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tv   HAR Dtalk  BBC News  July 29, 2021 12:30am-1:01am BST

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this is bbc news. we will have the headlines and all the main news stories for you at the top of the hour as newsday continues straight after hard talk. welcome to hardtalk. i'm sarah montague. it's a year since lazarus chakwera became president of malawi, one of the poorest countries in the world. the preacher turned politician won power promising to create a millionjobs and to clear the rubble of corruption. but a year on, the economy is being hit hard by the effects of covid. his government admits it has no idea how many
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jobs have been created, and he's been criticised for nepotism, including giving jobs to his family. he's about to take on the presidency of the southern african development community, but can malawi's president even honour the promises he made to his own country? lazarus chakwera, welcome to hardtalk. thank you very much. now, let's start with the situation as regards covid, because there are currently 11,000 active cases reported in your country.
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there've been 1500 deaths, but that will be underreported. what's your assessment of the situation at the moment? you know, it is possible that it is underreported, but we go by what we have officially. and if you look at the figures, this third wave has pushed us to that level. because even positivity rate had come back down to almost 0.5%, and now that rate has gone all the way to 26, 25%. and there are some specific places where more positive cases have been indicated, like the blantyre city. now, one has to understand that for a country like ours and for all that we are doing in order that we might respond to this pandemic,
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the figures you mentioned, you could see that in some places it is at one day's figure in terms of people dying. we want to value every life. and that is why we have also embarked on notjust testing and notjust hospitalising people and making sure we give them whatever is necessary for them to get well, because the recovery rates have been over 85%, but we want to make sure that people get the vaccine whenever that is possible. we'll come on to vaccines in a minute. but you mentioned blantyre, and when malawi—liverpool and the wellcome trust did a study last year, they found antibody levels of about 12%. that was last year. so, it does suggest the actual infection rates in the country are so much higher than is being reported. do you accept that that probably is the case? it's just testing, the ability
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to test, that is limiting the picture that you know? when you are doing a scientific study, you go with figures, not probabilities. and these are the testing sites we have across the country and the results that we have had to work with. but more testing — if you were capable of testing more, you'd find more. obviously, and there are more testing, at sites that are being set up in order for us to have that. well, let's look at the hospitals, because you said earlier this year, "our medical facilities are terribly understaffed, our medical personnel are outnumbered." the effect of the pandemic has had a really profound effect on the whole of the health system, hasn't it? what we are doing right now is to make sure that we have more people employed, more service and caregivers employed, and get the hospitals and centres that provide services equipped well. in fact, we just passed a budget in which all of the district hospitals
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will be looked at and renovated and equipped. so, this is a response to something that has already been there and for far too long... ok, but i want to ask you about, it's already under pressure, the health system. and then you have covid comes along, which is why young hong of the united nations population fund said the pandemic, the effect of it was on the availability of manpower. it also exerted pressure on the entire health system, including stock of certain medicines, equipment, basic medical supplies. so, i'm wondering, if this third wave continues, can the hospitals cope? can you tell me which country has not been under pressure because of covid? this is a worldwide pandemic, and malawi is doing all it can within the resources that it has. thank god that we're able to speak these figures right now and these deaths right now.
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but every person's life is valuable, and we want to continue to do with what we have in order to save more lives. right, now, you brought up vaccines because, as you say, that's the way out of it. only 0.2% out of the country's population of 18 million is fully vaccinated. 2% have had one dose. why is it so low? where do you lay the blame for that? i don't blame anyone else. what we are saying is, let the vaccines be more readily accessible from the north to the south. we cannot afford to have people die or even get infected while others are being inoculated with high percentages. in africa, less than 1%. you mentioned malawi, 0.2%. we want more, and able to save
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as many lives as possible. 0k, well, you're here in the uk, which is one of the most highly vaccinated countries in the world. there's almost 56% of the total population, that's the total population, notjust adults, fully vaccinated, 70% has at least one jab. does it seem fair to you? well, you ask that question, but you can have the answer to that question. this is the unfairness that is there, the great divide that is there. and we are grateful that uk is able to do what you just described. but how many countries can you talk in that fashion, in africa, in latin america, in southeast asia? but what i'm wondering is, because you said, "we are at the mercy of the international community," so i wonder, do you come to a country like the uk and think that they are being merciful or merciless?
