Malawi’s Foreign Affairs ministry has clarified that President Joyce Banda did not declare that she would replicate Zimbabwe’s controversial land reform in the country as widely reported by the media.
After her recent four-day trip to Zimbabwe, President Banda was widely quoted that she will “blow the trumpet” for a lifting of all sanctions on President Robert Mugabe and that she plans to send experts to Zimbabwe to understudy the land reform programme including the economic empowerment initiatives. The team would report feedback and strategic recommendations on implementation in Malawi.
The reports attracted the wrath of activists including land reform researcher and academician Blessings Chinsinga who is part of the team of researchers from the University of Malawi that include Henry Chingaipe, Micheal Chasukwa, and Ephraim Chirwa who have researched on ‘The Political Economy of Land Grabs and Land Reforms in Malawi’.
Civil Society Agriculture Network (Cisanet) National Director Tamani Nkhono Mvula said replicating Zimbabwe’s landform in Malawi would tantamount to committing an economic suicide.
But Foreign Affairs Ministry on Friday clarifies that: “ During the visit, the issue of the Land reform programme in Zimbabwe was never discussed as alleged by local and international media. This is a matter that the Government and the people of Zimbabwe are dealing with.”
The statement made available to Nyasa Times said: “The Government of Malawi believes that through exchange visits and sharing of experiences at all levels, countries will be able to co-exist peacefully and hence create space for sustainable development in the respective countries.”
According to Foreign Affairs ministry headed by Ephraim Mganda Chiume, during her visit to Zimbabwe, President Banda other issues, reiterated the historical and cultural connection between the two countries and the need to increase economic cooperation.
“The President mentioned that both countries face common challenges and hence the need to cooperate and work together at bilateral as well as at regional levels. She also reiterated her belief that the two countries can learn from each other in various areas such as energy development, mining and mineral development, education and agriculture.
“In agriculture and specifically on tobacco, the President showed interest for Malawi to learn from Zimbabwe’s experience in the production of flue-cured tobacco especially by smallholder farmers,” reads the statement.
Recently, Malawi and Zimbabwe signed a bilateral trade agreement and discussed trade and economic issues within the framework of the Joint Permanent Commission and Co-operation.