Listen to us, Malawi leader tells US, Western partners

Malawi’s President Mrs. Joyce Banda has urged western governments and organizations that want to provide aid to the African countries to listen to Africans who appreciate their unfortunate situations more than the partners and therefore their appropriate solutions.

The Head of State also noted that Governments alone in development cannot achieve development for the people without the involvement of the civil society such that they need to be given enough space to operate freely and effectively.

She was speaking at a high-level ‘Feed the Future’ panel discussion on  September 27, 2012 in New York, United States on the sidelines of the 67th Session of the United Nations General Assembly.

President Banda and Hillary Clinton at the public discussion.-Photo credit: State House

President Banda shared the podium with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The theme of the discussion was ‘Feed the Future: Partnering with Civil Societies’.

‘Feed the Future’ is the US Government’s global hunger and security initiative. With a focus on smallholder farmers, Feed the Future supports partner countries in developing their agriculture sectors to spur economic growth that increases incomes and reduces hunger, poverty and undernourishment.

“African countries are better placed to make decisions about what they want,” President Banda said, adding that Africa needs a lot of friends to develop and that what Africans are looking for in such partnership is to have the opportunity to say what we want the partners to help them and not the other way round.

“We know what we want to do; we know that we want to move from point A to point B,” she said, adding that recently she signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) because it is one of the organizations that come into Africa and recognize that there is leadership in Africa and respect them.

Secretary Clinton said the US Government recognizes that it is imperative to empower local people with tools to start their own organizations and find their own voice and run their own programmes.

“This, we believe, is the effective and sustainable development assistance; we want to move from aid trade; we must assist people to open their own businesses and employ many people as a new form of development assistance,” Secretary Clinton said, adding that Western partners must let the people in developing countries set their priorities instead of them being set in “here in New York or in Washington”.

Later in the day, President Banda spoke at a luncheon organized by Rockefeller Foundation, honouring the President for her leadership in increasing access to health coverage in Malawi.

Board Chairperson of Rockefeller Foundation, David Rockefeller Junior hailed President Banda for her work in improving lives of the poor and said it is “tremendous and deserves recognition and support”.

He assured the Malawi leader of the Foundation’s continued support to Malawi in improving access to health services by the masses.

Meanwhile, President Banda leaves New York for home on Friday, September 28, 2012 en route to South Africa where she will attend the ‘Sixth African Investment Conference’.

State House Press Officer, Tusekele Mwanyongo, confirmed President’s Banda’s attendance at the “high-level conference” in a telephone interview from New York on Friday.

“Yes, Her Excellency has been invited to deliver a Keynote Address at the conference whose message will be ‘Investing in Africa and Resulting Opportunities’.

“The conference starts on Monday, October 1 to Tuesday, October 2, 2012. It is one of the leading institutional investor conferences focusing on African investment and exchange-listed opportunities in the sub-Saharan region,” explained Mwanyongo.

JB with Rockefeller Junior (left) and Nigeria Ngozi (right).-Photo credit: State House
Hillary Clinton, President Banda and presidential aide Lingalireni Mihowa.-Photo credit: State House
The audience.-Photo credit: State House

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