Sweet and sour Chinese aid dichotomy in Malawi

A few days ago the media was awash with messages of congratulations to President Peter Mutharika and his governing party DPP for apparently accomplishing a US$1.3 billion ace in development aid out of the country’s relationship with Mainland China.Loose cannon

The announcement was made at a carefully organized news conference that came almost a month after Mutharika’s trip to Mainland China and not long after the International Monetary Fund (IMF) announced its programme with the country was off-track and that the US$20 million tranche that was slated to be released ‘now’ would be put on hold.

The troubling part about this ‘blockbuster’ aid announcement, however, that is the DPP government is announcing the signing of an aid package and deals that were already signed for and announced by the previous People’s Party (PP) government of Joyce Banda. The difference is that the PP government announced the package right there in China, and there are pictures to show of the former president and her officials such as ex-minister Ibrahim Matola and PS and now Chief Secretary, George Mkondiwa, and others, signing the deals and shaking hands with Chinese officials.

But what has motivated the DPP government to claim credit on accomplishments that are not theirs? That is the question that many people have been asking, and it is the question that still lingers. There is obviously an underlining reason that has forced the DPP government to act in a manner that it has done.

The first thing that comes to the fore is that government is under pressure to look for resources, especially after the budget aid freeze from traditional donors. That government has now resigned to the fate that budgetary support might not be coming, is also becoming known, at least based on statements coming from Finance Minister, Goodall Gondwe. He recently said he does not believe donor budget support would be coming back because “donors are also facing economic challenges in their own countries.”

Government’s decision to turn to the East, notably China, for aid after getting a ‘rebuff’ from the West is not at all bad. In fact, it shows that Capital Hill is not sitting on its laurels just waiting to be obliterated. But is that rationale enough to claim credit over the job of other people?

Of course, government is a continuous business, and ideally, the DPP government should have continued from where the PP government left. It would have been in order for the DPP to announce the ‘second phase’ of an agreement that was negotiated by the PP administration.

In fact, people would have respected President Mutharika if he had done that. But to announce and claim credit for agreements that were done and sealed by others almost two years ago is not only an insult to Malawians, but also very petty politicking.

The DPP might be trying to play aid politics with our traditional multilateral partners by presenting China as the new ‘friend in need’; one who makes himself available in the hour of need. It might also be a way of telling IMF to go to hell with their money of “strings attached”. Capital Hill must perform a delicate balancing act here. Our traditional partners in the West have been with us for a long time, and we still need them today like we needed them yesterday.

In fact, their conditionalities – mainly on governance – also help the country to be on its toes and to use the aid for intended purposes. It helps to prevent things like cashgate. After all, there is no such a thing as free lunch. The lack of attached strings for soft loans and grants from China must not fool us into thinking we are getting freebies. It is no Mapwevupwevu. Our children and grandchildren will have to repay the loans. Please let us not overburden the future generation with our foolish decisions today.

Government must cultivate a model which exploits the best of both worlds – the East and the West. Seeking aid from China must not be a way to avoid cleaning up its act such as investigating the MK577 billion cashgate, which took place from 2005 to 2012. We all know the ultimate beneficially of any development are the people of this country. Leaders work for the people and bilateral agreements like the ones with China (whether negotiated by the DPP or PP government) are agreements by government not individuals or tpolitical parties.

These are also milestones that ought to be celebrated by every Malawian. To begin to climb mountains to honk horns over other people’s accomplishments is not only voodoo politics but comes across as bland.

“One lesson that every nation can learn from China is to docus more creating village-level enterprises, quality health services and education facilities .”- A. P. J. Abdul Kalam

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Lhomwe Belt
Guest

Mutharikatu Game yake ndi yonyematu! Kkkkkkkkk Alibe backbone

Blessings Kaweru
Guest

Stop cheap politics Forcus on development

levelheaded
Guest
Thom Chiumia, I have been respecting you in most of the writings you have been posting except this stinking piece that will make me vomit for the whole year. I regret the time I decided to start reading it since I was expecting something good spiced up with good English when I just saw your name on top. Of what essence would be if APM had mentioned that these loans were negotiated by the previous government? On the opposite side you know that am a DPP diehard but I did not buy that news which was there that DPP had… Read more »
Binton wakale
Guest

Tiyeni kuyankhula muchinenero chathu kunoko.Mavuto ndi amenewa kuno ku Malawi kumangokangana zinthu zikulakwika inu pamene sipali bwino tiziyang’anapo kwajinji kaya kumbali yolamula kapena ya opposition fundo zonse tigwiritse ntchito.Ambiri amangokhalira ine diehard kuyendetsa dziko sitimu yamupira perekani ulemu mukutsogolera mizimu ya anthu amwini wake mulungu.Kwenikweni inu atsogoleri ndikukusimikizirani masewerowo mukayankha kumwamba tsamalani udindowu siwodyera koma ukapolo ndithu iyi ndi ntchito yoopsya zedi samalani.Mutsogoleri ali ngati tate kapena mayi wa mitundu yonse mdzikomo koma masiku ano zachisoni Mulungu yekha ayankhule.Komanso ndife tomwe tikumapangitsa otsogolera njira zachabe zosaopa Mulungu dziko nkumaonongeka.Tiyeni tizimvana poyendetsa dzikoli moopa Mulungu chonde.

Resinate
Guest

Just start creating and making your money, why are you so dependant of other countries to give you money? At the end of the day you will lavish all this money forgetting to help the real Malawians in the rural area. You are all thieves!!!

nyapapi
Guest

Correction, Ethiopian Airlines sales figure this year is at $2.4Billion

nyapapi
Guest
DPP through then BINGU (RIP) brought China to Malawi and all these projects were signed in 2010 by Bingu himself before his death. PP was just a passing cloud and CHINA, mulled over these projects because it doesnt recognise and trust PP thats why during PP, there were no new CHINESE PROJECTS in Malawi. It all started with China’s anger as to why after two yeras of completion, the Hotel was still not opened? That angered CHINA, and put a padlock on all projects Bingu signed. So when passing cloud PP was flashed into a pit latrine, CHINA was happy… Read more »
Madalitsoshaba
Guest

Westerners are pure satanist they dont care how you will use once you accept the baptism in the satanic spirit thus all gayism and all the yismz

Bambo atuwiri
Guest

Even if it were chakwela, kasonga, chisi etc there is nothing wrong so long as the money help poor mwians. What if APM says yes it was JB who sourced the funds so what? Will u answer?

Kanyimbi
Guest

The Chinese Government is a good example. The west are too sleepy that’s why most of their money has been cashgated. The money of Chinese people is fortified and difficult to steal.

mwachaje
Guest

MG Govt turned to the East sometime back. Even JB would attest to this because she was Foreign Minister then.
What should Govt do when one of the friends of Malawi, when AID is withheld ?.

Mr editor the whole world including your very own UK has gone East. Are you not aware that just last week China and UK signed deals worth over $30Billion.

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