Roundtable meeting with CEO of National Planning Commission

The SMP and our sister network in Malawi, MaSP, were delighted to co-host a special roundtable meeting for members to meet Dr Thomas Munthali, the Director General (CEO) of Malawi’s National Planning Commission.

UK time 13:00 – 14:00

A full recording of the meeting can be found here, with timestamps in the description.

Dr Munthali briefed SMP and MaSP members on key areas of Government of Malawi policy, including the new ‘Vision 2063’. The meeting presented a key opportunity for members to learn more about Malawi’s priorities and discover how best they can work within and towards these.

In this co-hosted MaSP/SMP event, co-chairs David Hope-Jones and Stella Masangano summarised key points and next steps as follows:


David stated how impressed he is with Malawi’s far-sightedness in Vision 2063, shaping its vision and future in the extreme long-term and that there are 5 main things that he’s keen that Scotland can learn from Malawi:

  1. How consultative this process has been
  2. How long-term a vision this is and that Malawi has been able to get outside the normal 5-year political timescales which is often so hard to do
  3. The focus on inclusive development is something that Scotland and the UK can learn from
  4. The commitment that Dr Muthali has shown to learn from the previous long-term vision: Vision 2020, having been open about the challenges of that process and drawing-out the learning.
  5. Commitment to regular reviews and tangible deliverables in the 5 and 10 year timescales and not just the super long-term.

David identified at least 6 broad areas in which he proposed we might work together:

  1. Eco-tourism centres
  2. Governance work
  3. Human capital development especially in Health and Education.
  4. Building Economic Infrastructure
  5. Environmental sustainability
  6. Engagement of the Malawian Diaspora in Scotland and across the UK

David committed to the SMP’s:

  • Continuing to disseminate, raise awareness and support for Vision 2063, especially, in the immediate term its 10-year plan
  • Gratefully accepting Dr Munthali’s invitation to be part of the Pillar Enabler Co-ordination Groups and to encourage SMP members to feed-in, in proportionate and effective ways.
  • To support members to engage and adopt Vision2063 and to challenge members to tell their story as to what they are doing with Malawi and how that fits within Vision2063

David noted that these were his early thoughts and that he hoped that this would be the beginning and not the end of the conversation.


Stella reflected that was indeed the start of a conversation that could yield meaningful development for Malawi and asserted that:

  • MaSP must focus on transformative actions for self-reliance and working towards the creation of wealth.
  • There is collective responsibility to achieve Vision2063 – not looking at it as the responsibility of Government alone.
  • MaSP should consider what it can do to help prevent donations to Malawi going into the pockets of just a few individuals. Influencing Government to mainstream in Education an understanding of Corruption may be a way forward.
  • Tourism is an area that needs to be looked at and on the importance of a vibrant private sector. Stella wonders which companies in Scotland can invest in Malawi and work alongside Malawians.
  • The Director-General has sparked a debate to think beyond receiving aid and beyond projects that are not generating income; to think ‘how can we as Malawians get engaged in mining without damaging the environment?’.

It is over sixteen years since countries, including the UK, signed up to the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness, pledging to work within and towards the priorities of the partner country’s government. For a country like Malawi, where there are thousands of foreign NGOs operating, this is the only realistic way to ensure coordination of effort. We think it’s vital therefore to all do we can to listen to, and step up to, the policy priorities of the democratically elected Government of Malawi.

Dr Munthali has kindly offered written responses to questions we did not have time for, here.

You may view the chat log from the meeting here.


Connecting the Train Tracks: A Story of NGO (mis)coordination in Malawi

Prior to the close of the meeting, the animation Connecting the Train Tracks: A Story of NGO (mis)coordination in Malawi produced by Malawian water NGO BASEflow was played, followed by some commentary from its creator Muthi Nhlema who was in the meeting. Dr Muthali praised it as ‘spot on’ and noted that he would share it with Malawi’s Cabinet.

Find BASEflow here