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may ijust speak as it is? if we were able to produce our own vaccines, if we were able to do stuff, you know, in a global village where everyone is dependent on everyone else, using that word does not mean that somebody is "merciless". itjust means that we need to have equitable distribution, we need to have access. we cannot wait until uk vaccinates all of its population and then say, well, then, the vaccines can be made available to other countries. when nobody�*s safe, nobody will be safe. but the uk is doing that. so, i wonder what you're saying or plan on saying to your hosts while you're here. well, we are grateful for, for example, we have astrazeneca vaccines that we've begun to distribute,
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and just three days ago we had another lot come into the country. and so we are thankful for what we can use. but it's tiny. i mean, the numbers are tiny relative to the need. for those who get help, it's never too late. we will make sure that we have help when it's needed, and it is needed now. it is needed now. so, when, on the current schedule, do you expect the population of malawi to be vaccinated such that you have the virus under control? we're trusting that, with the 1.3 million doses expected in the next couple of months in total, based on what has been... 1.3 million in two months. yes, we hope that we can continue to roll out this programme and then
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get more vaccines. now, we havejust passed a resolution to notjust work with one vaccine, but with several. and so we trust that we can have several vaccines made available. have you asked the uk, your hosts here, to give up some of their spare capacity? i'm going to ask them because i have a meeting with them. and we have done so in the past, and they have helped. in terms of the effect it's having on malawi, cos it's notjust on health, it's also on the economy. right. gdp had to be downgraded last year. it was forecast to be nearly 5%. it was downgraded to 0.8%. it's projected to rebound, 3.8%. but is that going to have to be downgraded further, too? with the flux context
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we're dealing with, you may be right, but... ..if we can have our people... ..fed, if we can have our people face this with a little more resilience, like we have always shown to be a resilient people, if we can have certain services begin to be delivered to the people, and the world situation changing so that we are able to move on with the industries that are being set up, we will have the economy coming back. ok, but the forecast at the moment is for 3.8% gdp. is there any way that... ? that is the forecast from 0.8. what is the forecast in the uk? what you do here with very little is much, because in terms of actual figures...
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..cannot be compared with malawi. but malawi, if it grows that much, it means that there will be help for the masses that are needing that help right now. ok, but the reason i'm asking this is that a year ago, when you were elected, before you were elected, you promised that you would create a million jobs. now, at the time, there was...the pandemic was already under way when you made this promise. how manyjobs have you created in the past year? when we started, for example, with the affordable inputs programme... ..we had thousands ofjobs. young people were employed across the country... ..with millions of people accessing the affordable input. it was 3.7, actually
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3.5 million people able to access inputs. that put a workable... 0k, it was a simple question. ..population able... it was a simple question. let me finish. you promised a million jobs, i'm wondering how many you've created. let me finish. because of other people being laid off, since industries was scaling down due to the pandemic, because we were able to create jobs for those people who need wages... ok, so.. ..the 600,000... so, your argument is if you had saved jobs, you would've lost more jobs. we could have lost more jobs. the 600,000 that lost theirjobs compared to... ..the 300,000 that were able to be employed, that was going to be possible in an ideal situation. 0k. so, what i'm saying to you... so, the net is what? the net is how manyjob losses?
