Malawi government has issued a stinging rebuttal to criticism of China’s development aid in to the southern African nation.
There have been fears that Malawi-China bilateral agreements have clauses that allow China to seize national assets in the event that the borrowing nation defaults on its loan repayments.
Minister of Information and Communications Technology Nicholas Dausi has dismissed the concerns.
Dausi said President Peter Mutharika cannot sign an “inappropriate” deal with any government.
He said: “President Mutharika is a trained and renowned lawyer. So, I doubt he would sign an agreement that would put Malawi at a disadvantage.”
Dausi said he would have to consult with the Ministry of Justice to give a comprehensive response on the Chinese deals.
Nations across Africa are hoping that China’s enthusiasm for infrastructure investment will help promote industrialisation on the continent.
The assistance provided by China is fast, easy and effective. There is little discussion of economic policy and human rights, hallmarks of western support.
But the concerns in Malawi were heightened against the backdrop of news that the Chinese government would be taking over national assets Zesco and Zambian National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) in neighbouring Zambia following their government’s failure to repay the loans.
Political scientist Ernest Thindwa from the University of Malawi’s Chancellor Collge said Malawians have a right to knowledge about aid and big business deals with China and any other country, so that they can try to stamp their opinions on he subsequent conditions attached to them.
Thindwa said what is needed in Malawi is “to borrow money and invest it in productive sectors where the government should be able to repay the loan without asking the taxpayer to finance it.”
While Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) executive director Timothy Mtambo said government should be in a position to direct aid funds to projects that improve people’s social welfare and livelihood such as hospitals and universities “instead of focusing on development projects like stadiums.”
Mzuzu-based political and economic commentator Emily Mkamanga is quoted in the local press saying the Chinese government is putting Lilongwe at an economic disadvantage by including clauses that require the Malawi government to buy raw materials from China and hire Chinese labour.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :