last week, that goes far beyond just polishing the egos of leaders but rewards them for eradicating poverty in a practical sense.

I have witnessed so many awards in the past that tend to reward mediocricy, or are just done for business purposes and not for efforts that change communities.

Last week President Mutharika of Malawi was among the 2009 Southern Africa Drivers of Change Award winners, and it appears these awards are there to genuninely reward those tyhat make an effort in changing the lives of communities and get rid of poverty in their midst.

Announced at Summer Place, Hyde Park in South Africa Among the 2009 southern Africa Drivers of Change that were honoured was Dr Bingu wa Mutharika, President of the Republic of Malawi.

In the government category, Dr Bingu wa Mutharika, was recognized for changing Malawi from a country in perpetual food deficit to one that is entirely food-sufficient. The boom in this sector has had a direct impact on millions of poor people. Under his leadership, poverty in Malawi has declined from 58 to 42 percent in five years.

In the individual category, Archbishop Njongo Ndungane, was honoured for his lifelong commitment to place the poor at the centre of social and economic policies and his efforts to drive change in the way leadership is exercised in Africa. Through his African Monitor initiative, he remains as steadfast as ever in pushing rich countries to meet their commitments to the poor in Africa while also working to ensure that the aid that is given benefits the poor.

Others winners are in the civil society category, the Luanda Urban Poverty Programme (LUPP) in Angola was recognized for driving systemic change in the way poverty reduction programmes are run in Angola, in the business category, a unique partnership between Dr Xolile Ngethu, WBHO Construction, and the ComMark Trust was the winner for driving change in the way corporate social responsibility is practised. When WBHO Construction won the contract to build a road

The panel of judges also awarded special commendations to Bishop Kevin Dowling of South Africa and Emma Kaliya of Malawi. Bishop Dowling was honoured for his extraordinary contribution to driving social change as much in the churches as in society at large. Emma Kaliya, for her tireless efforts to increase the number of women parliamentarians in Malawi from 14% to 22%.

"We can learn from the past, can mange the present and can change the future, " commented Wa Mutharika as the principle that underpins his country's remakeable economic recovery within a short space of time.

Bingu wa Mutharika