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job losses? it's 600,000. so, you promised a millionjobs... right. ..and the country has lost 600,000. yes. and what we are able to do now with all of those that have wages, earnable income through the provision of loans, through the provision of cash transfers, of food that they were able to grow, that was translated in a population that would be working, not necessarily employed on a regular basis, but having a wage. right, well, tell me this. people voted you in on the back of a promise to create a million jobs. that is not the only promise. ok, but it was a significant promise, a significant pledge of your campaign. what do you say to those people who voted for you thinking that
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you would create jobs? the majority of malawians, i say it, 80% are smallholderfarmers. and they voted on the basis that we would have affordable farm inputs, which we did provide. and malawi now... was it an empty pledge, i wonder? malawi now has, on record, the best yield so far. and so, the majority... this is about the fertiliser. the majority of farmers... but let me... but from what you're saying... you're saying it was just one pledge. did it not matter? was it an empty pledge? no, no, no. it is not an empty pledge. i am saying we will fulfil that. but how many people have lostjobs here? it's irrelevant. i'm asking you about malawi. i'm asking you about your country and promises you made. i want you to understand the context in which we are dealing with these things.
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when you make a promise, which i did, and then i explain to people every time, this is why we have not been able to do this. you knew there was pandemic a year ago. no, no, no. the country had declared a state of emergency. we started to say that in 2019. there was no pandemic at that time. so, because... and we did not want to go back on that because time... but your predecessor... so, your predecessor, who... you won on the back of promises like this. the former president, peter mutharika, says of your government, "they're creating 1 million poor people instead of1millionjobs." he should be the best and the first one to know what they did by destroying the economy of that country and expecting it to be resuscitated in one year. you cannot take him seriously because he is not even telling one iota of truth in what he meant. apart from not creating
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the jobs you promised, the other effect on ordinary malawians�* life over the last year is that prices have shot up. and one of the things where it's very evident is in the price of cooking oil. you introduced...reintroduced vat in october last year — 16.5%. according to the consumers association of malawi, cooking oil has gone up by 50%. and there are countless organisations asking for you to remove vat from cooking oil. will you? yes, but let me give you the context. you will. you will remove vat from cooking oil. let me now give you the context. when we promised that we would raise the tax band to 100,000, we wanted people to have more disposable income. when we said that we would want minimum wage raised to 50,000 — and this has been done, by the way — we wanted more people to have
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disposable income. when we said we would give people loans so they can start businesses, when we said... i gave an order to have smes be prioritised, we wanted to respond to that. but here's the catch. what you're saying is not the whole story, and what is being told is not the whole story. but... we are right now... 0k, butjust to be clear... ..with the ministry of trade and industry and then with people that are bringing in these things, we want by november sitting of parliament to be able to look at those figures and to tell you that after that has been dealt with, you would know that not only is a problem with cooking oil, the problem is actually how you bring in goods and services, and how
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on top of everything else that is being brought into the country to make sure industries work. there is a deliberate, deliberate effort not to make things like those work. and we will be dealing with that, like ijust told you. in your acceptance speech last year, you promised a new malawi, and you said, "i challenge those who sit in parliament to act professionally, to set a good example. the time of giving free hand—outs is past." is the appointment of your daughter, violet, as a diplomat to brussels a good example? i am really amazed that you could use that as an example of something that's not even true. violet is not going to brussels. and so, the sources... so, is it not true that she's third secretary at the mission in belgium? she's not going to...
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..as a third secretary to a mission in belgium. check your facts, investigate those things. 0k. is it true that on this delegation to london, which is actually a virtual conference — but you're here, as i understand it, paid for by the british government — you have ten people, you wanted 61 to come, reportedly. it was reduced to ten, and of those ten, you've included in the ten your wife, your daughter and your son—in—law? everyone has a responsibility, like you just mentioned. it is not that i have included them, they are part because i brought my wife, and i did not invite myself, by the way, to this conference. i have done conferences in malawi virtually, and over ten of them. this was an appeal to me to be present here personally
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in order that we might deal with certain things. as the president of the country. yes. your foreign minister is back at home, and in the delegation you've brought your family. no, ididn�*t. no, no, no. don't even use that. i brought malawians that are doing something along with me on this trip, and they're just as valuable. ok, so, what, of the ten people in the delegation, four... there's three of them, apart from you, are members of your family. and that's acceptable, is it? and i say this for somebody who a year ago accused the government, got into power on promising to clear the rubble of... i can tell you each one of those have specific functions. and the specific functions are such that, for me to be able to attend a meeting like this, i need their services. "if there is a foreign trip for the president,
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the democratic progressive party," your opposition, "will flood his entourage with dozens of cash—hungry hand—clappers because it's a chance for someone to steal from malawians. if there's a vacancy at a foreign embassy that requires a professional and career diplomat, the dpp will send someone unqualified whose only credential is being related to someone at state house by tribe or blood because it is a chance for someone to steal from malawians." i'm quoting your words. are you talking about qualification or not? what i said, the president in malawi, lazarus chakwera, appoints ambassadors and their deputies. the foreign office, which i do not have any influence over, they go through processes of appointing people that will serve those others as support staff. and i want you to know, because i want to grow strong
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institutions and i want to be able to have ministries and departments and agencies operate with minimal interference from a president, those processes are being followed. so, can i ask you just finally and briefly, are you proud of your first year in power? have you made malawi a better country? i am extremely thankful for malawians. because of their choices, we have now laid a foundation in which we'll be able to truly — like we have said when we launched our vision 2063 — we'll be able to truly industrialise our country, be able to bring poverty out of the way so we have a middle—income country, and be able to look forward to a multiplicity ofjobs because of creating
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inclusive wealth. and that is going to be within the context of peace. that foundation has been laid with a population that is hunger—free. we're already onto that. with infrastructure development, we are already onto that. and these are the plans that now are taking off even as we speak. lazarus chakwera, thank you for coming on hardtalk. i am so privileged. thank you.
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hello. wednesday brought us another day of some sunny spells, but some really heavy downpours and frequent thunderstorms with lightning and hail, too. this was the picture in telford during wednesday afternoon. now, the outlook is for the unsettled theme to continue, so i think thursday will bring another day of sunshine and showers. it'll be quite cool and breezy. but the showers won't be as heavy or as frequent as they have been over recent days. that's down to the fact that this area of low pressure that's bringing all of this showery weather is just drifting its way off towards the north and north—east. we have got another area of low pressure developing in the south west, and that'll be more of a player through thursday night into friday. so, for much of northern ireland, scotland and northern england, quite a cloudy start to the day with some showery rain. further south across england and much of wales, largely dry with some sunshine around. there will be some brightness developing in the north during the afternoon, but down towards the south west, expect some rain to arrive later in the day. the breeze picking up here, too. it will be quite a blustery feeling sort of day and not particularly warm for this time of year. but temperatures generally somewhere between 18—22
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degrees for most of us. not too bad down towards the south east, a drier day here than we have seen recently. now, into thursday night, the showers in the north will gradually ease away, but our tension turns to the south west of england where this area of really heavy rain will move its way in and look at those wind gusts around about a0 to 50 mph, unseasonably strong gusts of wind through the english channel, through the bristol channel as well. so, it's going to be very blustery in the south first thing friday morning and a pretty wet start to the day, too. whereas further north, it's looking mostly dry to start the friday and quite a bit of dry weather for friday across parts of scotland, northern ireland and northern england just a few showers around. further south across england and wales, we've got that initially heavy rain and brisk winds which gradually clears towards the east through the day, and then a return to some sunshine and scattered showers around, too. temperatures cooler in recent days, around 17—20 degrees on friday. and then heading towards the weekend, low pressure still not far away, but it is starting to move off towards the east. we've got a northerly air flow
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coming down and higher pressure out in the atlantic is trying to nudge its way in. so, between weather systems as we head through the course of the weekend. perhaps one or two showers around, but quite a bit of dry weather through saturday and sunday, too. some sunny spells and temperatures on the cool side for this time of year. bye— bye.
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welcome to newsday, reporting live from singapore, i'm karishma vaswani. the headlines: us covid cases continue to rise, in a push to get the nation vaccinated, all federal workers could be required to have the jab, or face more testing. japan records the highest daily number of coronavirus cases since the beginning of the pandemic. the delta variant, and the olympics, are being blamed for the surge. i'm sarah mulkerrins live in tokyo on day 6 of the olympics, where the men's golf competition is underway, with all eyes on masters champion hideki matsyuama for the hosts japan.
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simone biles is out of another 0lympic event.

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