Progressive vs conservative: progressive means going forward, development. Conservative means to conserve. (note that conservative means the same here as in the previous section, but the opposite here is progressive) progressive politicians want to push things forward, create development, which can be done in many ways. Conservative politicians want to keep change to a minimum because they feel change causes social upheaval which is bad for society.
Progress can be made in many ways, often progressive is applied to socialist politicians, but in this case it could be liberal too. In Malawi conservative policies would mostly benefit the civil service who have great working conditions apart from their salaries, which have been undermined by run-away inflation. (run-away inflation is a sign of bad economic policies). The enigma in Malawian politics is that politicians all talk development (which is progressive) but act the opposite: the state apparatus keeps on working the same way, which is slowly, inefficiently, costly, and without much implementation of the policies that are devised by the civil service on Capital Hill. A small part of the business community may benefit from conservative policies: those who are closely connected to the powers of the day and get preferential treatment in state tenders. The business community as a whole, though, would benefit more from liberal policies., which mean less regulation, more liberty for business owners to operate, and less state interference including corruption, taxes and restrictions on import and export.
Some (like DD Phiri recently) argue that pro business policies can be good for the poor, too: they can create job opportunities.
On the other hand progressive can mean left wing, socialist, where the state intervenes in the economy to the benefit of the poor and powerless. Without state support (labour laws) the powerful business owner can easily squeeze the worker, and keep the worker in a bad condition, while profiting himself. Perversely, in Malawi we seem to have labour laws that benefit the ones that are already in the ruling class, like high officials being fired and getting huge compensations, while the lowly paid worker has no access to these regulations, because of bureaucratic obstacles, slow working of the labour courts, and corruption. Recently we saw a case of the incompetent CEO of Blantyre Water Board demanding colossal compensation when he was suspended for corrupt practices. The really poor, the smallholder farmers, have little or no protection at all, and the domestic workers or labourers at tobacco and other plantations cannot access labour laws because of lax implementation, corruption, and political interference on behalf of the powerful. Here conservatives would like to keep things as they are, liberals would want to deregulate, and socialists would want to enforce and strengthen labour laws for the poor. In Malawi we have a lot of talk, but we keep the situation as it is: lax implementation of labour laws.