Mwenifumbo against China debt-book diplomacy trap: Malawi should get real value investors

United Democratic Front (UDF) presidential running mate Frank Tumpale Mwenifumbo has  been widely commended for demonstrating courage throughout the live televised debate  at Bingu International Convention Centre (Bicc) in Lilongwe ahead of the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections as he  was blunt cautioning Malawi  that it may  be caught  in a debt-book  China diplomacy trap.

Mwenifumbo: Against against some Chinese ‘investors’

Malawi established diplomatic ties with the People’s Republic of China in 2007, a development that has facilitated trade between the two countries. However, there are suggestions that the People’s Republic of China is turning Malawi into a dumping ground.

Mwenifumbo said there is need to ensure the country is not hard-nosed about the debt they were willing to accept from China.

“I don’t see value for China,” said free-talking Mwenifumbo, a Karonga Central legislator as Chinese diplomats attending the debate looked conspicuously stunned.

“Malawians are not benefiting. We should be careful with Chinese investment because they are not helping to add value to the country’s economy,” said Mwenifumbo a member of Alliance for Democracy( Aford) who was picked by 40-year-old Atupele Muluzi the president of UDF to partner him in the presidential race due May 21 2019.

Mwenifumbo said there should be “tough laws on immigration” to weed off some unnecessary investors.

He said UDF will ensure to put in place policies that protect indigenous small businesses from foreign traders.

Generally, the four running mates, who turned up for the debate, Mohammed Sidik Mia (Malawi Congress Party-MCP), Jerry Jana (People’s Party-PP) and Michael Usi (UTM Party) agreed that Malawi should have reforms on its immigration and vetting of investors.

Mia of MCP said:“Investors should be worthy it not just opening pubs in Ntcheu.”

In his contribution, Usi said the people given the right of abode in the country should be scrtutinised properly.

On his part, Jana said: “We should be selective on who we should accept to invest in the country.”

China has made its presence felt in Malawi through structures such as presidential villas, the Bingu International ConventionCentre, the New Parliament Building, a five star hotel and Bingu National Stadium which are all build with loans from Chinese financial institutions such Exim Bank.

This has raised questions about a debt-book diplomacy trap  which has affected some countries like Sri Lanka where the  island nation, after failing to pay back $8-billion to China’s state lenders, had to surrender majority control of its strategic Hambantota port on a 99-year lease to the Asian superpower.

The port was developed with loans from China.

Critics have warned that this has set a precedent. Countries that are unable to settle their mounting debt obligations to China too might have to sign away territory and sovereignty.

Another country that is at risk of losing its independence to China is Djibouti. According to The Economist, China is the country’s biggest investor and over the past two years it has lent $1.4-billion to the small East African country, which is more than 75% of its gross domestic product.

China plans to make Djibouti a staging post for its mammoth trade route project, the Belt and Road Initiative. The Institute for Security Studies said China is expected to invest an estimated $1.3-trillion to develop infrastructure in Asia, Europe and Africa.

In Malawi local artists such as Nameless have also stirred the waters against China through a song released in the early 2000s with lyrics that go:

Chiri chonse chalowa China/ [China has corrupted standards]
Dziko lalowa China [Everything in Malawi is fake]
Palibe cha orijino-o [Everything is counterfeit].

What Nameless means is that there is nothing good associated with China, as exemplified by the temporary nature of goods and services. Chinese goods are not durable, the persona in the song charges.

Chinese traders have established themselves in the wholesale and retail sectors in Malawi while it has become commonplace for Malawian businesspeople to travel to China to buy wedding dresses, tiaras, shows, suits, and accessories such as cameras, hard drives, laptops, electric accessories, among others.

Recently, some vendors at Limbe Market asked permission to Blantyre City Council (BCC), to demonstrate against what they term ‘influx of Chinese traders in Malawi’, whom they accuse of employing unfair and non-competitive trade practices.

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Njolo mpilu
Njolo mpilu
3 years ago

So what shall we know from the dpp laningimate if hey win that is frm rigging. Poti pano zomwe tikuona ndi ma bwaibwai mbwandimbwandi kuyamba ma project ongophoma omwe obviuoy wont b completed.projects projects frim international aid that are planned for 6 mths and they take 3 yrs.

3 years ago

Chinese Investors are a burden to Malawi.

Prophet Mboro
3 years ago

All roads contracted by chines know that 2billion goes in the pocket of the minister.All their roads are fake only the government ruling individuals benefits.

3 years ago

The debate was supposed to dwell much on issues such as these. Chinese debt is a very serious issue that needs to be tackled lest we wake up one day only to find our sovereignty gone. The alarm bells have been ringing for so long on this issue but we are yet to act as a country.

3 years ago

Mwenefumbo you were at your best. I liked your presentation

Hlabezulu Ngonoonda
Hlabezulu Ngonoonda
3 years ago
Reply to  Gonthi

He was indeed. He called a spade a spade.

Prophet Mboro
3 years ago

True they exploit Malawians .No Malawians benefit from them

3 years ago

Point taken

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