Banda: Malawi economy a total mess

Blantyre - Malawian President Joyce Banda, who took office on April 7 after her predecessor's sudden death, said on Monday that the country's agriculture-dominated economy was in a "total mess".

She also urged her Cabinet to speak frankly to the public about the severity of Malawi's challenges.

"Be free to advise me, and not think Malawians are fools because they want to be told the truth," Banda said in comments broadcast on state television.

"The economy is in a total mess," she also said.

Malawi's economy has been plagued by shortages in fuel and foreign currency, while donors who once provided roughly 40% of the development budget have curbed funding amid the economic crisis and governance concerns within Mali.

Banda has moved swiftly to restore donor confidence and vowed to address concerns previously voiced by key lenders like the International Monetary Fund.

Banda served as vice president under Bingu wa Mutharika, who died on April 5 after a heart attack but she had fallen out with Mutharika and had been thrown out of his ruling party.

She said she had assumed "political risk never before taken" in hiring ministers from all parties.

She however dropped the former president's brother Peter from Cabinet, where he previously served as foreign minister and was accused of plotting to seize the presidency after Mutharika's death.

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