Malawi President Peter Mutharika personally welcomed to his official Kamuzu Palace a UK cabinet minister and Secretary of State for Scotland, David Mundell – the first openly gay man to serve in a Conservative government.
The 53-year-old MP, a divorcee with three grown up children, came out as a homosexual this year describing his decision to acknowledge his sexuality as one of the most important of his life.
He is visiting Malawi at a time when the country is reeling from rising homophobic emotions.
There have been comments from a political party spokesperson that gay people are “worse than dogs” and should be killed.
Gay sex is illegal in Malawi and is punishable up to 14 years imprisonment. Recently, the government suspended the law pending review but the High Court quashed the moratorium, effectively reinstating anti-homosexual laws.
Mundell visits also comes at the back of Randy Berry, the US first Special Envoy for the Human Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI), people appointed by President Barack Obama.
The Scottish Secretary, who openly speak about his sexual orientation, has been warmly welcomed by Malawi government.
He announced after talks with President Mutharika that Scotland has given Malawi K63 billion (US $7 million) to arrest food shortage among the population as a result of natural disasters that translated into bad crop for the past two years.
The aid comes at a time when government is restlessly exploring every means to ensure that every Malawian has enough food up until the country’s farm output will return to normalcy.
Mundell, who is on a three-day visit to Malawi, said he was “ pleased” to be able to relay to President Mutharika the “additional UK support.”
He said: “ This assistance is in parallel to discussions with the government and other donors on how collectively we can urgently introduce new ways of working and reforms that will help break the yearly cycle of food insecurity in Malawi.
The UK minister said his visit to Malawi has “reaffirmed” how much Malawians value the great bond which exists between Lilongwe and London.
“ This new UK funding will help strengthen this bond and provide life-saving support to hundreds of thousands of Malawians,” he said.
The announcement brings the UK’s humanitarian support in Malawi since October 2015 to £14.5m.
President Mutharika expressed his and Malawians’ gratitude towards the selfless act of the Scottish people.
“Malawi and Scotland share a 157-years long history of fraternal relations. Indeed, Scotland is the oldest good friend for Malawi from Europe, and this is testified and enjoyed by the people of the two brotherly countries,” said Mutharika at the event which was broadcast on official MBC TV news.
“On behalf of the Government and people of Malawi, and, indeed, on my own behalf, I wish to thank you most profoundly for all the support that Scotland has provided to Malawi over the years,” said President Mutharika.
The Malawi leader singled out the Malawi-Scotland Development Partnership, under which a number of development support programes from Scotland have been channeled to the Health, Education, Economic and other sectors, as a meaningful vehicle in improving livelihoods in the country.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :