Malawi President Joyce Banda on Tuesday met British Prime Minister David Cameron at the latter’s official Number 10 Downing Street office in London, the United Kingdom.
It was an historic moment for Malawi, which President Banda leads, considering that hardly a year ago, the relations between the two countries were strained under former late Malawi dictator Bingu wa Mutharika.
According to Tusekele Mwanyongo, the press aide for President Banda, the President and the Prime Minister held a 30-minute “fruitful meeting”.
“Her Excellency briefed her counterpart that she came to the United Kingdom to attend the Dr. David Livingstone Bi-Centenary celebrations in Scotland but she thought it would be remiss of her to just attend the festivities in Scotland without engaging with the British Government on matters of bilateral relations,” said the press aide, adding that the President expressed her “deepest gratitude” to the Prime Minister and Her Majesty’s Government for the support given to her and her Government since she ascended to the Office of the Presidency.
The Malawi President told the British Premier that she assumed office at a time when the economy of Malawi was near collapse due to political and economic governance problems.
Banda said bilateral relations with the United Kingdom were at the lowest point following the deportation of the British High Commissioner to Malawi.
“It was therefore very clear to me that my first task was to address the political and economic governance challenges and to restore our bilateral relations with the United Kingdom. It is therefore very pleasing that the British Government was the first to come to our help even before the International Monetary Fund issued a Letter of Comfort,” said President Banda.
According to Mwanyongo, President Banda also informed Cameron that her administration has engaged stakeholders in a dialogue to address the economic challenges and that through that dialogue, an Economic Recovery Plan that identified five priority sectors namely–agriculture, mining, energy, tourism and infrastructure development—had been hatched.
These sectors were identified based on their potential to create jobs for Malawians and to have a lasting impact on their livelihoods.
She appealed for the continued support from the United Kingdom during the implementation of the Economic Recovery Plan. President Banda pledged to ensure that her Government will be accountable and transparent in the use resources provided by the UK Government.
According to Mwanyongo, the President also took the opportunity to appeal to the Prime Minister to urge fellow G8 countries to continue supporting Malawi and other developing countries and that apart from continued development aid, she would like the G8 to help these countries move from aid to trade. Britain assumes the G8 Presidency this year.
President Banda also briefed British PM on reforms being undertaken to ensure that there is conducive environment for foreign investment in Malawi.
“As we strive to take our bilateral relations to a much higher level, I would like to request your Government to review the Visa issuance procedures. The current system where visas are processed in Pretoria, South Africa, is both expensive as well as not conducive to smooth interaction between our officials as well as private investors. I hope your Government can look at the system and improve its efficiency to enable us to interact much more easily,” she told Cameron.
On his part, Cameron hailed President Banda for the “bold economic reforms” her administration is pursuing and urged her to stay the course to ensure long term economic recovery. He pledged Britain’s continued budgetary and other financial and technical support to Malawi.
Wreath laying ceremony
Later, President Banda was Guest of Honour at a ‘Wreath Laying Ceremony’ to commemorate the bicentenary of the birth of Dr. David Livingstone at Westminster Abbey, where his remains were buried.
The President proceeded to a ‘reception’ at the Scottish (Dover) House, where the Scottish Secretary of State, Michael Moore, MP, and Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Scotland David Mundell hailed the “historical partnership between Malawi and Scotland”.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :