Examining Malawi’s offer to host African Union summit

The offer by Malawi’s President Bingu wa Mutharika to host the next African Union has attracted both negative and positive comments from a wide spectrum of the public both internationally and locally.

It is important, according to consensus within Malawi, to take an analytical view of the situation instead of just praising or opposing the idea.

First and foremost the status of Malawi’s economy with acute foreign exchange  and fuel shortages, rising food prices, frequent power blackout as well as water crisis and general governance issues  have to be examined analytically.

Malawi’s economy is in shambles at present due to economic mismanagement. The human rights record of the country is at its lowest and governance is indeed deteriorating by the day. People’s views are not respected. President Mutharika alias Webster Raison Thom and his cohorts continue to be terribly intolerant of alternative views.

AU heads of state

Peaceful protests are thwarted through misuse of the state security machinery. Anybody who holds different views from those of the Bingu administration is an enemy and is first expelled from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and finally charged with treason or worse.

Bingu holds the highest record among Malawian leaders since independence and even during the colonial era pertaining to treason in the country’s history.

Given such a poor record on the above stated fundamental principles of human existence on earth, it would take somebody with an ego centring on insanity to suggest his poor domain as the next venue of such a prestigious meeting of heads of state.

Accordingly, those who are against the idea, including the Vice President of Malawi Joyce Banda are only expressing what the majority of the citizens of the country are saying. Our economic woes include shortage of drugs in hospitals as a result of which many lives are lost on a daily basis apart from the poor state of the economy and governance. Mutharika’s Government is therefore, not able to provide the social services it was elected for .This means that the Bingu administration has renegade on its election and presidential inaugural promises.

The logical question being asked in respect of Bingu’s pledge for Malawi to host the extraordinary summit of the AU is simply; How can an administration that is failing to uphold its electoral promises to provide social services for its citizenry afford to offer to host such a prestigious conference?

It has been argued by mostly Bingu’s supporters, some of them the usual hand clappers who basically want to continue deriving benefits from the government, such as Patricia Kaliati the Minister of (Mis) Information and Civic Education, that the foreign heads of state and their entourages will bring in the much needed hard currency which Malawi lacks and that the AU will foot the costs pertaining to the summit. Such an argument can only come from a person who has no idea regarding the professional procedures of the protocol of international relations. Hosting of international conferences is simply reciprocal.

The visiting heads of state will have to be accorded the honour and treatment befitting them, entailing security, executive vehicles, and accompanying vehicles, presidential suites and hospitality free of charge by the host country. This entire works on the basis of reciprocity in other words, Malawi’s head of state would expect to be treated the same way in their countries. All this calls for expenses to be incurred by the AU host country, no two ways about it.

The AU  may contribute to the overall cost of the holding of the summit but not significantly and since the expectation,diplomatically, is that the heads of state would be hosted y the government of Malawi what level of foreign Exchange ( hard currency) could be derived from them?Only their entourages  would pay for the services they would requisition.Most of them prefer to save money and return home with hefty amounts of hard currency to feel satisfied that they had been included on such trips.They would, therefore,not  leave much hard currency in Malawi.

In the final analysis , therefore , already empoverished Malawi would be left in a worse state the economic  problems would no doubt escalate.

Accordingly, hosting such a prestigious conference in Malawi, while the country reels on untold difficulties, is to say the least ill-timed or simply INSANE!

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