The first session in a series of Student Debates organised by the Delegation of the European Union (EU) to Malawi in collaboration with the Economics Association of Malawi (ECAMA) was launched on 20th September, 2019 in Lilongwe. Eight universities across Malawi will take part in this competition, debating on various topics under the overall theme of “Inclusive and Sustainable Economic Growth”.
Starting off at the launch was Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR) against Malawi Assemblies of God University (MAGU). Their debate topic was on whether the government should be more active in supporting the private sector. MAGU was the proposer whilst LUANAR was the opposer. MAGU argued that indeed the government should actively support the private sector to ensure accountability and protection of consumer rights. However, LUANAR counter argued to state that the government’s more active support in the private sector causes inefficiencies in the market and corrodes the sector’s resources as well as imposes stifling policies. Further, MAGU argued that the government provides checks and balances to ensure a sound market for the private sector. On the other hand, LUANAR stated that the government should formulate policies that favour the private sector rather than interfering in a self-regulating market. LUANAR emphasized on the point that the government should be selective in interrupting the market forces or risk destroying the private sector.
At the launch, the EU team leader for Economic, Trade and Governance, Mr. Jose- Maria Medina Navarro stated that the core objective of the debates is to encourage the youth in Malawi to use their theoretical knowledge, analytical and communication skills to debate topical issues related to the country’s development. This will also improve their ability to speaking in public and to apply theory into practice. Likewise, the president of ECAMA, Mr. Chikumbutso Kalilombe also stressed that the ultimate objective of these debates is to encourage youth participation in shaping the development agenda of the country, by creating a forum for students to interact and share knowledge on how they can contribute with innovative approaches to the development of the country. He further explained that these debates therefore provide the youth an opportunity to identify various development challenges and opportunities for Malawi and this ensures that the youth’s voice is heard and taken into consideration by policy makers when formulating national policies.
The debate judges were the former Governor of the Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM), Dr. Elias Ngalande; the Manager in the Department of Economic Policy Research at RBM, Dr. Onelie Nkuna and an Economist at the Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development, Ms Mary Kutengule. The debaters were assessed based on organization of facts, clarity, research, reasoning and confidence.
The team from MAGU were declared winners and therefore qualifying for the semi-finals scheduled for November 2019 in Lilongwe.