Malawi's President Lazarus Chakwera has taken decisive steps to address the economic challenges facing the nation, including a suspension of all foreign trips by government officials, himself included.

The move, announced in a nationally televised address on Wednesday night, aims to implement tough measures to heal Malawi's struggling economy.

In a significant directive, President Chakwera instructed all ministers currently outside the country to return home, emphasizing that the suspension of foreign trips would persist until March next year.

"Any travel deemed absolutely necessary by anyone during that period must be submitted to my office for my personal authorization," Chakwera declared.

To further cut costs, the President unveiled a series of austerity measures, including a 50 per cent reduction in fuel entitlements for cabinet ministers and senior government officials.

Chakwera emphasized the need to end the practice of spending taxpayers' money on what he termed as "useless activities in the form of allowances."

These measures come in the wake of Malawi securing a $174 million (£140 million) four-year credit facility from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The economic challenges faced by the country prompted the central bank to declare a 44 per cent devaluation of the kwacha, reflecting the urgency of the situation.

Acknowledging the prevailing economic difficulties, Chakwera highlighted the importance of redirecting budgetary cuts, including reduced fuel allowances, towards crucial needs.

He stated that the funds saved would be used to procure essential items such as food and fertilizer, aiming to ensure food security in the country.

The President's announcement also addressed concerns over his own foreign travel, as he pledged to lead by example.

Chakwera decided to cancel his attendance at the COP28 climate change conference in Dubai later this month, citing the need to prioritize domestic economic recovery.

This is not the first time President Chakwera has implemented austerity measures.

Last year, he opted out of attending the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Kigali, Rwanda, and the OPEC Fund Development Forum in Vienna, Austria, reportedly saving Malawi a total of $261,000 (£216,000).

The nation awaits the impact of these measures, hoping for a positive turnaround in the economic landscape as Malawi navigates through its current financial challenges until the end of the financial year in March 2024.